“Faith of Our Prophets,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 22–24
I hope that you had a little burning in your heart as I did when I raised my hand in sustaining President Hinckley as President of the Church and as prophet, seer, and revelator, and the other officers that have been presented to you. What a wonderful and grand opportunity that is for all of us to be able to sustain our living prophet upon the earth today—but not just to sit there and raise your hand in a haphazard way, but to feel it in your heart and soul that you not only sustain him but you endorse what he has been doing and what he has done for us in representing us to the world. We are thankful for the marvelous and inspired way in which he has communicated and spoken to the world, particularly in these last few days and weeks.
A few years ago, when Arturo Toscanini was musical director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in New York City, he had a Saturday afternoon radio broadcast. And one day he received in his mail a crumpled little note on some brownish paper which read:
“Dear Mr. Toscanini, I am a lonely sheepherder in the mountains of Wyoming. I have two prized possessions: an old violin and a battery radio. And the batteries are getting weak and beginning to run down on my radio, and my violin is so out of tune I can’t play it anymore. Would you please sound an A next Saturday on your program?”
The next week on the program, Arturo Toscanini announced: “To a newfound friend in the mountains of Wyoming, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra is now, all together and in unison, going to sound a perfect A.” And they sounded the perfect A. Then that lonely little man was able to tune the A string and then the E string and the D and the G from that perfect A.
Isn’t it interesting to reflect in our own lives and in the lives of the many people who may hear me at this time—those whose violin or lives may be a little out of tune—that we are able to come to a general conference of the Church and hear the marvelous messages that are spoken? Those of us who have the opportunity to speak here pray mightily that we would have the energy and the strength and the vitality even as I do, as I enter the twilight of my life, to stand and bear witness of the truthfulness of this work—because I am a witness of it.
I have had the opportunity—as many of you have and as many of you would wish to have—of being raised in a Mormon home and to be a product of the Church, and to have had the opportunity to go out and live in the world and rub shoulders with people in many places, whether it would be in government or the corporate world or whatever, but to associate with people and to be able to share with them the feelings that you have in your heart.
Often President Hinckley has said to us in some of our meetings, and I think he has said it publicly, that behind his desk he has a picture of Brigham Young. Sometimes when President Hinckley has had a busy day and a hard day of making many, many difficult decisions, he turns in his chair and looks up at Brigham’s picture behind him and either asks out loud or in his own mind says, “Brother Brigham, what would you have done?” or “What advice would you give to me?”
Think of what has happened in the last few years. You all know so well all of the inspiration and the direction that has come to President Hinckley in the expansion of the Church—the building of temples and the remodeling of the old Hotel Utah into that marvelous building, now the Joseph Smith Memorial Building which bears his name, and for this unusual structure, the Conference Center, that we’re in today—probably nothing like it in the world. And for us who have for now a number of years worked with and by the side of and listened to and been associated with President Hinckley, what a marvelous experience we’ve had and blessing in our lives as we have seen and felt and been part of the inspired expansion that has been moving forward.
As we look at Brigham Young and reflect upon the inspiration and direction that came to that most unusual man, we recall how he was able to fill the tragic void caused by the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, how he stepped in and was able under inspiration and revelation to guide and direct the closing of Nauvoo and the planning of the trip west. We remember the continued work there at that time on the Nauvoo Temple and the way that was organized to move forward, with the wagon trains crossing the West and into the Salt Lake Valley into what would become the Zion where they could worship and teach and preach and build the meetinghouses and all that would be needed for this civilization and for this culture that we have, to expand and grow here.
Think of the inspiration that came to the prophet Brigham Young for those people not to just build up a big city in Salt Lake, but to move out into these other settlements. He had the genius to have people go out and look for the valleys and the areas away from Salt Lake City where the pioneers who would pour into this valley could go and settle and make their homes and build cities and communities and build their personalities and their characters and develop the talents that would be theirs. So rather than having a large city in Salt Lake, under his leadership some 360 communities were developed out in Wyoming and Nevada and Arizona and southern Idaho as well as in Utah.
As people moved out and set up in these little communities, they developed their talents and abilities by serving on school boards and on town councils or became leading people in a little town. They became citizens of that area, and they started building schools and expanding those communities. We see what has happened in these areas that Brigham Young envisioned and which he helped set in motion. Just think of how that has developed—of the developing of a settlement, for example, in Las Vegas, Nevada, so that people could go down to San Bernardino, California. The people could come by ship into San Pedro, California, go to San Bernardino to be outfitted and helped with the equipment necessary to come into this valley, and then into the outlying communities, down into Sanpete County or up into Idaho or elsewhere.
I have become a product of that, because when my mother’s family arrived here in Salt Lake City, they were sent out to Tooele to settle. Then later they were sent up into Idaho, where a sawmill and a gristmill were needing to be built. My father’s family had settled in Farmington, Utah, part of this colonization that I’m referring to—the colonization that made people stronger and gave them opportunities. Rather than being lost in a big city, they were asked to move to a smaller community where they could develop their ability and where there would be more schools and a need for more schoolteachers and where people with talent would develop their ability. Out of all of this, my family were asked to leave Farmington and Tooele, to sell their green acres, and go out into southern Idaho, where there was nothing at that time but sagebrush.
In a little settlement of that kind, my mother and father fell in love. By the time they were 20 years old and ready to be married, where would they be married? In the Logan Utah Temple. How would they get there? By buggy. How long would it take? Well, five or six or seven days. Highways and good roads? Of course not. They went by roads made by wagons going over the sagebrush and through the bushes and over the rocks. Where would they be married? Where would they be sealed? Only one place—the temple. They went by buggy.
That became part of my heritage. And so people grew up in these little towns. Then the Church decided to open some academies, and they opened some 30 of them out in these areas far away. One of those little academies was opened in our town, and it became an area where many from neighboring areas would move into that little town to get a higher education. Of course, the higher education was only a high school, but it was referred to as an academy.
I’m referring to the inspiration that came to the prophet Brigham Young years ago in the settlement, in the development of this intermountain area now surrounding Salt Lake City. And think of who we are today and how this has grown and the blessing that has come into our lives to have President Hinckley as our prophet, seer, and revelator and leader and to envision what is happening and what will be happening ahead of us if we just have the faith to be able to continue to do what has been started. Think of what is on the way and being done.
President Hinckley often speaks to us about developing more faith with our people. That faith is a result of our living the principles of the gospel, living the way we should and raising our children as we should, and seeing them grow and develop their character and personality in a way that they become an example of what we believe in and what we have a hope to do and accomplish.
You’ll all remember the man who had a son that was a lunatic. And he approached the Savior and asked if the Savior would bless the boy to drive that evil spirit from his son. And the man told the Savior, “I’ve asked your disciples to do this, but they haven’t been able to do it.” The Savior blessed that little boy. The evil spirit immediately departed, and the Savior’s disciples came to him and said, “Why couldn’t we do it? Why weren’t we able to?” (See Matt. 17:14–21). The Savior also had said, “O ye of little faith” (Matt. 16:8).
If ye had but the faith of a tiny—I’m trying to think of the name of that little tree. [President Hinckley says, “Mustard.”] Mustard! Thank you, President. (I keep the President around to help me.) If you had but the faith of a mustard seed. Perhaps not many of you have seen a mustard seed. A few years ago in Jerusalem we were in a car with a driver, and he said, “Oh, there’s a mustard tree.” And I said, “Let’s see it.” We got out to look at that mustard tree, and it had a little pod on it, and I was able to open the pod, which was like those on a locust tree, and see those tiny little seeds, not much larger than a grain of pepper.
Just imagine the analogy that the Savior was teaching the people. If you only had as much faith as that little tiny mustard seed—and I held it in my hand, and I could hardly see it—if you had that much faith you would say to the mountain, “Move hence,” and it would move, if you had that much faith (see Matt. 17:20). “O ye of little faith,” he told us.
So what we need is the faith of Brigham Young and the faith of Gordon B. Hinckley and the faith of people who are our prophets and leaders.
God lives. I know He’s real, that He is our Father, and I know that He loves us. I know that. And I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. I have felt of that influence. I’m a witness to it. I know that the Prophet Joseph Smith and all of the historical accounts we have of what he did as the instrument of the Restoration are true and that the prophets down through the years and including President Hinckley are called of God. The work is true. I leave you my love, my witness, and my testimony that burns in my heart. All the days of my life I hope to be able to tell somebody and help somebody understand that this work is true, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.