“The Time to ‘Do It’ Is Now, Pleads President Kimball at Hawaii Area Conference,” Ensign, Aug. 1978, 74–76
Again and again, the message was repeated by President Spencer W. Kimball and other general authorities: put your lives and families in order, and do the Lord’s work.
The setting was the Neal Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii, where thousands of Saints gathered June 18 for the Hawaii Area Conference, the first area conference in the United States. The area conference concluded a week of spiritual activities for members from the Hawaiian Islands, Guam, and Micronesia.
President Kimball visited the island of Kauai June 11, meeting with representatives of the news media in a news conference and interviews. He then presided at nine Hawaii Temple rededication services June 13 through 15 and a priesthood solemn assembly June 17 before presiding at the Sunday area conference. The first Presidency met with Hawaii Governor George R. Ariyoshi June 17. The governor attended a conference session.
Crowds had formed outside the arena at 5 A.M. June 18 to gain entrance to the arena, which opened at 8 A.M. By 8:30, the multi-purpose complex was filled to capacity. The stage where the general authorities and their families sat was decorated with Hawaiian flowers and floral arrangements. In addition to singing the traditional “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet,” the Hawaiians sang “Aloha Oe” for the general authorities. The morning session was televised by KITV and one hour of the afternoon session was rebroadcast over KHVH radio.
“Enough has been said,” President Kimball told crowds of 8,500 and 7,000 at the two conference sessions and thousands of other Hawaii residents watching and listening to television and radio broadcasts, “It is now time to ‘do it.’”
He urged the Saints to keep the law of tithing, to encourage spirituality in their children, to do temple work, to hold home evenings and family prayers, and to keep the Sabbath holy.
“We urge you to quicken your pace, lengthen your stride, move forward in your local ecclesiastical work,” he said.
President N. Eldon Tanner, first counselor in the First Presidency, gave affirmative answer to the question “Are Mormons Christians?” by referring to the Articles of Faith, which place Christ and the Atonement at the center of Latter-day Saint beliefs.
As counselor to four presidents of the Church, President Tanner bore testimony of the divinity of Church organization and of the inspiration of the men who lead the Church.
President Marion G. Romney, second counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the afternoon session and urged Hawaiians to read and study the Book of Mormon. “I counsel you to read it a few minutes a day, and it will become a lifelong habit,” he said. He encouraged families to read the Book of Mormon together, promising that the practice will result in greater reverence, mutual respect, and less contention. Children will become more responsive and submissive, and faith, hope, and charity will abound.
Two general authorities who spoke at the morning session, President Ezra Taft Benson, president of the Council of the Twelve, and Elder O. Leslie Stone of the First Quorum of the Seventy, gave the Hawaiian Saints specific advice on living Christlike lives.
President Benson, whose wife served a mission in the Hawaiian Islands, told the gathering of Church members and civic and business dignitaries that “Hawaii will never be any stronger than its homes, and the Church will never rise above its homes.”
He referred to family home evening as the vanguard for parents to use in teaching their children. “Parents are directly responsible for the righteous rearing of their children. This responsibility cannot be safely delegated to relatives, friends, neighbors, schools, the Church, or the state.
“It is time that the hearts of us fathers are turned to our children, and the hearts of the children are turned to us fathers, or we shall both be cursed,” President Benson said.
“The seeds of divorce are often sown and the blessings of children delayed by wives working outside the home. Working mothers should remember that their children usually need more of mother than of money,” President Benson said.
“Fathers have the responsibility for the physical, mental, social, and spiritual growth and development of themselves, their wives, and each of their children, and should bless their wives and children.”
Elder Stone emphasized that “parents are held responsible to teach their children.”
“How can a child be expected to accept a drive toward spiritual values in life if he does not even know what they are or what they mean?” he said. “Are we as parents indifferent to the moral needs of our children? Do we provide the necessary guidance and instruction for them? Do we feed their spirits as well as their bodies, or do we let them do as they please as long as they do not disturb our routine, our comfort?”
Elder Stone encouraged the Hawaiian members to remember the fundamental principles of a righteous life-reverence, honesty, integrity, service, prayer in decision making, family counsel, and remembering that God is a loving father with whom we should always communicate.
Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Council of the Twelve, president of the Polynesian Cultural Center at Laie, described at the afternoon session two types of testimonies. The first, the “sudden-impact testimony,” comes to those who are converted, are reactivated, or have special experiences. The other kind of testimony is the “quiet—not silent—testimony,” which, although not as dramatic on the surface as the first type, is equally important and equally strong.
He urged the Saints to be proud of both kinds of testimonies, to strengthen them, to add to them, to share them, and to bear them. He said that one of the purposes of having general authorities attend area conferences throughout the world is to help members build testimonies. He noted that men and women are not saved by their testimonies and quoted Doctrine and Covenants 3:4—“For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.” [D&C 3:4]
Every valid testimony, said Elder Ashton, should include a knowledge that God lives, that Christ is his son, that Joseph Smith was a prophet and an instrument in the restoration of the gospel, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true, complete, divine church on the earth.
A key to developing testimony is reading the scriptures, said Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve. Pleased that many attending the conference had brought their scriptures, he encouraged them to continue to read and study the scriptures and to cultivate patience and hope.
Elder Marion D. Hanks of the presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, who served in the United States military in Hawaii thirty-eight years ago, noted change in the islands and growth in the Church. He related the story of a Latter-day Saint serviceman who was entertaining friends at a party at his home. The friends were not interested in things of a spiritual nature. Then the host’s children asked to have family prayer. After the prayer, it was like a different party, and the friends had a different attitude about spiritual things, Elder Hanks said.
Elder Adney Y. Komatsu of the First Quorum of the Seventy, a Hawaii native named earlier in the week as the new Hawaii-Pacific Islands area supervisor for the Church, said that the rededication of the Hawaii Temple was an appropriate time for the Hawaiian Saints to recommit themselves and rededicate their lives.
Elder John H. Groberg of the First Quorum of the Seventy, former area supervisor in Hawaii now assigned at Church headquarters, stressed service to others. He praised Hawaii’s world-famous “Aloha spirit.” “The true Aloha spirit is a reverence for, a closeness to, and a love of nature, family, and God, as demonstrated by our unselfish acts of kindness and help to others.
“If you divorce any of these elements from the Aloha spirit, you have nothing of value left,” Elder Groberg Said. “The spirit of Aloha then is the spirit of service, a desire and willingness to help others.
“This is the spirit of the gospel, also. So it is little wonder that the Lord’s true church fits so well with the islands. I plead with all of you, do not lose these great soul-saving qualities as commonly encompassed in the word Aloha. Don’t let frustration or cynicism or materialism or sin canker your soul and rob you of the life-giving joy of service. Remember the words of King Benjamin as he speaks to you today: ‘I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.’” (Mosiah 2:17)
Regional Representative Glen Y. M. Lung, speaking in the morning session, said that in spite of the grueling pace set by President Kimball during the week, Brother Lung felt the president’s pure, Christlike love, his amazing physical strength, and the warmth of his humility. He described the eight days as the most stimulating week of his life, echoing the feelings of most of those in attendance.