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This has been a year of change for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

  • Visiting Teaching and Home teaching discontinued and ministering introduced.
  • Priesthood quorums combined into one Elder’s Quorum.
  • Statistical reports no longer read in General Conference.
  • A new name announced for the Tabernacle Choir.
  • Sunday meeting schedule changed to two hours with more time devoted to the study of the gospel in homes.
  • Come Follow Me introduced to co-ordinate what is being taught in church and at home.
  • Changes to Elders Quorum and Relief Society Presidency responsibilities
  • Emphasis on referring to the church by it’s proper name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
  • Changes to the process of Youth progression within Church programs.
  • Temples announced in Salta, Argentina; Bengaluru, India; Managua Nicaragua; Cagayan de Oro, Philippines; Layton, Utah; Richmond, Virginia; and a major city yet to be determined in Russia, Mendoza, Argentina; Salvador, Brazil; Yuba City, California; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Praia, Cape Verde,; Yigo, Guam; Puebla, Mexico; Auckland, New Zealand; Lagos, Nigeria; Davao, Philippines; San Juan, Puerto Rico and Washington County, Utah, nineteen in all.
  • And just last week. Sister missionaries can now wear pants enabling them to be safer as they

What do all these changes have in common? They are all meant to lead us back to Jesus Christ and help us to gain a greater understanding of what he needs from us as we become His hands.

“We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.”

Thomas S. Monson

We have been warned of the calamities to befall mankind in the last days. (see Matthew 24) We are seeing much of that come to pass. Why would God have prophets of old as well as modern day prophets warn us of things to come? Could it be that He wants us to be prepared for them?

As we study, teach and work toward becoming like Jesus in 2019 how do our physical preparations play a role?

“Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not acquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them. Those who smugly think these calamities will not happen, that they will somehow be set aside because of the righteousness of the saints, are deceived and will rue the day they harbored such a delusion” (Ezra Taft Benson).

Not long ago I was speaking with the sister who served as the compassionate service leader when I served in the Relief Society presidency. She was telling me how often sisters refused to take in a meal or dessert to a family in need. I was shocked. This sister obviously magnified her calling as she handled these without me knowing at the time just how much work it was to care for these needs.

For those with food storage, turning down the opportunity to take in a meal would never be a consideration. With a three-month supply of the foods we eat on hand you are always prepared to be Christ’s hands as a meal or dessert is needed. Have you ever been called at the last minute to provide a dessert for a baptism? No problem.

Again when I was serving in Relief Society I was called upon to plan a wedding in just four days. For those of you who have been preparing with Totally Ready you know I like to refer to our preparations as our General Store. When I received the call from the Bishop to put together a wedding I headed to my General Store. I pulled out paper plates, cups, napkins, and plastic utensils. I gathered the ingredients for punch and wrapping paper for a gift. I called a sister to bake a wedding cake and she had everything on hand to accomplish the task. The “crisis could just as easily have been a friend calling in tears because she didn’t have the funds for a birthday cake for a child. Is your General Store stocked so you could be the Savior’s hands?

Recently, as I’m sure you are aware, California has been on fire. The Paradise California ward suffered great loss as the vast majority, as more than

90% of ward members lost everything to the fire. How could those around them be Christ’s hands? The Stake came together and provided shelter for families and met their basic needs of food and clothing. After many disasters, store shelves empty quickly of necessities such as toothbrushes and toiletries. Is your General Store stocked to meet those needs? Could you welcome a family in to your home and “feed the hungry”?

Earthquakes threaten most of the Untied States, western Canada, Mexico, South and Central American, the south Pacific nations and Asia. Do you realize one of the most dangerous earthquake areas in the United States runs through Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas? That is just earthquakes, add in hurricanes, volcanoes, tsunamis, tornadoes, fires, typhoons, yikes! Are we prepared to provide refuge for survivors, either our own family or others we may not even know? Could we be Christ’s hands?

“And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” Mosiah 2:17

I understand the necessity to be more fully prepared spiritually for that which is to come. We need to be studying the scriptures, attending the temple, turning our hearts to our fathers thru family history. Those are of paramount importance.

However, are we also focused on preparing for the physical needs of our family and others?

In instructing church members to prepare President Spencer W. Kimball said: “Now I think the time is coming when there will be more distresses, when there may be more tornadoes and more floods, … more earthquakes. … I think they will be increasing probably as we come nearer to the end, and so we must be prepared for this” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974). This is what prophets do, they warn us of things to come. Have those things come? Yes.

Do we think we are wiser than Heavenly Father? “O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.” “But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.” 2 Nephi 9:28–29.

As we study the Savior’s life and example in 2019 let us prepare both spiritually and temporally.

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25: 35-40

As President Kimball taught: “Catching the vision of self-reliance is an important part of our responsibility to live providently and help others in these last days. In this effort, the Lord is certainly our greatest resource. If we prayerfully invite his help and guidance—and act upon it—we will be prepared.”