News Release

In Video Meeting, Apostle Offers Love and Encouragement to Australian Missionaries

“This is a unique time as we have missionaries serving in the middle of a pandemic. It’s a time to embrace”

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met in a video meeting with approximately 600 missionaries and Church leaders in Australia on Thursday 27 August.

Elder Stevenson─who was in Salt Lake City, United States for the meeting─was accompanied by his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson.

Missionaries and Church leaders in Australia attended a video meeting with Elder Gary E. Stevenson and other leaders on 27 August 2020.© 2020 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Also on the call were members of the Church’s Pacific Area Presidency and their wives: Elder Ian S. Ardern and Sister Paula Ardern; Elder K. Brett Nattress and Sister Shawna Nattress; and Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita and Sister Tazuko Yamashita.

Several Australian Latter-day Saint leaders─including Area Seventies, mission and stake presidents─also attended the meeting.

Elder Stevenson began his remarks by naming some of the missionaries on the call. He expressed his love for each of them as well as their mission leaders.

He said that he would report on the meeting to the members of the First Presidency of the Church this week.

“This is a unique time as we have missionaries serving in the middle of a pandemic,” he said. “It’s a time to embrace. It will be memorable for each of you. You will describe this time to your children and grandchildren that you were ‘2020 missionaries.’”

He quoted from Latter-day Saint scripture: “Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:17).

He said that we are facing calamities but we can look to the Lord and His prophets for guidance.

He urged the missionaries to think about prophets and missionaries in the scriptures who were serving in unusual circumstances, including being constrained in prisons.

“They prayed, they sang together, they preached the gospel to those they could,” he said.

He talked about Joseph Smith’s experience as he was held in Liberty Jail for five months.

Elder Stevenson quoted from a revelation received by Joseph Smith while he was in unusual and constrained circumstances: “Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45).

“Continue to do what you’re doing,” Elder Stevenson urged. “Do it with happy hearts. Protect yourselves, be careful, through your obedience, diligence and faithfulness. Companions helping companions, preaching the gospel in whatever manner you can.”

He also quoted from the 128th section of the Doctrine and Covenants: “Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad” (verse 22).

“I bear testimony,” Elder Stevenson said, “that you will be sustained, that you can do this. You will look back in a similar way to how Alma, Amulek, Joseph Smith and Paul looked back. You will be able to look back and know that you did it, and that the Lord consecrated your efforts for your gain. You will be sustained, and these perilous times will be a blessing in your lives.”

He concluded, “I bear witness of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Your call and assignment comes from Heaven. The Lord blesses you in the call that you have right now. You are in a place that the Lord wants you to be now.”

Sister Lesa Stevenson expressed love for the missionaries. “We pray for you, oh, how we pray for you,” she said.

“Do we recognise what the Saviour is trying to teach us?”

She shared some of her feelings about the pandemic and invited the missionaries to turn their eyes and hearts to the Saviour, “to learn what He wants us to learn and what to do.”

“He will always be beside us,” she said.

She quoted from Latter-day Saint scripture: “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up”
(Doctrine and Covenants 84:88).

Elder Brent H. Neilson served previously as a member of the Pacific Area Presidency for two years. During that time he visited all the missions of Australia. He was delighted to be back among friends.

Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Seventy.2019 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

He recounted that when COVID-19 began to impact the nations of the world, he helped coordinate the repatriation and reassignment of thousands of missionaries. He was concerned that the missionary efforts of the Church would be adversely effected.

Then he heard Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles say: “We did not come this far only to come this far. This is the work of Almighty God.”

Elder Neilson taught the missionaries about Nephi and Captain Moroni, from the Book of Mormon. He encouraged the young missionaries to learn from these and other examples from the scriptures, to find the right tools and to step up in defence of families, faith and religious liberty.

“We love Australia,” he said. “I think the gospel of Jesus Christ can be shared in Australia more effectively than we have ever done before, as we use the technologies we have been given.”

Sister Marcia Neilson shared an experience of her great-grandfather as he served as a missionary in Hawaii. She said that due to bubonic plague, he spent some of his missionary service in quarantine. This led him to learning the Hawaiian language and blessing the lives of many through his service.

She also encouraged the missionaries to learn from accounts in the scriptures, such as the Jaredites, in the Book of Mormon, as they prepared to travel by sea to the ancient American continent.

“The Lord is in charge of what is happening,” she said.

Bishop Dean M. Davies and Sister Darla Davies.2018 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Bishop Dean M. Davies said, “When you’re on the errand of the Lord, you are entitled to the Lord’s help. I know that He helps us.”

“My mission 50 years ago changed my life forever, and your mission will change your life forever.”

Speaking of patterns that God has taught His children, Bishop Davies said: “The Lord is the perfect example. He was obedient, he was humble, and he was compassionate. It’s all about striving to be like the Father, and the Son.”

“As we submit ourselves to our Father in Heaven, and our Saviour, we become one with Them.”

Sister Darla Davies said, “Our Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, did so much, through revelation from our Heavenly Father and our Saviour, to prepare us for this time.”

Watch a video featuring Elder Stevenson explaining how he receives revelation from the Lord.


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