The Liahona is a very powerful symbol from the Book of Mormon and one whose legends still survive in portions of Central America today, the keynote speaker at the second annual Book of Mormon Lands Conference said Friday afternoon at the Sheraton Hotel.

Elder Robert E. Wells, an emeritus general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke on "Language of the Liahona" and said he's still looking for cultural legends of the device.

The Liahona was a compass of sorts, given to Lehi, the first prophet in the Book of Mormon, to help guide his family on their journeys. Elder Wells said the Liahona operated only through faith, heed and diligence and that this is the same formula that can help humans return to God.

Elder Wells said he had a vivid dream years ago while living in South America that made him a "Liahona seeker." He even had a Mexican coppersmith create him a large model of how the Liahona may have looked.

Since the Liahona story was still told in Book of Mormon accounts some 500 years after Lehi, Elder Wells reasoned, "It should be found in South American cultures still."

Hugh Nibley, an LDS scholar, outlined some evidences of Liahona legends in one article, Elder Wells said, and there are other stories of the device that persist today.

For example, in a Mexico City Museum, he said, a tapestry there has 36 total frames of drawings, and in 13 of the first 14, the leader depicted is holding something out in front to help guide him properly.

Elder Wells also advised conference participants to look for their favorite stories in the Book of Mormon that outline the use of faith, diligence and heed.

"The Book of Mormon has converting power," he said. "We can study a myriad of subjects from it."

The Book of Mormon Lands Conference, sponsored by the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum, continues from 8 a.m. through 4:45 p.m. today at the Sheraton Hotel, 150 W. 500 South.

The conference goal is to bring the best Book of Mormon scholars and archaeologists together for insightful discussions on topics related to the lands of the Book of Mormon.

More information on the group and conference is available online at

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