I got to go to a fireside last night where President Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke. His wife Harriet was there, too. President Uchtdorf is a member of the First Presidency of my church--a three-member quorum that leads The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The fireside was for military and their families. I was amazed at how many soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines were there (along with one Seamons).
Here are some of the great things that President Uchtdorf taught us:
"The military environment is ideal for you to be your brother's keeper."
He spoke of an experience he had riding in a refueling tanker high above Utah while fighter jets came and refueled mid-flight. He said that soldiers in the field and their families at home are like these tankers and fighter jets--they each have separate missions to carry out, but it is vital to both of their missions that they come together and support one another.
"Things of great worth are never easy."
He told the story of Sister Uchtdorf as a child, shortly after World War II. Her mother was pulling her in a wagon through a bombed-out German city (I think it was Frankfurt), trying to find anything in the rubble that was of worth. An American soldier--who had, until very recently, been the enemy--came up to the two of them and started talking to them. They didn't understand, but he smiled and pulled out a piece of gum and handed it to little Harriet. Harriet thought it was a miracle and never forgot the smile of that American soldier.
Years later, two missionaries came to the house of Harriet, her sister, and her recently-widowed mother. Harriet went to her mother and asked if she could invite them in. Her mother said no. Harriet went back to the door, looked at the young men's smiles, and thought of that soldier. She went to her mother and said, "Mother, they seem nice AND they are Americans!" Her mother invited the missionaries in and their family quickly accepted the Gospel.
President Uchtdorf also shared this quote:
"Don't vex your minds by trying to explain the suffering you have to endure in this life. Don't despair. Don't think that God is punishing you or disciplining you or that he has rejected you. Even in the midst of your suffering you are in his kingdom. You are always his children and he has his protecting arm around you. Does a child understand everything his father does? No--but he can confidently nestle in his father's arms and feel perfect happiness, even while tears glisten in his eyes, because he is his father's child." --Albert Schweitzer
I'm so glad that I was able to attend this fireside. We are just about halfway through Nate's deployment and I know President Uchtdorf's words and smile and handshake will help buoy me up for the next six months.