PD50021411_000_1010Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much.
My beloved brothers and sisters, we welcome you to general conference, which is being heard and seen by various means throughout the world. We express thanks to all who have to do with the complicated logistics of this great undertaking.
Since April when we last met, the work of the Church has moved forward unhindered. It has been my privilege to dedicate four new temples. Accompanied by my counselors and other General Authorities, I have traveled to Gila Valley, Arizona; to Vancouver, British Columbia; to Cebu City in the Philippines; and to Kyiv, Ukraine. The temple in each of these locations is magnificently beautiful. Each one is blessing the lives of our members and is an influence for good upon those not of our faith.
The evening prior to each temple dedication, we were privileged to view a cultural celebration, participated in by our young people and some of our not-so-young people. These events were generally held in large stadiums, although in Kyiv we met in a beautiful palace. The dancing, singing, musical performances, and displays were excellent. I express my commendation and love to all who were involved.
Each temple dedication was a spiritual feast. We felt the Spirit of the Lord at all of them.
Next month we will rededicate the Laie Hawaii Temple, one of our oldest temples, which has undergone extensive renovations during many months. We look forward to that sacred occasion.
We continue to build temples. This morning I am pleased to announce five additional temples for which sites are being acquired and which, in coming months and years, will be built in the following locations: Lisbon, Portugal; Indianapolis, Indiana; Urdaneta, Philippines; Hartford, Connecticut; and Tijuana, Mexico.
The ordinances performed in our temples are vital to our salvation and to the salvation of our deceased loved ones. May we continue faithful in attending the temples, which are being built closer and closer to our members.
Now, before we hear from our speakers this morning, may I mention a matter close to my heart and which deserves our serious attention. I speak of missionary work.
First, to young men of the Aaronic Priesthood and to you young men who are becoming elders: I repeat what prophets have long taught—that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much. Young men, I admonish you to prepare for service as a missionary. Keep yourselves clean and pure and worthy to represent the Lord. Maintain your health and strength. Study the scriptures. Where such is available, participate in seminary or institute. Familiarize yourself with the missionary handbook Preach My Gospel.
A word to you young sisters: while you do not have the same priesthood responsibility as do the young men to serve as full-time missionaries, you also make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome your service.
And now to you mature brothers and sisters: we need many, many more senior couples. To the faithful couples now serving or who have served in the past, we thank you for your faith and devotion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. You serve willingly and well and accomplish great good.
To those of you who are not yet to the season of life when you might serve a couples mission, I urge you to prepare now for the day when you and your spouse might do so. As your circumstances allow, as you are eligible for retirement, and as your health permits, make yourselves available to leave home and give full-time missionary service. There are few times in your lives when you will enjoy the sweet spirit and satisfaction that come from giving full-time service together in the work of the Master.
Now, my brothers and sisters, may you be attuned to the Spirit of the Lord as we hear from His servants during the next two days. That this may be the blessing of each, I pray humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.