Prepare, Perform, and Serve, President Monson Teaches

“This is your time. What will you do with it? Are you where you want to be with your life?” asked President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, in a January Church Educational System satellite broadcast.

Speaking at Ricks College, President Monson told young people that in order to be successful in life, they must pass through three “gates”: the gate of preparation, the gate of performance, and the gate of service.

The Gate of Preparation

“The Lord has counseled, ‘If ye are prepared ye shall not fear’ (D&C 38:30). Fear is the enemy of growth and accomplishment,” said President Monson. “It is necessary to prepare, to plan, so that we don’t fritter away our lives. Without a goal, there can be no real success.”

President Monson emphasized the importance of education in preparing for one’s life. “Study something you like and which will make it possible for you to support a family,” he said. “While this counsel would apply almost certainly to young men, it also has relevance to young women. There are situations in life which we cannot predict which will require employable skills.”

The Gate of Performance

President Monson urged young members always to have courage to do what is right. “You must continue to refuse to compromise. … You must maintain the courage to defy the consensus. You must continue to choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong,” he said.

In seeking to accomplish one’s goals, President Monson cautioned, some things are more important than ambition. “It is a good idea to be ambitious, to have goals, to want to be good at what you do, but it is a terrible mistake to let drive and ambition get in the way of treating people with kindness and decency,” he said. “The point is not that they then will be nice to you. It is that you will feel better about yourself.”

The Gate of Service

Quoting Dr. Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965), President Monson said, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

As we live our daily lives, we find countless opportunities to follow the example of Jesus Christ, said President Monson, and “when we are on the Lord’s errand, we are entitled to the Lord’s help.”

He spoke of a painting of the Savior that hangs on the wall opposite his desk. “When confronted with a vexing problem or difficult decision, I always gaze at that picture of the Master and silently ask myself the question: ‘What would He have me do?’ No longer does doubt linger, nor does indecision prevail. The way to go is clear.”

In conclusion, President Monson encouraged young people to likewise seek heavenly help in knowing how to serve others. “There is no feeling so gratifying nor knowledge so comforting as to know that our Father has answered the prayer of another through you.”

[photo] “You must continue to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong,” President Monson urged young adults in the CES broadcast. (Photo by Michael Lewis.)

BYU Women’s Conference to Be Broadcast

Brigham Young University’s Women’s Conference 2001 will be held on 3–4 May. Eight hours of selected talks will be broadcast over the Church satellite system to meetinghouses throughout the United States and Canada. The same broadcast can also be seen on the same days on KBYU-TV and BYUTV (channel 9403 on the Dish Network System, 500 series).

Church units in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and the British Isles can capture the broadcast on 19 May for later viewing. Local units have been authorized to record and retain a set of the broadcasts for Church use only, and members may record presentations for home use only.

For more information, call 1-801-378-7692 or access the conference Web site at urlPath=":"> (Do not enter “www” at the beginning of the Web address.)

Church Aids Quake Victims in El Salvador, India

After two major earthquakes struck El Salvador in January and February and another hit India in January, the Church sent humanitarian aid to both countries, joining international efforts to help the hundreds of thousands of people who lost homes and loved ones.

In El Salvador, 15 Latter-day Saints died when a quake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck off the Pacific coast of this Central American nation. Just four weeks later, a second quake of 6.6 magnitude had its epicenter on land, near the nation’s capital. Church humanitarian aid, including 500,000 pounds of food, 3,200 tents, 25,000 blankets, 34,000 hygiene kits, 7,000 school kits, 30,000 pounds of first-aid supplies, tools, and wheelbarrows, was sent to the area.

Hundreds of member homes were completely destroyed or badly damaged. Church assistance included providing building materials as members helped each other repair and rebuild homes.

Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy, President of the Central America Area, reported that all missionaries in the area were safe. Missionaries were allowed through police barricades shortly after both quakes to help dig in the rubble for survivors and to help recover items from partially buried homes.

Local priesthood leaders assisted members in need by using fast-offering funds and offering temporary shelter in chapels to those who lost their homes. None of the 86 Church-owned meetinghouses in the area sustained structural damage, but some rented meetinghouses were destroyed.

Coincidentally, the Church Humanitarian Department had sent an airplane loaded with goods to El Salvador three days before the first quake struck, and a filming crew from the Church Welfare Department was en route to Central America when the disaster occurred. The crew was soon on the scene to document how the Church responds to disaster situations.

“Someday I hope the members can look back on this trial as a time of personal growth and learning, a time to reach out to the needy in loving service, and a time when they learned how the Church welfare program works,” said Elder Robbins.

In northwestern India, tens of thousands lost their lives or were injured when a 7.9-level quake struck.

No members, missionaries, or Church property were directly affected.

The Church sent more than 600,000 pounds of food, blankets, clothing, and medical supplies to the areas most impacted by the disaster. Emergency supplies were distributed by charitable organizations. The Church also sent funds to help with search and rescue operations, temporary shelters, and purchase of refugee camp supplies by local relief agencies.

[photo] A mudslide jarred loose by the quake in El Salvador destroyed homes in one area and claimed several lives. (Photography by Neil Newell.)

[photo] Missionaries helped dig in the rubble for survivors and helped recover items from partially buried homes in El Salvador. (Photography by Neil Newell.)

Church Visitors’ Centers Put Technology to Work

High technology is being used in innovative ways to help teach the gospel to members of the Church and those of other faiths. In newly remodeled visitors’ centers in Washington, D.C., and Mexico City, Mexico, interactive technology helps guests learn about Church teachings of their choice. The same type of high-tech teaching will also be in use on Temple Square in Salt Lake City beginning this fall.

In the centers, visitors can touch a computer screen in an exhibit on prophets, for example, to choose one of several gospel topics they’d like to learn about. A video segment instantly appears of a member of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve Apostles teaching about that topic.

In a plan of salvation exhibit, guests can touch a computer screen to choose video segments of children explaining basic elements of the plan. By touching yet another screen, visitors can view footage of Church members, some of whom live near the visitors’ center, who share how various aspects of the gospel, including the Book of Mormon, have blessed their lives.

The “Life of Christ” exhibit includes a large, three-dimensional replica of Jerusalem. Around the perimeter of the map are small pictures of scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. When visitors push the button below each picture, the map lights up in the location where the corresponding event took place, such as at Gethsemane or Golgotha, and an audio account of the event is played.

David E. Salisbury, recently released director of the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center, said both members and nonmembers have reacted positively to the new exhibits. “These exhibits have been particularly effective in allowing those who choose not to take a tour with the sister missionaries to still personalize their visit,” said Brother Salisbury. Guests can even choose to interact with the exhibits in English or Spanish.

“Visitors especially seem to like the fact that they can be alone as they watch video segments of actual Church members sharing their personal experiences on gospel topics of the visitor’s choice,” Brother Salisbury said. “Some people will stay at such an exhibit for a long time.” After interacting with exhibits on their own, many guests then begin asking the sister missionaries questions about the gospel, he said.

The success of the high-tech exhibits in Washington, D.C., and Mexico City will soon spread elsewhere. Last November and January, the South and North Visitors’ Centers on Temple Square were closed for renovations. The two centers had not been substantially altered in more than two decades.

These remodeled visitors’ centers, scheduled to open this fall, will incorporate interactive technology similar to that used in Washington, D.C., and Mexico. Other changes will also emphasize the Salt Lake City centers’ focus on the Savior, says Richard Heaton of the Church Missionary Department, who oversees all visitors’ centers exhibits and tours.

The Christus statue will remain on the top floor of the north center, but large murals from the New Testament currently on the top floor will trade places with Old Testament murals on the ground floor. The new “Life of Christ” exhibit, with its large interactive replica of Jerusalem, will be placed in the center of the ground floor. “When visitors walk in, they’ll immediately see images of the Savior all around them,” says Brother Heaton.

Other new exhibits in Salt Lake City will focus on the family, temples, the scriptures, and principles of the Church welfare program. The scriptures and welfare exhibits include large dioramas featuring scenes from the Book of Mormon and the parable of the Good Samaritan.

[photo] In Washington, D.C., visitors learn about the Savior through a display that includes an interactive model of Jerusalem. Similar high-tech exhibits are also in Mexico City and will soon be in Salt Lake City. (Photography by Mike Zimmer.)

[photo] With interactive exhibits, visitors can choose a gospel principle they would like to learn about by touching a computer screen. Video segments then appear, showing Church members sharing their testimonies of that principle. (Photography by Mike Zimmer.)

Church Pageant/Musical Schedule for 2001

Following is the Church’s pageant and musical schedule for 2001. For more information on the Savior of the World musical, call 1-801-240-0080, or for information on Church pageants, call 1-801-240-7800.




Savior of the World

Salt Lake City, Utah

13–17, 20–23, 27 March 3–7, 10–14 April

Jesus the Christ

Mesa, Arizona

5–7, 10–14 April

Mormon Miracle

Manti, Utah

14–16, 19–23 June

America’s Witness for Christ

Palmyra, New York

6–7, 10–14 July

And It Came to Pass

Oakland, California

17–21, 24–28 July

Castle Valley

Castle Dale, Utah

26–28, 31 July, 1–4 August

City of Joseph

Nauvoo, Illinois

27–28, 31 July, 1–4 August

Martin Harris: The Man Who Knew

Clarkston, Utah

10–11, 14–18, 21–25 August

Nativity Pageant

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

18–24 December

[photo] Church members portray trumpeting angels in Jesus the Christ pageant in Mesa, Arizona.

Video on Doctrine and Covenants, Church History Released

A new Church video, Teachings from the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History (item no. 53933, U.S. $3.00), is now available for home and classroom use. The video presents accounts and stories of the Doctrine and Covenants and Church history that teach a theme or principle members can apply in their own lives. Many episodes of the video come from earlier Church Educational System videos produced for seminaries and institutes.

To order the video, contact your local distribution center or visit official Church Web sites at or

[photo] Joseph Smith enters Carthage Jail in a scene from the new Church video.

The Church in Oaxaca, Mexico

In 1949 Arwell L. Pierce, then president of the Mexico Mission, climbed a hill overlooking Oaxaca, capital city of the state of Oaxaca, and felt impressed that the gospel of Jesus Christ would flourish there. The first LDS missionaries began working in the city that year.

But President Pierce’s impression looked doubtful when, soon thereafter, severe persecution forced missionaries from the area and member meetings ceased.

In 1951 young Elder Joe J. Christensen was sent with his companion to check on the handful of members in Oaxaca. Elder Christensen, now an emeritus member of the Seventy, particularly remembers finding one member, a young mother named María Real de Alcazar. “She greeted us very warmly, then went into her hut and brought out a jar of clay. She put in her hand and pulled out her tithing, which she’d been faithfully keeping for months,” recalls Elder Christensen. “Her circumstances were so humble, I hesitated to receive it from her.”

The faith of local members such as Sister Alcazar has led to the fulfillment of President Pierce’s impression. Today, a house of the Lord and the Mexico Oaxaca Mission headquarters stand in the city of Oaxaca. Nearly 9,000 members live in the city, and a total of 24,000 Latter-day Saints live in the state of Oaxaca, which includes 67 wards and branches.

Oaxaca is located on the relatively narrow neck of land in southeastern Mexico, a region that was once a center of ancient Mesoamerican cultures. Close to Oaxaca city are the famed Monte Albán ruins. The archaeologically rich area is often called “land of the temples” because of its many ruins.

Map of Mexico

Modern Oaxaca members are characterized by their love of the temple of the Lord. Until the temple in Mexico City was built in 1983, Oaxaca Saints sacrificed greatly to travel more than 1,200 miles to the nearest temple in Mesa, Arizona.

Last year’s completion of the Oaxaca Mexico Temple is considered a great blessing by members who dreamed of the day they would have a temple nearby. Ruth Sánchez Velasco, a member of the La Noria Ward, Oaxaca Mexico Atoyac Stake, says, “In 1966, when my husband and I went to the Mesa Arizona Temple to be sealed, I received my patriarchal blessing. In it I was told, ‘You will see the day when you will not have to travel far to enter the house of the Lord, … and you will enter there many times.’ When they built the temple in Mexico City, just five hours away, I thought the promise of my blessing had been fulfilled. But now I realize that that promise has been fulfilled right here in my birthplace of Oaxaca.”Kristine Miner, BYU 92nd Ward, BYU 9th Stake

Oaxaca State, Mexico

Members: 24,000 First branch organized: 1956 Current wards and branches: 67 Temple district: Oaxaca Mexico Temple

[photo] Twenty-five years ago Luis and Ruth Sánchez traveled 1,200 miles to be sealed in the Mesa Arizona Temple. Today the Sánchezes and thousands of other members feel blessed to have a temple in their own city. (Photo by Esequiel Leyva.)

[photo] A street market in the city of Oaxaca reflects the colorful local culture. (Photo © Stone Images.)

Top 10 Languages Spoken by Members

English (5,435,327 member speakers)

Spanish (3,226,270)

Portuguese (780,016)

Tagalog * (146,294)

Japanese (108,709)

Cebuano * (100,853)

Samoan (93,512)

Ilokano * (86,722)

Korean (71,690)

Tongan (66,458)

Figures as of year-end 1999

  •   *

    Spoken in the Philippines

  • In the Spotlight

    Homeless Line Up for Free Haircuts from Elders

    When missionaries show up at an El Paso, Texas, homeless shelter each week, long lines of people are awaiting their arrival. As part of their community service program, elders serving in the El Paso 9th and 13th Wards spend two hours a week giving free haircuts to the homeless.

    “Whenever a new elder transfers into one of the wards, members teach him how to cut hair,” says Linda King, a local public affairs specialist. “We’ve equipped the elders with scissors, clippers, capes, and aprons.”

    The program has been a success. Several days after having his hair cut, one man came back to tell the elders he had landed a job, thanking them for their help. “It plants a lot of good seeds,” says Elder Nate Alsop. “It’s a humbling experience to see the light in their eyes when we tell them we’re helping for free.”

    Shelter director Ray Tullius says he always knows when the missionaries have arrived because the atmosphere immediately changes. “They bring a different feeling when they’re here,” he says. Lanny J. Nalder, president of the Arizona Tucson Mission, agrees. “They’re doing a wonderful service, bringing a spirit to the homeless they rarely feel anywhere else.”

    Sierra Leone Members Help War Victims

    Members of the Freetown Sierra Leone District recently gave service at a facility for victims of civil war atrocities, patients whose hands were amputated by rebels in this northwest African country.

    District members cleaned the facility and donated clothing to the patients. W. S. Thompson of the district presidency offered encouragement to the patients, telling them that the Lord was mindful of their present situation and that physical healing will come in the Resurrection.

    Couple Listed as Longest Married in World

    After celebrating their 80th wedding anniversary, a member couple were recently inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-living married pair in the world. Doc and Viola Colvin, members of the Pima Fourth Ward, Pima Arizona Stake, were married in 1920 and later sealed in the Mesa Arizona Temple.

    When asked how they’ve maintained such a lasting, successful marriage, Sister Colvin replied, “We’ve just gotten along well—and lived a long time!” Apparently, this principle has worked well in the Colvin family: in recent years Brother and Sister Colvin have celebrated the 50th wedding anniversaries of each of their three children.

    The Colvins have 14 grandchildren, 45 great-grandchildren, and 16 great-great-grandchildren.

    [photo] Elders in El Paso, Texas, give free haircuts in a local homeless shelter. (Photo by Linda King.)


    A Perspective on Muhammad

    Thank you for the article “A Latter-day Saint Perspective on Muhammad” (Sept. 2000). We are serving as senior missionaries, teaching English in Roi Et, Thailand. Much that was said about Muhammad and Islam could also be said about Buddha and Buddhism. We came to serve and teach the Thai people, but they are also serving and teaching us. Most of them don’t yet have the fulness of the gospel, but they have already been taught the importance of kindness, charity, service, and reverence for life. They are wonderful people, truly children of God and our brothers and sisters.

    Elder and Sister McBee Thailand Bangkok Mission

    Touched by Paintings

    I just want to tell you how much I enjoy the paintings and poems included in the Ensign. I spend time looking at them and thinking about them and appreciating. A painting which comes to my mind at the moment showed loved ones grieving and the unseen departed spirits close by trying to give love and comfort to those mourning for them (“Sanctify to Thee Thy Deepest Distress,” Ensign, Feb. 1999, 42). The painting said so much that couldn’t be expressed or described without a lot of words.

    The Ensign brings light, comfort, and goodness into our lives. I am grateful for it.

    Sharon Larsen Edmond, Oklahoma

    Historic Milestones

    Your article “Historic Milestone Achieved: More Non-English-Speaking Members Now Than English-Speaking” (Sept. 2000) could have included the first non-English-speaking stake, organized just 39 years ago! The Dutch-speaking Holland Stake was organized in 1961.

    J. Edwin Strobel Rexburg, Idaho