In response to the many expressions of love and concern received at church headquarters regarding the health of Elder Robert D. Hales following his appearance at general conference last weekend, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued the following statement:
"Many members of the church have expressed concern and interest in Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Hales suffered health challenges earlier this year that affected his mobility and endurance. As a result, he was not able to speak in the April 2011 general conference. His presence at the October general conference is an indication of the improvement he has made since the problems arose.
"Elder Hales said, 'I continue to work with doctors and physical therapists to regain my strength. I am grateful for the faith and prayers that made it possible for me to participate in general conference and resume my responsibilities. I am touched by the many kind expressions of love and support shown to me and for your continued prayers.'
"As he so powerfully taught in general conference, Elder Hales continues to wait upon the Lord as he confronts this health challenge."
Elder Hales, 79, first became a general authority in 1975, serving both as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He was Presiding Bishop of the church from 1985 until his call to the Quorum of the Twelve in April of 1994.
His appearance at the Sunday morning session of general conference last weekend was an emotional highlight of the conference, prompting over-the-pulpit expressions of affection from both Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and church President Thomas S. Monson, who broke slightly with the church's formal protocol to say: "We love you, Bob."
His October conference talk, delivered from a chair on the stand at the Conference Center, was titled, "Waiting Upon the Lord: Thy Will Be Done." Within it he spoke of the way adversity works in all of our lives, and how "we discover that 'tribulation worketh patience,' and we learn to 'continue in patience until [we] are perfected.'"
Although Elder Hales noted that "afflictions come in all shapes and sizes," he acknowledged that sometimes "we will still find it challenging to wait upon the Lord, especially when we cannot fully understand his plan and purposes for us. That understanding is most often given 'line upon line, [and] precept upon precept.'
"In my life I have learned that sometimes I do not receive an answer to a prayer because the Lord knows I am not ready," Elder Hales continued. "When he does answer, it is ofen 'here a little and there a little' because that is all I can bear, or all that I am willing to do."
"Let us not give up on the Lord," he concluded. "His blessings are eternal, not temporary."
Elder Hales closed his talk by expressing gratitude "that in my Gethsemane and yours, we are not alone. He that watches over us 'shall neither slumber nor sleep.' . . . May we wait upon him by pressing forward in faith, that we may say in our prayers, 'They will be done,' and return to him with honor."