Andrew based his talk on Presiden Holland's talk, which was also beautiful. If you missed it, you can either find the transcript on the church website or watch the summary below.
We're the Heiss family and although we aren't new, this is our first time speaking in sacrament meeting so I'll take a minute to introduce our family, which, unfortunately, is rather small.
We babysat the Lewis children this past week, which added 5 children to our household and more than doubled the size of our family; and on Sunday when we were watching conference we had 2 of the Penrod children over as well. Altogether we had 8 kids running around, making watching conference a loud and trying experience. I couldn't help but think, while I tried to pay attention to the speakers, how nice it would be to actually have 8 children today.
That way when I introduced our family in sacrament meeting I would take up all my time doing that and wouldn't have to worry about preparing a talk. As it is, we're a rather small and young family. I'm sure you all know us, but I'll go ahead and give our introduction anyway.
[And then I introduced us.]
I was specifically touched by President Monson's talk in the Sunday morning session, which, remarkably enough, happened to be the very session during which we had 8 children running around wild.
He said, "It would be easy to become discouraged and cynical about the future—or even fearful of what might come—if we allowed ourselves to dwell only on that which is wrong in the world and in our lives," and urged us to "focus instead on our blessings as members of the Church"
He then quoted 2 Timothy 1:7, which reads, "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
When I pondered on that scripture and on the idea of enduring through life's trials focused on our blessings, I was reminded of two things. First of all, Elder Wirthlin's talk from last conference and secondly about an experience I had recently with Rachel.
Most of my experiences recently revolve around Rachel. I still consider myself a new mother, even though Rachel will be 2 in July, and even though I love motherhood, it's a real challenge for me. Motherhood is hard and you never get a break. We're actually expecting our second baby at the end of October so I've been reflecting a lot more on motherhood and wondering if I can be a mother to two children. I find being a mother to Rachel overwhelming sometimes. Often. I don't know how I'll ever get used to taking care of two children.
I found that Elder Wirthlin's talk was along the same lines that President Monson spoke about. He also addressed the topic of overcoming adversity. He says, "If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness."
"How can we love days that are filled with sorrow?" he asks, "We can’t—at least not in the moment. I don’t think my mother was suggesting that we suppress discouragement or deny the reality of pain. I don’t think [my mother] was suggesting that we smother unpleasant truths beneath a cloak of pretended happiness. But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life."
He was referring to how his mother would say, "Come what may, and love it."
Recently Rachel and I went to Greece for a week, without Andrew. I thought it was going to be a really fun trip and I was going to have Jaehee along to help. Things were going to be fine. However, this was the longest amount of time that we hav eever been apart as a couple and the first time, really, that I'd ever been alone with Rachel for more than 1 night.
It was our first day in Greece and we were already rather miserable. Rachel had, of course, stayed up all night long on the plane. Anyone who knows anything about Rachel knows that she takes any opportunity to stay awake and uses it to the fullest. The first thing we did upon arriving in Greece was find our hotel where we promptly settled in for a 2.5 hour nap, which isn't nearly enough sleep for a toddler (even for Rachel) or for a pregnant mother. We didn't want to waste a whole day, though, so we went out anyway, even though we were rather grumpy.
We were walking and I was pushing Rachel in the stroller when she lost it. She started screaming and wouldn't stop no matter what I tried. I was pointing out flowers and birds to distract her. I offered her snacks. I offered her water. I tried getting her out of the stroller. Nothing was working and I was starting to go a little crazy myself.
We stopped in a little park and Rachel continued to scream and scream and scream.
I wasn't having very happy thoughts. I was embarrassed and I was frustrated and I began to wonder if it wasn't my parenting that was making Rachel misbehave so terribly. I could recall nothing but perfect behavior from Rachel when we went on vacations with Andrew.
Then for some reason, I felt prompted to take a picture of Rachel screaming in her stroller. So I did, and when I did, several memories flooded back to me of Andrew and I taking pictures of Rachel doing the exact same thing on previous exursions that we took her on.
I instantly felt better. Her bad behavior didn't stop and truthfully our day didn't get much better, but I realized that no matter how miserable I was right then, I would eventually only have good memories of the trip.
I learned a lot being with Rachel for that long alone. I learned that I can do hard things. I learned more about her. I realized how much I appreciate and depend on Andrew and how often I take him forgranted. And, perhaps most importantly, I learned that happiness far outweighs unhappiness.
"The dial on the wheel of sorrow eventually points to each of us," said Elder Wirthlin, "At one time or another, everyone must experience sorrow. No one is exempt."
But, as it says in D&C 121:7-8, "...Peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.”
When I heard President Monson relate the story of the woman in Germany who had to burry her children one by one using a tablespoon to dig their graves and, when her last child died, having to dig the grave with her bare hands, I thought of how trivial many of my problems seem.
I was dealing with a whiney child, but at least I still had her and didn't have to dig a shallow, unmarked grave somewhere in the wilderness of Greece.
This dear sister had remarkable faith and used that to get through her trials. She said, when prompted to "get down on her knees and pray" that she had "nothing left but faith in Jesus Christ."
"I feel," she prayed to Heavenly Father, "Amidst the desolation of my soul, an overwhelming gratitude for the atoning sacrifice of Thy Son, Jesus Christ."
I don't think my soul has ever been desolate. I have my family, I have my home, I have countless blessings, and I have my faith. That doesn't mean, however, that my life is easy or perfect or challenge-free. In fact, it is far from that.
President Monson said, "None of us makes it through this life without problems and challenges—and sometimes tragedies and misfortunes. After all, in large part we are here to learn and grow from such events in our lives. We know that there are times when we will suffer, when we will grieve, and when we will be saddened. However, we are told [in 2 Nephi 2:25], 'Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.'"
President Monson shows us the answer to finding joy, again, in the scriptures. D&C 86:6 reads, "Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you."
The key to living a life of "good cheer," then, is having faith in the Lord. The Lord says in John 16:33, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
In this world we have tribulation, trials, sorrow, sin, and sickness. No matter what hardships we face, the Lord has overcome it already, and by having faith in him and his ability to succor us according to our needs, we will also overcome our trials.
One of my favorite scriptures is found in Romans 8:28, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose," and in verse 27 it says, "He maketh intercession for the Saints according to the will of God."
Jesus Christ is our Savior. He suffered for our sins and our sorrow in the Garden of Gethsemane and He is always there to help us through our trials.
As President Monson says, "This attitude is what will pull us through whatever comes our way. It will not remove our troubles from us but rather will enable us to face our challenges, to meet them head on, and to emerge victorious."
2 Nephi 9:18 read, "Behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in [Him], they who have endured the crosses of the world, . . . they shall inherit the kingdom of God, . . . and their joy shall be full forever."
What wonderful promises: to emerge victorious, to have joy forever!
Just as the woman from Germany found happiness in knowing "that God lived, that Jesus is the Christ, and that He died and was resurrected so that we might live again," so, too, can we find the same joy through faith in Christ.
In closing I want to share President Monson's testimony that "our promised blessings are beyond measure. Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us."
And as Elder Wirthlin urged, may we all learn to say with faith, "Come what may, and love it!"
I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and that he atoned for our sins and conquered death so that we can all return to live with our Heavenly Father. I know that the gospel was restored to the prophet Joseph Smith and that he translated the Book of Mormon. I believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. I know we have a prophet today, President Monson, and that he recieves revelation from Heavenly Father. I am so happy to be sealed to Andrew in the temple for all eternity. I'm so grateful for the gospel, and especially that we are able to meet together as Saints in Cairo, Egypt! In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.