President Russell M. Nelson, the prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, began his nine-day Pacific ministry with a visit to Kona, Hawaii Thursday. Hundreds of Hawaiian Latter-day Saints greeted President Nelson and his wife, Wendy, along with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Susan, at a meeting with young single adults, a reception with community leaders, and an evening devotional.
At the gathering prior to the devotional, one young man asked the Nelsons and the Gongs for counsel about his future career.
“What God wants is for you to have immortality and eternal life,” the prophet said. “I don’t think it matters to Him what your occupation is. What matters to Him is what kind of a person you’re going to be, not what you’re going to do.”
In the devotional at the Kona Hawaii Stake Center, the Nelsons and Gongs noted the importance of living lives of prayer, oneness and focus on the name of Jesus Christ.
“We may communicate with our Heavenly Father in prayer, and this is real,” President Nelson said. “We can pray to Him at any time, day or night. We don’t have to charge our batteries or pay a service fee. We can have that communication. And then as you pray, a suggestion that you take a little time to listen.”
The 94-year-old President Nelson also shared 10 spiritual lessons he has learned in nearly 10 decades of life.
Sister Nelson said living in harmony with those around us is vital to our spiritual health.
“[God] makes it clear that we cannot come close to Him or even think about coming close to Him, our Savior, our Redeemer, if we have contention with anyone,” Sister Nelson said. “He wants us first to be reconciled with our brothers and sisters, our in-laws, our coworkers, our children and definitely with our spouses. And then we can come closer to Him than we ever have before.”
Elder Gong said the most important name anyone can have and be a part of — aside from their own name — is the name of Jesus Christ.
“When we think of the name of Jesus Christ and the blessing that it is to remember Him and to take upon us that name . . . we think of President Nelson teaching us why it’s so important that the revealed name of the Church — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — also be what we call the Church by, so that we remember and put out in center the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ,” Elder Gong said. “And around the world as we have done this, it’s been miraculous to see what is happening.”
Sister Gong spoke of the importance of knowing one’s family history and shared three ways to express gratitude for the sacrifices of one’s ancestors.
“The first one is to learn and record their stories. Second, live good lives that reflect on their reputation, on their memory, on their sacrifice for us. And third, do their temple work for them,” Sister Gong said. “As we remember their stories, as we break them down, as we live lives honoring their goodness, and as we do temple [rites] on their behalf, we will see great blessings in our lives.”
The devotional was broadcast to Latter-day Saints in Hilo.
Community leaders attended a Thursday evening reception prior to the devotional, where they met the Nelsons and the Gongs. Among those leaders were Rev. Danny Akaka Jr. and his wife, Anna.
“It was quite an honor for my wife and I to be here and to meet the prophet,” the reverend said. “As soon as I shook his hand, I felt a very special light about him. Sometimes just without saying a word, just in the eyes and the smile, is a healing thing, so it was wonderful to be here and to hear his inspirational words.”
“[The speakers] articulated what we believe, see and identify as the ‘spirit of aloha,’” Anna Akaka added. She was also struck by the “message of family and how the spirit of God that’s in the islands was very predominant in the messages they shared. They gave beautiful understandings of how that can be accomplished in your own life.”