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Elder Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy W. Nelson, are photographed exiting general conference.

SALT LAKE CITY — LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, surprised a congregation of Latter-day Saints when they showed up at their stake conference in Oakland, California, last Sunday.

Jana Riess, a Religion News Service columnist, happened to be in the area on a speaking engagement and was seated on the fourth row. She wrote about the experience for religionnews.com.

"I was surprised by how moved I was by the whole morning," Riess wrote. "President Nelson was the final speaker, and he spoke without notes. He was eloquent and heartfelt."

In his remarks, President Nelson introduced the basic theme of his remarks when he expressed appreciation for the "beautiful children's choir ... the future of the church," Riess wrote. President Nelson instructed parents to help their children learn about Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.

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President Nelson talked about how his life has changed since becoming the prophet. He used to receive phone calls at odd hours during his days as a surgeon, and he has found a similar experience as the president of the church. President Nelson said that, as sometimes messages come to him at night, he makes notes in the dark but the challenge is reading his writing in the morning, Riess wrote.

Among other things, President Nelson also discussed family history and spoke of family members serving missions.

"I have to say that I much prefer this President Nelson to the one I’ve seen at general conference," Riess wrote. "Here was a man in his element, obviously gifted in interpersonal relationships, with a striking sense of humor I’ve not seen before."

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