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"Be Builders of Zion" - Stake Conference Recap

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

(left to right) J.J. Weeks, Steven Gimenez, Mallory Palmer, Jenna Nelson

Brothers and sisters how blessed we are to be on the earth at this time and to live in the Layton Legacy Stake. We have walked away from this stake conference with our cup overflowing. When your cup overflows with the love of the Savior, you can’t help but share that peace, goodness, and joy with everyone around you.

I personally feel inspired and blessed by the messages and testimonies shared by the members and leaders of our stake as they encouraged us to help build Zion. The Spirit was so strong and truly unforgettable. I add my witness to the testimonies shared this weekend, that as we put the building up of Zion first in our lives, we will experience what the prophet Nephi described when he said, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people…There could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God. I say this in Jesus’ name, amen.

Lindsey Rietzsch

Stake Communication Specialist

Feathering Sands Ward


Saturday Adult Session

A.J. Whipple, Marilee Leishman, Kalli Martin

Opening Hymn,

"Zion in Her Beauty Rise"

Her light begins to shine.

Ere long her King will rend the skies,

Majestic and divine,

The gospel spreading thru the land,

A people to prepare

To meet the Lord and Enoch's band

Triumphant in the air.

Kalli Martin

Ellison Park 2nd Ward

"I didn't need to be ashamed of my past or my story."

Sister Martin introduced the topic she was asked to speak on which was Zion. She began her message by talking about her experience moving into her home last September with her three children; into a ward of 900+ people. During this time, she felt completely invisible in general and in her ward. Partly from not being acknowledged by ward members who were still getting to know each other, but also, she said, because of her own attitude and a feeling of not belonging.

Recently separated from her now ex-husband and having entered the workforce (after ten years of being a stay-at-home mom), Sister Martin found herself flying under the radar, not really getting to know anyone in her neighborhood or in the area. She had left a ward where she and her family had been established for a decade having made some great friends. This new change brought the unknown and Sister Martin had never felt more alone than she did at this time. Already going through a faith journey, she said it was easy to no longer attend church.

It wasn’t until boundary changes were made that she began to feel a sense of hope and belonging Christ, in her new and much smaller ward. One Sunday, her new Relief Society President Brook Jordan spoke, in which she shared a very raw and vulnerable story about what she had been through and how her faith had been tested, and she was able to move forward. This was the example and message that Sister Martin needed. The vulnerable words and experiences that Brook shared meant everything to Sister Martin. She had been praying for real and honest leaders whom she could relate to. Her prayers had been answered.

This experience taught Sister Martin that she didn’t need to be ashamed of her path and her own story. Her life and what she had been through had value. This realization helped her to love herself as she was.

Sister Martin concluded that when we are willing to open up and be real with each other, and share difficult experiences, it helps us relate and connect with each other in a way that we could not do otherwise. It helps eliminate an “us vs. them” mentality. She quoted Moses 7:18, The Lord called His people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind. This doesn’t mean we have to be the same to be one, we can feel a sense of belonging simply by feeling loved. Sister Martin felt this love for her Relief Society president in her vulnerability. She feels it from her parents when they allow her to vent and lovingly listen. She feels it anytime someone texts her to let her know they are thinking of her. She feels it when her “Garbage Angel” ministers by taking her garbage can out on Thursdays and wheeling it back in for her.

Over the years, Sister Martin has really felt the Lord’s first and second great commandment working in her life. To love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as you love yourself. This doesn’t come from fitting a certain mold. It simply comes from feeling and sharing love with each other. She closed her message with a challenge to start noticing the ways that others show love to you as well as noticing the ways in which you feel loved. Also, to find opportunities to open up to even just one person. Be vulnerable with them and share your love. When we prioritize loving others, “us vs. them” becomes "all of us together" as one in Christ. This is how we feel peace.

President Seth Parkinson

Stake Presidency First Counselor

"Great blessings of spiritual power can only come through active temple worship."

President Parkinson began his message with the statement, “What a wonderful time to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” He then reinforced that statement by reminding us that the restoration of the gospel continues to unfold right before our very eyes, and referenced Neil A. Maxwell’s words, “To those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that the Father and the Son are giving away the secrets of the universe!” He said that Sister Martin’s talk appropriately helped us to understand this.

As the theme of Stake Conference is “Building Zion”, President Parkinson focused his message on where we should begin building Zion, and that is in our home. Regardless of what the dynamic of our home looks like or what stage we are at in life, we can all start within our homes. He posed the question, “Why must Zion increase?” in which he responded with a quote from Joseph Smith, “The gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, [will] be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.”

President Parkinson continued with a quote from President Spencer W. Kimball,

“The family is the basic unit of the kingdom of God on earth. The Church can be no healthier than its families…Never before have there been so many insidious influences threatening the family as today, around the world. Many of these evil influences come right into the home—through television, radio, magazines, newspapers, and other forms of literature.”

President Parkinson added the internet (in all of its forms) to that list. He reminded us that the Adversary’s influence in the world is strong, and his intent is to destroy the family. This is because his ultimate plan is to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ. President Parkinson shared a few principles for us to improve upon in our efforts to build Zion.

1). Remember our true identity. President Nelson has taught us that labeling ourselves and others incorrectly can potentially blind us to our true identity. He said, “...if any label replaces your most important identifiers, the results can be spiritually suffocating... no identifier should displace, replace or take priority over these three enduring designations: 'child of God,' 'child of the covenant' and 'disciple of Jesus Christ.’”

President Parkinson gave an example of someone putting too much focus on their career or a sport that they play. What happens when that career or sport is no longer an option? He shared the experience of Damon Elmore from the Wild Horse Springs ward. Damon was an excellent football player at Layton High School, and one of the strongest athletes in Utah. He had dedicated his life to the pursuit of his goal of attaining a division one football scholarship. During his senior year he accomplished this goal. Unfortunately, around this time he suffered a concussion during a game against Davis High School that permanently ended his football career. However, because his parents had taught him about his true identity, he decided to prepare himself to serve a full-time mission.

Because of this knowledge, Damon has been propelled in a direction that will be a great blessing to him throughout his life. He is currently serving in North Carolina and headed to the Marshal Islands this week.

2). Make the temple a priority in our lives. There is nothing that will protect and fortify our homes like making and keeping sacred covenants in our holy temples. President Nelson has taught us that making and keeping covenants actually makes life easier and that doing so increases our access to the power of Jesus Christ. This is because the temple binds us to God and to Christ.

President Parkinson described this imagery of being bound to God and Christ in that wherever we go, they go. And likewise, wherever they go, we go. They never leave us when we are bound to them.

Great blessings of spiritual power can only come through active temple worship. President Nelson recently promised, “Our need to be in the temple on a regular basis has never been greater. I plead with you to take a prayerful look at how you spend your time. Invest time in your future and in that of your family. I urge you to find a way to make an appointment regularly with the Lord—to be in His holy house—then keep that appointment with exactness and joy. I promise you that the Lord will bring the miracles He knows you need as you make sacrifices to serve and worship in His temples.”

President Parkinson testified of the miracles that he and his wife have seen in their lives from recently making an effort to increase their temple worship. He encouraged the members of our stake to teach our children about the importance of wearing the temple garment. Teach them what it represents and how it can be a shield of protection to them. It is a sacred privilege to wear the temple garment at all times.

3). Never ever give up! The Lord loves and requires effort, but He is also reasonable and recognizes our shortcomings. He is merciful, graceful, and quick to bless.

As we struggle to establish Zion in our homes President Parkinson said that it will feel overwhelming and at times even impossible, but he pleaded with us to “please not quit”. He reminded us how Elder Uchtdorf taught that by small means the Lord can bring about great things. The consistency of small and simple things day after day is more nourishing than an occasional flood.

As we refrain from drawing back and instead become more deliberant, intentional, and thoughtful about what happens in our homes, President Parkinson reminded us of the blessings we can receive that the Lord has prepared for us, “that eye hath not see, nor ear heard” (Corinthians 2:9)

A.J. Whipple

Wild Horse Springs Ward

"The love of Jesus Christ knows no bounds."

Brother Whipple began by telling a story about a young man who went to take his dog for a walk when suddenly he was apprehended by police offers and arrested. Rather than feeling panic, this young man felt relief. A weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He finally saw a way out of the hole he had dug for himself. This singular event put into motion the beginning of the transformation of this young man. This young man was Brother Whipple.

For the next ten years, Brother Whipple’s life would never be the same. But what had led to this point? How did he end up behind bars?

As a boy, Brother Whipple had been born and raised in the Church by loving parents and served in both deacons and teachers’ presidencies. However, a fixation on the need to be perfect took control of his choices. Viewing everything though a black and white filter, all or nothing, caused him to continually fall short. He had forgotten the meaning of the principle of grace.

In the words of Brad Wilcox, “Too many are giving up on the Church because they are tired of constantly feeling like they are falling short. They have tried in the past, but they continually feel like they are just not good enough. They don't understand grace. There should never be just two options: perfection or giving up.”

Brother Whipple realized that when he had stopped doing the little things such as reading his scriptures, saying his prayers, and attending church, he began to experience difficulty at school and with life in general. Soon he became suicidal. Therapy, psychiatrists, and medication helped him to slowly get better, but still he was not attending church. In fact, he continued to stray further away from the gospel, looking to fill a hole in his life that could not be filled.

One day, as an illegal opportunity to make money presented itself, Brother Whipple justified it as a temporary means to an end. This temporary solution turned into a decade of crime. The Adversary had lured him into a world of greed, wealth, and worldly success. He desperately pleaded with Heavenly Father for help in getting out of the hole he had dug for himself. That prayer was answered the day he was arrested.

Looking back Brother Whipple realized that had he not been arrested, he wouldn’t be alive today giving this talk in stake conference. The thoughts of suicide had weighed so heavy on his mind that he could not be freed from its grasp. Though his journey back to the path has not been easy, it has very much been worth it. Serving two years in prison as well as time in rehab felt dark and isolating, yet it was in those dark moments where he discovered the transformative power of Jesus Christ.

Brother Whipple talked about our understanding as Latter-day Saints, of relying on the Savior. This is what got him through those dark days in prison. It was in prison where he read the Book of Mormon with real intent for the very first time. Reading the Book of Mormon brought the light that led him out of the dark. This experience was a testimony of the words of President Nelson when he said, “My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”

Even in the challenges of prison, Brother Whipple’s despair turned to hope as he watched the darkness turn to light. Through the Savior’s sacrifice and Atonement Brother Whipple was made new. This didn’t mean that temptation was gone, but it meant that when temptations arose, with help from the Lord through the guidance of a loving bishop, Brother Whipple could triumph over darkness again and again. This reliance on the Lord led him to the temple where he received further strength and protection.

Brother Whipple concluded with the invitation to try a little harder to be a little better. Knowing how far he strayed from the covenant path yet was still able to come back and go to the temple has given him the hope and strength to be able to face any future challenges that life may bring. He has a solid testimony that the love of Jesus Christ knows no bounds. It reaches into the darkest parts of our lives offering hope, healing, and the promise of a bright future.

“Where Can I Turn for Peace”

Mylie Jones, Accompanied by Johnny Richardson

Johnny Richardson, Ellison Park 2nd Ward
Mylie Jones, Ellison Park 2nd Ward

This hymn was a tender witness to Brother Whipple’s message. Sister Jones sang her testimony in such a raw and beautiful way.

“He answers privately,

Reaches my reaching

In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.

Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.

Constant he is and kind,

Love without end.”

Marilee Leishman

West Layton Ward

"Gratitude can help the Spirit work within see the needs of others and respond."

What does it mean to be of one heart and one mind? Sister Leishman answered this question with the account in 4 Nephi 15, And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.

Sister Leishman talked about the beautiful Utah mountains and said that sometimes we get fixated on small mole hills that pop up in the valley. Mole hills represent our trails. Things we think should be different, the faults of others, and our own sins & short comings. We forget to look up at the mountains of goodness, light, grace, and beauty that are always there as we are too busy complaining about the mole hills.

How do we change this? Gratitude can help the Spirit work within us and plant the seed of the love of God in our heart. The Spirit can help us understand God’s love for us, which helps us to see the needs of others and respond to them. The mole hills distract us from doing this.

One obstacle that prevents us from being a Zion-like people is our tendency to view others in a distorted way in our own self-focused natures. Sister Leishman painted a picture of a large valley full of people, each holding a mirror in their hand. As they speak to others around them, they hold that mirror in front of their own face seeing mostly their reflection and not truly beholding the other person. Each person looks at the other through a reflection of their own views and perspectives. They listen through a filter, only thinking about how what they are hearing might reflect on them. Being so busy looking in their own mirrors, that they don’t see others in full color, only in black and white with labels and categories.

Sister Leishman invited the congregation to imagine these people putting their mirrors down. Truly looking at each other without filters. Listening without an agenda. Viewing them in full color in all their beauty, pain, sorrow, trials, hopes, and dreams. Without the mirror distorting their view, they begin to see each person as complex, valuable, and equally important as they are. They see through another’s eyes, instead of just their own.

Now, what might cause us to hold up this figurative mirror? Sister Leishman suggested a few examples such as a lack of light and knowledge, the natural man’s selfish tendencies, focusing on mole hills, and listening to Satan’s temptations. These mirrors get in the way of becoming a Zion-like people. So, how do we set down the mirrors down? This starts to come naturally as we do the little things such as keeping the commandments, studying God’s word with faith, keeping an open heart and mind, becoming more receptive to the Holy Ghost and therefore putting off the natural man.

Reflecting back on her own life, Sister Leishman shared a tender example of seeing Zion in action. Ten years ago, her sons were both diagnosed with a neurogenerative disease called, GM1. Doctors said it was terminal as there was no cure or treatment. Gradually she, her husband, and daughter, watched as these boys began to digress in their abilities to walk, talk, swallow food, sit up on their own, and communicate. Eli passed away in 2020 at age eleven, and Evan passed away this past summer at the age of ten. Amidst all of this, they were shocked to discover another baby was on the way. Lucas was born in 2020, five months before Eli’s passing. They hoped for the best, but soon learned that Lucas also had the same genetic disorder. He is now on a similar course as his older brothers.

During these years, Sister Leishman frequently focused on the mole hills in her life. Awaiting the future, and pending death of her boys was a heavy weight to bear, and she began to view others with a mirror in her hand. Looking at others through the reflection of her own pain. As long as the mirror was up, Sister Leishman was unable to respond to the needs of others with pure charity. It was in this burdened state of mind that she decided to turn to the mercy and grace of God. She never gave up, attending church week after week with her family, serving and being served. As she shared and grew her testimony, peace came into her life and continued to increase.

Soon it was very apparent that Zion was all around her. She felt the love of God many times through the service of others. Family, friends, neighbors, and teachers poured out love over her family and lightened their burdens in so many ways. She began to set her mirror down and as she did, she saw clearly. There was beauty all around, in every person. The love of God filled her heart with joy. Mountains, mole hills, and mirrors taught Sister Leishman to look up and see the blessings surrounding her. She encouraged us all to set down our mirrors so we can be grateful, content, and more aware of the needs of those around us. So that we can be a Zion people and see the worth in every soul.

President Spencer J. Brown

Stake President

"As we let God prevail, He will perform miracles in our life"

President Brown began by expressing his hope that those in attendance would feel blessed from having experienced a taste of Zion in the messages that had been shared. He then started his message by reading Moses 7:53 - I am Messiah, the King of Zion, the Rock of Heaven, which is broad as eternity; whoso cometh in at the gate and climbeth up by me shall never fall; wherefore, blessed are they of whom I have spoken, for they shall come forth with songs of everlasting joy.

Christ is the gatekeeper. President Brown reassured that will experience ebbs and flows throughout our life but as we come unto the King of Zion, the Rock of Heaven, we will come forth with songs of everlasting joy. He then thanked the previous speakers and musical number, and reminded us of the lyrics, “Who can understand? He only One.” This past summer at trek, the youth experienced that ‘one heart and one mind’. President Brown testified that this same unity could be felt at stake conference as well as in our homes and in our communities.

Holding up a couple of old cell phones (one having bite marks in it), President Brown spoke of his previous wireless phone business. When phones got old, customers could upgrade and renew their service plan. He related that process of renewal and conversion to the theme of stake conference - building Zion.

President Brown then shared a recent experience of his wife Wendy, losing the diamond in her wedding ring. He joked that maybe she lost it on purpose so she could upgrade to a bigger diamond. All joking aside, he asked the question, “What are we concerned with upgrading or renewing in our lives?” The state of Zion that existed in 3 Nephi came to an end when people began to clash with one another and divide into classes. They were no longer one in Christ after having been visited by the Savior.

As the King of Zion, the Savior has instituted the higher and holier law. President Brown reminded us that we read about this higher and holier law in the Sermon on the Mount, which was directed to the baptized covenant making members of the Church at that time. The Savior also taught this sermon to the Nephites in America, in the temple. In Israel, the temple was referred to as “The Mountain of the Lord.” Therefore, the Lord taught both groups (In Israel, and America) at the temple. The purpose of the Lord’s sermon was to prepare the saints to make covenants with God. It was a call to a higher level of living as well as a mission call to share the gospel with others. The Sermon on the Mount has been said to be the most significant testimony of our Lord, ever recorded, as it is a blueprint for exaltation. It bears witness of the Savior’s celestial nature and character. It is an invitation for all mankind to follow our Savior and receive eternal life.

President Brown referenced the Beatitudes in 3 Nephi, and the Book of Matthew. He said that he likes to think of these beatitudes as “attitudes to be as He”. These attitudes come with blessings. The promised blessing of humility is entrance into the Kingdom. The promised blessing of mourning and penitence is comfort and forgiveness. The attribute of meekness is the promise of celestial glory. Seeking righteousness brings the promised blessing of the gift of the Holy Ghost. The blessing of being merciful is receiving mercy. The blessing of being pure in heart is seeing God. Being peacemakers helps us become the children of God and heirs to His Kingdom. The reward for enduring opposition in this life, will be great in Heaven.

At the Sermon on the Mount, the people were astonished not by what the Lord said, but how He said it. He spoke as one having authority. President Brown said that our journey of faith and conversion doesn’t happen in a week’s time or a month. Throughout life, we go through different cycles and stages of faith. He expressed his hopes that as we look at this blueprint in the Sermon on the Mount, we will mindfully choose beatitudes or “upgrades” that will help us become a Zion people. As we seek first the Kingdom of God, all the things we need will be given to us.

President Brown concluded with a quote from President Nelson,

“Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life? Will you allow His words, His commandments, and His covenants to influence what you do each day? Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other? Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition? Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His?

My dear brothers and sisters, as you choose to let God prevail in your lives, you will experience for yourselves that our God is “a God of miracles.”

President Brown then extended an invitation to be like our Savior and become a builder of His Kingdom. He testified that as we let God prevail, He will perform miracles in our life.

Closing hymn,

"Press Forward Saints"

A powerful call to receive Jesus Christ and gain eternal life.

Sunday Morning Youth Session

Opening hymn, "Hope of Israel"

Jenna Nelson

West Layton Ward

"Devotion to Holiness is devotion to Christ."

Sister Nelson began her talk by breaking down the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 82:14, For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.

1) Increase in beauty and holiness.

Sister Carol F. McConkie said, "The beauty of holiness...whose hearts are centered on all that is good, who want to become more like the Savior,” she said. “They offer their whole souls, heart, might, mind and strength to the Lord in the way that they live every day. Holiness is in the striving and the struggle to keep the commandments and to honor the covenants we have made with God. Holiness is making the choices that will keep the Holy Ghost as our guide.”

Sister Nelson added to that, "Becoming more like Christ." Beauty is not just about appearance, but holiness and devotion to the Lord. Imagine if the amount of time spent on getting ready each morning was devoted to time with the Lord. Imagine what we could become!

The Lord declares, "Holiness is my name." Devotion to holiness is devotion to Christ. Christ is the answer to everything. Why wouldn't we spend each morning devoting our time to Him? The beauty we receive when we share the light of Christ is unmatched in the world.

2). "...borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened"

This part of the scripture reminded Sister Nelson of missions. She shared that her grandparents just got back from a mission to New Mexico, and her sister was just called to serve in Anchorage, Alaska. You don't have to leave home to be a missionary. You can share the gospel anywhere and it can be easy if you let it.

Sister Nelson was reminded of a statistic she had seen in which youth who were raised in the gospel but had taken it for granted, end up leaving the Church by the time they graduate college. We need to take responsibility for growing our testimonies.

Enlarging borders and strengthening stakes is not all about bringing new souls into the gospel, it's about keeping our souls and lives committed to Christ. One of the best ways we can bring ourselves fully to Christ is by bringing others to Christ.

3). "Zion must...put on her beautiful garments"

Something her Grandma taught Sister Nelson when she was little was that 'you are never fully dressed without a smile'. Smiling not only makes others happy but it helps the light of Christ shine through you everyday; making your day instantly better.

God created us just the way we need to be and Christ needs us to become rooted in the gospel so we bring others to Him. The important role that the youth have been called to, of establishing Zion, can seem scary. However, Sister Nelson realized that simple things such as being friendly, giving a hug, saying hello to someone new, and accepting opportunities to serve the Lord are all ways that we can build Zion.

Don't be afraid of hard work or the challenges ahead, Christ will carry us through when things seem impossible. We can do all things through Him.

Steve Gimenez

Ellison Park 2nd Ward

"Even when we feel overwhelmed by life, we must believe that we really can do all things through Christ."

Brother Gimenez shared examples of people exercising their faith and turning to the Lord during times of crisis. He quoted Nephi 17:50-51; And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things, I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done.

And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?

The story of young Nephi building a ship is an incredible example of what faith in action can accomplish.

For his final example, Brother Gimenez shared the story of NFL player Damar Hamlin. After a routine tackle during the first quarter between in a game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin fell to the ground lifeless. Teammates, coaches, doctors, and medical professionals rushed to his side. As the ambulance arrived on the field, an assistant trainer and medical staff worked to resuscitate Hamlin. Soon after, the ambulance rushed him to the hospital during which something unexpected happened.

In what would be an emotional and unforgettable scene, both teams knelt on the field and prayed for Hamlin on live TV. In a remarkable expression of faith, an ESPN commentator bowed his head and prayed out loud to God on air. Brother Gimenez pointed out that while many people do not always openly speak about God, they very much naturally believe in God. In times of crisis their hopes and prayers ascend to God.

Brother Gimenez testified that even when we feel overwhelmed by life, we must believe that we really can do all things through Christ. If we focus on prayer and building a relationship with our Savior, we will be able to get through hard times.

Mallory Palmer

Evans Meadows Ward

"The journey was worth it."

Sister Palmer began by expressing her love for the 2023 youth theme, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). She then shared a background story of some difficult trials she went through, starting in seventh grade.

It was during this time that she experienced rejection from her friend group and began to eat lunch alone in the bathroom. Shortly later, she experienced betrayal and bullying from whom she thought was her best friend. The day her birthday arrived, her locker had been vandalized with dirt, water, and piles trash.

For months, Sister Palmer and her family prayed for things to get better – but to no avail, the bullying continued. Feeling lost, lonely, and faith wavering, she began to wonder what was the point? Then came girls’ camp.

While at girls’ camp, Sister Palmer became so sick that she had to get an IV. Four bags of fluid were pumped into her body in the middle of the woods. Several girls in her room were kicked out of their beds by strangers they were rooming with. Despite these challenges, Sister Palmer ended up having a great time at camp. During testimony meeting a certain testimony in which a girl expressed her struggle with faith, had quite the impact on Sister Palmer. This young woman testified that if anyone happened to be feeling alone, to just know that it does get better, and God is watching over you. He just might need to teach you something first.

Though girls camp got better, 8th and then 9th grade came along. Sister Palmer’s next challenge was chronic back pain. This obstacle interfered with her active lifestyle of dance and basketball. After an MRI revealed bulging disks and scoliosis, Sister Palmer became hopeful that a solution for her pain could now be found. Instead, her hopes were crushed when doctors told her that she needed to quit dancing, there was nothing that could be done to help her, and she was going to have to live with back pain for the rest of her life.

At the time, Ibuprofen had offered temporary relief; however, this caused Sister Palmer’s stomach to hurt, and she often felt sick. She soon experienced the consequences of taking Ibuprofen for too long which resulted in painful holes in her stomach. This meant no more pain meds so her stomach to heal, and no more pain meds meant continued back pain. Sister Palmer decided to cut down on her physical activity by focusing on just one activity instead of many. She tried out for the drill team at Layton High and made it.

Soon, Sister Palmer realized that drill wasn’t smooth sailing. It was more intense than she had anticipated and aggravated her back pain. Too make matters worse she again experienced rejection from friends and felt she was at the lowest point she had ever been. Sister Palmer was back to eating lunch alone triggering all too familiar feelings from seventh grade. She felt lost and confused hopping from one friend group to the next, never feeling a sense of belonging.

Junior year arrived with difficult classes and still no friends, however eventually that all changed when Sister Palmer met some amazing new friends on the drill team. What had once been her hardest trial (dancing on the drill team), had now become the answer to her prayer. These new friends have brought her that sense of belonging.

After many years and many tears, Sister Palmer testified that the journey was worth it. Her experiences have taught her that she will always get an answer when she prays. It may not come right away, but this has taught her patience while waiting on the Lord. Through her trials, she learned how to be the kind of friend she always wanted and that she would never treat anyone the way others had treated her. This has helped her be aware of the needs of those around her.

Though Sister Palmer’s pain has not gone away, she has learned to be grateful that she is still able to dance. She has learned endurance, punctuality, responsibility, leadership, hard work, respect, how to be committed, and that she can do hard things. Just as Nephi was tied to the shop by his brothers, the Lord allowed him to suffer as a means to teach Laman and Lemuel what they needed to learn. Through our trials, the Lord does the same. He uses them for our benefit, and sometimes they aren’t for us at all. They may be used to help others along the covenant path and build their testimony. Everything the Savior does is for our benefit. Sister Palmer testified that she believes we truly can do all things through Christ.

J.J. Weeks

Meadow Green Ward

"When we serve others and put the Lord first...He will bless us on any righteous path that we choose."

For as long as Brother Weeks could remember, he always wanted to be a pilot. At age eleven, he knew he wanted to become a fighter pilot after setting up his first flight simulator. Today, while still working towards his goal, he currently works as a flight simulator instructor. To increase his chances of becoming a fighter pilot, he plans to attend the United States Airforce Academy which happens to be very competitive. Requirements are strict and among them is a nomination from a congressman or senator.

All throughout Junior High and High School, Brother Weeks' goal was to make it to this prestigious academy. During his last summer of freedom he decided to sign up for several experiences that would help his application stand out. During each experience something was always said along the lines of, “you will get out of this experience what you put into it” which can be applied to life.

One of the first of these experiences was attending the Naval Academy Summer Seminar. This was meant to assign applicants a glimpse of what military academy life is like. Sharing one bathroom with an entire floor, 5:00 am wakeup calls consisting of screaming orders, long runs in formation, holding planks amidst pushups; and all before eating breakfast. Then the activities of the day began which included a naval ship simulator and later steering an actual naval ship out of the bay. Eventually the applicants were met with intense physical fitness drills that required passing in order to make it into the academy.

Brother Weeks pointed out that the summer felt like a “suffer fest”, and others seemed to enjoy suffering much more than he did. He questioned if his goal was worth it. Prior to this experience it was something he never questioned. He prayed a lot looking for ways and reasons to confirm that this path was to be part of his destiny. Soon however, he realized that is not how it works. Just as in life, we are presented with different paths and it’s up to us to decide which path we want to take.

Elder Dallin H Oaks said, “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.”

After losing seventeen pounds and becoming physically ill, Brother Weeks felt he wasn’t getting much out of the next intense program that he had enrolled in at Boys State. For the first time ever, he quit. As he began to look at other potential career paths to become a pilot, for the first time, a non-military career route became the more attractive option.

Next, he attended the Governor’s Honors Academy at SUU. This experience was meant to foster the love of learning and expanding perspectives. Students are encouraged to get outside of their comfort zones. Brother Weeks explained that he is an introvert who avoids social settings, but at this time he felt compelled to try his best to meet new people and make the most of this experience in which he was grateful for.

This experience was very different from his previous ones. It was an environment of encouragement and positive interactions which resulted in making wonderful friendships. It was refreshing to see that it wasn’t necessary to put others down in order to feel lifted up. Everyone could be successful if they wanted to, while being kind. Life did not have to be a competition, even though military schools and careers are very competitive. Brother Weeks had learned that when we trust others enough to share our weaknesses and faults, it strengthens our bonds.

GHA was more of a feeling than a place. Brother Weeks could be himself and he could be okay. He didn’t have to change who he was. This was a stark difference from military life where a person is broken down, in order to be rebuilt into who the military needs them to be.

This experience was followed by stake trek and a humanitarian trip to Panama. During this trip Brother Weeks attended a ward youth activity in which the language barrier between two groups had made things awkward, and no one seemed to know what to do. Brother Weeks followed a prompting to break out of his comfort zone and initiate conversation with the Spanish speaking members. Although this was uncomfortable, it led to being introduced to the Spanish members introducing Brother Weeks to their friends. By the end of the night, he was comfortable enough with his Spanish to have a conversation with anyone there. This felt to be a blessing from the Lord.

Ether 12 states, …for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Brother Weeks was able to use his Spanish to translate for a group during church and at a work site. It was on this trip where he discovered a new joy in selfless service which prepared him to be confident in serving a mission.

Brother Weeks testified that when we serve others and put the Lord first in our lives, he will bless us on any righteous path that we choose. Brother Weeks had learned that he indeed could do very hard things with the Lord’s support. He still loves the military and may choose to join after college. Either way, he knows he will be able to serve a mission, choose a career path, have a family, and experience a fulfilling life.

"I Can Do All Things"

(Performed by Berkly Morby, Clara Ingles, Fiona Child, Lindsay Golightly)

I can do all things.

When I’m sinking in the waves,

If I reach out for His grace,

He will rescue me.

I can do all things

With the Savior by my side.

I can climb to greater heights,

Find the strength I need.

I can do all things with Christ.

President Spencer J. Brown

Stake President

“We are in a battle. The hardest thing for us to see in this battle is when we are battling against each other.”

President Brown told the youth that the stake presidency is very much inspired by them. They shine. He shared the following words from the First Presidency of the Church in the For Strength of Youth, “We love you. We have confidence in you. You are truly among Heavenly Father’s choice spirits sent to earth at this time to do important things.” He continued by saying that he hopes the youth believes this.

Referencing back to the opening hymn, “Hope of Israel” President Brown reminded the youth that they had sang about this by breaking down the first verse.

Hope of Israel, Zion’s army,

Children of the promised day,

See, the Chieftain signals onward,

And the battle’s in array!

The Lord is asking us to be a Zion people. To be of one heart and one mind. We are in a battle. President Brown said that the hardest thing for us to see in this battle is when we are battling against each other.

He continued with the words from the First Presidency,

“There may be times when you don’t feel strong or capable. That’s normal. Especially in those moments, turn to the Savior. He is the strength of youth. We hope you feel you belong in the Savior’s Church and have power from Him to fulfill His purposes for you.

… you will be an influence for good, sharing the gospel joyfully and preparing the world for the Second Coming of the Savior.”

President Brown told the youth that he talked to their parents the previous night about Zion, and how the Savior is the King of Zion. We are preparing for His return. The youth have received a call to prepare. President Brown said he believes that the youth really believe the theme for this year, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” The youth of our stake are the youth of Zion. As disciples they have been called of Him.

President Brown reflected on the difficult experiences that were shared by the youth speakers in their messages. He was reminded of the many times that parents and youth have met with him as a stake president and seminary principal and shared their heart aching experiences. He testified that there is a place for each of the youth, but it will require much more than what’s currently being done, to become a Zion people. Bullying and racism are not acceptable.

Our prophet has said, “The Creator of us all calls on each of us to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children. Any of us who has prejudice toward another race needs to repent!”

He then played a video by Elder Christofferson titled, “Is There a Place for Me?” and asked the youth to ponder this question. He asked, “What can we do to help others find that place in Christ?”

A microphone was passed around and the following thoughts were shared,

“Having eyes to see. Noticing and sitting by people who don’t have anyone to talk to, can help them feel like they belong.”

“Look for opportunities to lift and build others up. Doing so will help you feel and share the Savior’s love.”

“If we are always expecting and waiting for someone else to take the action of helping us feel loved and accepted, we will always be disappointed. If we instead take the approach of our Savoir, and take it upon ourselves to start noticing others who also need to feel loved and accepted, and we take action as giver, we will understand that we are His disciples. We are His warriors. And we will truly come to know our identity in Christ. We will feel His acceptance and love as we give it to others. This will help us to be more powerful and realize we are here for a purpose.”

“If we can just look someone in the eye and smile, acknowledge that they exist, let them know that we see them, then they aren’t ignored anymore. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, time, or words to do this. Simply looking up from our phones for a minute and acknowledging that others exist, is a good place to start in the world that we live in.”

President Brown said that one of things he enjoys most about working at Layton High as a seminary principal, is greeting all the students each day with a smile and the students smiling back. He sees so much good and light inside of them and all the youth. He said to the youth that they have been called by God to be disciples of Christ.

When President Brown was a seminary student in high school, his seminary teacher Brother Brown invited him to do something that would change how he saw people. There was a young man in President Brown’s class who was tormented and bullied. Though he had never participated in the bullying, he realized that he also never did much to stop it. President Brown’s seminary teacher saw something in him and extended the invitation to try and make a difference in that young man’s life. He accepted the invite.

President Brown began to invite this young man into his friend circle. Not sure how it would go, he talked with his friends, and they ended up being very supportive of this idea. This simple action brought about a great change in the young man’s life, as he began to feel love and hope. As other kids watched President Brown’s example, they joined in and began loving this young man as well. The bullying stopped, as everyone began to see the greatness in him.

President Brown asked, "When have you seen someone be like the Savior, and help someone else feel loved?" A sister stood up and shared an experience. She spoke of a boy named Jack who came from a home with a father who was not a member of the Church. One day while out riding his bike, the bishop from the ward saw him and asked if he’d like to attend the father and sons outing. Jack told him that his father was not a member and wouldn’t want to go, but the bishop insisted that he come anyways and that he would be Jack’s companion.

Jack’s mother gave permission, and while at the campout Jack had an unfortunate experience. The boys in his tent were very mean to him, causing Jack to be upset and leave the tent. He moved out his things and made a bed all alone under the stars. The bishop took notice and set up his bed near Jack, telling him that he preferred sleeping under the stars as well. As the bishop took Jack under his wing, and continued inviting him to church, Jack went on to become a strong member of the Church and was married in the temple.

This sister asked, “Why do I tell you this story of Jack? Because Jack is my Grandpa. It has made the difference in my family’s life that a sweet bishop who was a disciple, saw Jack and reached out.” She told the youth that they have a huge impact. Their choices to be kind have the power to change generations. Because of that bishop, Jack’s children were raised in the gospel, as were his grandchildren. Because of that bishop, this sister has the gospel in her life as do her children.

Another sister stood and shared an example of how a simple act of kindness helped her to feel noticed and appreciated. As her teens and their friends come and go from her home each week, she often feels invisible. Recently one friend stopped to acknowledge this sister as he thanked her for letting him come over. This kind gesture made her day.

By small and simple things, great things are brought to pass. President Brown testified that Jesus Christ is our ultimate example. As we follow Him and express His love, we will bring others unto Him.

President Brown concluded with a quote from President Nelson, “One of the easiest ways to identify a true follower of Jesus Christ is how compassionately that person treats other people.” He told the youth that the stake presidency has confidence in them, and pleaded that they not sit by the wayside or pass others by. He urged them to be a modern day good Samaritan, and as they do, the Lord will work through them to change generations of lives. We need each other and we need to become one in Christ.

Closing hymn,

"Who's on the Lord's Side"

The pow’rs of earth and hell

In rage direct the blow

That’s aimed to crush the work;

Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?

Truth, life, and liberty,

Freedom from death and woe,

Are stakes we’re fighting for;

Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?

The stone cut without hands

To fill the earth must grow.

Who’ll help to roll it on?

Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?

Our ensign to the world

Is floating proudly now.

No coward bears our flag;

Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?

Sunday General Session

Monica Alters, Feathering Sands Ward Brenda Toone, Willow Ridge Ward

Children & Youth Choir

Directed by Amy Young, Wheatfield Ward

Accompanied by Andrew Ferguson, Willow Ridge Ward

"Redeemer of Israel"

We know he is coming

To gather his sheep

And lead them to Zion in love,

For why in the valley

Of death should they weep

Or in the lone wilderness rove?

Monica Alters

Wheatfield Ward

Stake Young Women's President

"We always have room for you on our church...and in our home."

Sister Alter's began her message by sharing about her daughter's ballet production of the Nutcracker. She noted the different levels of skill in the production and how each level is needed to make the production complete. Just like these dancers, each one of us is equally important in our ward, stake, community, and home.

Pondering on what it means to be a Zion people and being one heart and one mind, Sister Alters was reminded of an experience attending EFY at BYU with her friends. The theme that year was "One heart", and a line stood out to her from the EFY theme song; "When we're of one heart and one mind we can be together, and when we're apart our love will last forever." These words have stayed with her for 30+ years.

That EFY experience led to another experience during her senior year when she was allowed to take seminary for the first time. She entered the seminary building and the principal greeted her by letting her choose which class she wanted to be in. That semester was enhanced through attending seminary. Sister Alters felt welcomed and included. That sense of belonging helped her feel what Zion is.

Garret Gong said, "The Lord’s restored Church can be an incubator for a Zion community. As we worship, serve, enjoy, and learn His love together, we anchor each other in His gospel...We nurture connection and fight isolation as we regularly minister with our hearts in each other’s homes and neighborhoods." Sister Alters asked, "How is our stake building Zion?"

Are we a Zion community? Sister Alters talked about the different communities she lived in growing up, recognizing the many different examples of Zion that she experienced. For her, Zion began with welcoming adoptive parents who were wanting a baby born in Korea. They always made her feel wanted, special, and necessary to completing their family. This was God's plan and she cherished it.

Sister Alters experienced Zion again in 7th grade when she felt alone and lost. When welcoming friends invited her into their friend group and homes, she was able to see and feel what it was like having the Spirit in a home. She recognized a difference and decided that this was something she would aspire to have in her home someday.

Recently, Zion has been the many youth in our ward and stake who have shown love and service to Sister Alters and her family while she goes through chemo therapy. They are the rising generation and she feels honored to be the stake young women's president. Zion has also been the many women who have rendered service. She saw this same service extended to her mother by loving men and women who understood true ministering. And she has seen it as well in the small acts of service from children in her ward.

After finding out her cancer diagnosis while at trek this summer, President Brown asked Sister Alters to speak. After speaking, she received an outpouring of hugs and love because she couldn't stop crying. The news had been overwhelming as was facing the unknown, but loving friends comforted her and told her everything was going to be okay. Being on the giving end of service has always been the norm for Sister Alters, now that she has been on the receiving end it has increased her gratitude and love for the members of this stake.

At the end of her message, Sister Alter's noticed the many youth piling in to make room on a bench near the front. She pointed out, that this is what Zion should be like; "we always have room for you on our bench", "we always have room for you in our homes", "we always have room for you here at church", "you are welcome no matter what." This was the approach of her mother's visiting teachers who lovingly honored their assignment for so many years.

Zion starts in our homes by teaching our children how to care for and love one another. Are we perfect? No, but we're doing our best. Just like in the Nutcracker, we are working and hopefully progressing from the baby mice up to the grand "pas de deux". Building a beautiful Zion stake where there is room for everyone. Each one of us has a part and each one of us is needed. We don't need to be exactly alike to create Zion in our community, we just need to be centered on Christ and be of one heart.

In conclusion, Sister Alters testified that we can have a Zion community in our stake. By loving one another, sharing our testimony, welcoming each other, and always remembering that "we have room for you on our bench".

President Troy Fulmer

Stake Presidency Second Counselor

"In order for our stake to become like Zion, we need each other."

In 1969, a meteorologist and mathematician named Edward Norton Lorenz developed a theory that he called the "Butterfly Effect". The theory proposed that a butterfly could flap its wings in a forest of the Amazon, and this simple feat could set off a chain of reactions in the atmosphere that could potentially lead to something such as a tornado in Texas.

The Butterfly Effect is essentially a description of how small changes, acts, or events, can produce large consequences. One small act of kindness or service can produce huge changes in society as a whole.

President Fulmer spoke about losing his mother a few weeks ago. For his children, this was the loss of their last living grandparent. He had spent the last several days of his mother's life by her side until her passing. While out running errands in preparation for planning her services, President Fulmer ran into an unexpected inconvenience which caused him to feel frustrated as this was something that he didn't have time for. In that moment, a store employee assured him not to worry about it and after pausing, told President Fulmer to have a great day.

This employee had no idea what President Fulmer had been through during the last few weeks, nor what he was facing that week. That small act of kindness he offered felt like what President Fulmer described as a fifty-foot wave of compassion washing over him in a way that this man would never know.

No matter how small, one single act of kindness matters. President Fulmer read the theme for stake conference, "Come to Zion by building Zion in our stake". He said it was his goal to reinforce that in order for our stake to become like Zion, we need each other. We need to be seen, heard, and valued. Our individual gifts and talents are vital to helping each other know and feel of our Heavenly Father's love.

We each have potential that needs to be tapped into. Our gifts are designed to be revealed to us at different points throughout our life. Many of us may struggle however to understand and recognize the gifts we've been given. If you feel you have nothing to offer President Fulmer asks you to consider this illustration from the Savior in Luke 13 regarding the parable of the fig tree. The world would say to cut down the fig tree as it wasn't producing any fruit. The gardener, who represents the Savior, sees the tree's value, our value. He asks for more time. We can grow our fruit & access our gifts, by spending more time with the Lord.

President Fulmer counseled that we should never compare our gifts or how many we have with others. We don't have to keep up with anyone else. Let's run our own race. He said one talent that we all have is the ability to be kind. To seek out opportunities to serve and help others come unto the Savior. This is a talent we can all share and develop. Trek was a wonderful example of how this can be done. Regardless of the circumstances at trek, there were smiles, laughter, and new connections that were made. This is what Zion feels like.

We are each needed in our stake. Our kindness is needed. Our mindfulness of those who might feel that they don't belong, is needed. Let us be intentional and willing to share our talents to uplift. This is our obligation.

Elder Holland shared the following story at the 2016 general conference,

"On May 30 of last year, my friend Troy Russell pulled his pickup truck slowly out of his garage on his way to donate goods to the local Deseret Industries. He felt his back tire roll over a bump. Thinking some item had fallen off the truck, he got out only to find his precious nine-year-old son, Austen, lying face down on the pavement. The screams, the priesthood blessing, the paramedic crew, the hospital staff—they were, in this case, to no avail. Austen was gone.

Unable to sleep, unable to find peace, Troy was inconsolable. He said it was more than he could bear and that he simply could not go on."

The Lord sent John Manning, Troy's home teacher. John picked Troy off the ground and became his watchman. He continued encouraging and inviting Troy to play basketball by picking him up each morning at 5:15 am. This act of friendship helped the sun rise again in Troy's life.

John's gift was not being good at basketball, his gift was being a great friend. Just like the Butterfly Effect, this one small act created change.

This effect was experienced by President Fulmer while on his mission serving off the coast of West Africa. A homeless teen girl often approached President Fulmer and his companion in a crowded market, asking for food. Obeying the mission rules in that area, the two missionaries declined purchasing food for this girl. One day however, the girl grabbed the missionaries and pulled them over to a banana stand. This time felt different. President Fulmer and his companion both knew what they needed to do, and they purchased a banana for the girl. This created quite a scene, and over time they watched how this sweet girl no longer was teased by the local children. Others in the community began helping this girl. Soon she was given new dresses to wear and her hair was being washed and cared for. One banana began this chain of reaction.

President Fulmer testified that our Heavenly Father needs us to use our gifts and talents to bless this stake. Just like a butterfly, one small act of kindness can make all the difference in our stake. We matter. We can make that difference.

Jamie Smith

Wheatfield Ward

"Zion starts in our heart."

Sister Smith asked the congregation to think about a time in their life where they went through a difficult experience alone. Where they felt to keep it confidential so no one would know.

She then asked the congregation to shift their mind to a time when they went through something but experienced others showing up and stepping in to help, comfort, and show love. To celebrate or mourn with them. This is what Zion is.

Pondering on these scenarios can help us understand why the goal of creating Zion is so important to our stake presidency, and can help us know how to do it. Sister Smith read the scriptures that the stake presidency had shared with her regarding the theme.

Doctrine and Covenants 82:14

For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.

We have our families, wards, and stakes to help us create Zion. These stakes are all over the world, to help us build up Zion wherever we are.

Moses 7:18

And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.

There is enough love for everyone to go around.

4 Nephi 1:15-16

...there was no contention in the land because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.

...there were no envyings, nor strifes...

Sister Smith added to that list, no comparisons, no jealousy, no competition, no self pitty, no keeping up with the Jones', no gossip, no judging, and no shame.

...and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.

The pure love of God was in their hearts. They were seeing and serving each other just as the Savior would.

Sister Smith shared a saying that hangs in her home, "Where love is deep, much can be accomplished." She said if we start with our heart, we can create the change in our families, wards, and stakes.

Last year at stake conference Sister Smith's husband spoke about his drug addiction that he had lived with for 15 years. The majority of those years he suffered alone. The choice was made to keep it confidential. Looking back on that, Sister Smith recognized that choice was not from a Zion mindset. Their fear of shame and judgement prevented them from letting others in.

Desperation caused Sister Smith to begin praying for people to show up. God answered her prayer. As people began to minister to her family, she and her husband began to open up about their circumstances. This led to miracles which led to Brother Smith's recovery.

Earlier this year the Smith's son was hospitalized with a life threatening condition that puzzled doctors. As they surrendered to the Lord's will and prepared to say their goodbyes to their son, a miracle happened. Their neighbors rallied around them in faith, love, and support and after the ward joined together in a fast, their son was healed.

A big part of this miracle was the Smiths allowing others to join them in their suffering. To truly be one with their family during this time. Through this trial, they experienced Zion. As the Smiths brought their son home from the hospital they were overcome with the love they felt as they witnessed people lined up down the street and in their driveway celebrating their miracle. This felt like Heaven. Zion feels like Heaven.

Sister Smith testified that when she prayed for help, God sent helpers. Neighbors who were in tune to the Spirit. We are all blessed to live in this stake with wonderful people who care. The Lord will lead them to us in our time of need and He will also lead us to those who need our help. When we start with our hearts, that leads to our families, which leads to our neighbors, which leads to our wards and stakes, which changes the world.

President Seth Parkinson

Stake Presidency First Counselor

"We are becoming a refuge from the storm that is coming."

As we pull together, there isn't a challenge or a problem in the boundaries of our stake that we can't solve together. President Parkinson gave this assurance followed by his witness that by creating Zion we are becoming a refuge from the storm that is coming.

The Adversary is after us. He's after the Church, our children, and our homes. Despite this, President Parkinson bore witness that we can be an answer to each others prayers. In order to do this, we have to share, we have to be vulnerable, and we have to be willing to think and look outside of ourselves. This is why our Savior has orchestrated this structure of Zion. So that we can be the answers to one another's prayers. We can grow His church within our boundaries.

Missionary work is the natural fruit of building Zion. We can't help but want to serve one another when we have Zion in our heart. Building Zion allows us the opportunities to show our love to others as well as our Heavenly Father.

President Parkinson asked his son who is serving a mission, what he should say in stake conference regarding this topic. His reply was that if he were giving a talk in stake conference about missionary work, he would title it, "Assist in the Lord's Work as An Expression of Your Love For Him". There is no better way to show our love for the Shepphard than by helping Him find His lost sheep.

Aren't we all a little bit lost? Throughout life's ebbs and flows we experience struggles and imperfections. Because of mortality we are fallen. This life gives us the opportunity to use our agency.

President Parkinson shared a recent experience where the missionaries met with him after having a difficult week of rejection by new friends they had made through sharing the gospel. Referring to the stake goal of finding 18 sheep within our stake boundaries and bringing them into the waters of baptism, Elder Baczuk said, "But what about the 18? What about the 18 souls that we're supposed to find?" This broke President Parkinson's heart as he realized how these missionaries had truly taken the stake presidency's goal to heart.

President Parkinson shared a list of things we all can improve on as a stake.

1) Exhude more joy and excitement about being members of the Lord's Church. What a blessing and privilege it is to have the restored gospel with it's knowledge, ordinances, covenants, authority, and salvation. Do we realize how blessed we are? Why so many gloomy, worried, and unhappy Latter-day Saints? Why see it as a bad thing to be comforted and helped? We should allow imperfection, by allowing others into our life to help us. People can feel something different when they are with us. They can see our light. Many are looking for that light. Let's not take this for granted. Nothing will help you catch the spirit of missionary work than by going out on visits with the missionaries. They follow the Spirit without thinking ahead. They put their trust in the Lord.

2) Show more love and compassion. Place the proper amount of effort in our relationships. Thinking about other people's needs rather than just our own. We left home teaching and visiting teaching because it taught us to check off a box and then forget about the family. We upgraded to ministering because it teaches us to love and continually have those families in our thoughts and prayers. Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation. We need more quiet time away from our phones and TV to think about those we serve and minister to. Let's meet people where they are. As we do this, others will let us bare our testimony to them. They will allow us to teach them about Jesus Christ.

We all desire to be healed in one way or another. President Parkinson invited us to be more deliberate in our efforts in introducing others to the Savior of the world. The field has never been whiter for harvest in a world of increasing suffering, isolation, and loneliness. Now is the time invite

these sheep into the fold.

Rest Hymn,

"How Firm a Foundation"

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,

For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,

Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

Elder Baczuk

Full-time Area Missionary

"The gathering of Israel is taking place right now in our stake."

Elder Baczuk jokingly told the congregation that even though he is from Alaska, he does not like the cold. He began his message by reciting the first two verses of "Hope of Israel".

Hope of Israel, Zion’s army,

Children of the promised day,

See, the Chieftain signals onward,

And the battle’s in array!

See the foe in countless numbers,

Marshaled in the ranks of sin.

Hope of Israel, on to battle;

Now the vict’ry we must win!

Directing his message to the youth of the stake, he proceeded to share what it means to be the hope of Israel and how they can be a part of Zion's army. Referencing a 2018 devotional held by President Nelson and his wife Wendy Nelson, titled "Hope of Israel", Elder Baczuk said first we need to understand the unique message and knowledge that we hold as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In 1820, the young boy Joseph Smith had questions about God and how he could become closer to Him. He studied his scriptures searching for truth while pondering on what he read. This led to his decision to pray out loud and petition God which led to a miraculous encounter with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

"I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me...When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—“Joseph, this is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”

Our unique knowledge of the restored gospel teaches us that when we have questions we can go to the Lord and He will answer us and that Jesus Christ guides us through a living prophet. This is what we have to share with the world. Because of this restoration of truth, there is a great gathering happening on the earth today. God is gathering His children back to His covenant. We are the "seed of Jacob" mentioned in 3 Nephi 5:24.

President Nelson said, "My beloved younger brothers and sisters, you are among the best the Lord has ever sent to this world. You have the capacity to be smarter and wiser and have more impact on the world than any previous generation!"

Elder Baczuk said this perspective about who we are brings great power into our lives. President Nelson described the gathering as "the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth today. Nothing else compares in magnitude, nothing else compares in importance, nothing else compares in majesty...There is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more important than that. There is nothing of greater consequence. Absolutely nothing.”

There are many ways we can participate in this work. Elder Baczuk shared the different ways he chose to enlist in the Lord's Battalion which included reading the Book of Mormon and choosing to serve a mission.Through this process Elder Baczuk has learned the direction that God wants him to take for his life. He learned about the Savior and the meaning He has in his life.

In the paraphrased words of Zach Lessig from his recent homecoming talk, Elder Baczuk shared how Zach went from having just a knowledge of the Savior to actually knowing Him as a friend and Redeemer.

Through small ways we can bring people to Christ.

Soon the battle will be over;

Ev’ry foe of truth be down.

Onward, onward, youth of Zion;

Strike for Zion, down with error;

Flash the sword above the foe!

Ev’ry stroke disarms a foeman;

Ev’ry step we conq’ring go.

Thy reward the victor’s crown.

Hope of Israel, rise in might

With the sword of truth and right;

Sound the war-cry, “Watch and pray!”

Vanquish ev’ry foe today.

As a representative of Jesus Christ, Elder Baczuk testified that the gathering of Israel is taking place right now in our stake. There are people prepared to receive this message and our Savior. He is the Light and Life of the world.

Camille Siddoway

West Layton Ward

"Becoming the happiest person on earth can only be achieved when we become one with Christ."

Sister Siddoway began with something her mission president's wife had once said. She had said that gathering Israel used to stress her out as she thought it was all about missionary work. However, when she learned that gathering Israel was really just about loving and lifting others, she felt peace.

Sister Siddoway added her witness that she wouldn't be speaking at stake conference if it weren't for loving friends who invited her to learn about the gospel. Since then her life has never been the same.

Two years ago Sister Siddoway spoke at stake conference and shared her conversion story. She was baptized at 18, and served a mission in Orlando, Florida. She shared her excitement to be speaking about finding peace, joy, happiness, love, and identity. In other words, Zion. Being one with Christ. Sister Siddoway shared four ways to help us be one with the Savior.

1) Be converted. This can happen over a lifetime through small and simple ways. It's the most powerful and beautiful thing to witness, when someone changes for the better. On a mission you have front row seats of seeing this change.

She spoke about a man she met on her mission named Norman, who claimed to have been a "very bad man". He spent five years in jail, and during this time he was given scriptures and read them. It was in jail where he found Zion.

Norman was converted to Jesus Christ and ended up being the most caring man Sister Siddoway had ever met. When he left his jail cell, he left his sins behind as a testament of his conversion. Just as the wicked Lamanites did in Alma 24 when they buried their weapons of war in the ground as a testament of their conversion.

2) Making and Keeping Covenants. These two-way promises we make with our Heavenly Father, bind us to Him. Sister Siddoway remembered her Grandma reading her stories from the Book of Mormon when she was little. During this time a feeling came over her and she wanted to learn more about Jesus Christ.

In second grade her best friend invited her to church where she experienced that feeling again.

Sister Siddoway asked her family if she could be baptized and they told her to wait until so she could better understand what she was getting herself into. In junior high she asked again and her parents told her to wait. She asked again her sophomore year and they told her to wait until she was 18. She patiently waited out those 10 years to be baptized because she knew the Church is true and she wanted the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is what Sister Siddoway loves about taking the sacrament. She gets make that same covenant again and again each week. It means so much more each time.

3) Come to Christ with our heart. Growing up Sister Siddoway played soccer. After each game she would ask her Dad how she did to which he'd reply that the only thing that mattered was if she played with her heart. Heavenly Father knows when we have good days and bad days but what matters most to Him is if we give our all. The Savior gave all His heart when he ministered to others.

4) Have a relationship with Christ. As Sister Siddoway has developed a relationship with Jesus Christ she has learned more about who she is and who she can become. On her mission she found that the people who were ready to be taught the gospel were people who were searching for who they are. This made it easy to teach them the gospel. As we learn about who we are it begins to show in our actions.

Sister Siddoway testified that becoming the happiest people as described in 4 Nephi, can only happen when we become one with Christ. The world shows us temporary happiness but turning to Christ will help us find joy, happiness, and strength in our trials. He will guide us back home.

President Spencer J. Brown

Stake President

"He wants us to prepare our people for His return."

President Brown closed stake conference by testifying that the Lord is speaking to us. We have been commissioned to prepare ourselves, our families, neighbors, wards, our stakes, and the world for His coming. This is His work on the earth today.

We have been invited to establish the Kingdom of God and build Zion. During this conference we heard many stories about what Zion is. President Brown said that he wanted to take a minute to talk about what Zion is not.

In a recent training with Elder D. Todd Christofferson, the Utah area presidency discussed concerns about racist attitudes and behaviors taking place in our schools, communities, neighborhoods, seminaries, churches and temples. Love, unity, and covenant belonging cannot exist among racism. It violates the first two great commandments to love God and His children. It is serious enough to affect our opportunity of worshipping in the House of the Lord.

Our standing with God depends on our devotion to Him and His commandments, not the color of our skin. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemns racism and prejudice in any form. President Nelson has said, "The Creator calls on all to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God's children. Any of us who has prejudice toward another race needs to repent!”

In his role as stake president and seminary president, President Brown has met with many parents who have shared heart breaking experiences with prejudice and racism. It is happening in our community. Becoming one with Christ involves treating all of God's children with kindness. Our area presidency has invited us to council our families on the importance of becoming one with Christ and ending bullying and prejudice. Embrace the commitment of"It stops here, it stops now, and it stops with me." If we are to increase in holiness and beauty we must eliminate unholy attitudes from our hearts.

President Brown reminded us that we have a covenant obligation to bring people to Zion. He extended an invitation to hear the voice of Christ. He testified that Christ is the answer. Great things are happening in our stake. We are establishing Zion. Let us consecrate our time and talents to building up the Kingdom of God. Let us live the higher and holier way. The Lord is the King of Zion and He wants us to prepare our people for His return.

Closing Hymn,

"Lord I Would Follow Thee"

Savior, may I learn to love thee,

Walk the path that thou hast shown,

Pause to help and lift another,

Finding strength beyond my own.

Savior, may I learn to love thee—

Lord, I would follow thee.

Jamie Smith, Wheatfield Ward Elder Baczuk Full-time Area Missionary

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