Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Our Homing Impulse

Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
08/31/16 | 2 min read
God sees each of us as His children no matter where we live.

Let me share with you a personal experience. After the turmoil of the Second World War, my family ended up in Russian-occupied East Germany. We had fled from Czechoslovakia before the Russian front and lost everything during this terrible war. In the town of Zwickau, East Germany, my family learned about the restored gospel and joined the Church. At that time I was only six years old.

Later, as a 10-year-old boy, I attended fourth grade and had to learn Russian as my first foreign language. Initially it was quite difficult because of the Cyrillic alphabet, but as time went on I seemed to manage all right.

When I turned 11, we had to leave East Germany overnight because of the political orientation of my father. He was perceived as a dissenter by the Communist government, and his life was endangered. We were refugees again and had lost everything for the second time.

Now I was going to school in West Germany, and the Russian language was not appreciated there at all. We were in the American-occupied part of Germany, and in school I had to learn English. Somehow I could not learn it. To learn Russian was difficult, but English was impossible. I even thought my mouth was not made for speaking English.

I agonized through those school years, helped and encouraged by kind and understanding English teachers, but I just couldn’t do it. It wasn’t my thing!

At this time, my dream in life was to become a pilot. Almost daily I rode my bicycle to the airport. I could picture myself in the cockpit of an airliner or even in a military jet fighter. This was definitely my thing!

Dieter F. Uchtdorf looking at an airplane

I eventually learned that to become a pilot, I needed to speak English. Suddenly, the resisting condition of my mouth changed. I was able to learn the language. Why? Because of a strong motive!

That motive lasted through my career as a fighter pilot and as an airplane captain. By the time I finished, I had flown more than 15,000 hours—six years as a fighter pilot during the Cold War and 30 years as a pilot for an airline that flew all around the world. I felt—and still feel—a longing to be in the sky.

Eric Hoffer, an American philosopher, said, “Our passionate preoccupation with the sky, the stars, and a God somewhere in outer space is a homing impulse. We are drawn back to where we came from” (New York Times, July 21, 1969).

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I like to think that from heaven’s point of view, there are no borders. God sees each of us as His children no matter where we live. He is our “homing impulse.” We feel drawn to Him because He is our Father, and heaven is our home.

He sees us not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees us as His children. He sees us as the being we are capable and designed to become. May we incline our hearts to Him and remain faithful so that we may one day return to His heavenly presence.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf was called as second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on February 3, 2008.