“No Obstacle Too Great” for Young Single Adults in Arizona

  By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News staff writer

  • 24 January 2014

Almost 4,000 Church members participated in a young single adult conference January 10–12 on the campus of Arizona State University. Conference speakers addressed the theme “No Obstacle Too Great” in workshops for young adults from five local stakes.    Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Article Highlights

  • Sheri Dew challenged young single adults to recognize and utilize gifts from God.
  • Elder David E. LeSueur explained that faith can begin with hope, can be confirmed by the Holy Ghost, and then can be strengthened by obedience.
  • Mitt Romney reminded young single adults that God’s measure of success is different than the world’s.

“There is no obstacle too great, no challenge too difficult, that we cannot meet with faith.” —President Gordon B. Hinckley

Speakers told almost 4,000 young single adults gathered in Tempe, Arizona, on January 10–12 that there is “no obstacle too great.”

The three-day YSA conference was held in the Grady Gammage Auditorium and overflow areas on the Arizona State University campus. Speakers addressed the conference theme, taken from a quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley: “There is no obstacle too great, no challenge too difficult, that we cannot meet with faith” (“God Grant Us Faith,” Oct. 1983 general conference).

Participants came from five stakes in the area. Following are summaries of addresses given in three general sessions of the conference. The sessions and speakers are summarized in the order they were presented.

Sheri Dew

Sheri Dew, a former member of the Relief Society general presidency, spoke about how easy it is to “have influence” and “be influenced.”

She asked the congregation where they look for guidance. “Is it to the world or is it to prophets, seers, and revelators?”

Sister Dew spoke of traveling to Africa without asking proper questions about what to expect. “It pays to learn everything we can learn. It is a mistake not to learn everything we can learn.”

She also recalled having an access card that would open many doors at Church headquarters but not understanding the access that card could give her. “I was oblivious to what was available to me,” she said.

She asked the young single adults if they were walking about and not utilizing things the Lord has already given them.

She said there are certain things that are absolutely true. “We must learn as much as we can about what is absolutely true so we are not deceived,” she said.

Nancy R. LeSueur

Nancy R. LeSueur, who will serve as the matron of the Gilbert Arizona Temple, spoke to the young adults about “claiming the blessings of our covenants.”

“I have been reading about and giving a lot of thought to the importance of the temple,” she said.

Some 4,000 attended a YSA conference on the campus of Arizona State University on January 10-12. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

The temple, she explained, is a pattern for Latter-day Saint homes. “I want my home to feel the way the temple feels. The temple is beautiful, well-built, orderly, clean, peaceful. It is a place of service. These are all things we would all love to have our homes also emulate.”

Sister LeSueur said many blessings are promised in the temple. “They are there for us to claim,” she said.

Elder David E. LeSueur

Elder David E. LeSueur, an Area Seventy who has been called to serve as president of the Gilbert Arizona Temple, presided at the event and spoke.

“When we speak of faith, brothers and sisters, it is in its most simplistic form.”

Faith, he said, is found in the middle of gullibility and cynicism. Gullibility is where someone is so naive, so foolish, that they believe everything. “Gullibility is not faith.” At the other end of the spectrum is cynicism, he said. “That prevents us from believing anything.” Faith, he explained, “operates in between those two poles.”

Faith can originate with something as simple as hope. “It can also come from a wellspring of spiritual evidence—thought, prayer, study, pondering, and experience.”

Faith is reinforced by spiritual experience and can be confirmed by the Holy Ghost, he explained. He said that his faith has significantly been strengthened by obedience.

Michael M. Crow

The president of Arizona State University told the single adult members to use their brains.

“The single most complex physical object that exists in the universe is the human brain,” said President Michael M. Crow. “I mean this literally.”

President Crow asked the capacity crowd, which included an overflow broadcast at the Tempe Arizona LDS Institute of Religion building, to ponder how they will use their brains.

“What will you create?” questioned the university president. “How will you teach your family or others? How will you help others? How will you solve problems that have not been solved before? How will you discover?”

He told the young adults that their brain was an “unbelievably powerful gift.”

Then he asked them to utilize this gift when choosing whom to date. “Look at their brain,” he quipped. “Think about whether or not they know how to use it.”

Vai Sikahema

Vai Sikahema, president of the Cherry Hill New Jersey Stake and a former professional football player, recounted his family’s conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ that started his journey from Tonga to Mesa. He said he never did well in school and didn’t learn to read until he was 10 years old.

But he succeeded because his greatest gift was “the ability to recognize people that would bless my life.”

Two such people were Neal and Sally Sue Nelson—President Sikahema’s former Scoutmaster and Blazer B teacher. The couple was at the conference and stood when President Sikahema introduced them. “They helped me get to college and stayed with me and assisted me,” he said. “They helped me get on my mission.”

He told the young single adults to also use the power of observation.

“God loves us. We are His children,” he said. “He especially cares for you as young people. I pray you will be observant of your many gifts and share them to bless the lives of others.”

Former NBA player Thurl Bailey speaking at a YSA conference in Tempe, Arizona. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Thurl Bailey

A former professional basketball player, Thurl Bailey began his remarks with the word journey.

“I love the word journey,” he said, noting that his life has been an amazing journey.

While playing basketball in Europe, he said, on many occasions he crossed the border into Switzerland. Every time he was asked the same three questions. But one day those questions hit him so hard he pulled his car over to the side of the road.

“Where have you been? What is your purpose here today? What is your destination?” He decided that those “were the three most important questions that could ever be asked to me.”

He also spoke about being cut from the junior high basketball team in the seventh and eighth grades and having a coach tell him to “give it up.”

“Throughout the course of your journey you will have many ups and downs,” he said. “But you have so much potential.”

Paul E. Gilbert, president of the Tempe Arizona YSA Stake, left, sits by former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, during a young single adult conference held at Arizona State University on January 11. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Ann Romney

Ann Romney, wife of former U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney, shared her conversion story and spoke about “how I came to the knowledge of the Savior.”

She grew up in a home that “never had any religious experience.” Then as a teenager she began dating Mitt Romney. One night Ann asked him about his religion. “What do Mormons believe?” she asked.

What happened next was “the most extraordinary experience of my life,” she said.

“He said, ‘We believe in God, the Eternal Father, in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.’ Something happened to me when he said that. The Spirit whispered to me so strongly that what he said was true that I burst into tears.”

Sister Romney said something had happened in her heart.

From that point on, even though she had not yet studied the teachings of the Church, she said, “I knew the gospel Mitt was teaching me about was true. It opened my heart. Then I became extremely teachable to all these other things I needed to learn.”

Sister Romney said the knowledge that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost were real became the foundation of her future life.

Mitt Romney

Success in life cannot be measured by the world’s standards but comes from loving God and His children, said Mitt Romney.

“There is a great deal of chance or serendipity or even luck to success in business, in politics, in science, in academics, in investments, in winning and losing.” Therefore, the bad news is that if people define their lives by the standards of the world, then their success is something out of their control or something left to chance.

“The good news is that by God’s measure, success is entirely within your control. It is not in any way subject to serendipity or luck or chance. It is up to you alone.”

He said Jesus defined success as “loving God and loving His children by serving them.”

He said he knew something about obstacles, based on the outcome of his presidential campaigns.

He said during the recent campaign he participated in 20 different presidential debates in the primary contest and three in the general election. He and Sister Romney attended hundreds of fundraising events and spoke more than 1,000 times. The last year of his campaign, the Romneys spent more than 300 nights in hotel rooms.

“So a lot of people look back on that and say, ‘It must have been awful.’” But, he said, “I loved it. It was fabulous.” The thing that made it wonderful, he said, was that “I met extraordinary people.”

That, he said, is the paradox of obstacles. “You pray not to have them. They are frightening. They are daunting. And yet they are some of the best experiences of your life.”

Noting that he was not talking about “tragic obstacles,” he said many obstacles can be a vehicle for learning, “where you grow in ways you could not imagine.”