Here is the talk.
President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Speaking at the Forest Bend Ward, Salt Lake City UT Sunday, October 12, 2008
“Even though I regularly have the opportunity to attend Fast and Testimony meeting, I don’t usually stand to speak. But today, I feel moved upon by the Spirit to share a message…
Last weekend’s General Conference was different than any before. We felt that down at Church Headquarters and have been talking about it all week. We live in troubled times. There is great financial crisis and we’ve seen something that hasn’t happened in the last 60 years: the world’s financial markets are collapsing. I was six years old when the Great Depression began: the 10th of 11 children. My father was a mechanic and times were difficult for all of us. Many families were suddenly out of work all at once. There were large public projects to try and provide employment – like the great ditch or canal I remember being dug here in our city. It was at least six feet deep and dug by hand, with pick and ax. Nowadays, we’d use a piece of machinery to do it. But in those days, people worked with what we had. They were desperate times for many. There were things as a child that I didn’t understand and was afraid of. I didn’t like to go into the basement of our home. I thought the Boogeyman lived there. But as I grew older and we got some lights down there, I realized that the great dark space underneath the stairs was a large pile of old shoes. As a pair of shoes we were wearing would wear out or break down, we didn’t throw them out. We would use a shoe from that old pile as spare parts to repair our shoes or make new ones. It was just the way you did things in those times.
There’s a scripture that says “Yet learn we obedience by the same things we suffer.” It seems sometimes that we don’t learn until we need to turn and rely upon the Lord. In the Book of Mormon, well, if you looked in my copy, in the Book of Helaman about chapter 12 or 13, you’d see that I’ve written-in a swirling chain of circles across the top of the page. It might look like old cursive, but that’s not what it’s meant to be. It’s meant to remind me of the cycles of the people. In times when they were blessed with great prosperity and wealth, they forgot the Lord.
Then when they fell to bad habits which led some to wickedness and placed many in peril, the righteous would turn/return to the Lord in their humbler circumstances. It’s a cycle of prosperity and wickedness we see repeated over and over again in the scriptures and now again in our day.
I remember once I went deer hunting with Brother Tuttle and some others. We were up in the mountains, riding on horseback. He went up one side of the canyon, and I went up the other. As I was riding, I bent over and just nearly kissed the saddle horn as we passed a low cedar tree that was right by the path. Well as we passed the cedar tree, there was no more path on the other side of it and the way before us was just a dropping hillside covered with loose shaley rock. I kicked my feet clear of the stirrups, just in case the horse reacted badly, and it was a good thing I did. She reared up and I was thrown back. I hit my head on some rocks and got a cut right above my eyebrow that was bleeding heavily. I’d been holding my rifle in my hand and as my hand flew back and hit heavily against a rock, it broke as well. So I was laying there hurt and shaken. My companions on the other side of the canyon had seen what happened and I heard Brother Tuttle call out “Are you hurt?” I replied “Yes, I’m bleeding!” He called out again “Are you hurt?” I called again “Yes, I’m bleeding!”, but the wind was blowing the wrong way and they couldn’t hear me. The fourth time this happened, I yelled in response “No!” And they called back “Okay!” and continued to ride on up the mountain. That’s lesson one!
I finally got myself up, caught my horse down the mountain where she had gotten caught in some branches, and managed to get into town where I was bandaged up and my hand was tended to.
Shortly after that, I was traveling on business and was at the airport. A fellow traveler, an older man not of our faith, saw my bandaged hand and asked if I was all right. I replied rather offhandedly.
And he responded that it was something I would remember all the rest of my days. He then told me that he had once worked at digging a canal – now that caught my attention because I remembered the canal I have mentioned. He said that he was out of work at the time [the Great Depression] and couldn’t find employment. He saw the canal being dug and knew that if he asked the foreman for a job, he would be turned away. He saw a spare pick laying there, so he picked it up and started working. A short while later, the foreman walked by and, not recognizing him, asked him what he was doing. He explained to me that he told the foreman he was out of work and stated “I need to work. You don’t have to pay me, but I need to work.” Well, as you might expect, they worked things out and he was paid for his labors. We then proceeded to talk, this older fellow and I, and I have remembered his counsel. Now I am the old
man giving counsel to you.
In the Great Depression, people were frightened and growing more so. They began to be very resourceful. They had to be. Looking forward, we’re all going to learn that lesson, one way or another.
The Church is in excellent condition. You don’t need to worry about that. But as individuals we will face difficulty. Some will come to the Bishop seeking financial aid and counsel. And as judges in Israel, the Bishop will respond. The time for financial largess in our ward activities is over.”[President Packer then turned directly to our Bishop and counseled him that last year’s youth trip to Nauvoo, which was, President Packer said, a great opportunity for testimonybuilding and missionary work, will not happen again. Times of/for that sort of expense in the Church are past.]
President Packer then shared experiences of providing aid and service after the great Tsunami devastated Indonesia. He recalled...“I was speaking on the phone with a government minister who said “I’m standing in Banda Aceh and you cannot imagine what I am seeing. A city of a million people has been swept away and there is nothing.” A week later, I was standing in area of Banda Aceh and the need was immense. “What do you need?” I asked. “Body bags” was the reply. So we found 20,000 body bags in China and had them on a plane the next day. A call came, “we need 30 [thousand] more.” We found them and they were sent. The next call “do you have any motorcycles? We need to get back into the mountain villages with aid and medical supplies, but the roads are gone. Trucks can’t get through and elephants are too slow. If we had motorcycles, we could get through.” “Are they to be found in Asia” I asked. “Yes,” he said. So we found the motorcycles and had them on their way the next day.
The Church is sound and is able to provide these types of aid as a back-up where there is need. We [as members and in our individual wards] are the back-up position of the Church. Learn to apply the old Pioneer adage – “Eat [use] it up. Wear it out. Make do, or do without.” We’re going to have to learn to do without. Again, “Eat it up. Wear it out. Make do, or do without.” Even if we have the resources, we need to do more to be thrifty. Others will rely on us. The Church will rely on us. It is our responsibility and duty to be caring for ourselves, our family, and those around us. Be watching for need. Set something by that we can be of help to others when the time comes. Trust in the counsel of our wise elders/older people.
There are nearly 60,000 missionaries serving throughout the world today. The cost to support a missionary is right about $400 a month today. That’s $4,800 a year. Consider if we have the resources that there may be others who don’t and who have a need. When Brother Tuttle was a young man, he had a strong desire to serve a mission. But he didn’t have the money to pay for it, and his family didn’t have the money for it. So Brother Tuttle thought of who was the richest man in his town and, after saying a prayer, he approached him. A loan was made, a mission served, and the loan repaid. Those who need our help may not always ask us.
It’s about time the Lord taught us a lesson. A great catastrophe is coming. Now I probably shouldn’t say that because then it will happen. But it is going to happen. That’s what it will take to turn our hearts to the Lord. And we will learn from it.
Our prayers will be different, less selfish. The scripture says “If ye are prepared, ye need not fear.” Renew your prayers. You can [also] think a prayer. Carry a prayer in your heart throughout the day. Learn to pray for that which is of worth. Another scripture says “…do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy.” (2 Nephi 9:51) That can be applied both spiritually [to prayer] and physically. Use what we have. If something is broken, fix it. Our young people are going to see different times than what they are used to. To you teenagers, your life will be different. Things are changing. You will have to do without some of the things you are used to expecting. Don’t be afraid. Change your life to do without the extravagances and luxuries that you’ve expected.
Learn to pray. There’s a difference between ‘saying prayers’ and praying. A wonderful time is coming – it’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be short. But don’t be afraid.
Brother Tuttle was one of the Seventy when there were just seven of them. Now there are eight quorums of the Seventy called to go throughout all the world. It’s an apostolic calling to teach the gospel to every nation, people and tongue. They’ll know what to do and will lead and counsel where they are called.
Take care of what we’ve got. Begin to save. The rainy day is coming – in fact, the snowy day is already here [in reference to today’s first winter snow]. Reset our expectations. Give up selfishness. Wickedness is all around us. In today’s world, it’s not safe for children to be outside alone. We need to be ever watchful. We need to protect ourselves from the wickedness, avarice, and greed in the world.
Read the scriptures and the revelations. The guidance and counsel are there. Read with new eyes, and the scriptures, the Book of Mormon, will take on new meaning.
As President Bush and world leaders gather in the coming week and the weeks ahead, there will be no easy answers or solutions. Hard times are ahead and it’s difficult for them to see what to do. It’s important to listen to the Sprit. We are led by prophets and apostles. We can see ahead. We can be and are prepared.
I pronounce upon you an Apostolic blessing. Comfort our children. Little children can be afraid of things we might not think of. Comfort them and strengthen our families. Turn off the television and focus on family. Pay your tithing. The promise is there – pay your tithing and you’ll be watched over. You’ll be alright. None of us is exempt from trials. If hard times come upon you and your income dwindles, remember that tithing is equitable for everyone: 10%. If you have nothing, then it’s 10% of practically nothing. Pay your tithing, do what you’re supposed to do. You’ll be comforted.
Sure trials will come. Because of them, faith will increase. Happiness will increase. Security will increase. You’ll be glad to be alive at this time. It’s a good time to be living. To be raising children. I leave this testimony, counsel, and blessing with you in the holy name of Jesus Christ.