My dear brethren, it is wonderful and humbling to be with you tonight in this vast assembly of priesthood holders. I am especially grateful for the solemn experience we had this morning, in which I learned again how the Lord is directing and guiding His church in these latter days.
A few days ago, my profession as a B-747 captain took me home on a flight from Dallas, Texas, to Frankfurt, Germany. It was a moonless night over the North Atlantic, and myriads of stars covered the sky. As I contemplated this awesome sight from the cockpit, my thoughts went to the many miracles I have seen in my life.
Forty-five years ago, shortly after the horrors of the Second World War, at age eight I was baptized in Zwickau, Sachsen, in eastern Germany. This came about because a white-haired, courageous, and caring lady shared the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with my grandmother and parents, and they did not hesitate to accept the challenge. How I love them for that! In 1952 my family had to leave that part of my homeland, expecting never to see it again. We went to Frankfurt, where I was ordained a deacon and taught by tough but loving leaders to appreciate the value of work and service.
At the same time, in the heart of western Germany, another marvelous lady, recently widowed, still in her thirties, was terrified by the difficulties of the future. She had two young daughters and felt left alone in a country without hope. Right then two young missionaries rang the doorbell and brought the message of light, truth, and hope.
I give thanks eternally to those diligent American missionaries and most of all to Sister Carmen Reich—who became my mother-in-law—for her faith, strength, and willingness to listen to the still, small voice. My life has been very different because of the miraculous insight of these great individuals.
In those years, many Saints left Europe to go to Zion. But then the Brethren taught us that Zion could be anywhere around the globe if we were willing to establish it. The Saints had faith and stayed, and Zion increased in beauty and holiness. Stakes were organized and strengthened. Nevertheless, Germany still had two completely different political systems divided by concrete-walled boundaries.
My eternal partner, my wife, Harriet, encouraged me never to lose hope that someday there would be one Germany again. How grateful I am for her, her love and partnership, and for our family.
In 1976, President Monson gave my country a blessing with promises far beyond logical or political reasoning. It was a prophetic promise which required modern-day miracles. And the miracles occurred.
In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; and this week, four years ago, Germany was reunited. The borders were enlarged, and Zion was enabled to put on her beautiful garments—there are now two temples in Germany, five temples in Europe, and more to come. The kingdom of God is expanding rapidly into the eastern parts of Europe and even moving far beyond geographic or political boundaries of yesterday. Missionaries are now serving at places most of us have to look up in dictionaries or cannot find easily on maps.
I am grateful for the Saints in Europe, for their strong testimonies, which are visible in the conduct of their everyday lives. Their faith has given me comfort and security. Their examples have helped me to find and keep the right direction in days of challenge and questioning.
That dark night over the North Atlantic, safely directing our big jet to its destination, we had to be extremely careful and precise in creating the navigation basis by entering the geographic coordinates into the navigation reference system. It had to be true and valid because it was the foundation for all future decisions. In 1979, a flight started in New Zealand on wrong coordinates and crashed into Mount Erebus at the South Pole.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only true and valid basis for our lives. If we enter it into our system—into “all [our] heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2)—we will know how to choose the right and to whom to listen.
On long-range flights, the shortwave radio frequencies are often crowded and static distorts the messages. The same is true for our lives. Everybody wants to get their message across. We have to train and condition ourselves to hear the still, small voice, never to be distracted or stop listening because of too much static on that sacred frequency. This can best be done by internalizing and acting according to the moral and ethical standards we receive from the scriptures and the living prophets.
From the Prophet Joseph Smith to President Howard W. Hunter, we are receiving updated sacred guidance according to our needs and readiness. The general conference messages by our prophets, seers, and revelators are given to us by the Lord in his own time, in his own way, and for a very special purpose.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, made the miracle of forgiveness and redemption possible. This is truly the Church of Jesus Christ; it proclaims a gospel of joy, hope, courage, truth, love, and miracles. This I bear humble witness of in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.