Although he is now an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and professionally was the president of Huntsman Chemical Corporation, Elder Ronald A. Rasband told women at the BYU Women’s Conference Friday that he was a handful as a child.
Rasband and his wife, Melanie Rasband, were the final keynote speakers for the two-day conference that is celebrating 45 years of bringing women together to be taught, uplifted and give service. Typically the conference is held at Brigham Young University. But due to COVID it is streamed virtually this year.
Melanie Rasband was asked to introduce her husband. She noted that she didn’t marry an apostle. When she married Ronald A. Rasband he was a returned missionary that she knew would follow the teachings of the church and provide for their family, which eventually included five children, grandchildren and now a great-grandchild.
She noted that he was a mission president in the New York City, New York North Mission, served as a Seventy in the church and was called by President Thomas S. Monson in October of 2015 to be an apostle. In his calling he also chairs the Church Communications Committee.
“I am blessed every day by my wife’s testimony,” Elder Rasband said. “I have been blessed to be surrounded by great women including my mother, wife, four daughters, one daughter-in-law, 11 granddaughters and one great-granddaughter.”
He asked those listening to the conference if they believed they were a child of God. He noted the “Proclamation on the Family” teaches that all who are on the Earth or ever have been or will be, are all beloved sons or daughters of heavenly parents.
Rasband said that as daughters of God they are here at this time because they have a special work to do.
He gave kudos to his wife and said he was in the position he is now because of her. He also reflected on what his mother must have gone through as he was not particularly a perfect child.
“It was not easy to raise Ronnie Rasband,” he said. “I was busy and high spirited. I was a handful.”
Rasband’s father was a Wonder Bread truck driver and his mother made beautiful ceramic dolls at home to help with the finances.
“One day I wanted mom’s attention. She was in the front room with a client. Mom had ceramic dolls on a table,” Rasband said. “I knocked the table over and broke the dolls.”
He said his mother taught him how to work and that training helped him get a job out in the world.
“She made me promise I’d always obey the Word of Wisdom,” Rasband said. “I have tried not to deviate from that promise.”
Rasband said the Lord never deviates from his promises. With some emotion and wiping away tears, he noted that it was by divine design that he was sent to parents that were both on second marriages.
He understood from his mother what it meant to be a single mom.
“Single women who attend the temple are sanctified by service in the temple,” Rasband said. “You will receive blessings of belonging. It doesn’t get better than that.”
Rasband also warned of the reality of the devil and that he sneaks doubt, fear and contention in their lives whenever he can.
“He is hoping to distract us. He wants us to just hang out, do nothing,” Rasband said. “His glory is nothing and he wants us to be the same.”
Rasband then implored those listening to be true to their covenants (with God) and promises, and let their light shine.
Referring to the New Testament parable of the Ten Virgins, Rasband said today the oil that goes into the lamps the virgins carry includes temple attendance, learning the doctrine, paying tithing, accepting callings and the atonement of Jesus Christ.
He noted that Christ took on himself the harshest moments in all mortals’ lives. “I cannot comprehend it.” Rasband said.
“You have been born at this particular time for a glorious purpose,” Rasband said.
He noted that attacks against the church will increase and that means the church will need women who have a bedrock of knowledge and women of courage and, quoting from President Russell M. Nelson, “the vision of Mother Eve.”
“Sisters, you are those women, you came just at this time to valiantly build up the Kingdom of God,” Rasband said.
He concluded by blessing those listening to recognize the divinity in them, to be the light in a darkening world and to find joy in service.