As reported earlier this year members in northern Europe had already heard from Elder Ballard and Elder Clayton back in March, so I was somewhat curious as to the purposes of this particular Europe-wide broadcast for members over the age of 18. This post compromises a summary of the programme and talks given. I will note at the start, that the wives of the GAs spoke with their husbands. Having a couple standing together like that at the pulpit is something I have only previously observed with our current mission president and his wife at our stake conferences. This gave the meeting a general air of cosy informality even though a programme was followed. Sister Ballard was unwell at home and did not attend with Elder Ballard.
We started with a peek at Elder Ballard chatting informally with members in the Friedrichsdorf Germany stake centre, just by the Frankfurt temple in Friedrichsdorf. At one point he invites them to stand and stretch their legs because they’re going to be seated for 90 minutes. After some encouragement most members take the opportunity to do so. Elder Ballard related that in Q12 meetings they stand for a couple of seconds every hour. He isn’t sure that it’s always worth the effort getting up to be standing so short a time. He then invites the members to resume their seats and the broadcast begins proper.
Conducting: Elder Massimo De Feo, comments how wonderful it is that we can be gathered together as one in Christ through technology.
Presiding: Elder M. Russell Ballard
Opening Hymn: Hope of Israel
Opening Prayer: Brother Johannes Gutjahr
Opening speakers: Elder Massimo and Sister Loredana De Feo
Elder De Feo thanks the choir for the beautiful music, and the very nice spirit there was with it. It is a privilege to be with Elder Ballard. He is a prophet. We should listen to the spirit tonight, and note down what we’re told. We may be told to do something for ourself or our family, learn what to do in our life.
Sister De Feo speaks in English. She is just learning. She has always loved the scripture in Joshua “choose you this day whom ye will serve” She has always felt the privilege and responsibility. She joined the church as a teenager. She had a desire to serve the Lord and have an eternal family, and married someone who felt the same way. The Lord blesses us according to our righteous desires. She is grateful for a young Joseph Smith who served the Lord to the end. She loves the Lord and desires to serve Him, and promises that this is what she will do.
Elder De Feo says he is grateful for his wife. They have been together since she was 15. She waited for him on his mission and wrote many letters. She loves the Lord more than she loves him. He says that’s a good thing. He is happy to serve the Lord. He referred to President Monson’s invitation to study the Book of Mormon in the April conference and says he and his wife committed to do that. He referred to President Nelson’s and President Eyring’s testimonies of doing so during the recent October 2017 conference, of the power that comes. Elder De Feo recalled an experience after moving to Frankfurt. During the second night their daughter came into their room having woken from a bad dream. He tried to comfort her and give her advice, asked what she wanted to do, if she wanted to spend the rest of the night with her parents. His daughter asked if they could read the Book of Mormon together for a few minutes. He was touched by her request for this solution. Many times we make things too complicated. She knows the Book of Mormon is the word of God. His wife has always kept them on track. He thinks of President Nelson’s words about power. The source of power is Christ, but the Book of Mormon connects us to the pure doctrine of Christ contained in the book. He referred to John that “in the beginning… the word was with God, and the word was God” and became “the light of the world“. The words of the Book of Mormon open our hearts to Christ Himself. We plant a seed of the word and invite Christ into our lives. His family tries to live the gospel in a simple way. Alma talks of nourishing a seed. This can result in both fruit and roots. The fruits can be sweet, pure (describes the fruit of the tree of life in Lehi’s dream). He could see the fruits in his daughter. The roots can be seen by the way their children choose to live their lives after the way they have been teaching them. He is a happy husband and father because of the gospel. “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ” They always advise their children to go to the Lord with their problems. There is hope in the gospel. There is happiness when we keep the commandments, covenants. He testifies of the divinity of the Book of Mormon. That night the Lord visited his daughter in spirit and will come for all of us in our darkest hours, bringing comfort, peace and hope. The Lord loves us more than we can understand. We can all go to the Lord and find peace, happiness and comfort.
Speakers: Elder Gary B. and Sister Valerie Sabin
Elder Sabin says hi to everyone throughout Europe. 1976, the year Elder Ballard was called as a General Authority was the year Elder and Sister Sabin married. He is grateful for examples like Elder Ballard. Last year Elder Sabin’s father died. Elder Sabin went to visit his brother, who suffers from severe schizophrenia and had lived with his father for many years. Elder Sabin’s brother and father had supported each other. While he was at the house Elder Ballard phoned, asked about the funeral and offered to come and speak at the funeral. He also spoke to the brother on the phone. Elder Sabin’s brother hadn’t thought he would be able to attend the funeral because the crowds of people would be too much for him, but after speaking with Elder Ballard decided that he would. This was a little act of kindness on the part of Elder Ballard reaching out to a friend. This is a part of our area plan. We can all do that. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these ye have done it unto me … Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another…” In Ephesians 4 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Section 64 of the Doctrine and Covenants talks about forgiveness. “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” Leave it to the Lord to judge perfectly. We worry about things that don’t matter. Focus on the weightier matters: kindness, love. Things can seem upside down. We look through a glass darkly.
When we know who we are things are clearer. We know who we are, learned from the restoration. Elder Ballard is descended from Hyrum Smith, brother of Joseph Smith. The first vision taught us who God is. There is much to be excited about. We can hope for a better world, abounding in good works. Glorify God. We can have a testimony of truth, understanding our identity, the gospel and plan.
Elder Sabin appreciates Elder and Sister De Feo. He invites Sister Sabin to speak (who then joins him at the pulpit).
Sister Sabin tells us she first felt the spirit as a pre-school child. Her mother would gather the children together and as part of their bedtime routine, would read to the children from the children’s version of the Book of Mormon before reading their bedtime story. She is grateful for the scriptures and feels the spirit when reading them. When Sister Sabin was a girl in primary her teacher taught about the plan of salvation, that life is not always smooth, there are challenges. Truth can be our guide. “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” Heavenly Father is merciful. We have the opportunity to repent continually. In Lehi’s dream holding to the iron rod, or in other words, the word of God leads directly to the love of God, the fruit. She related this fruit to baptism and the covenants we make then and in the temple. She observed that the people who stayed at the tree were those who fell at the base of the tree, perhaps experiencing a lifetime of repentance. We have the opportunity to come unto Christ and be saved by him. We can pray and hope for those family members and friends who have left. Remember that Christ came to save not to condemn. Take time for those things that will truly save us and take us where we want to go.
Elder Sabin closes their address by saying that if we are obedient we can be happy, if we are grateful we can be happy. We will always experience problems but we can be hopeful and faithful.
Speakers: Elder L. Whitney and Sister Kathy Clayton
Elder Clayton begins by thanking members for coming. This morning they met with the Stockholm South stake. They feel hope. They are going to be talking about the Sabbath from different perspectives.
In Exodus 31:13 we read that our observance of the Sabbath is a sign we give to God about how we feel about God and about the atonement. The Sabbath is supposed to be a delight leading to a better, happier week. There are means of feeling delight. He recognises we all have different family considerations, different types of families.
Sister Clayton says she will be addressing the practical perspective. It isn’t always easy for parents and children to feel delight about the Sabbath. As an example of what is not delightful she recalls a talk given in sacrament meeting in central America about Family Home Evening; the same principle can apply to the Sabbath. The speaker suggested that it was not an excuse for parents to give long, boring lectures to children. A small boy in the congregation applauded this remark. She recommends doing interactive fun things with our children on the Sabbath. In their home they kept a big box full of colouring books and games (such as name the prophet, name the temple) that was only accessible on Sundays for family activities. They also kept packets of cookie mix which required only the addition of water so that they could mix up a batch of cookies and deliver them anonymously to friends and neighbours. (Elder Clayton interrupted to say that they had to save some for him too.) They would role play scripture stories like the one about Samuel the Lamanite preaching to the Nephites. We can do delightful things, and delight in our children.
Elder Clayton then asks: what about those who are childless, whether married or single? Elder and Sister Clayton then launch into an a cappella duet of the hymn Have I Done any Good in the World Today.
On concluding the hymn Elder Clayton quips that that was the end of the punishment part of the meeting, and suggests members find someone else to think about and serve.
Sister Clayton remarks that sacrament meetings are often not particularly immobile, and recommends maintaining a sense of humour and taking the long view. Arriving early allows the family to take their seats calmly. Families can discuss together what their goal is for sacrament meetings so that parents and children will have the same expectations. When her children were very small she counted it a great success if she made it through the sacrament ordinance without having to leave the meeting. Even though we might wonder what we are getting out of the meeting taking the long view we are establishing a pattern.
Elder Clayton tells us that the sacrament service should be the apex of the week. It is the time we take to come before the Lord in whatever condition we are in and with whatever worries us. We can take time to think how well we’re really doing and what we really need. We are promised that we will have his spirit to be with us. The Lord will respond to us. In the long run things will turn out fine. We should turn off our devices and turn on our hearts and heads, seeking for voices of inspiration.
Sister Clayton acknowledges that sometimes seven days can feel like a sentence. The Sabbath punctuates the week and gives us time to come up for air. She is grateful for that. The Sabbath is the air in the week. She recalls President Hinckley’s remarks that a new member needs three things. In reverse order: nourishment by the good word of God, a responsibility and a friend. The Sabbath provides these things. She loves the community of the saints. As a little girl she attended church alone, and has always felt that community.
Elder Clayton reiterates that the Sabbath is our opportunity to demonstrate how we feel about the Saviour, reflect and consider and give God a sign. We should make a genuine effort to observe the Sabbath.
Speaker: Elder M. Russell Ballard
He didn’t know he was going to have to follow Donny and Marie Osmond! Elder Clayton hit almost every note the right way. Elder Ballard served in the Bishopric for ten years during which time he and his wife went from having 1 to 6 children. His wife was exhausted on a Sunday, and he didn’t understand why she found the Sabbath so tough. He was released the week before Mothers Day, and on Mothers Day the Relief Society choir known as The Singing Mothers were singing and were seated in the choir seats. Elder Ballard was seated at the back with the 6 little Ballards. It was a disaster! Meanwhile his wife was grinning from ear to ear enjoying the spectacle.
There is more to life than Walt Disney and colouring books. That’s why the meeting tonight is for adults. We recognise we are living in a very difficult world. Lucifer is raging in the hearts of men, as stated in scripture. We have a heavy responsibility as parent and adults. He is going to talk to us fairly straight. Will we still love him if he does so? He worries about the dangers of apathy. We can be busy doing so many things we don’t have time to sit and feel the power of the gospel. How do we find time in life to “be still and know that I am God”? Revelation comes in the quiet moments. It is a healthy thing to find some quiet time. All of us have challenges – we knew that we would. Yet we shouted for joy in the pre-mortal life at the opportunities to come afterwards. So here we are scattered over, he thinks 39 countries. He extends his love to us. Quiet time is required to recalibrate where we are, and what we are allowing to dominate our energy and spiritual capacity.
President Kimball was president of the church when Elder Ballard was called as a General Authority. He was a relentless worker, but taught him. Elder Ballard was concerned about a young man in his ward whose mother had died of cancer. The boy was distraught and no longer believed in God. He was through with church. Elder Ballard tried several times to invite the boy to lunch at the church offices. Eventually the boy agreed. Over bowls of soup Elder Ballard tried to get him to refocus. During the meal 8 of the 12 apostles came over and asked the boy when he was going on his mission. The boy became more and more anxious to leave. As Elder Ballard accompanied him to the car park they met President Kimball who greeted them and carried on his way. The boy asked Elder Ballard if President Kimball would see someone like him. Elder Ballard rang the office, spoke with the secretary and President Kimball invited them up. President Kimball drew his chair close and told the boy that his mother was fine, but that she was worried about him. He explained about suffering and the things that he had suffered himself. President Kimball told the boy that the things he had suffered caused him to come to know God. The same was true of the boy’s mother. Life is eternal and his mother is gone for season. When they headed back to the car park Elder Ballard told the boy to take the afternoon off work and spend some time in contemplation and prayer. The boy agreed. He subsequently served a mission, married in the temple and raised children in the gospel. When we feel burdens in the path way , family members, what ever they are, we should find a few quiet moments and reflect on what is the church, what it is that we have.
We are sons and daughters of God. We talk to the father of our spirits in our prayers. We are on a journey and have prophets and the Book of Mormon. We have so much guidance about our lives. We should of all people be cheery.
In the Book of Mormon it asks “have miracles ceased?” Elder Ballard relates an experience he had in 1984 visiting Ethiopia during the terrible ’83-’85 famine. He was assigned as a member of the presidency of the 70, with Glenn Pace then head of church welfare to determine how to allocate $6M to help as many people as possible. The suffering he saw at the feeding stations has never left him. He wanted to be able to give them the gospel for them to have the strength to hang in there. At that time there was just one member of the church in Ethiopia; Brother Hadlock worked for Boeing in Addis Ababa. They were able to locate him, and the next day being Sunday they met with him for sacrament meeting. They took sacrament of crackers and water together. There were four people present, and all bore their testimonies. Miracles happen when we are struggling to know the mind and will of God. When it came to be Elder Ballard’s turn he felt that he should bless the land. He did so and asked that it should rain. On returning to his hotel he knelt and prayed about what he had asked for. At 3.30 rain came pouring down and people ran into the streets to collect the water. He saw what the water meant to the people. Every day that he and Elder Pace remained in Ethiopia it rained. We need to believe in miracles and be the focus of such miracles.
The greatest miracle is bringing someone the gospel of Jesus Christ. The restored gospel. Don’t be afraid of that. Let the miracles work within us. They start on our knees when we ask to know his will and do his bidding, when we turn things over to heaven. The missionaries need miracles and can’t perform them alone. They need to come from us.
We would all say we love the Lord. How much? He doesn’t require us to give our lives. The greatest way we can express our love for him is to bring souls unto him on condition of repentance. Find that quiet time. Keep your eyes open and watch what God can do.
He told the Brethren that there was no agenda for this evening, just to trust the Lord and say what He would have them say. Elder Ballard’s wife isn’t here. She is unwell. She is his greatest weapon. We’d all do what he asked if she smiled at us. We need to build the church in Europe. We can’t let it shrink. We need a church membership to greet the Lord when he comes again. He asks Heavenly Father to bless us with miracles, with peace in our hearts and to feel joy in the church. Sit under a tree with the scriptures and ask for God’s help, and get it done and feel excited about being a member of the church. Have fun in church. Come to church with a smile and enjoy it. The Lord would like to be more active warriors in the battle.
Elder Ballard has a testimony of Christ, the Son of God, the resurrected Saviour. Last Sunday was his 89th birthday. When he wonders how will he do it he takes his mind to Gethsemane and the things Christ endured to the very end. May the gospel be a precious treasure we want to give away in anyway we can possibly think.
Closing Hymn: Love One Another
Closing Prayer: Sister Rebecca Johnson*
As always this is assembled from my scribbled notes made at the time. Any errors are mine, as is the choice of hyperlinks.
*Thanks to a friend for catching that name. I missed it.
Thanks to Mary Ann (see comments) for the link to the broadcast added 20/10/17.