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LDS conference speakers impart messages of kindness, happiness and humility

Saturday evening session

By Carlene Coombs - Daily Herald | Sep 30, 2023
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Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gives the concluding talk during the evening general conference session on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023.
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A family on Temple Square in Salt Lake City during general conference weekend on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023.
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President Emily Belle Freeman and Sister Tamara W. Runia, of the Young Women General Presidency, visit at the conclusion of the evening session of general conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023.

The Saturday evening session of the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought messages on equality and kindness toward others, happiness, humility and God's eternal family.

The session was conducted by President Dallin H. Oaks, who acknowledged the absence of President Russell M. Nelson, who was watching from home after suffering a fall earlier this month.

Elder Gary B. Sabin, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, spoke on happiness and laid out essential principles for reaching happiness. Those principles, or "hallmarks," he said, are: building upon a foundation of Christ, remembering we are children of God, remembering the worth of a soul and maintaining an eternal perspective.

Speaking on kindness toward others, Sabin said, "We will never regret being too kind. In God's eyes, kindness is synonymous with greatness. Part of being kind is being forgiving and nonjudgmental."

To explain keeping an eternal perspective, Sabin shared a story of his daughter who needed a double lung transplant.

"It was a very high-risk procedure," Sabin recalled, "yet the night before her surgery, Jennifer almost preached to me with all of her 90 pounds, saying, 'Don't worry, Dad! Tomorrow I will wake up with new lungs or I will wake up in a better place. Either way will be great.' That is faith; that is eternal perspective! Seeing life from an eternal vantage point provides clarity, comfort, courage and hope."

Sabin was followed by another member of the Seventy, Elder Joni L. Koch, who spoke on the Christlike attribute of humility.

"We all like to think we are sufficiently humble, but some experiences in life make us realize that the natural prideful man is often very much alive within us," he said.

Koch provided a "pop quiz" for listeners to examine how humble they have been in following Nelson's counsel.

Koch asked if members were following the counsel to use the church's full name in their interactions, if they were following Nelson's counsel to abandon prejudice, if they were following the doctrine of Christ over the philosophies of man, and if members have strived to become peacemakers.

"During this conference, we've heard and will yet hear the unfailing counsel of our prophets and apostles," Koch said. "It's a perfect occasion to develop humility and let our strong opinions be swallowed by an even stronger conviction that the Lord does speak through these chosen leaders."

Sister Tamara W. Runia, first counselor of the Young Women's Presidency, spoke next on God's eternal family and having an eternal perspective.

She told a story of the Apollo 8 astronauts seeing the Earth from space for the first time and the power of seeing the scale of the Earth.

"As humans, we have an earthbound point of view, but God sees the grand overview of the universe. He sees all creation, all of us, and is filled with hope," Runia said.

She emphasized the importance of families and stated they are "God-given laboratories" for people to work to figure things out and become more Christlike.

"Let's zoom out to view family relationships as a powerful vehicle to teach us the lessons we came here to learn, as we turn to the savior," she said.

She also counseled listeners to have patience and empathy toward their family members.

"Sometimes, what we need is empathy more than advice, listening more than a lecture, someone who hears and wonders, 'How would I have to feel to say what they just said?'" Runia said.

The concluding speaker was Elder Ulisses Soares, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Soares emphasized a quote from a talk Nelson gave during general conference in 2020, when he called for members to abandon "attitudes and actions of prejudice" and encouraged respect for all.

"Considering the sacred bond that unifies us with God as His children," Soares said, "this prophetic direction given by President Nelson is undoubtedly a fundamental step toward building bridges of understanding rather than creating walls of prejudice and segregation among us."

Soares invited listeners to increase their faith in and love for others by "genuinely knitting our hearts together in unity and love, regardless of our differences."

"I have deep compassion for those who have been mistreated, belittled or persecuted by unfeeling and thoughtless people, because, in the course of my life, I have seen firsthand the pain good people suffer from being judged or dismissed because they happened to speak, look or live differently," he said. "I also feel genuine sorrow in my heart for those whose minds remain darkened, whose vision is limited and whose hearts remain hardened by the belief in the inferiority of those who are different from them. Their limited view of others actually obstructs their ability to see who they are as a child of God."

Soares noted the divided and polarized state of the world, which is emphasized by racial, political and socioeconomic lines.

"For this reason, it is not uncommon to see people characterizing the way of thinking, acting and speaking of other cultures, races and ethnicities as inferior, making use of preconceived, mistaken and often sarcastic ideas, generating attitudes of contempt, indifference, disrespect and even prejudice against them," he said. "Such attitudes have their roots in pride, arrogance, envy and jealousy, characteristics of a carnal nature which are totally contrary to Christ-like attributes."

To eliminate this behavior, Soares counseled members to look at differences through Christ's eyes and based on what people have in common -- "divine identity and kinship."

"I testify to you that as we continue to flow this way during our mortal life, a new day will begin with a new light that will brighten our lives and illuminate wonderful opportunities to value more, and be more fully blessed by, the diversity created by God among His children," he said.

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