Elder L. Tom Perry was originally scheduled to be the keynote speaker at BYU’s Education Week.
Elder Neil L. Andersen stood with quiet compassion as his replacement, after Elder Perry passed away on May 30, 2015.
“I’m honored to stand in his place. In the past 90 days, we have witnessed as President Russell M. Nelson likes to say, the graduation of two extraordinary Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Elder Andersen said.
The first portion of his address, one of the first major addresses given from a member of the Quorum of the Twelve after the deaths of Elder Perry and President Boyd. K. Packer, was dedicated to the two men.
“For more than 40 years they sat together in the Quorum of the Twelve and for more than half of that time they sat next to one another. President Packer, with a smile, would say that the Lord put Elder Perry next to him to kick him in the ankles when he got out of line. During those many decades they moved across the world and used every opportunity to testify of the divine mission of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the Restoration of His gospel.”
Elder Andersen continued with a story about President Packer’s wit, detailing a time Elder Perry had come to talk to him before their meeting in the temple began. President Packer called out to Elder Perry: “Tom, come up here where you belong. Ten good men have died to put you in this chair.”
Of their deaths, Elder Andersen said, “They each moved through the veil with dignity and spiritual power.”
Elder Andersen spoke of the last moments he spent with Elder Perry, less than 24 hours before his passing. He told Elder Perry, when his own time came to pass through the veil, that they would meet.
“I hoped he would be there to greet me. He promised that if given permission, he would. He told us he would do all that he could to bless our work from the other side of the veil. Less than 24 hours later, he stepped through the veil. Thirty-four days later President Packer followed him. I with you revere these two disciples of Christ. I confirm to you that they were honest men, holy men, devoted to their callings…I testify that we will yet see them again.”
The theme of Elder Andersen’s address then focuses on the idea of deep, continuing conversion and our need to move away from relying on borrowed light. He offered this quote as the center of his remarks.
“As evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory spiritual power for the righteous. As the world slides from its spiritual moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling. The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter light in the emerging twilight.”
Elder Anderson provide numerous statistics that seem troubling in the world today, mention refugees, abortion, broken families, and more. Yet, Elder Andersen told us not to despair.
“As I said, we live in very interesting times, yet marvelous times! We are in the dispensation of the fullness of times when the fullness of the Gospel has been restored and as the world is being prepared for the second coming of the Savior. These are days of looking forward, of beautiful anticipation. These are our days.”