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“May I thank you for your great faith,” said President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as he addressed a large crowd under cloudy skies in Fiji Wednesday afternoon. “I wondered if you could do it and you did it. You turned off the rain.”
President Nelson traveled to Fiji from New Zealand with his wife, Wendy, and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Susan. Fiji is the fifth destination on his nine-day Pacific ministry to seven countries in a region where Church membership is growing.
The global faith leaders addressed a capacity crowd of about 4,700 Fijian Latter-day Saints at an outdoor devotional meeting at Ratu Cakobau Park in Fiji’s capital city of Suva, known as the economic and cultural capital of the South Pacific.
Following the music of a youth choir, the prophet invited the children to stand as he led them in singing a verse of “I Am a Child of God.”
President Nelson also talked about the importance of the Book of Mormon and the purpose of temples.
“We talk about being a child of God, and we sing about being a child of God,” said the prophet. “What does He want [from us] for Himself? Fortunately, He has given us the answer. He said, ‘What I want most of all is for my children to be immortal and to have the gift of eternal life.’”
Sister Nelson challenged the audience to read the scriptures instead of social media to find the answers to all of life’s questions. “I invite you to try this experiment for 30 days and record your experience. … Imagine what can happen to your life when you start to know that the scriptures are answer books.”
“We feel your love for Heavenly Father, and we feel God’s love for you,” said Elder Gong.
Elder Gong encouraged the Fijian Saints to stand strong against the rising tide of illicit drugs entering their country. “We can decide today that we will not use any of them. We can decide today to stand in holy places. These are the places in our homes, in our Church and at the holy temple.”
“One thing we need to learn in this life is how to be grateful for everything always, and that can be hard because bad things happen to good people,” said Sister Gong. “We have a Heavenly Father who loves us and who knows that the hard times can be the beginning of better times.”
She also addressed the importance of getting an education. “President Nelson has taught that the difference between wanting to do good in the world and being able to do good in the world is to get an education. … When you have an education, you can make a bigger difference in the world.”
Prior to the devotional, the senior Church leaders met with the youth and attended a reception for government and interfaith leaders and other dignitaries.
After the closing prayer, the audience sang the Fijian farewell song, “Isa Lei,” to the Latter-day Saint leaders.
The Pacific ministry runs May 16–25. The Nelsons and Gongs left Salt Lake City on Thursday for stops in Kona, Hawaii; Apia, Samoa; Sydney, Australia; and Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand. The final two destinations are Nuku‘alofa, Tonga, and Papeete, Tahiti, where the senior leaders will attend a 175th anniversary cultural program celebrating the arrival of the first missionaries to French Polynesia.