A new chapter in the history of the Church in Brasilia was made June 2. It was the first time a president of the Church visited Brazil's capital. Also, the largest gathering of Church members in Brasilia took place.
President Thomas S. Monson addressed more than 7,000 members gathered in Brasilia's Marina Hall. They came from throughout the greater Brasilia area and from as far as Sao Paulo, a distance of about 600 miles.
The presence of dozens of buses in the parking lot indicated that many members had made extensive preparations to attend the meeting. Some arrived as early as 9 o'clock that morning in order to claim good seats for the meeting that began at 7 o'clock that evening.
They came as individuals and families. Since the meeting was held on a Monday evening, one person commented that it must be "one of the largest family nights ever held."
By any measure, the meeting was a grand event. A 400-member choir provided music, and Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve, and his wife, Wendy, joined President Monson in addressing the congregation.
In his address, President Monson said, "Brothers and sisters, I feel of your spirit." An almost tangible rapport existed between the Church leader and Church members. It seemed as if he spoke to them one by one, as though they were long-time and cherished friends.
On a warm and humid evening, huge fans roared from the corners of the hall and 20 or more smaller fans whirred from the ceiling and columns throughout the great room in an effort to keep the congregation cool. As the meeting began, speakers' voices came across rather faintly in some parts of the hall. The large, noisy fans were turned off. Although the members of the congregation could hear much better when President Monson stood at the microphone to speak, many of them leaned forward, as if in an effort draw a few inches closer to catch every word of the prophetic message he had come so far to deliver.
For the most part, the members looked as though they yearned for spiritual nourishment that only the Lord's prophet could deliver. Without doubt, many will never have another opportunity to see and hear in person a Church president.
President Monson counseled the members about the choices they make in their lives. "We become what we choose. Our choices determine our eternal destiny," he said.
He suggested four decisions, four choices, which can help determine one's destiny.
"First, may we choose to listen," he said. "Second, may we choose to learn. Third, may we choose to labor. And fourth, may we choose to love."
He elaborated on each choice. He spoke of listening to those who lovingly give counsel and to the Spirit. He talked of learning, especially from the scriptures and the lives of Church leaders. He counseled members that it isn't enough to dream, to promise or pledge, but they must "be doers of the word" (see James 1:22). He said that the Master taught that the greatest commandment is to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart...and to love thy neighbor as thyself" (see Matthew 22:36-69).
As he concluded, President Monson said, "I testify to you tonight that when the Savior spoke those words recorded in the book of Revelation, He was giving you and me counsel to help us be true to our pledge. Remember His words? 'Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him' (Revelation 3:20).
"My prayer tonight is that we will have listening ears, that we might in turn hear His knock, appreciate the invitation of our Lord and have the wisdom to open wide the doorway to our heart and the portals to our mind, that Jesus Christ might come in unto us. Will we make room for Him in our hearts? Will we provide time for Him in our lives? Once again, the choice is ours, remembering that our choices, our decisions, determine our destiny.
"My brothers and sisters, I convey to you my love. It has been a privilege to be with you this evening. I have felt of your spirit, and I commend you for your testimonies of truth.
"As you live the gospel, others will see the good which comes from it. You will inspire them to investigate the Church and to embrace the gospel message. The membership of the Church in Brazil is growing. When Sister Monson and I first visited here, in 1969, there were only two stakes and one mission. At last count, at the end of the year 2007, there were 27 missions, 218 stakes and 50 districts. In 1940 there were fewer than 200 members throughout this country. When the first temple, at Sao Paulo, was dedicated in 1978, there were 54,000 members. Today there are over a million members, and the Church is growing steadily.
"I leave with you my blessing. May our Heavenly Father continue with you always and bless you each and every day."
Elder Nelson spoke about the family, and the temple's sealing ordinances. He counseled husbands to be concerned for their wives, and wives for their husbands.
"To each wife, I express hope that you will love your husband." He drew some laughter from the congregation when he added, "There may be occasions when that is not easy. He needs your help."
He then told each of the priesthood brethren that his highest priority was to care for his wife, and to provide and care for his children.
Elder Nelson told the children in the congregation to remember the Ten Commandments, especially the fifth one, which mandates, "Honor thy father and thy mother."
Sister Nelson based her remarks on a sign painted by a farmer: "Not Even Once." She spoke of how that sign has impressed her, and the messages that it conveyed. She said that "not even once" should members of the Church do anything that would take them away from the Spirit, that would cause them to break any of the Lord's commandments. "Not even once," she said, should members partake of alcohol or other things against the Word of Wisdom, or engage in anything impure in thought or action.
After the closing prayer was offered, members of the audience stood and waved white handkerchiefs in a gesture of farewell. President Monson responded by waving his handkerchief. As he was leaving the podium, to the delight of the audience, he stopped at the piano and sat on the bench next to pianist Raquel Correia, and played a song he learned as a young boy, "Here We Go to a Birthday Party." Sister Correia picked up on the song and joined him in playing a duet. The audience applauded and cheered the performance.
The song brought a fitting conclusion to "the largest family night" ever held in Brasilia.
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