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August Miller, Deseret News archives
A view from the pulpit in the reconstructed Tabernacle on Temple Square on Friday, March 30, 2007, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Tabernacle was given a seismic upgrade and refurbished inside and out.

I was recently in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, and on Sunday we arrived at church to find the chapel full and chairs jamming the overflow and cultural hall to the very back of the building. It was spring break in Arizona and many out-of-towners had come down over the holiday.

After the administration of the sacrament, the bishopric counselor announced two youth speakers. The second was a young woman. She rose and strode to the podium to speak, took one look at the vast and intimidating congregation, and stepped back, and away from the microphone. I’m fairly certain she’s rarely seen a crowd that large in her life, let alone had to speak to them.

The bishopric member conducting the meeting unobtrusively stood and walked over beside her. When she stiffly turned and peered at him, he nodded comfortingly and smiled. That show of confidence was all she needed.

Mustering her courage, she stepped back to the podium and began to speak. Of course, she spoke Spanish and since I know only a few phrases — related to food or shopping — I didn’t understand a word she said. But her voice grew firmer and she bravely shared her thoughts, at times overcome by a bit of emotion, until she finished her remarks.

It’s quite fascinating that you don’t have to understand a language to feel the Spirit — and her tone and demeanor spoke volumes. I recalled back to when each of my three daughters was 12 years old and succeeded at doing something well outside their comfort zone. By the time that young woman finished speaking, I was beaming with pride for her and the courage she exhibited.

After an adult speaker, the bishopric member conducting the meeting stood, as the meeting’s final speaker. I do understand, “En el nombre de Jesucristo.” However, after seemingly concluding, rather than sitting down, he spoke haltingly to those visiting from the U.S.: “I don’t speak good English but I say, Jesus Christ told Peter, ‘Love one another.’ Not just your family, or friends …” he paused, “… but those that want to do you bad.” Another pause, then: “It’s not easy. But is the right way.”

How sweet of him to translate his remarks into English and although it was a short, simple sermon, it was heartfelt and powerful.

We returned to our seventh-floor condo with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors opening onto an enormous patio overlooking the ocean. I grew up in Los Gatos, California. When I drove, it took us 25 minutes to get to Santa Cruz, the boardwalk and a number of beaches. I still can’t get enough of being on, in or near the ocean, and walking the beach. I especially love the sunsets. Sitting on warm, windy cliffs high above the sand, I’d watch the surf ripple and crest as whitecaps ridged up, then curled seamlessly back into the sea. Sunlight capriciously sparkled and skittered across the water until the sun slid from view at the horizon.

After a soul-satisfying Sabbath meeting that drew people from near and far to partake of the sacrament, I sat on our balcony in Mexico. I gazed across the sea to the point where azure ocean met a cobalt sky topped by silky streams of striated blue and white, pillow-batting clouds. The wind whispered and rippled through tall, sturdy, undulating palms, as birds caw-cawed and effortlessly glided a breezy current until settling on outstretched branches and rooftops.

To the sound of waves rhythmically, gently, cascading until they flattened out along the shore, I was struck by how much our Heavenly Father must love each and every one of his children — so much so that he created a diverse and exquisitely beautiful world for them. Not one flower but thousands of flowers in a vast array of colors and hues. Not one cookie-cutter pattern for beaches, but thousands in multitudinous varieties and manifestations. Breathtaking birds in stunning and muted tones of all shapes and sizes.

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And a church organization, such that you can travel a few blocks or thousands of miles and enter sometimes humble, other times beautifully decorated doors, of myriad edifices, dedicated for the use of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There, to feel completely at home with other fellow believers. There, to gather and renew covenants, worship as one, feel the Lord’s spirit, and observe the Savior’s teachings in action as a leader, by his mere presence, reinforces the courage of a young girl. Then to hear that same leader bear a simple, fervent testimony of our need to love all God’s children — a message that lies at the heart and soul of the gospel of Jesus Christ.