Zion's Fountains

Sharon Eubank

Sharon Eubank, “Zion’s Fountains,” in Lengthening Our Stride: Globalization of the Church, ed. Reid L. Neilson and Wayne D. Crosby (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2018), 39–56.

Sharon Eubank, then director of LDS Charities at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presented this essay at “The Church and Humanitarian Assistance: In the Lord’s Way,” the International Society’s twenty-fifth annual conference, April 2014, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

I want to start off by telling you about an experience I had. The Church sent me on assignment to the United Nations to present about LDS Charities as a faith-based organization. We were the sixth faith-based organization in the UN’s history to have this opportunity to talk about our work. I gave my part, and then there were other pieces, and then it was open for questions and answers. A woman in the back raised her hand and said in essence: “Look, let’s just call this spade a spade. You are a Christian-based organization; you are sending out tons of projects and tons of money, but you do not care about charity; you care about missionary work. This is all a front for missionary work.” When she said that, there was scattered applause in the room. Ah! I thought to myself. People believe that. They have a misconception about that. And so I want to address that here.

Bishop Gérald Caussé earlier spoke very eloquently about the doctrinal underpinnings for how and why the Church cares for the poor and the needy. Robert Hokanson gave some great examples with Bishop Estrada and the pig project in the Philippines regarding what the Church does to care for the poor and the needy inside the Church. I completely agree with Robert that there is no better development project program in the world than being a member of this Church. You cannot be a member of this Church very long without learning the practical skills of leadership, effective cooperation in a council, organization, social networking, and public speaking.

Everything we do in the Church is designed to help us progress. The motivation and energy for us to develop and progress comes from our covenants. We accept volunteer callings in the Church, we complete assignments that stretch us, we teach our children formally and informally about what makes a happy life, and we witness to each other from our own experiences why these work. But how do we apply those principles that work so magnificently to people who may not have had the same experience with covenants?

For LDS Charities—the humanitarian nongovernmental organization operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—our primary audience is people who are not members of the Church. How do we successfully work with people who may not be motivated by covenants? How do we encourage work and participation among recipients? How do we foster volunteerism in cultures that may have little tradition of service? And what about the question the woman at the UN asked? How do we work as a Christian-based organization legitimately caring for the poor and the needy and not leverage it into an opportunity to have the missionaries preach? Is caring for the poor and needy a work that is valuable as an activity all on its own?

We just finished general conference. We heard a lot about hastening the work. What do you think about when you hear the phrase “hastening the work”? Almost all of us think about missionary work, but the four divinely appointed responsibilities of the Church are doing missionary work, helping the Saints make and keep covenants, performing ordinances for family who have died, and (do you remember the fourth one?) caring for the poor and the needy. What does it mean to hasten the work in caring for the poor and the needy? What would that look like?

In my mind, it looks like dirt. I will explain this thought a little bit: Up by my house there is a big field, and it has been a farmer’s junkyard for a long time. There is rusted equipment there; it is full of rocks, weeds, and everything you can think of. One day he hauled away the equipment, brought in a rototiller, pulled out the garbage, dumped nutrients into the ground, and plowed it. I thought, “He is getting ready to do something.” After a while, he planted seeds. Then he watered those seeds, put in a big sprinkling system, nurtured those seeds, and had kids out pulling weeds in between. At the end of the summer, he was harvesting. I did not see him do this, but we know you can bind that harvest into sheaves.

That story is a good example of the spectrum I am talking about—hastening the work of caring for the poor and the needy is preparing the ground, digging up the junk and moving it out, pouring in nutrients, and getting the ground ready for something. Do we know what will be grown there? No, but it is now clean and ready. Hastening missionary work and helping people increase their knowledge of the gospel is like planting the seeds, watering them, and nurturing them. Hastening the work of making and keeping covenants is like harvesting the seeds that were planted. And binding into sheaves is temple work. This is a much broader spectrum of hastening the work than simply missionary work alone. And each stage of the work is critical.

If I talk about it a different way, it would look like this: On the spectrum of human activity, you cannot progress in this world unless you know that God loves you and he knows who you are. How do you know that? How do you have an experience that tells you that? It is done through relationships and people that care about us. There is a great quote by Elder Holland, who said, “Prayers are answered most of the time, I think, by God using other people. Well, I pray that He’ll use us. I pray that we’ll be the answer to people’s prayers.”[1] Serving another person with no thought for personal reward is the first divine act of a culture or people.

Once we feel the love of God, we cooperate. We have a desire to help each other leverage our combined resources. People who feel the love of God have a sense of wanting to build on each other’s work. Once you have started cooperating, that act builds an identity, a unity: “We are the kind of community that makes sure our kids are in school,” or, “We are the kind of community that cares about health.” Cooperation builds identification, unity, and brotherhood. People start to feel empowered in the community where they live because of the unifying spirit that lives there.

Once a group is worried about unity, it worries about the things that wreck unity: addictions, violence, family breakdown, and corruption. If you are worried about unity, you start to focus on discipline and families because those are the things that create lasting unity. When people are interested in discipline and families, what else are they interested in? What are they prepared for? People thinking about unity and family are in the frame of mind to hear the gospel message because it is relevant to them. It makes sense to them. Now they are prepared to make covenants. When they hear the gospel message it is something they want because it resonates with their own experiences. Once you have made promises to the Lord, such as the covenant of baptism—to mourn with those that mourn, to comfort those that stand in need of comfort—now you can contemplate the idea of sacrifice. You are no longer consumed with, “What will make my life work out?” You are worried about, “What will help this entire group progress?” The Lord gives us endless opportunities to sacrifice: in our congregations, in our families, in our neighborhoods and communities, and in the LDS International Society.

By sacrificing our own comfort and desires for the good of the group, we are creating Zion. Zion is the place where we are all of one heart and one mind, and there is no poor among us.[2] The whole spectrum I have just described is all part of the work of salvation. This is what the prophets mean when they talk about hastening the work. Caring for the poor and the needy has to do with the beginning part of the spectrum. It is about helping the people feel the love of God, cooperate, and develop unity and brotherhood. Although we do not use those activities to preach the gospel in words or to hold formal missionary discussions, we are still preaching the preparatory gospel that will help clear that field and prepare that dirt for people to move along the spectrum as they are prepared and made ready. We trust the Lord to bring experiences to people so they can move along. We are moving along that spectrum, too. It is not like we are at the end of that spectrum. All of us are moving along it. The scriptures call the spectrum “the more excellent way,”[3] and it is no accident that Paul prefaces his great treatise on charity with that verse. The Book of Mormon prophet Moroni also wrote, “In the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way.”[4]

With that introduction, I want to talk a little more about hastening the work of caring for the poor and needy, both at the Church institutional level and also at a personal level, because each one of us is trying to keep our baptismal covenants to care for the poor. There is a tremendous scriptural and prophetic mandate to care for people who are not members of this Church. Alma talked about how his community cared for people: “They were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.”[5] Joseph Smith’s very famous quote says, “To feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church, or in any other, or in no church at all, wherever he finds them.”[6] President Hinckley, speaking to the National Press Club in 2000, said, “Human suffering anywhere and among any people is a matter of urgent concern for us.”[7] And in the February 2014 Ensign, President Monson said, “We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with a mandate to serve and to lift his children. . . . Are we doing all we should?”[8] We have a very strong mandate to reach out to people, not just to those within the Church but to people outside the Church, also.

The Church has always had an outreach to help others suffering disaster, even when our own resources were very limited, but the modern, formal beginning of LDS Charities started in 1985. What happened in 1985 that precipitated it? There was a terrible famine in the Horn of Africa. President Spencer W. Kimball asked the Church to fast and to give generously for the Africans’ relief. The Church members fasted. We collected—in the very unusual way of giving money equivalent to two meals—six million dollars. Elder M. Russell Ballard and Bishop Glenn L. Pace and others went to Ethiopia and presented a portion of the funds to Catholic Relief Services, which was doing great relief work there. They accepted it and over time cooperated with us further. They taught us a lot about how to properly distribute funding in the midst of a disaster. From that experience, LDS Charities was born—and it has evolved over time. LDS Charities is the Church’s registered NGO, and its board of directors is the Presiding Bishopric—of which Bishop Caussé is a member—and the Relief Society General Presidency. I am its vice president, or its chief operating officer.

Recipients are primarily people not of our faith. Since 1985, LDS Charities has provided 1.89 billion dollars in assistance in 189 countries. It is a huge scope, and it is possible largely because of the members of the Church who continue to donate generously both their time and their money. It started off with emergency-response programs, because that was the first experience we gained. In an emergency, the goal is to relieve immediate suffering and fill gaps in service. For example, we recently worked with a national government to assist in one of the Syrian refugee camps. The gap they were trying to work through was laundry. Can you imagine trying to do all the laundry for the thousands of people living in a camp? We asked about the availability of electricity and water, the use of wastewater, and what would be most efficient and culturally acceptable. We cooperated with the local officials and filled that gap.

In addition to immediately relieving suffering and filling gaps—and Bishop Caussé addressed this—we want to assist with ongoing recovery long after the media has turned to the next disaster. LDS Charities has experience staying to help the infrastructure get back up so people get their businesses back, the schools and hospitals are functioning, and people build their homes again. Bishop Caussé shared very interesting stories about people in the Philippines rebuilding their homes, then building nine other people’s homes, and becoming certified in construction skills at the same time.

In addition to emergencies, there are lots of ongoing problems in the world—big intractable problems I do not know the answers for, but here are a few of them:

Slavery—There are thirty million slaves in the world, and sixty thousand of them are in the United States.[9] They are people who are forced into prostitution or migrant work. This is three times as many slaves as existed in the 1700s and 1800s, and yet it is largely invisible to us. It is a modern problem occurring right in our neighborhoods, but we do not necessarily notice it.

Gender violence—The following statistic came out of the New York Times in 2014; it says: “Women worldwide . . . are more likely to die or be maimed as a result of male violence than as a consequence of war, cancer, malaria, and traffic accidents combined.”[10] You can imagine the effect that statistic would have on families and the next generation.

Refugees—Right now there are three, possibly four, gigantic, unprecedented refugee crises going on. Three years ago there were thirty-five million refugees and displaced people, and now there are forty-seven million because of the conflicts in Syria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and other places. And 75 percent of refugees are women and children living in places designed to be temporary—places nobody else wants—after having endured the most unimaginable circumstances.

The under-age-five mortality rate—This rate is the number of kids who die before they reach their fifth birthday: 6.6 million children every single year, but this is down from 12 million in 1990.

LDS Charities has six signature programs we call major initiatives. They are Clean Water and Sanitation, Neonatal Resuscitation Training, Vision Care, Wheelchairs and Assessment Training, Immunizations, and the Benson Family Food program. I am often asked why we picked these six. In 2002, there was a desire to focus on and target specific needs. Instead of trying to do everything, we tried to select some areas where we might have real global impact. We felt we should use national-level partners, instruct using world-class curricula, and transfer expertise. Whatever we chose needed to fit the volunteer model we rely heavily upon.

How do these programs relate to the global initiatives I mentioned earlier? Clean water, neonatal resuscitation, and immunizations have a strong impact on the number of children under five who survive. Those three initiatives, along with others, have heavily contributed to the number of deaths going down since 1990. There is currently a pilot program working with the UN High Commission for Refugees to serve refugees in underresourced camps. Some camps have existed for twenty, thirty, or forty years, and the people in them will unfortunately never go back home. They are raising a second or third generation in the camps. The funding is not always available to fix their latrines or their homes, which were meant to be temporary. LDS Charities is piloting work with the UN (who administers the camps) to repair the aging infrastructure.

Bishop Caussé mentioned the immigrant pilot program we are running in US inner cities. We are looking at what we can do and what interventions work. This is why it is so important to listen to the description during this conference of some of the work done by others in the LDS International Society. What social innovation would change the game in some of these places? Where are the gaps?

The theme for this conference mentions “In the Lord’s Way.” LDS Charities is structured as a nongovernmental organization, but we operate in some respects differently from other NGOs because of the principles we are founded upon. Doing things in the Lord’s way is going to make us different in several respects. One of those different aspects is that the work will largely be accomplished by volunteers and unpaid staff. Volunteerism is an intersection where institutional tenets and personal ministry combine. LDS Charities has a paid staff of twenty-two. Other organizations of roughly the same size have thirty-five hundred to forty-seven hundred paid staff members. There is nothing inherently negative about that; we leverage those partners and their expert staff heavily. But there is no other organization using volunteers to the same scope and proficiency as LDS Charities. There are currently eighty-six humanitarian or welfare missionary couples around the world. They are assigned eighteen to twenty-three months around the world, and they are often the on-the-ground coordinators of humanitarian projects. The couples do magnificent work because they put their arms around people, invest in relationships, and simply share fellowship and the love of God. There is not anybody better at doing that.

In addition to the couples, there are 498 volunteer technical specialists working with LDS Charities. These volunteers are doctors, water engineers, and rehabilitation specialists who use their vacation time, leave their practices, and go out for two weeks to transfer expertise to their colleagues in the world. After they come home, they stay in touch with them on Skype in a collegial exchange that has great impact. As I mentioned before, with such a small staff, there is no way to accomplish all that needs to be done without partnering with other respected NGOs. And that means we reach out across these bridges and use their expertise and our expertise to address an identified need. Somebody asked during Bishop Caussé’s presentation, “Is not interfaith [work] one of the most important things we can do?” And the answer is, “Yes, it is,” because working together to reinforce values and not specific doctrine is very important community work. By selecting local partnerships—people on the ground who will stay—we invest in the community infrastructure.

A second aspect that is inherent in doing things in the Lord’s way is that project outcomes are less about the product and more about what happens inside the people. Let me share an example: Keith Barney is a professor at BYU–Idaho, and Jeff Griffin is a full-time seminary teacher in West Jordan. Both use wheelchairs, and both were volunteer technical specialists who worked as wheelchair trainers in Nepal recently. They did what is called “peer group training,” teaching a World Health Organization curriculum about new life skills to Nepalese people who had just been in an accident. Newly paralyzed individuals are trying to figure out, “How do I make my life work now that I am going to be in a wheelchair?” The curriculum they taught was composed of important life skills, but do you know what people wanted to ask Keith and Jeff? “How did you get here in the plane? Are you married? Do you have kids? What do you do for a job?” They wanted answers from someone who really understood their situation. You can get a feeling for the cooperation and brotherhood that Keith and Jeff brought into the group. All of them together experienced a change. These are some of the great hallmarks of the Lord’s Church: cooperation, fellowship, unity, respect—no matter what the religion or faith of the other.

For anybody who volunteers—and it does not matter if you have come from West Jordan and go to Nepal, or if you are Bishop Estrada and stay right in your branch in the Philippines—the thing we call the Holy Ghost can be with you more, and the Lord will richly bless you. Bishop Caussé said, “It does not matter if you have money or not. The Lord asks you to un-intuitively sacrifice your time or your talent or your energy, and when you do, he blesses not only you but everybody around you.”

You see this principle at work when members of the Church in Haiti go door-to-door to tell their friends and neighbors about an immunization campaign. It doesn’t necessarily do anything to benefit the volunteers—in fact it may be a drain on their time and resources—but they understand that this charitable tide lifts all boats. They are perfectly suited for this assignment. They come from the communities, they know everybody, they are Haitian, and they speak the right dialects to answer questions. They are the perfect complement to that project because they are working in their home communities. Being local has great power.

The third aspect of providing in the Lord’s way is global reach with individual impact—two ideas that seem at odds with each other. LDS Charities is big enough to have a global reach and has enough local presence (like in the Haiti example above) to reach people one-on-one. My assignment at the UN was exactly about expanding our representation in these global bodies. We are developing relationships and experiences with other credible multinational NGOs so that people will not be worried that this is just a ruse to bring in missionaries. Charitable service is a credible activity all on its own and one in which we have the chance to express our love of God and all his children through service. Organizations need to have experience with us to know our intentions, but we are confident in our approach. However, the example of Jesus Christ teaches that the impact comes one by one. And I will share some of these stories.

Every time I speak somewhere or pick up the phone in my office, there is somebody asking, “How can I help? I want to help!” And as we expand our understanding of how to help, we understand the truth of this statement: there is no significant change without a significant relationship. And you cannot have a significant relationship with somebody if you are there for just a week. Our service does not have the same impact when we work in places that are far away and we are there for only a certain amount of time. We are the most powerful where we live, like the Haitian members. They speak the language; they know everybody. They understand what is culturally appropriate.

Let me give a second example. We are a church of refugees. When I meet with officials in various countries and talk about some of the issues they face, I sometimes bring this up. We have a heart for refugees because we were refugees ourselves. When the pioneers came to Utah, they came to a place that other white settlers did not want. There was no USAID fund, and there was no Church humanitarian fund to assist them. Those early members of the Church had to create a new civilization out of nothing by counseling with each other, by negotiating with people who were already on the Lord, by using the spirit of revelation, and by working. And they did. We are their children. We are the products of their efforts. You know the stories of the pioneers who came across the plains, and now you see the Conference Center filled up with their descendants. I was just in the Conference Center for the general women’s meeting—attended by twenty-one thousand women. What must that feel like for our forefathers and our foremothers when they look through the veil us?

Joseph Booth was a mission president in the Middle East in the early 1900s. Persecution was driving Armenian Christians out of Turkey’s borders, and they came down to Syria where President Booth was living. The Armenian Relief Society presidency—refugees themselves—opened up a soup kitchen to feed incoming refugees. President Booth bought a bolt of fabric, and the women made clothing for people as refugees crossed the border. That is what members of the Relief Society do anywhere you put them on the earth. They may be refugees themselves, but they are going to reach out to other people. This is our heritage.

Now I am well acquainted with the current Relief Society president in Beirut, Lebanon, and with her little granddaughter Grace. They have a heritage from those Armenian refugees. One hundred years later, they are still reaching out in service projects to the Armenian community in Lebanon. Grace will be part of the next generation to carry it on. That is the legacy of those Armenian women who came. They serve wherever they happen to be.

There is a refugee camp in Jordan specifically for Syrians with children under four months of age. Everybody in there has a little, tiny baby. And guess what they need? They need diapers and formula. They need all the things little babies need. LDS Charities helped the refugee camp with gravel, infant formula, and diapers, but they needed a large quantity of hygiene supplies.

This is an example of how global reach and individual impact combine. We are not going to have Relief Societies in Utah make hygiene kits, and we are not going to put them in a truck to the coast and then ship them across the ocean, clear them from customs, haul them up to the remote camp, and pass them out. Instead, we contacted the two Arab-speaking branches of the Church in Jordan and asked the Arab branch president to negotiate the price to buy the supplies locally. He knows the vendors well. He has grown up in that market. After he bought the supplies, we invited our Greek Orthodox friends and our friends from the University of Jordan to come to our courtyard, and the three congregations assembled ten thousand hygiene kits. It took six days. They worked ten hours a day in five-hour shifts. They built boxes and put soap and toothbrushes into bags. Imagine what it is like to stand next to someone from the Greek Orthodox parish or next to a good Muslim friend who is a student at the university. These are individuals who have never interacted with each other previously, but for five hours (they have got to have something to talk about) they chat. What happened in that yard was just as important as the hygiene kits that went to the camps.

I read in the Deseret News about a Thai refugee who had just been resettled to Utah from a camp where he lived for his entire life. He was born in the camp, and his children are now with him as he was resettled in Salt Lake City. How many refugees have been resettled in Utah? Almost thirty-six thousand. Salt Lake City is one of the refugee-resettlement areas for the United States. When people think about doing something to help refugees, they often think about going to Burkina Faso or Syria. We have refugees in our own neighborhoods. We do not have to go far away to help them. They are excited to be in their new home in Salt Lake City, but what are they going to need? They are going to need friends more than anything else. The greatest predictors for whether people will successfully integrate into a new country are whether they learn the host language and have sincere friends.

Institutionally, LDS Charities has a partnership with the resettlement agencies in Utah. We assist each refugee family with beds and mattresses from Deseret Manufacturing and with bedding and quilts from the humanitarian center. The furniture and beds and mattresses are made as part of a workshop training program for whom? Refugees. We have a partnership so they learn work skills in a nonthreatening environment as they go through the workshop. They make those items, and then we turn that donation back to the refugee community.

family of three with a small childWe are all poor, and we are all needy. We need each other to move along. (Refugee camp in France. Courtesy of Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)

We also operate a program that enables one hundred refugees at a time to learn work skills and English at the humanitarian center. They get paid to sort clothes, make mattresses, and develop warehousing skills. The other four hours a day they spend learning English. They get paid their salary to sit and learn in a classroom, because that is one of the biggest predictors of whether they are going to succeed in the community or not.

On a personal basis, what might people do to help? Volunteers for these refugee programs are always needed. The three agencies and the humanitarian center all need volunteers who will mentor, teach skills, or sit down with individuals and just talk—have conversations or go over their vocabulary word list. In about every school, there are going to be children who are refugees. They need people to reach out to them and be a friend. I do not know how many refugees are here on BYU’s campus, but I promise you there are some. We could learn much by interacting with each other.

Let me share a final example that I hope might braid together the three strands we have been talking about—the power of our heritage, the scope of the institutional Church’s efforts, and the impact of personal ministry—under a single theme of trees. First is the power of our heritage: Mary Ann Angell Young was Brigham Young’s second wife. His first wife died, leaving two children. Brigham and Mary Ann married in Kirtland and had additional children. We ought to know more about Mary Ann. Everybody got along with her—every other wife, every neighbor everyone loved her. She was a healer, an herbologist, and she loved trees.

When Brigham Young came to the valley, he got the temple under construction and the crops in the ground. He then turned around in August and went back to Winter Quarters and came back to Utah with a group in the spring. Mary Ann was in that group. What do you think she brought with her? Bare roots of trees. She was going to plant trees here. People said, “Do not plant fruit trees—it is too salty.” Some Saints thought they would be better off in California. Brigham Young said, “Plant your fruit trees.” Mary Ann planted her trees. Do you know where? South Temple used to be called Brigham Street, and it was the main road that ran through the Young farm. She planted the trees along Brigham Street, and some of those trees still exist. If you drive up South Temple, you will see the trees in the fall, with big leaves like dinner plates coming down. That was one of her legacies. It is not just a legacy of the trees; it is her legacy of faith. She is a woman that you could not hold down.

There is an Ensign article about her called “Indomitable Mary Ann.” She was riding in a wagon, holding her twins, when it hit a big bump and one of the twins fell out of her arms and was run over by the wagon. The wagon master said, “Oh, it is so sad. That poor baby is going to die.” She told him, “Do not prophesy ill of my little baby.” She picked that baby up, molded his head back into shape, and nursed him back to health.[11] She was just that kind of woman. When she planted trees in this desert, it was a statement—not of a love of trees, but of faith.

Second is the broad scope of the institutional Church. Haiti has severe deforestation. If you look at a photograph from a satellite, you can see clearly the marked border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. All of the trees have been cut down. Haiti did not do that just out of ignorance. When they got their independence from France, they had to pay for that independence with resources. So they cut down those hardwood trees, and they shipped them to France. When a hurricane comes, there is nothing to hold down the soil. Haiti suffers a lot more than the Dominican Republic because of deforestation.

A Church leader living in the Dominican Republic sat next to an official from Haiti on a plane. He asked the official, “What is your dream for Haiti? What do you think ought to happen?” The man said, “We need trees. We need trees not only for holding the soil but for what it does for us as a people.” The Area Presidency submitted a project, and LDS Charities cooperated with other agencies in Haiti to plant four hundred thousand trees: shade trees and fruit trees. It occurred in stages, starting in April 2013. Members of the Church from all the branches around Port-au-Prince went to their neighbors and said, “If you want a tree, dig a hole.” They purchased trees from local nurseries with humanitarian funds and planted them on successive Saturdays, with whole communities working together for this cause. Now, might someone cut down the new trees and burn them for charcoal? Of course, but hopefully, as the residents of Haitian neighborhoods do the work themselves, Haitians feel pride and ownership in their communities.

Finally, the third strand is about the impact of personal ministry. I had a superb Mia Maid teacher when I was fourteen. She encouraged a very shy young girl by giving me responsibilities and praise. I thought she was the best. I would go anywhere on the earth because of her. She made all of us feel we were the most important part of any activity. When she suddenly died, we all felt such grief, even though we were now adults. We thought, “What do we do as a ward to remember her and how she made us feel?” Plant a tree. We planted a tree in her honor at the chapel. As it grows and spreads out, I still think of it because of her legacy of faith and how she changed my faith. Alma 32 looks like Shirley Cutler in my mind.

There are things from our heritage that teach us the kinds of people we are. There are things the institutional Church does that augment that legacy. But the things we do in our personal lives connect us in very real relationships to each other and change us forever.

My plea today is for each of us to find those opportunities where we can make a difference with our personal ministry. Work where you have the power, where you have the connections, the relationships, and the language. You have a spark that comes out of you and makes a difference in the world. The Lord works with people one-on-on. Although his Church is doing institutional things, and we can all participate to some degree, our greatest impact is what we do for each other one-on-one.

I will conclude by saying we are all poor, and we are all needy. An individual does not belong to some special category because he or she lacks money or education. We are all somewhere along that spectrum I described in the beginning, and we need each other to move along it.

As Bishop Caussé says, “The how has to be local.” The time for exporting resources and programs is drawing to a close. The Church is mature enough all over the world that we can take what happened in Utah with the pioneers and create that same kind of feeling in other locations by using the local resources to build up the local communities.

Bishop Caussé mentioned that when he was a stake president in France he thought, “When will we get Welfare Square all over the world? Let’s just populate the world with that kind of a square.” Is he advocating that now? No. Now we have got to have pigs and Bishop Estrada in the Philippines, we have to have Haitians planting trees in their neighbors’ yards, and have Jordanians putting toothpaste into bags for the refugee families next door. We have to have Shirley Cutler building up the social skills of shy fourteen-year-old girls. That is what is going to make the difference. It will not be something we export out of Utah. It will be something that comes up out of the councils, out of the hearts of the members, and out of revelation. That is how we are drastically different from other organizations. When the Lord said the earth is full, and there is enough to spare,[12] it does not mean it all exists in one place and we are going to parcel it out. It means the members of the Church and their communities and their interfaith friends, wherever they live, have the power inside them to find the right answers. It takes experience and relationships to bring out the solutions, and they will come out.

After trying many things, the best success has proven to be creating experiences where people feel the love and the individual value that God, their Father, has for them. Cooperation, unity, and fellowship are manifest in the Christian and Abrahamic tradition of loving God. People come together and sacrifice their time to do something they will not be paid to do, but they want to learn because it will save a baby’s life or help a young paralyzed woman go to school. It looks like Bishop Wester, the Catholic bishop at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake, standing next to a Catholic priest from Jordan, an LDS bishop next to him, demonstrating the fellowship and unity of helping each other’s projects work out.

This is how we live the gospel without words. You do not need discussion for it. You do need a heart that is filled with the love of God and with the Holy Ghost. The choir sang in general conference yesterday “Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah,” and I just looked up the words because they struck me forcefully. The second verse says, “Open, Jesus, Zion’s fountains; Let her richest blessings come. Let the fiery, cloudy pillar guard us to this holy home. Great Redeemer, Great Redeemer, Bring, oh bring the welcome day.”[13] I like that, because when Moses struck the rock and brought forth water in the desert,[14] there was no way anyone thought a fountain was there. And yet there was. To me, that is the great symbol of what the Lord will do in his own way to care for the poor and the needy. All of us are in the desert where everything is scarce, where no one thinks there is any water. The Lord takes his people and strikes the rock, and a fountain comes up. And Zion is born.

We have the great opportunity and privilege to be part of this time, this restoration, and this dispensation. It is my great privilege to be a member of a church that takes on as its mission caring for the poor and the needy all over the world. I give you my commitment to use the funding in the best ways we know how. I also give you my thanks for the great work that is being done in institutions such as the LDS International Society, Brigham Young University, and others. The innovation for the future lies in ways we can all better support and cooperate with each other.


[1] Jeffrey R. Holland, LDS Charities Humanitarian Center video, 2014.

[2] See Moses 7:18.

[3] 1 Corinthians 12:31.

[4] Ether 12:11.

[5] Alma 1:30.

[6] Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, 15 March 1842, 3:732.

[7] Gordon B. Hinckley (speaking to the National Press Club, 8 March 2000).

[8] Thomas S. Monson, “Serve the Lord with Love,” Ensign, February 2014, 4.

[9] Nicholas Kristof, “Is Delhi So Different from Steubenville?,” New York Times, 8 March 2014.

[10] Kristof, “Is Delhi So Different from Steubenville?”

[11] Rex G. Jensen, “Indomitable Mary Ann,” Ensign, July 1993, 40–43.

[12] See Doctrine and Covenants 104:17.

[13] “Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah,” Hymns, no. 83.

[14] See Numbers 2:7–11.