Sister Dalton: The Lord Loves and Trusts Youth
By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer
Some 2,000 youth received counsel from the Young Women general president March 23 on how they, like other Latter-day Saints, can be “saviors on Mount Zion.”
Sister Elaine S. Dalton was the featured speaker at a family history youth devotional held in connection with the three-day RootsTech 2013 Family History and Technology Conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. The devotional could be viewed live via Internet streaming.
The reference to saviors on Mount Zion is an allusion to ancient and latter-day scripture (see Obadiah 1:21 and D&C 103:9–10). It is understood to refer to the work of identifying and providing vicarious temple ordinances of salvation for those who died without the opportunity to receive them.
“In number here, we may have close to the number of stripling warriors that were talked about in the Book of Mormon,” Sister Dalton said, referring to her audience, mostly consisting of young people between the ages of 12 and 18.
“A casual observer might say, ‘So what are all these teenagers doing attending a family history conference on a Saturday night?’ Your being here tonight is a manifestation that you know who you are and that you know that you have a great work to do.
“In fact, I like to call you the new generation of stripling warriors, because I believe that you, like them, are going to change the world.”
Like the stripling warriors told of in Alma 56, the young people Sister Dalton was speaking to understand the importance of covenants and receiving the saving ordinances of the gospel, “and you have felt the spirit of Elijah already as you have attended this conference,” she said.
Posing the question, “What does it mean to be a savior on Mount Zion?” Sister Dalton defined such individuals as “those who perform vicarious work for their kindred dead that they cannot do for themselves.”
She cited words from Joseph Smith to the effect that Zion will be built up in the latter days, that the Saints will come up as saviors on Mount Zion, and that they do so by building temples and baptismal fonts and going forth and receiving baptisms and other ordinances in behalf of the dead.
“So you could literally be called the saviors on Mount Zion, and you will be doing work for progenitors who are dead and will redeem them, and they will come forth in that first resurrection and will be exalted to thrones and glory,” Sister Dalton said. “This fulfills the mission of Elijah the prophet.”
She said she finds it interesting that many times when the Lord has something great or hard to do, He calls upon the youth. “He is calling upon you right now. The message is clear: He loves and He trusts youth.”
Mormon, for example, was called while still in his youth by the prophet Ammaron “because he was ‘quick to observe,’” she said.
“He was quick to see. He was quick to discern by the Spirit what was happening, and he was quick to obey,” she said, likening him to youth of today.
Holding up an assortment of electronic gadgets that today’s youth use largely for social networking and entertainment, Sister Dalton said she believes that their invention has been inspired “so that you can do the great work that you have been reserved and prepared to do in these latter days.”
She spoke of the young Joseph Smith, who had studied the scriptures and who sought the Lord in earnest prayer.
“This experience opened up the dispensation of the fulness of times in which you and I live now,” she said. “Joseph was entrusted with the same records that Mormon kept and which provide us with increased knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ and our purpose here at this time.”
Sister Dalton assured her young listeners that the Lord never asks youth to do hard things without preparing them in advance, as the examples of Mormon and Joseph Smith show.
She recounted some of the experiences of Joseph Smith, including the visitation to him by the angel Moroni, who quoted a variation of Malachi 4:5–6 regarding the coming of Elijah the prophet.
Probably Joseph, being still in his youth, did not understand the significance of that passage, “and neither, maybe, do you understand the great work that Heavenly Father has for you,” she remarked.
The concept of turning the hearts of the fathers to their children and the children to their fathers is found in all four standard works of the Church, Sister Dalton said (see Malachi 4:5–6; Luke 1:17; 3 Nephi 25:5–6; D&C 2; 110:15; Joseph Smith—History 1:38–39).
Sister Dalton speaks at a family history youth devotional held in connection with the RootsTech conference. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.
“This doctrine has been repeated in your day by modern prophets, seers, and revelators,” Sister Dalton observed. “So why are you here, 2,000 new-generation stripling warriors on Saturday night? Because this message is for you. I compliment you for being here.”
She cited a statement from President Brigham Young that to accomplish the work of redeeming the dead, there would have to be not one but thousands of temples on the earth.
She then showed an animated graphic video she found on the Church website, LDS.org. It displays a map of the world with dots of light that appear as the years pass in sequence from 1893, when the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated, to now, when there are 141 operating temples in the world.
“Isn’t that thrilling?” she asked. “You will probably live to see the day when all the part [of the map] that’s still just green without any white dots will be filled with dots. And one of you will probably stand up to speak to another group of youth and talk about when Sister Dalton showed this funny, puny little thing that just had a [relatively] few dots.”
As part of her presentation, Sister Dalton played a video clip of an October 2011 general conference talk by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve in which he invited youth to learn about and experience the spirit of Elijah. He promised that as they responded to that invitation, their hearts would turn to the fathers, their conversion to the Savior would be deep and abiding, and they would be protected from the influence of the adversary.
Sister Dalton invited some in the audience to express themselves regarding the promises given by Elder Bednar. One young woman expressed conviction of the truth of Elder Bednar’s promise that by partaking of the spirit of Elijah, she would be safeguarded not just in her youth but throughout her life. Another told of a personal, spiritual connection she felt with an ancestor as she was baptized in the temple in that ancestor’s behalf. A young man said the talk by Elder Bednar put him back on track and helped him prepare himself to serve a mission and desire to serve his ancestors.
Sister Dalton concluded by urging the youth: “Rise to your potential and to the destiny that awaits you. Contribute to the work of salvation and to the preparation for the Savior to come to the earth again. Keep your records. Keep a record of your life. Keep a journal. Search out your ancestors and remain worthy to go to the temple with your own family names and claim the blessings. And most importantly, make an unbreakable chain. Don’t let any of us here be the weak link in that chain.”