“President Hinckley Stresses Family, Book of Mormon,” Ensign, Apr. 1996, 74–76
President Gordon B. Hinckley offered guidance and encouragement to thousands of Latter-day Saints during a busy January in which he delivered three youth fireside addresses, met with Saints in Mexico and Utah, and dedicated a park built to honor southern Utah settlers.
From southern Utah to southern Mexico, President Hinckley emphasized the importance of strengthening the family, reading the Book of Mormon, and choosing the right.
“If there is less trouble in the homes, there will be less trouble in the nations,” President Hinckley told nearly 9,000 Church members gathered Sunday, 28 January, for a regional conference in Veracruz, Mexico. He encouraged parents to bind their families together “with love and kindness, with appreciation and respect, and with teaching the ways of the Lord so that your children will grow in righteousness and avoid the tragedies which are overcoming so many families across the world.”
President Hinckley was accompanied by Sister Hinckley, Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Gary J. Coleman of the Seventy, first counselor in the Mexico South Area Presidency. Elders Eyring and Coleman were accompanied by their wives.
President Hinckley, speaking through an interpreter, said that peace comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ and that parents can bring peace to their children by teaching them the ways of righteousness and truth. “I hope, my brothers and sisters, that you are having your family home evenings with your children. You cannot afford to postpone this. The days, the months, and the years pass so quickly, and before long it will be too late.”
Elder Eyring echoed those remarks. “We call upon parents to be responsible for teaching fundamental truths to their children,” he said. “The family is society’s fundamental unit; it is eternity’s fundamental unit.”
President Hinckley asked parents to read the Book of Mormon this year to themselves and to their children. “They will not understand all the words, but they will get the spirit of this work,” he said.
He said a conviction of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon comes from reading it and praying about it. “I want to give you my witness that every time you read it you will find things that you have never noticed before that will touch your life for good. Marvelous is the effect of the Book of Mormon.”
Just as the test of the Book of Mormon’s truthfulness is found in reading it, so the test of the truthfulness of gospel principles is found in living those principles, President Hinckley said.
“The more often you go [to the temple], the more certainly you will know of the truth of this great work in the house of the Lord. If you worry in your minds about the law of tithing—pay your tithing. And with the payment of your tithing will come a conviction of the truth of that law as the Lord’s law of finance,” he said. “And so it is with every principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ: the Word of Wisdom, the welfare program, the family home evening program. Every principle which God has revealed carries its own conviction of truth.”
President Hinckley expressed his love for Mexican Latter-day Saints, many of whom were moved to tears by his remarks. He complimented them for their efforts to raise righteous children, their willingness to share the gospel, and their faithfulness despite their trials.
“I know many of you are having a struggle to get along economically,” he said. “These are difficult times in which to live. But this is a great nation of great and good people, and you are as the leaven among them. Pray for your nation and the Lord will hear and answer your prayers, and we will add our prayers to your prayers. This is one of the great areas of the Church, this great nation where we have about 750,000 members of the Church and which has favored us with official recognition because they have seen the goodness of your lives. Do not ever betray the trust which has been put in you.”
Commenting on Church growth in Mexico, President Hinckley said the Church had only one stake in the Veracruz area when he visited in 1978. Membership growth has been dramatic since then, as attested by attendance at the regional conference by Church members from Mexico’s Veracruz, Veracruz Reforma, Veracruz Mocambo, Veracruz Villarica, Jalapa, Orizaba, and Tuxtepec stakes and from the Los Tuxtla Mexico District.
Speaking Saturday, 27 January, to more than 1,000 local priesthood leaders and later to full-time missionaries from the Mexico Veracruz Mission, President Hinckley referred to the growth and impact of the Church in Mexico as the “miracle of Mormonism in Mexico.” He reminded missionaries of the importance of their work, and he charged priesthood leaders with the responsibility of helping their brothers and sisters grow spiritually.
“You have responsibility for the work of the Lord in this great area,” President Hinckley told leaders. “It will stand or move forward according to what you do. There are so many out there who need help, so many who are members who have drifted away. We are all in this together, to build the kingdom of God in the earth; and if we work together, nothing can stop us.”
President Hinckley invited young adults attending a Salt Lake Valley-wide institute of religion fireside 21 January “to walk the path of faith with me” and to stand for what is right, true, and good.
“The Church needs every one of you,” President Hinckley told young adults filling the Tabernacle and overflow areas on Temple Square. “It needs your strength. It needs your energy. It needs your enthusiasm. It needs your loyalty and devotion and faith.”
President Hinckley called the Church a great reservoir of eternal truth from which all people are invited to drink. “It is the preserver of standards, the teacher of values. Latch onto those values. Bind them to your hearts. Let them become the lodestar of your lives to guide you as you move forward in the world of which you will become an important part.”
Regardless of mistakes, he told those assembled, young people can square their lives with gospel teachings and find happiness in living gospel principles.
President Hinckley warned of the pitfalls of sexual immorality, pornography, filthy language, and criticism of the Church and its leaders.
“Never kid yourselves that happiness can come of darkness or evil or sin,” he said. “Know that happiness comes of following the way the Lord has marked for us.”
On 13 January President Hinckley traveled to Parowan, Utah, where he dedicated the city’s Heritage Park during the town’s 145th birthday celebration and addressed Parowan Utah Stake youth at a Saturday afternoon fireside.
“I stand in reverent respect for those who laid the foundation of this community and of hundreds of other similar communities in the West,” President Hinckley told a crowd of nearly 3,000 people gathered for a town meeting at the local high school. “There is a growing interest in what happened in the past, and it is good for all of us to stop and look back at our roots and contemplate the source of our real strength.”
President Hinckley paid tribute to those who established the area as a staging site for the subsequent settlement of many other communities.
Following the town meeting, President and Sister Hinckley, as well as Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Seventy, president of the Utah South Area, and Sister Tingey climbed aboard a white horse-drawn carriage and traveled parade fashion through downtown Parowan to Heritage Park. There, amid a throng of flag-waving children, a bronze pioneer tribute monument was unveiled and President Hinckley offered a dedicatory prayer.
An hour later, President Hinckley met with about 200 Parowan youth in the Parowan First and Second Ward chapel, encouraging them to heed their divine nature and avoid behavior and language beneath their dignity as children of God.
“I want you to know you are important,” he said. “Our Heavenly Father is counting on you to do something significant with your lives. Don’t sit around watching television. Do something significant.”
President Hinckley encouraged the young men and women to enjoy themselves, “but remember there is a line in the sand which you may never cross. You live in a world gone crazy with evil, but you don’t have to live like that.”
The next morning, 14 January, President Hinckley surprised members of the St. George Utah Pine View Stake when he arrived for their stake conference. Speaking without prepared remarks, President Hinckley urged those attending the conference to keep the Sabbath day holy and to live as Latter-day Saints should live.
“We are a people who have taken upon us sacred covenants. Let us strive harder to keep them. I believe you love the gospel. You are good people. You express gratitude. You try to do what’s right. You are trying to rear your children in truth and righteousness, raising a generation of the best the Church has ever seen.”
President Hinckley, wrapping up his visit to southern Utah with a fireside address that evening, encouraged nearly 10,000 youth gathered at the Dixie Center Burns Arena and in nearby stake and institute buildings to have sufficient faith to choose the right.
“Making choices is the substance of our lives,” he said. “We fought a war in heaven over choices. And the great battle goes on in the world today—what the adversary would have us do, what the Lord would have us do.”
President Hinckley illustrated the consequences of bad choices by relating the story of how a baggage car became separated from a train carrying 300 passengers. President Hinckley, who at the time was working in Denver for a railroad company, said the baggage car had been mistakenly routed 1,400 miles from its destination.
“A thoughtless switchman in St. Louis moved a piece of steel just several inches, and instead of sending the baggage car to New Jersey, it ended up in Louisiana,” he said. “Our lives are like that. Watch what you choose.”
President Hinckley told the youth that they are living in the greatest age of mankind’s history. “Your opportunities are tremendous,” he said. “No one has quite the advantages you have.”
President Hinckley reminded the young men that holding the priesthood “is something precious and wonderful and something worth living for.” To the young women, he said: “You girls have a special place in the love of your Heavenly Father. Don’t ever forget that. He expects great things of you, and if those things are to happen, you must live for them and work for them. And I don’t hesitate to promise you, if you so live your lives, you will know much of happiness, peace, accomplishment, and joy in your lives.”
Shaun Stahle, second counselor in the bishopric of the Riverbend Ward, St. George Utah Pine View Stake, reported on President Hinckley’s visit to southern Utah.