GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala With little advance notice, 2,200 young adults gathered Jan. 20 in Guatemala City for a historic fireside by President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Presidency of the Seventy.
President Packer was also accompanied by Elders Spencer V. Jones and W. Douglas Shumway of the Seventy, who are the president and first counselor of the Central America Area, as well as Elders Nelson Altamirano and Poloski Cordon, Area Seventies.
President Packer surprised the young adults by delivering much of his talk in Spanish. He told of his first assignment to Guatemala, some 35 years ago, before the first stake was organized in this country.
"I was in Patzicia, Cunen, Huehuetenango, San Marcos, Valparaiso, Coban, Quetzaltenango, and dedicated several chapels in the mountains of Momostenango," he said.
He related an incident from one of those dedication services. As they were about to begin the meeting, a small truck loaded with large speakers pulled up outside the chapel. The driver turned on loud and raucous music, with the clear intention of disrupting the dedicatory service.
"As I looked out the window, I saw that the driver had the firm intention of staying put and increasing the noise," he said. "On seeing this, I asked two missionaries who were in the congregation to go out and put an end to the disruption. They apparently didn't have much success, as the man turned the volume up higher. A few minutes later, the man appeared to grow fearful. He turned off the music, turned on the motor and left the place. There is no doubt that the message came from on high. From this we learn that nothing will detain this work. When the people don't listen to His authorized servants, the Lord will use other means, but His work will continue."
He then said, "I have a deep desire to teach you, because your lives will overlap with the lives of others, and your history will be the history of the Church here. You live in a great period of time. You have seen more than your ancestors saw, and you will pass it along to your descendants. Testimony is something we should all pass along to our descendants."
President Packer told the audience of his experiences with Elder LeGrand Richards, with whom he served for many years in the Quorum of the Twelve.
"He taught me that it is important that you learn from your elders. I walked slowly back from the temple with LeGrand Richards, and that gave me the opportunity to ask him questions.
" 'When I was still a boy, I visited my grandmother,' he told me, 'I asked her to tell me about the Prophet Joseph Smith. My grandmother told me that the Prophet was a marvelous man, he loved the children and would put them on his knee. She told of the events that took place after the death of the Prophet and how Brigham Young came to lead the Church.' "
"Thus, I knew LeGrand Richards, he knew his grandmother, she knew the Prophet Joseph Smith, and this testimony was transferred to him when he was a boy, just as the testimony has come to you while you are in your youth. You live in a great time."
President Packer ended his message by saying, "The adversary cannot shut you into a room without escape, because you have the key to open the door from inside. This key is repentance. If any of you think that you are not now clean, remember that through repentance and confession, you can become clean again."
President Packer urged the youth to pay attention to the Holy Ghost. "The spirit of Christ is the light that guides us. You were born with that. Every soul that is born on Earth has the spirit of Christ with him. The light of Christ is lit in each being that comes to Earth. You have with you the gift of the Holy Ghost. It was conferred on each of you when you were baptized, to teach you, to warn you and to bring to mind the things that you should know. You cannot commit a serious error in your lives without having been warned. How were you warned? In your own feelings. Hasn't that happened to you? Have you ever told yourself, 'I knew it was wrong,' or asked 'Why did I do it?' Ask the Lord to bless you always with the guidance of the Holy Ghost. That is the gift you have as members of the Church."
Elder Andersen in his remarks used a story related by Elder Joseph Wirthlin in the October 2005 General Conference.
"A small village in Indonesia was devastated by the tsunami, but none of the villagers died, thanks to an old fisherman who knew the sea well. He told the people to run to the high ground. In their culture they listened to the elderly, who could see the changes in the sea that foretold that something terrible was about to happen. These villagers were very fortunate to have someone with deep knowledge who warned them. It is interesting that the old fisherman knew of the violent earthquake that was about to arrive. In our situation, perhaps we don't have a violent earthquake, but here with us today we have . . . President Packer, a prophet who can see around the corner for our welfare."
Elder Jones also addressed the congregation. He spoke of the order of life, as taught by President Spencer W. Kimball. He said that a faithful youth should follow this order in his or her life: serve a mission, study, marry in the temple, start a family, complete his or her studies and begin a profession.
After the fireside, several young adults expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to listen to one of the Lord's servants. One of them, Jose David Rodriguez said, "I was so impressed to hear President Packer speak for quite a while without any Spanish interpreter. It was a miracle for us to hear his voice in our own language."