As a young child living in East Germany, I had the great privilege of being assigned to pump air into our organ during our Church meetings. Back then, organs were not electric and required air to be manually pumped into the pipes. I remember being about 10 years old and intently watching the conductor for signals about whether I should pump faster or slower. While the congregation sang our beloved hymns of the Restoration, I pumped with all my strength so the organ would not run out of wind.
There was an additional benefit that came from this assignment: I sat in a seat that offered a great view of a stained-glass window that beautified the front part of the chapel. The stained glass portrayed the First Vision, with Joseph Smith kneeling in the Sacred Grove, looking up toward heaven and into a pillar of light. Seeing this window with our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, gave me a glimpse of what it feels like to hear Him. Here I was, a little boy in post–World War II Germany, and yet I felt very close to our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I Hear Him by Feeling the Savior’s Love for Me
As I think back on that experience and countless other experiences in my life, I realize that my most personal experiences with hearing the Lord’s voice have come when I think about how much I love the Savior and, in turn, feel His love for me.
This love creates a connection—it opens a door—that allows me to feel the power of the Holy Ghost. All of a sudden, then I hear His voice because I’m on that bridge that was opened by the Savior’s love for me and my love for Him. Often, things will come to my mind that I have heard or felt before. Over time, I have learned that if I’m not feeling grateful, then I struggle to hear His voice. But when I am able to recognize all that the Lord has given me, I hear His voice more clearly.
I’ve seen this in my professional life as well as my family life. There were times as a child, as a teenager, and as an adult when I faced moments when I didn’t know what to do. So I would find a quiet spot to connect with Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, by the gift of the Holy Ghost. Then, all of a sudden, a stream of answers would come to me that helped me face the situation I was in.
I have the same experience today as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some have asked me, “Does the Lord speak to you all the time?” I answer that He speaks to me in the same way He’s spoken to me all my life—by the gift of the Holy Ghost. And I have learned that it is when I am focusing on the love He has for me and my love for Him that I hear Him. This process carries me to answers and responses from Him, which I’ve needed all my life.
I “Hear Him” in All Languages
As many of you know, German is my native language. As a boy, I also learned Russian, which was my first foreign language. Later, when I became a pilot, I found out that I had to learn English. At home, Harriet and I speak German. Our prayers are in German. Many of our grandchildren speak German as well. But with our great-grandchildren and the wives of our grandchildren, we have to speak English. And, of course, my Church assignments require me to speak English.
What I have learned is that I feel and hear the voice of the Lord in any language. The voice of the Lord transcends the language we speak. Even though I often pray in German, I don’t know whether the answers come in German, but they do come to me. And when I pray in English, the answers come too.
I Hear Him by Partaking of the Sacrament
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have had the unique opportunity of blessing the sacrament in my own home, like many of you have. This experience brings a huge, wonderful, and warm feeling of gratitude that completely overcomes me. This gratitude opens the door to a space where I can hear Him more clearly.
As I sit there, blessing and partaking of the sacrament, I feel drawn to the Savior and I ponder what He means to me. I realize that through Him, through His gracious and wonderful gift, I can experience a remission of all my shortcomings. I have learned that these are moments when I really hear Him. The Spirit teaches me what I need to do and what I need to change in my life. These moments have become very sacred for Harriet and me.
A Lifelong Blessing
In my life, I have lived through World War II. I lived through divided Germany. I was a refugee twice. But throughout all of that, I have relied on my firm belief that there is a God in heaven, there is a Jesus Christ, there is a Holy Ghost, and there is a restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
When we follow the invitation to hear the Savior’s voice in our lives, there is no reason to fear the future. There is always hope because of Jesus Christ. He will be with us and guide us through our most difficult times as we seek to hear Him.