“As we drove from Auckland to Hamilton today, we saw beautiful green hills and cattle grazing,” Elder Gary E. Stevenson told members and friends of the Church in the Hamilton suburb of Dinsdale on a Sunday in September 2019.
Elder Stevenson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, went on to say that members of the Church the world over consider New Zealand Latter-day Saints as among the most faithful in the world.
Elder Stevenson, accompanied by his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, and Elder Ian S. Ardern, president of the Pacific Area of the Church, and Sister Paula Ardern, attended the Tuhikaramea Ward sacrament meeting on Sunday.
Elder Stevenson spoke about three priorities that President Russell M. Nelson is focused on.
These priorities are to gather Israel on both sides of the veil; to have a home-centred, church-supported approach; and to minister to one another in Christlike ways.
Gathering Israel on both sides of the veil means to share the gospel with others through missionary work, and to engage in family history research and temple work. “There are simple, practical ways we can all do these things,” he said.
He suggested that each member of the Church could get to know the full-time missionaries serving in their congregation, know their names, pray for them and those individuals they are teaching.
“We can invite the missionaries to teach individuals and families in our homes.”
He also suggested that each Latter-day Saint, young or old, could complete the “My Family” booklet, identifying their ancestors. Then, Church members can do the temple work for each member of their family.
Elder Stevenson told those in attendance, “I feel that we have come to Zion. We have a deep love for the Latter-day Saints of New Zealand, and your legacy of faith.”
Elder Stevenson told worshippers that “the gift of the Holy Ghost is precious. The Lord will help you through the Holy Ghost.
“I bear testimony of the Godhead,” he declared. “We have Heavenly Parents. God wants us to be happy so He has given us a plan so we can return to be with Him, with our families. Through our Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, we can return to be with God.”
Elder Ardern also spoke during the sacrament meeting.
He said, “It doesn’t matter how many times we go through the Book of Mormon, but it does matter how much of the Book of Mormon goes through us.”
He invited those in attendance to ask themselves, as they read, “What message does the Lord have for me from this page in the Book of Mormon?” And then to write it down.
He added, “I know, my friends, that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world. He went into the Garden of Gethsemane and took upon Himself our sins. The Atonement of Jesus Christ took place in the garden and on the cross. It is another evidence of God’s love for His children.”
“We live in challenging times. As we come together to partake of the sacrament, we can receive the power to live with God again. We can build one another and be nearer to God.”
In her remarks, Sister Lesa Stevenson commented on the “glow and brightness in the faces of Church members around the world.”
She called the Book of Mormon a precious book filled with precious truths.
Sister Stevenson expressed thanks “for the joy and the peace of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“The Atonement of Jesus Christ is real, in hard times and in good times.”
She added, “President Nelson is a true prophet of God. You can feel love and strength radiate from him. It is a wonderful time to be alive and to enjoy the beauties around us.”
After worshipping with members and friends of the Church in Dinsdale, the Stevensons and Ardens joined other Church leaders, including Elder Carl B. Cook, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, Elder K. Brett Nattress and Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, and their wives, for a tour of Church facilities in nearby Temple View.
The tour included a visit to the Hamilton New Zealand Temple, which is closed for renovation; the recreational facility Camp Tuhikaramea; and the Matthew Cowley Pacific Church History Centre.