President Uchtdorf Speaks to “Fellow Refugees”

Contributed By Gerry Avant, Church News editor

  • 4 November 2016

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, poses on October 30, 2016, with J. P. BeniMana, who recently returned from a mission to Los Angeles.  Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • President Dieter F. Uchtdorf addressed the Parleys Creek Branch on October 30.
  • Most of the members were from African nations.
  • President Uchtdorf encouraged the refugees to remember that “the gospel is home.”

“The gospel is home. See that as your goal for the future.” —President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency

When President Dieter F. Uchtdorf stood to address members of the Parleys Creek Branch on October 30, he spoke to them not only as fellow Saints in the gospel of Jesus Christ but also as a fellow refugee.

Many members of the branch are refugees from African nations. President Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke from his heart when he told them, “I can relate to your experiences in some way.”

He was a refugee twice—first as a 4-year-old boy fleeing with his family from Czechoslovakia during World War II and then as an 11-year-old escaping from East Germany to West Germany in the aftermath of the war.

President Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, visited the Parleys Creek (Swahili) Branch’s sacrament meeting, during which some 90 children participated in a Primary presentation. After observing the children giving talks and singing, President Uchtdorf spoke of what he and the branch’s members have in common.

He noted that, prior to the Primary's presentation, six members of one family—a mother and father and four of their children—were confirmed as members of the Church. Watching the confirmations, he said, reminded him of when six members of his family were baptized: his grandmother, his parents, and three siblings. He said that since he was just 6 years old, he had to wait another two years to join the Church.

President Uchtdorf repeated several times the theme of his message to members of the branch, especially those who left their homes as refugees: “Always remember that wherever we are, the gospel is home. It doesn't matter where we are, the gospel is home.

”For you who are here now, the gospel is home. See that as your goal for the future.“

He spoke of listening to the Primary children sing about wanting to be missionaries and encouraged the young people, adults, parents, teachers, and leaders to help the children reach their goals. To the future missionaries, he said that wherever they go, “know that the gospel is home.”

President Uchtdorf encouraged the branch's members to “trust God and trust His voice.”

He noted that President Emanuel De'Mzee, president of the Parleys Creek Branch, was translating his message into Swahili, the predominant African language of the branch's members. President Uchtdorf said, “This afternoon, I have felt even more how inspiring the Holy Ghost is. Here we have a translator [President De'Mzee]. Often, we sit in meetings, not quite understanding the words that are spoken or how they all fit together. When we trust God and listen to the Holy Ghost, He will translate the words into a personal message to us. Whether you are 4 or 40 or 84, the message will be translated by the Holy Ghost.”

Concluding his message, President Uchtdorf said, “The gospel is home for everyone. Trust in the Lord. Keep the commandments. He will be close to you. … You will find a home among members of the Church.”

President Uchtdorf said, “As you trust the Lord, you will never be alone. He will always be with you; He will be on your side. He knows you. He has confidence in you.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, smiles as he attends the Parleys Creek Branch Primary program in Sugar House, Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Mirey Abduli, center, sings with her fellow Primary class members in the Parleys Creek Branch Primary program in Sugar House, Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

The Parleys Creek Branch Primary children sing “Scripture Power” in their program in Sugar House, Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Abraham Niyonkuru gestures during a Primary song in the Parleys Creek Branch’s sacrament meeting on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Didace Mahror, center, sings with fellow Primary children on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Andrew Kirato waits to give a small talk during the Parleys Creek Branch Primary program on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Zephrine speaks during the Parleys Creek Branch Primary program on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

A little girl watches the Parleys Creek Branch Primary program on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, enjoy the Parleys Creek Branch Primary program on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Janine Holmberg plays the violin as part of the Parleys Creek Branch Primary program on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Parleys Creek Branch Primary president Lyn Larsen looks on as Primary children participate in the branch’s Primary program in on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Parleys Creek Branch President Emmanuel De'Mzee speaks to branch members on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, smiles as Parleys Creek Branch President Emmanuel De'Mzee translates his remarks into Swahili, Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, addresses the Parleys Creek Branch as Branch President Emmanuel De'Mzee translates his remarks into Swahili in Salt Lake City's Sugar House area on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, hugs Parleys Creek Branch President Emmanuel De'Mzee on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf sing “I Am a Child of God” in Swahili in Salt Lake City’s Sugar House area, Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, greets the Parleys Creek Branch full-time missionaries in Sugar House, Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, speaks with George Mrisho, left, who was confirmed a member of the Church on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, greets Parleys Creek Branch members in Sugar House, Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, shakes hands with Jessie De'Mzee, 11, who sang a solo during the Parley Creek Branch’s Primary program on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, greets Petero Nzeyimana as Fredrick Ntabwoba looks on in Sugar House, Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, gives J. P. BeniMana a hug; the young man recently returned from a mission to Los Angeles. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, talks on October 30, 2016, with J. P. BeniMana who recently returned from a mission to Los Angeles. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf shakes hands with Daniella Kibe, 11, after a sacrament meeting in the Parleys Creek (Swahili) Branch in Salt Lake City’s Sugar House area. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.