OGDEN -- Without notes, Stephen Ehrlich, of the Salt Lake Valley Second Deaf Ward, spoke in American Sign Language in an eloquent flow, quoting scriptures exactly as he outlined his testimony of Jesus Christ.
Ehrlich, who is legally both blind and deaf, offered the keynote address at a Sunday service that concluded the 2011 Utah Deaf Symposium of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Weber State University.
The symposium brought church members from all across the Western United States.
"We share our faith and hope so that we can uplift one another's spirit," Ehrlich said, noting that the faithful are required to make a personal sacrifice in order to build Zion.
He said building Zion meant to be an influence for good both to one's own family as well as to non-members of the church.
Ehrlich also spoke to the conference theme: "Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen."
That statement is from LDS scripture Doctrine and Covenants 87:8.
He said members could stand in holy places by conducting themselves the best they could everywhere they went, inviting the Spirit at all times.
Enrich said he felt what it was like to stand in a holy place when he visited what members refer to as the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, N.Y.
Noting an abundance of flowers there, he said, "A lot of bees everywhere gathered pollen for honey. Not one of the bees come toward any of us to sting us. It was as though we were walking through peace and tranquility."
In her address Sunday morning, Sierra Mease, a young member of the Ogden Valley Deaf Branch, told of the faith she and her family gained after they faced the trial of her 15-year-old brother taking his own life.
Quoting New Testament scripture Rev. 21:4, she told of God wiping away the tears from the eyes of the faithful.
Speaking of her brother, she said: "Sometimes I feel like he can watch over us and protect our family."
But she said sometimes people question why trials come.
"I know that we are provided with these trials so we can see how much we can put our trust in Heavenly Father," she said. "We can face fears with faith. ... Sometimes it can be difficult to have faith, but truly the Savior opens his arms and welcomes us into heaven."
President Mark Erwin, of the Ogden Valley Deaf Branch, encouraged those in attendance to stay active in worthwhile activities, including family home evening, while limiting computer, video game and television time.
"The atonement will provide the things that we need to heal as people," he said. "Prayerfully seek the Lord's help. I am thankful that we can become worthy to enter into the Kingdom of God again."
Quoting from Joseph Smith History verse 20, Michael Houtz said Joseph Smith had learned the truth for himself at a young age.
"We can all learn for ourselves what the truth is," he said.
Houtz is president over the Pleasant Valley stake, which oversees the Ogden Valley Deaf Branch.
"With his help, we can do anything it is we need to do in our lives," he said of God.
Houtz also discussed the history of the Ogden Valley Deaf Branch, the first deaf branch in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Its first leader, Max W. Woodbury, is credited as the longest-serving branch president ever in the church.
"It is Jesus Christ's love that motivated President Woodbury to serve for 51 years," Houtz said.
He hoped others would be able to learn from Woodbury's striking example.
"I have a blessing on you according to the priesthood keys that I hold, may you in your own way be able to come to Jesus."