Salt Lake City, Utah -- Mormons gathered on Temple Square to hear their Prophet and Apostles offer guidance and counsel on how to live their lives at the 182nd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"We can´t all be together under one roof, but we now have the ability to partake of the proceedings of this conference through the wonders of television, radio, cable, satellite transmission, and the internet – even on mobile devices. We come together as one, speaking many languages, living in many lands, but all of one faith and one doctrine and one purpose," said President Thomas S. Monson in his opening address of the two-day conference.
President Monson is regarded as the Prophet of God by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called by their nickname "Mormons."
Mormons travel from many countries of the world to attend the annual conference in person at the Conference Center at Temple Square. Over 100,000 attend in person while the other 14 million members participate through satellite broadcast in local church buildings where they live. The Church also makes the conference sessions available through the Internet, and after it is over the presentations are reprinted in the Ensign, the official magazine of the Church. The presentations are given in English and are instantly translated so members can listen in their native language in real time.
The Saturday morning session of the conference provided basic help and guidance to individuals and families who are struggling with the challenges that life brings to everyone.
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency spoke of life´s challenges and adversities that come to everyone throughout life. He said he wanted to encourage anyone in the midst of hard trials, who might think their faith may be fading under the onslaught of trouble.
"It is never too late to strengthen the foundation of faith. There is always time. With faith in the Savior you can repent and plead for forgiveness. There is someone you can forgive. There is someone you can thank. There is someone you can serve. You can do it wherever you are and however alone and deserted you may feel," counseled Elder Eyring.
"Family time is sacred time and should be protected and respected. We urge our members to show devotion to their families," advised President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
He also advised local Church leaders to be careful about scheduling too many events and activities that might interrupt family time. He said that leaders need to provide for parents and children to have plenty of time together as a family.
Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, a member of the Primary General Presidency, spoke of ways parents can teach young children. She included advice on how to teach children to pray.
"I first learned to pray by kneeling with my family in family prayer. I was taught the language of prayer as I listened to my parents pray and as they helped me say my first prayers. I learned that I could talk to Heavenly Father and ask for guidance," she explained.
Elder Donald L. Hallstrom spoke of the extent of the world-wide church.
"This is a magnificent Church. Its organization, effectiveness, and sheer goodness are respected by all who sincerely seek to understand it. The Church has programs for children, youth, men, and women. It has beautiful meetinghouses that number more than 18,000. Majestic temples, now totaling 136, dot the earth, with another 30 under construction or announced.
"A full-time missionary force of over 56,000, comprised of the young and less so, are serving in 150 countries. The Church´s worldwide humanitarian work is a marvelous display of the generosity of our members. Our welfare system cares for our members and promotes self-reliance in a manner unduplicated anywhere. In this Church, we have selfless lay leaders and a community of Saints that are willing to serve one another in a remarkable way. There is nothing like this Church in all the world," said Elder Hallstrom.
Elder Paul E. Koelliker of the Quorum of the Seventy also spoke of the 56,000 missionaries. The missionary force is made up primarily of young men, but many young women and retired married couples also serve missions. All missionaries serve without pay and at their own expense.
"I love being with the full-time missionaries. They are full of faith, hope and genuine charity. Their missionary experience is like a mini-life packaged in 18 to 24 months. They arrive as spiritual infants with a serious appetite to learn and leave as mature adults, ready to conquer any and all challenges placed before them. I also love the devoted senior missionaries who are full of patience, wisdom and calm assurance. They bring a gift of stability and love to the youthful energy that surrounds them. Together they are a powerful, persevering force for good, which is having a profound effect on their lives and upon those who are touched by their service," described Elder Koelliker.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the many forms of sacrifice and service given by members of the Church and it´s lay leadership who, like the missionaries, serve without pay.
"We have no professionally trained and salaried clergy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a result, the lay members who are called to lead and serve our congregations must carry the whole load of our numerous Church meetings, programs, and activities," Elder Oaks explained.
He also spoke the full-time missionaries of the Church.
"They devote from six months to two years of their lives to teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and providing humanitarian service in about 165 countries in the world. Their work always involves sacrifice, including the years they give to the work of the Lord and also the sacrifices made in providing funds for their support," said Elder Oaks.