My family and I are presently living in South America among the Lamanites—the children of Lehi, the people of the Book of Mormon, a people of great promise. For a number of years we have been witnesses to spiritual miracles among that people:
1. We have seen thousands converted to the Lord who had his law put into their minds and written in their hearts (see Heb. 8:10).
2. We have seen them organized into numerous stakes of Zion.
3. We have truly seen them “blossom as the rose” as prophecy has been fulfilled through them (see D&C 49:24).
4. We have literally seen the Lord perform miracles among them by their faith.
Why should that be so? Why are changes in that people occurring so dramatically? The title page of the record their ancestors gave to the world, entitled the Book of Mormon, indicates that the book was “written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel.” In the last chapter of the book, the prophet Moroni gives to the Lamanites farewell instructions, a portion of which contains the conditions on which individual testimonies of the truth may be obtained. The record is for all men, but from cover to cover the book is filled with prophecies concerning the Lamanites, indicating “that the promises of the Lord [would] be fulfilled, which he made to his people” (see D&C 3:18, 19).
The promises were not exclusively given to the Lamanites but to all nations who would possess these lands. The land was blessed: “And thus they did leave a blessing upon this land in their prayers, that whosoever should believe in this gospel in this land might have eternal life” (see D&C 10:49, 50).
“And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; …
“And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes.” (2 Ne. 30:5–6.)
There is even direction to us in our day from President Kimball and the scriptures: “Go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them” (D&C 28:8). Our living prophet has also said, “It is a people who … call for assistance from those who can push and lift and open doors. It is a people who pray for mercy, for forgiveness, and beg for membership in the kingdom with its opportunities to learn and do.” (Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Apr. 1954, p. 107.)
How the Lord has blessed his people, this remnant of the house of Jacob. His words have been fulfilled. Where there was once a barren field, today they stand strong and truly “blossom as the rose” (D&C 49:24).
What a miracle to behold! Only in part of the Lamanite world, in Latin America alone, there are over 600,000 members of the Church, with 7,000 baptized nearly every month; 181 stakes at present with almost 2,400 congregations of Saints and 2,500 Latin missionaries serving; thousands and thousands of priesthood holders—Regional Representatives, mission presidents, patriarchs, bishops—faithful sisters, and faithful children of a powerful generation yet to come.
Yes, the descendants of Lehi have learned much from us, the Church in general, as we have established the Church among them. They appreciate the fulfillment of the prophecy indicating “that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language” (D&C 90:11). Thanks belong to you who serve or have served in these countries, and to the parents who worried about you but sent you anyway, trusting in the Lord, and who found that their sons and daughters received far more in their service to this people than they were capable of giving.
They appreciate the fulfillment of these words of the Lord also: “I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my gospel among the Gentiles unto the poor of my people who are of the house of Israel” (D&C 42:39). Thanks belong to the thousands of you who have contributed generously and enabled the work to go forth. You have given much for which the Lord will bless you.
You have also received much, as many of you have a personal debt to the Lamanites’ forefathers for your own testimony obtained from their diligent record-keeping in the Book of Mormon. We are all blessed to participate with them in making latter-day history and assist in the fulfillment of prophecy.
Now, what can the rest of the Church learn from this people? They would not have you think they are any better than anyone else. However, because of the prophetic nature of their role in the last days, because the Lord has pre-prepared their hearts, one is able to see the Lord’s handiwork in their very lives and understand why they are so susceptible to the gospel. This very understanding ought to teach all of us much about the sacred conversion process. Their lives teach of the basics of the gospel—godly traits—traits that we could do well to emulate in our progress toward exaltation. Repayment of temporal resources to the Church may never be made by them. However, the additional spiritual insight obtained from them may well represent an overpayment.
Their lives teach of simple truths like faith, confidence, trust in God. For example, a small village of Aymara Indians is converted within a matter of a few weeks—the entire village. Missionaries learn through the gift of tongues to speak Spanish, Aymara, Quechua, and many other Indian dialects. Lamanite Saints accept in faith instructions to become self-sufficient when the vision of that concept in their world seems to be totally impossible. They believe anyway and are on their way to making that become reality.
Their lives emanate the basics of the gospel, like repentance and love unfeigned. New leaders enter the Church from many kinds of worldly conditions but come forth cleansed and, in but “moments,” stand tall as the Lord’s leaders. They quickly learn by the Spirit that all can lead, even though many can’t even read. A man who has not spoken for many years repents, is baptized, and speaks his first words as he leaves the baptismal font.
Their lives teach the simple truths of humility, meekness, teachableness. May I share another example? A Lamanite missionary baptizes eighteen souls in a matter of three weeks, where all last year none had been baptized. There are few problems with respect to teachableness among this people. They are teachable, meek, open in their hearts, and, in this respect, much like submissive children.
When nonmembers are first taught gospel truths, with little or no difficulty they believe. They believe in the Savior of the world. They believe in prophets. It seems as though they always have. The premortal existence seems to be common knowledge. The Joseph Smith story is believable and reasonable. They are not the least bit astonished by the coming of angels. They truly do hearken unto the voice of the Good Shepherd and thus truly do come unto God (see Mosiah 26:21; D&C 84:47).
Their lives teach the basics of prayer, fasting, priesthood blessings. A sister unable to have children has a daughter, receiving that gift indirectly through a blessing given to her husband in which the promise was extended to her. A sick sister is raised at the very moment from her sick-bed by a priesthood blessing. The devil openly opposes the work and as needed is controlled by the priesthood. Servants of the Lord partake of food and water that is poison to them and receive no harm. A sister, as a young girl thousands of miles from her present home, is promised in a patriarchal blessing that one day General Authorities will be served at her humble table. Today she is married to a Lamanite stake president with the prophetic statement fulfilled.
Their lives emanate basic truths of kindness, long-suffering, and sacrifice. A man sells his only watch to purchase gasoline for his car so that he might find a man the Brethren desire to interview. A leader who struggles for years to own a car sells it that he might take his family to the temple. Men, women, and children give rings, watches, corn, grain, animals, and even the gold from their teeth that they may show the Lord their desire to help him raise up in their lands a temple to the Lord.
Even though the Spirit has manifested itself in the lives of these people in many miraculous ways, the common way—the most effective way—continues to be by the still small voice simply going forth, converting them “in their inward parts” by the thousands (see Jer. 31:33).
These are the children of Lehi, the children of the prophets, great in many respects but blessed, as are all the children of God, according to their righteousness.
None of us would ever boast in our own strength nor in our own wisdom, but as Ammon said about the Lamanites:
“[Our] joy is full … and [we] will rejoice in [our] God.
“… For in his strength [we] can do all things; …
“… Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, [we] say unto you, [we] cannot say the smallest part which [we] feel.” (Alma 26:11–12, 16.)
My brothers and sisters, we must do all that we have been counseled to do here in this conference. Let us not forget the simple truths—those godly traits, the weightier matters of the law, that have been described (see Matt. 23:23). They are the very basics, the essence of the gospel, and possession of them in great abundance by Latter-day Saints will be in the end the greatest miracle of all. Yes, miracles have not ceased. Today is a day of miracles. We believe in miracles. The Latter-day Saints may expect miracles according to their faith in Jesus Christ, the only being under heaven whereby we and all mankind may be saved (see D&C 18:23), in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.