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April 2024 General Conference Recap – Sunday Morning Session

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Are you looking for talk summaries, quotes, or a recap of the April 2024 General Conference? Here is our recap of the Sunday Morning Session. 

Elder Ronald A. Rasband

With tears in his eyes, Elder Rasband took to the pulpit. “Words matter alot,” he said. “They are the bedrock of how we connect; they represent our beliefs, morals, and perspectives. Sometimes we speak words; other times we listen. Words set a tone.”

Elder Rasband spoke of hasty words that hurt, or even be destructive. Then he spoke of encouraging words that can uplift. Of all the words we hear, however, God’s words are the ones that matter most. “Words can open our minds to truth. That is why, first and foremost, the Lord’s words matter,” he said.

He then went on to relate words from the Lord, from the creation of the world and the Annunciation to the Son of God, to the ministry of Book of Mormon prophets and personal revelation today.

“The word of God surpasses all other expressions,” Elder Rasband taught. “It has been so since the creation of the Earth when the Lord spoke, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

He continued, “We hear Him in the words of scripture. But do we just let them sit on the page, or do we recognize He is speaking to us? Do we change?”

After the word of the Lord, we have guidance through the words of modern-day prophets. “Prophets testify of the divinity of Jesus Christ,” he said. “They teach the gospel and show His love for all. I bear my witness that our living Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, hears and speaks the word of the Lord. President Nelson has a way with words.”

Elder Rasband shared President Nelson’s counsel to “think celestial” and how raising our hands to sustain the leaders of the Church is a sacred sign that we will stand by our leaders, support them, and follow their divine instruction. Then, Elder Rasband related a personal experience that deeply impacted him.

Assigned to dedicated the Bangkok Thailand Temple, Elder Rasband felt prepared to give the dedicatory prayer. “I had prepared the dedicatory prayer months before,” he said. “Those sacred words have been translated into 12 languages. We were ready, or so I thought. The night before the dedication, I was awakened from my sleep with an unsettled, urgent feeling about the dedicatory prayer. I tried to set it aside, but that prompting would not leave me alone.”

After listening to the heavenly direction he was receiving, Elder Rasband felt the need to add “think celestial.” This testified to Elder Rasband that the words of prophets matter.

Finally, our own words matter. “Let me suggest three simple phrases that we can use to take the sting out of difficulties and differences, lift and reassure each other: “Thank you,” “I am sorry,” and “I love you.” Do not save these humble phrases for a special event or catastrophe; use them often and sincerely to show regard for others.”

He then talked of his sweet wife, Melanie.

“Before my full-time assignment in the church, I traveled widely for my company. I was gone a fair amount of time to far reaches of the world. At the end of my day, no matter where I was, I always called home. When my wife Melanie picked up the phone and I reported in, our conversation always led to expressing “I love you.” Every day, those words served as an anchor to my soul and my conduct. They were a protection to me from evil designs.”

Elder Rasband closed with the power of words with a humble testimony.

President Susan H. Porter

President Porter expressed joy that she felt prompted to speak to children. She focused her remarks on a very special gift Heavenly Father has give us to help us—prayer. Specifically, she gave us three types of prayers we can say.

Pray to Know

What do you need to know? President Porter said we should strive to know that Heavenly Father is really there! 

“How can you know that Heavenly Father is really there, even when you can’t see him? President Russell M. Nelson has invited you to pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father and listen. Listen to what you feel in your heart that comes to your mind,” she taught. 

She shared an experience when her granddaughter Ashley felt very alone on a playground. Ashley suddenly remembered she was not alone. She had Jesus Christ with her! 

“Ashley knelt down right in the middle of the playground, folded her arms, and prayed to Heavenly Father. The moment she opened her eyes, a girl her age was standing there, asking her if she wanted to pray. Ashley came to know we are important to the Lord, and we are never truly alone,” President Porter said. 

Pray to Grow

“Heavenly Father wants to help you grow. He loves us so much that he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to show us the way to live,” President Porter taught. “Through his Spirit your heart can change and you can receive strength.”

Through our prayers to grow we can be forgiven of our sins, develop our talents and skills, and give us courage to be disciples of Jesus Christ. 

Pray to Show

“You can pray for help to show Heavenly Father’s love to others,” President Porter taught. “Through His Spirit, Heavenly Father will help you notice someone who is sad, so you can comfort them. He can help you show His love by forgiving someone. He can give you courage to serve someone and share with them that they are a child of God. You can help others come to know and love Jesus and Heavenly Father as you do.”

She closed in testimony and invitation, “I invite you to pray to know Heavenly Father is there. Pray to grow to become like Him, and pray to show His love to others. I know He lives and loves you. Pray – He is there.”

Elder Dale G. Renlund

Elder Renlund began by sharing an experience he had with his family on a kayak excursion in Hawaii. The type of kayak used was different than the ones Elder Renlund was used to, but he felt sure he could do well in the waves and reach the islands. However, he found his center of gravity off and kept tipping out of the kayak. 

Exhausted and breathless, Elder Renlund needed the help of their guide. “The guide rode over, steadied my kayak, making it easier for me to climb on top. When he saw that I was still too breathless to row on my own, he kept pulling me along with him. Soon, I caught my breath and began paddling adequately on my own,” he related. 

“After the group had rested, the guide quietly said to me, ‘Mr. Renlund, if you just keep paddling, maintaining your momentum, I think you’re going to be fine.’ I followed his advice as we paddled to the second island and then back to our starting point. Twice the guide rode by and told me I was doing great. Even larger waves hit my kayak from the side, but I wasn’t flipped over. By consistently paddling the kayak, I maintained momentum and forward progress, mitigating the effect of waves hitting me from the side. The same principle applies in our spiritual lives: we become vulnerable when we slow down, and especially when we stop.”

Elder Renlund then talked about the doctrine of Christ. 

“Indeed, the elements of the doctrine of Christ, such as faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, entering a covenant relationship with the Lord through baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, are not intended to be experienced as one-time, check-the-box events,” he said. “In particular, enduring to the end is not really a separate step in the doctrine of Christ, as though we complete the first four elements and hunker down, grit our teeth, and wait to die. No—enduring to the end is repeatedly and iteratively applying the other elements of the doctrine of Christ, creating the powerful virtuous cycle that President Nelson described. Repeatedly, it means we do it over and over throughout our lives.”

Elder Renlund expounded on different ways the doctrine of Christ can help us keep rowing, talking of baptism, the sacrament, and the exertion of the Holy Ghost in our lives. He then related how guides can help us in our effort to live the doctrine of Christ. 

“The momentum produced by living the doctrine of Christ not only powers the transformation of our divine nature into our eternal destiny, but it also motivates us to help others, considerate in appropriate ways. Consider how the expedition guide helped me after I flipped over in the kayak. He didn’t shout from afar and ask helpful questions, such as, “Mr. Renlund, what are you doing in the water?” He didn’t paddle up and chide me, saying, “You wouldn’t be in this situation.” He didn’t start towing my kayak. He didn’t correct me in front of the group. Instead, he gave me advice when I was receptive, and he went out of his way to encourage me.”

“The Savior’s job is to heal. Our job is to love,” Elder Renlund continued as he invited us to minister in inspired and intentional ways. 

Elder Paul B. Pieper

“Trust is the foundation of all relationships,” Elder Pieper began. “A threshold question to any relationship is, “Can I trust the other person?” A relationship forms only when people are willing to place trust in each other.”

Though we are all children of God, we need to trust in the Lord in order to have a lasting relationship with Him, Elder Pieper continued. Heavenly Father has done much to try and communicate His great trust in us. 

“For his part, Heavenly Father has worked from the beginning to communicate his absolute trust in the divine potential of each of his children,” Elder Pieper said. “Trust underlies the plan he presented for our growth and progression prior to coming to Earth. He would teach us eternal laws, create an earth, provide us with mortal bodies, give us the gift to choose for ourselves, and permit us to learn and grow by making our own choices. He wants us to choose to follow his laws and return to enjoy eternal life with him and his Son.”

“Notwithstanding God’s trust in us, our relationship with him will grow only to the degree we are willing to place our trust in him,” Elder Pieper said.

He then related a story of two friends who expressed a desire to join the Church. His friend found it difficult to pray because of past traumas. This friend struggled to open his heart to God. However, with time and prayer, he began to understand God’s nature and his desire to pray changed. 

“Patiently continue to learn about Heavenly Father: his character, his attributes, and his purposes,” Elder Pieper counseled those who struggle to trust God as his friend did. “Look for and record experiences feeling his love and power in your life.”

“Sometimes, the best way to learn to trust God is simply by trusting him. Like the crazy trust exercise, sometimes we just need to be willing to fall backward and let him catch us. Our mortal life is a test. Challenges that stretch us beyond our own capacity come frequently. When our knowledge and understanding are inadequate, we naturally seek for resources to help us.”

To illustrate those resources, Elder Pieper shared a personal experience where the Lord miraculously unfolded a plan in his family’s life. They faced downsizing at his law firm and Elder Pieper was overwhelmed. Their family had decided to move across the country and were no unsure. 

“I had fallen backwards, and it now appeared that no one was going to catch me. One day, the words “don’t ask why, ask what I want you to learn” came distinctly into my mind and heart,” Elder Pieper shared. “Now, I was even more confused. In the very moment I was struggling with my earlier decision, God was inviting me to trust him even more. Looking back, this was a critical point in my life. It was a moment when I realized that the best way to learn to trust God was simply by trusting him. In the subsequent weeks, I watched with amazement as the Lord miraculously unfolded his plan to bless our family.”

Such “trust stretching” experiences will always come to us. No matter what has occurred in the past, we can choose to trust in God now. I promise that each time we do, God will be there to catch us, and our relationship of trust will grow stronger and stronger until the day that we become one with him and his son. Then, we can declare as Nephi: “Oh Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever.”

Elder Patrick Kearon

Read the full text of Elder Kearon’s talk here.

In a heartfelt expression of gratitude, Elder Patrick Kearon reflected on the journey he embarked upon as an apostle for the Lord Jesus Christ, following a call from President Nelson. He acknowledged the humbling nature of the responsibility and the significant adjustments it entailed, stating, “You could probably well imagine how humbling this felt. It was a time of extraordinary upheaval and sobering self-examination.” Despite the challenges, Elder Kearon recognized it as a great honor to serve the Savior and to participate in sharing the good news of His Gospel of Hope.

Reflecting on the humorous notion that behind every new apostle stands an astonished mother-in-law, Elder Kearon shared a poignant analogy involving a roadblock observed from a hotel window during a trip abroad with his wife. The image of the roadblock and the behavior of the policeman manning it served as a metaphor for the misconceptions about God’s plan for humanity.

“The intent of the Father’s great plan of happiness is your happiness right here, right now, and in the eternities. It is not to prevent your happiness and cause you worry and fear. The intent of the Father’s Plan of Redemption is, in fact, your redemption, your being rescued through the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, freed from the captivity of sin and death. It is not to leave you as you are,” he said. 

The central theme of Elder Kearon’s reflection revolved around the idea that God’s plan was not about hindering or preventing happiness but rather about facilitating redemption, mercy, and salvation for all His children. He emphasized that God tirelessly worked to bring His children back to Him, employing every possible measure to do so. This included the creation of Earth as a stage for mortal experiences, the sending of His Son Jesus Christ to atone for humanity’s sins, and the provision of opportunities for repentance and growth.

“If you are prone to worry that you will never measure up or that the loving reach of Christ’s infinite Atonement mercifully covers everyone else but not you, then you misunderstand. Infinite means infinite. Infinite covers you and those you love,” he testified. 

Elder Kearon underscored the inclusive nature of God’s plan, stating that no one was excluded from the opportunity for salvation and eternal life. Quoting scripture, he reassured listeners that Christ’s infinite atonement covered everyone, regardless of their past mistakes or shortcomings. The reflection also addressed the importance of personal responsibility and agency, emphasizing the need for individuals to repent and come unto Christ.

Throughout his reflection, Elder Kearon conveyed a profound sense of gratitude and witness to the truths of God’s plan. His words were filled with hope, compassion, and a deep understanding of the love that God has for His children. Ultimately, the reflection served as a powerful testimony to the transformative power of God’s plan and the boundless mercy of Jesus Christ.

“Are there things we need to do, commandments to keep, aspects of our natures to change?” Elder Kearon asked. “Yes, but with His grace, those are within our reach, not beyond our grasp. This is the good news I am unspeakably grateful for these simple truths: the Father’s design, His plan, His purpose, His intent, His wish, and His hope are all to heal you, all to give you peace, all to bring you and those you love home.”

Elder Brian K. Taylor

Elder Taylor spoke of how life’s trials prove us and how we are chosen and refined by Christ in the furnace of affliction. 

“Coming to trust in God’s divine purposes breathes hope into weary souls and kindles determination in seasons of anguish and heartache,” he taught. 

He shared the story of Holly and Rick Porter whose 12-year-old son, Trey, passed away in a tragic fire. He said, “With hands and feet severely burned in a heroic attempt to save her son, Holly later testified of the great peace and joy the Lord had put upon her family, in their language, using words such as miraculous, incredible, and amazing.”

This examples can help us have the perspective to put our trials in a new light. “To avoid the darkness of discontent and instead find greater peace, hope, and even joy during life’s difficult challenges, I share three divine principles as invitations,” Elder Taylor offered.

One, stronger faith comes by putting Jesus Christ first. Elder Taylor shared President Nelson’s example of enduring a recent back injury, but turning to the Lord. President Nelson found God’s divine power as he felt a deeper appreciation for what the Lord experienced in his behalf. 

Two, brighter hope comes by envisioning our eternal destiny. Elder Taylor shared the story of Joseph Smith’s suffering in Liberty Jail and the Lord’s response that his suffering would be but a small moment. 

“The Lord was teaching Joseph to think celestial and to envision an eternal reward, rather than focus on the excruciating difficulties of the day,” Elder Taylor said. “Joseph’s change in perspective brought deepening sanctification, as reflected in this letter to a friend: ‘After having been enclosed in the walls of a prison for five months, it seems to me that my heart will always be more tender after this than it was ever before. I think I never could have felt as I do now if I had not suffered the wrongs that I have suffered.'”

Three, greater power comes by focusing on joy. Elder Taylor said, “During eternity’s most crucial, agonizing hours, our Savior did not shrink but partook of the bitter cup. How did he do it? We learn, for the joy that was set before him, Christ endured the cross, his will being swallowed up in the will of the Father.”

“Now, return with me to the sacrament where we witness the miracle of Holly’s family being succored by the Lord,” Elder Taylor closed with. “On the stand, while pondering what I might say to offer comfort to this remarkable family and their friends, this thought came: used to Savior’s words. So, I close today as I did on that Sabbath, with His words which heal the wounded soul: “Come unto me, all ye that labor, and I will give you rest.”

President Dallin H. Oaks

“How does your Church different from other,” President Oaks asked. As he pondered on the answer, he noted the growth of the Church from his youth and the explosion of temple growth. 

“I have felt to speak about the purpose of these temples and the history and role of covenants in our worship. This will supplement the inspired teachings of earlier speakers,” he said. 

“A covenant is a commitment to fulfill certain responsibilities,” he continued. “Personal commitments are essential to the regulation of our individual lives and to the functioning of society. This idea is currently being challenged; a vocal minority opposes institutional authority and insists that persons should be free from any restrictions that limit their individual freedom. Yet, we know from millennia of experience that persons give up some individual freedoms to gain the advantages of living in organized communities.”

He gave some examples of covenant responsibility we have in our societies, such as police, judges, firemen, and even missionaries. These responsibilities are often symbolized in things like name badges, wedding rings, and uniforms. 

President Oaks then expounded on the scriptural evidence of covenants, especially the Abrahamic covenant and the clarified teachings of covenants found in the Book of Mormon. This great detail on covenants led to us today. 

“Today, we understand the role of covenants in the restored Church and the worship of its members,” President Oaks said. He spoke on modern-day baptism and sacrament meetings before turning to temple. He gave a history of temple covenants and the desire of early pioneers to be bound to Christ. Their endowments gave them power to make the trek west. 

He then shared of the importance of the temple garment. “Persons who have been endowed in a temple are responsible to wear a temple garment, an article of clothing not visible because it is worn beneath outer clothing,” he taught. “It reminds endowed members of the sacred covenants they have made and the blessings they have been promised in the Holy Temple. To achieve those holy purposes, we are instructed to wear temple garments continuously, with the only exceptions being those officially necessary, because covenants do not take a day off. To remove one’s garments can be understood as a disclaimer of the covenant responsibilities and blessings to which they relate.”

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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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