Think of the moments or experiences in your life that are so clear to you that you can remember them like they were yesterday.  You remember where you were, what you were doing, where you were standing, all of the particulars, the sights, the sounds the smells, etc…

These could have been moments of heartache or trauma, celebration or happiness or even moments of frustration or despair.  We have moments in our lives that are so memorable that they are indelibly engraved our hearts and minds.  We can recall them in an instant.  Sometimes a smell, or a sound or some other stimuli triggers our being and we are back there…experiencing the memory all over again.

  • If you are older, you may remember the terrible and tragic event in November 1963 when President Kennedy was shot. I was only three years old, but I’ve had many older American’s tell me that they remember where they were that day.
  • Or when man walked on the moon? 7/1969
  • Or, do you remember where you were on 9/11?
  • How about the first Christmas you remember as a child?
  • Maybe the day you got your driver’s license…
  • How about other events in your life?
    • A graduation, a marriage, having a child, etc…
    • The first day of school. A birthday party, your first love.
    • Something someone said that was so kind and encouraging that just reflecting brings a smile…

I had an experience this past January that demonstrates the power of memory in a dramatic way.  I would like to tell you this story.

I got a call from Ronald Jensen just a few weeks ago.  You may remember Ron.  Just a year ago he spoke here in our Stake at a special missionary fireside with Dawn Armstrong who was in the recent Meet the Mormons film.  If you will recall, he was the missionary in Nebraska who baptized her.

For those of you who missed the story, I met Ron over 35 years ago when I was a missionary in the Philippines.  He was just 7 years old.  His mother and two other older siblings joined the church.  Richel who was 8 and Rose who was 9 years old.  Our lives have been forever entwined. Their life’s journey to the gospel and then to America is a wonderful story of struggle, faith, courage and perseverance.

Ron called me in late January wondering if I would write an encouraging farewell letter for his daughter Jeralyn. She had just gotten her mission call to serve in the California San Jose Mission. He wanted to give her a collection of letters from friends and family upon her departure.  Of course, I agreed.  He then mentioned that her farewell was to be on January 28th and his whole family would be there.  I suddenly realized that Susan and I were planning to be in Utah that weekend so we would be able to attend.  As you might imagine, I looked forward to that event.

But, the Jensen family had another surprise for me.  Ron had privately invited Elder David Taylor my missionary companion from the Philippines to come down from Idaho.  We had taught the Jensen family together and I hadn’t seen him for nearly 30 years.  Elder Taylor and I had traveled the mission together as we worked with President and Sister Andrus our dear Mission President and his wife.

It was so great to see him…

At the Sacrament Meeting, Jeralyn shared her excitement to serve a mission and her humble testimony.  There was a sweet spirit in that meeting that day.

The meeting concluded and as we made our way to the foyer, a couple of the kids announced (now, I call them kids because they were 7, 8 and 9 years old back then), now they’re all in their early 40’s and raising families of their own.

Anyway, as we made our way to the foyer, a couple of the kids announced,

  • Let’s get a picture outside…”
  • “Well, of course I thought,” but this…this would be a different kind of picture.

As we got outside and began to gather, amidst the crowd of family and friends, one of the kids called out,

  • Let’s stand just like we did at our baptism! Remember, at the Buendia Chapel in Pasay City.”

I quickly thought, “That was over 35 years ago…”  And, before another second passed,

  • Ron yelled out, “I was standing next to Elder Taylor.
  • Richel said, “Rose, you were next to me.”
  • Someone called out, “Mom, you were next to Elder McKell.”
  • Yes, let’s stand just like we were…on that day!

The six of us quickly took our historic spots as several people with smart phones lined up to take our picture.  For just a moment the world stopped for me.  There we were standing in the same positions that we stood some 37 years ago.  In fact, it was March 7, 1981, 37 years ago this past week.

You can see these two pictures below.  One in 1981 and one in 2018.  Yes, we look a whole lot older!

March 7, 1981, Manila, Philippines

(Elder David Taylor, Ronald Jensen, Richel Jensen, Rose Jensen, Carmelita Jensen, Elder Mark McKell)

37 Years Later:  January 8, 2018, Bountiful, Ut

(David Taylor, Ronald Jensen, Richel Jensen, Rose Jensen, Carmelita Jensen, Mark McKell)

How was it that they remembered so specifically and profoundly where they were standing on that day?

You see, brothers and sisters their baptism……on that day:

  • Changed the trajectory of their lives
  • It brought an understanding of who they are & a purpose for their lives
  • It brought an understanding of what they needed to do to return to their Heavenly Father
  • It brought future covenants and associative blessings
  • Full-time missionary service – Rose Hong Kong, Richel SLC, Ron Nebraska
  • And it brought temple marriages and the blessing of an eternal family

This experience, some 37 years ago, was unique and different than any other.  It was different than a simple birthday, graduation or any other special occasion.  This experience for the Jensen family was a Moment of Significance.

So unique and so significant, that they remembered where they were standing over three decades later!  I have not been able to shake this experience.  It still affects me!  I can still hear them say:

Let’s stand just like we were…on that day!

Certain moments of our lives can be so precious and memorable.  Moments where time stands still and we can feel the significance of our Heavenly Fathers hand in our lives.  These are the moments to yearn for!

These are Moments of Significance!  We see these Moments of Significance throughout the scriptures.  Remember the story of Alma unexpectedly reuniting with the Son’s of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon.  I’ll bet for them that was one of those moments.

Remember when Nephi, no doubt frustrated with his brothers, went back alone to retrieve the brass plates?  He said,

I was led by the Spirit not knowing the things which I should do…”  1 Nephi 4:6

No doubt a personal Moment of Significance for Nephi.

Or, when Alma’s heart was pricked as he listened in the background to the Prophet Abinadi’s testimony.  This Moment of Significance led to numerous conversions and converts at the Waters of Mormon.

Or, remember Enoch, amidst his own self-doubt, questioning his own abilities, and yet the Lord encouraged him saying,

Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore, walk with me.”  Moses 6:34

Think of the Moments of Significance in your life that when you look back were moments that truly mattered.  I can remember many in my own life, moments that have made a difference.

  • I can still remember my own baptism and how I felt that day.
  • I can remember my Father, when I was 12 years old, explaining to me the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood and the feeling I felt at that moment.
  • I can remember so many faith promoting experiences in Southeast Asia.
  • I can remember Susan and I being sealed in the Los Angeles temple and the feelings I had at that time.
  • So many great tender moments raising a family
    • Sending young men on missions
    • Attending the marriages of our children in the temple
    • The experience holding a new born grandchild.

These are moments that I remember and cherish most…

  • What are the Moments of Significance that stand out in your life?
  • What are the moments that turn your heart to heaven and cause you to contemplate the solemnities of eternity?

Take the time to reflect on these moments.  But, maybe more importantly, what are the Moments of Significance you are working toward today?

When I think of future Moments of Significance, I think of the ordinances of salvation.  The Lord has said that, “in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.”  Why is this?  Because of the covenants we make, and the wonderful blessings that can come to us based on our faithfulness.

These are the Moments of Most Significance.  These are the moments where our earthly course is riveted toward our heavenly home.  Moments where we are re-focused on what matters most.

  • A baptism and confirmation of the Holy Ghost
  • A priesthood ordination
  • A temple endowment or sealing
  • Your experience with the ordinance of the sacrament each week

Reach for these Moments of Significance! Struggle for and embrace them!  Finally, as you store up these memories, identify opportunities where you can help others, one by one create their Moments of Significance.

Let me tell you a story.

I told this story over a year ago at a Priesthood Leadership Meeting, but felt prompted to share it again today.

Several years ago, we were vacationing in the St. George, UT area.  For over 30 years, Southern Utah has been a favorite summer playground spot for our family. From one day to the next you can be engaged in a variety of enjoyable outdoor recreational activities.

Several years ago in mid-August we were spending the day at Sand Hallow a large reservoir about 30 minutes’ southeast of St. George.  We had had fun all morning enjoying a variety of water sport activities.  It was now mid-afternoon.  Temperatures were well over 100 degrees.  We found ourselves over by the dam a few hundred yards off shore.  Everyone piled out of the boat, to escape the heat.

Several years ago in mid-August we were spending the day at Sand Hallow a large reservoir about 30 minutes’ southeast of St. George.  We had had fun all morning enjoying a variety of water sport activities.  It was now mid-afternoon.  Temperatures were well over 100 degrees.  We found ourselves over by the dam a few hundred yards off shore.  Everyone piled out of the boat, to escape the heat.

We sat in the water on floatable cushions with only our heads above the water line.  Wide brimmed hats sheltered us from the sweltering sun.  We sat there in the water for what seemed to be most of the afternoon.  It was myself, my Father, my Brother Matthew, his son James, and my youngest son Austin.  Just five of us.  Austin was about 17 at the time.

The conversation started with everyday trivial topics, but quickly turned to stories of growing up, mission experiences, college days, careers, gospel principles and testimony, etc…  Everyone shared.  No distractions, no filter, just honest sharing and conversations about things that matter most in the middle of a large lake in Southern Utah.

That evening, I asked Austin for his favorite part of the day,

He said, “Dad, can we do that again?”   “Do what?”, I asked.

I thought he was going to mention one of the fun physical water sport activities, like swimming, wake boarding or water skiing we had done that day.   There were many to choose from.  But, he didn’t say that…

“No, remember Dad, when we were just sitting in the water and just talking!” 

“Can we do that again?”

You see, all of the other activities didn’t matter….  Oh, they were fun, but that’s not what was memorable to him.  That’s not what touched his heart.   What spoke to him was the unfiltered, open dialogue and heart-felt, honest conversations regarding things that matter most.

That was a Moment of Signficance in his life!

Experiences when you help others have a Moment of Significance is when you truly find yourself.  It’s during these times, when you begin to understand your place in the world and feel the Savior’s love.  I learned a lot about being a Father that day!  These are the most profound moments of life, when you can be engaged with others, one on one, helping them have a Moment of Significance of their own.

I felt these same feelings this past month when over 100 of our youth went to the San Diego Temple to do Baptisms for the Dead as part of our Youth Conference.  I was at the water’s edge to observe our youth doing this great work. The completed over 1,500 ordinances.  No doubt a Moment of Significance for those beyond the veil.

If you attended the temple as part of Youth Conference this past month either as a youth or an adult would you please stand.  Thank you for your faithful service and sacrifice.

In that experience, another Moment of Significance occurred when throughout the day about 20 Aaronic Priesthood Priests took their turns as witnesses and then performed proxy baptisms for the first time in the Lord’s holy house.  Watching these young men serve with respect, reverence and a willingness to learn is etched in my heart and soul.

Observing our youth on that day was a Moment of Significance in my life.

Brothers and Sisters, in our lives each and every day we have opportunities for Moments of Significance, but we often don’t often see them this way…

Personally and individually,

  • When you choose faith over fear
  • When you choose principle over what’s popular
  • When you choose what you know to be right, rather than the alternative
  • When you choose to do the small and simple things, like prayer and scriptures study

When we do these things what we perceive as the insignificant in our lives, can turn into the significant.

As parents,

  • More than just FHE, Family Prayer, Family Scripture Study
  • When you decide to be there parent rather than their friend
  • When you decide to teach correct principles and then carefully watch to see if they will govern themselves, and then you guide the process

These collective moments and so many others if we will follow the counsel of our leaders and the prophets we will find in our lives experiencing the greater Moments of Significance in our lives.

Brothers and Sisters, it’s my prayer that you will focus your heart and mind toward the moments in life that are lasting and eternal, moments wrapped in covenants that will aid in your journey back to your Heavenly Father.  Moments where you can help others do the same…  Moments that truly matter!

I pray that these moments might be so significant that you will look back one day, far into the future and say,

Let’s stand just like we were…on that day!

Is my humble prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Note: This address was given at a Stake Conference on March 11, 2018 of the Riverside California Stake by Mark E. McKell, 1st Counselor, Stake Presidency.