Featured image via LDS.org: “President Russell M. Nelson speaks to a record crowd of [68,000] people gathered for a devotional at the State Farm Stadium in Phoenix on Sunday, February 10, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.”
On February 10th, 2019, the 94-year-old president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson, stood and spoke to a near-full State Farm Insurance football stadium in Glendale, Arizona. This stadium held 68,000 people (with 9,000 chairs set up on the stadium’s floor reserved for all the youth). It was the largest gathering of LDS members in Phoenix history.
What a great Sunday. Our stake held a stake conference session that morning and then we all went home to prepare for our Sunday night devotional. We needed to be in our seats by 5:30 p.m. since the devotional started at 6:00 p.m.
There was such an excitement over the whole city. Thousands of cars made their way to the very large parking lot early for the gate opening at 4 p.m. All members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who wanted to attend were given a ticket that assigned them to a certain section from their own local church leaders. Those who couldn’t go to the stadium for whatever reason were able to go to their local chapel to listen from a satellite broadcast, so basically there were over 400,000 members watching and listening.
The day before, as part of his visit to Phoenix, President Nelson wrote an opinion piece for the Arizona Republic Phoenix newspaper which told of his travels to Paradise, California right after the death of his beloved daughter. President Nelson set a great example for us as he was able to comfort the people of Paradise where the terrible fire affected the lives of many of its residents.
My husband and I found our seats and waited for the devotional to start. President Dallin Oaks with his wife, Kristen, and President Russell Nelson with his wife, Wendy, were seated and ready to go. The choir sang, the congregation sang, and we then heard great, inspiring messages.
President Nelson taught us about the promises made to Abraham from God which we as the decedents of Abraham will be blessed with. In fact, all the nations of the earth will be blessed through Abraham’s seed. These divine promises are open to all of us.
We were admonished to help gather Israel from both sides of the veil. In other words, we help those on Earth to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and we also find our ancestors who passed on and add them to our family tree. We then take their names to the temple.
We should pray every day about what we can do to gather Israel to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Savior.
One phrase that kept catching my attention was, “Keep on the covenant path.” We open ourselves up to losing our way if we don’t stay on the covenant path. So what is the covenant path? Those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participate in ordinances where we covenant or promise to follow the Savior in our life. Ordinances such as baptism remind us to do what Jesus would do. Just like at baptism, we can remember to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ each week when we take the sacrament.
What did I learn from President Nelson that day?
1. With great faith in our Savior, we can feel His comforting arms around us enough to comfort others in their difficulties.
2. We are all blessed through the seed of Abraham.
3. We need to pray every day so we can know how to help gather Israel to prepare for the Savior’s Second Coming, and then follow through on the impressions we receive.
What a great Spirit we felt when we saw and heard the prophet of the Lord. I can’t wait until our next general conference in April to hear more!
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely. To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.