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Kristen M. Oaks

Kristen M. Oaks

13 Mar. 2017

Transcript

All Will Be Well

That was so beautiful. “Steadfast and immoveable”[1]—I want to especially thank you for your testimony and all the beautiful things you said.

It is such an honor to be here. It’s interesting—I’m going to say things to you that I have never said to an audience previously. This College is a righteous place led by leaders with great vision. You have been identified nationally as such. Especially, I know your President Richards has great vision.

You’re learning skills to prepare you to serve in a world that is quickly becoming more volatile and wicked. You’re being exposed to great academic expertise, and that will serve you well. But I am here today to tell you that your ultimate success lies in your commitment to the covenants you have made with Jesus Christ. I speak as an apostle’s wife of nearly 17 years, but before my marriage I had 25 years in the corporate world. I was a national consultant for the largest privately-held publishing company in America. I was also the only LDS member, except for one other who said he was LSD before he joined. But I can testify that, if you will stand steadfast and immoveable, success will be yours. And you will be tested in honesty. You will be tested in chastity. You will be tested in truth, and it will be no easy task.

I have one great weakness as a teacher. I want to identify it. Because I did not marry until I was 53, it’s so hard for me—I would want nothing hard for you. But this morning before I came, I was reading the scriptures. I came across Doctrine and Covenants 45:56–57: “And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I speak concerning the ten virgins.” And we are the Ten Virgins because we are covenanted. We are members of the Church. “For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.”

And I was actually sort of . . . Here, Elder Oaks. I knew he had to come for a reason—I don’t feel that it will be 50% of you that will be hewn down. I prayed so hard on my knees before I came. But it will be many around us who fall because it will be difficult to be a member of this Church.

“The future is as bright as your faith.”[2] That is our prophet who said that to us. Your life is carefully watched over. The Lord knows both what He will need you to do and what you will need to know. And when I was at BYU, I would teach this to my students. So, you can have confidence and expect that He has prepared opportunities to learn in preparation for the service you will give.

You won’t recognize these opportunities as they come, but as life unfolds they will be obvious. I promise you, “when you put the spiritual things first in your life, you will be blessed to feel directed toward certain learning, and you will be motivated to work harder. You will recognize later that your power to serve [has] increased, and you will be grateful.”[3] Much of that quote came from President Eyring.

At baptism, we covenanted with the Lord and we entered holy ground. Our Savior is our example. And today I am going to talk about the prophets and covenants, so I want to greet you the way Joseph Smith greeted those who came to the School of the Prophets. This is Doctrine and Covenants 88:133:

I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant. . . . I receive you to fellowship, in a determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your friend and brother [or sister] through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in thanksgiving, forever and ever. Amen.

Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and we belong to the Church of Jesus Christ. But who exactly is Jesus Christ? I’m quoting now from “The Living Christ.” Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. “None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth. He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth.”[4] But the part—and I’m going to do it in my own words—that touches me so deeply is where it says that His infinite Atonement cemented the plan of salvation, and His resurrection ensures our eternal life.

In His own words, He said, “I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.”[5] He is the source of all virtue. He is virtue, and that strength literally heals all of us. He is the source of all truth. It says in the New Testament that He is the “great high priest,”[6] the Giver of all good gifts. If you go into the Book of Mormon—the very final description of Him at the end—He is described in the Book of Mormon as our judge. I am so thankful for our Savior Jesus Christ.

I’m a little distracted. It was so interesting—he said, “Get on Twitter; get on your phone; get things out.” But do you ever feel a little overcome by technology? My family, my grandchildren are talking to me, but it’s going pretty well other than that. You may have noticed that things seem a bit out of control right now. I once asked Elder Oaks what Satan’s most powerful tool was, and he said to confuse people’s thinking. You see, if we cannot discern truth, we are incapable of making correct decisions and reaching our divine potential.

It’s interesting—before I came I had been praying so hard. I had a conversation with Sheri Dew. And I wrote down what she said and sharing much of it. She said that because of the wild political landscape, we live in a time when it is difficult, if not impossible, to tell who is telling the truth, regardless of whether or not we are talking about political candidates or CEOs or star athletes or anyone. The world seems almost upside down. But this shouldn’t surprise us because ancient prophets saw our day and prophesied that many would “call evil good, and good evil.”[7]

I was listening to public radio, and it’s interesting—it’s very liberal radio, but this is what they said last week. They announced that in your age group, 18–29, nearly 100% of you receive your news through social media. But much of the media is flawed or untrue. The description given is that we are swimming in a sea of misinformation.

During the latest election, many sites were intentionally created. They are called hybrid sites. They are half-truth and half-false, and their sites are designed to confuse, convince, and create false impressions. So where do you go for truth? My method today is to the Savior and His representatives on earth. And you have one sitting on the stand today. “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”[8] These men speak the truth for our Savior.

In our Articles of Faith, “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.”[9] The truth is here. “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”[10] These are men of God.

I wish to quote from Sheri Dew. She sent me an email. She talked about herself:

Because of different Church and professional assignments, I’ve had the privilege of associating with prophets, seers, and revelators for several decades. This included writing the biographies of two presidents of the Church, which meant I had read their personal journals, mounds of correspondence, and materials written by and about them, and interviewed a score of individuals who knew them.

And this is the part I love. She said,

Through it all, the Spirit bore witness to me countless times that the fifteen men called as prophets, seers, and revelators truly are; that in fact, I can’t remember a time being in their presence, regardless of the setting, when the Spirit has not confirmed that fact to me.

I’m asking you today, what does that mean to you? Does it make a difference to know that prophets walk on the earth? That instead of trying to figure out who is trying to tell you the truth and who is not, that we have prophets, seers, and revelators whose only motives and only mission is to teach truth, to warn us of pitfalls and help us along the path to eventual exaltation and to testify of Christ?

Then this is Sheri Dew—I have to read this from her, because my sweetheart is perfect. Sister Dew says, “The Brethren are not perfect, and that is true. They are not perfect. They are mortals dealing with the challenges of mortality, just as we are. But they are”—and I want you to look at their faces up there—“the most unflawed group of leaders on this planet, and they are the only leaders who have been given the keys of the Lord’s kingdom. Therefore, they are the only leaders who have access to all of God’s power.”

And these are fundamental truths. I have chosen to review some of the truths revealed by the prophets, but there is another part to it. When Elder Oaks and I were sent to the Philippines, President Hinckley said, “you will be given revelation.” Elder Oaks woke up the very first night, and in that revelation, he was given Mosiah 4:10. And it said, “If you believe . . . these things see that ye do them.” In other words, when we know the truth, we must act on it. Like in the Primary song, “Follow the Prophet.”[11]

We have a Heavenly Father who loves us. If you really know and understand this, you understand all truth. To know God, the Prophet Joseph Smith once said and was quoted by Elder Holland, “‘is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God.’” Furthermore, “‘I want you all to know . . . and to be familiar with Him.’ We must have ‘a correct idea of his . . . perfections, and attributes,’ [and] an admiration for ‘the excellency of [His] character.’”[12]

And I say to you, I want you to know that He personally knows and loves you. He knows us and He hears our prayers. He has a body of flesh and bone that is glorified. He weeps when we suffer, and He rejoices when we have success. He loved us so much He provided us with the plan of salvation and sent His Son to atone for us. And we are His work and His glory.

I love what Brigham Young said about the nature of God. He said—this is after this life—

When you . . . see our Father, you will see a being with whom you have long been acquainted, and He will receive you into His arms, and you will be ready to fall into His embrace and kiss Him, . . . [and] you will be so glad and joyful. . . . When you are qualified and purified, . . . you can endure the glory of eternity.[13]

I love that.

But we are in a world divided, and we have a choice—the choice of a devoted Latter-day Saint. It’s hard to find a picture of someone torn in half. I tried to find a man, but there wasn’t one available. The choice of devoted Latter-day Saints is not just to go forward and try to be happy and create a fulfilling life. That’s Tony Robbins, people that walk on rocks. As men and women of covenants, our goal is to go forward and develop strong testimonies, and nurturing and caring hearts that will prepare us for our roles as parents in the eternities.

I want you to notice—she is torn between work and her child, and all of us are torn in a world that teaches openly that motherhood, children, and marriage are not important. I say to you, they are important. Many of you will be pulled between a professional world and a world of home and family. And don’t forget which one is most important.

I want you to notice the two faces. Elder Robbins was once asked by President Packer, “Which way do you face?” And he said, face the temple, because “trying to please others before pleasing God is inverting the first and second commandments.” We’re in a world that teaches political correctness, anything goes, it is all okay. When we try to save face with man, we unwittingly lose face with God.[14]

I want to talk about what real courage is. Courage is not just one of the cardinal virtues, but, as C. S. Lewis said, “courage is . . . the form of every virtue at the testing point”[15]: chastity, honesty, kindness. But that means we know where we stand, and we know where others stand, and we always love and respect them.

The reality factor. I don’t know if you know Ken and Barbie. I love this—it’s from my time. “We need [men and] women with the gift of discernment who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow and dangerous.”[16] We live in a time of such unreal expectations. Media is sexual and seductive. We’re counting calories and not blessings. We’re worried about our personal popularity and not our purity.

I want you to know, your personal purity—when you leave this place and go into the workplace and into your homes—will determine everything and the success of your family. Cherish your uniqueness, the light you emanate.

Often, we evaluate ourselves by our physical appearance, or worse, by our inadequacies. One young man wrote Elder Oaks and he said, “I am really ugly. I am so ugly, I’ve stopped going to church and I don’t serve. I’m failing school.” Interestingly, he wrote at the bottom: “I would really like you to line me up with a babe.” I thought, “Oh, this is a little unusual.” And everybody wants to date someone that they like—I don’t mean that. But our actions and attitudes determine our destinies, not our looks.

I want to share with you my favorite story about someone who is really physically disfigured, someone whose story has made my life more beautiful. My friend’s mother was born with a brutal birthmark that covered and somewhat disfigured half her face. This was many years ago, and no medical assistance was available.

My friend’s mother decided as a little girl that nothing would stop her happiness. She worked harder than anyone. She smiled more, served more, got the best grades, studied music, and shared her musical gifts. She made the best life possible. Obviously, she married. She became a first-grade teacher, but on the first day she was teaching school, a student walked in and looked at her and said, “You are so ugly. I don’t want you to be my teacher.”

This woman did not let that deter her. In fact, she became more loving. She was an astonishingly gifted and loving teacher. She spent the year lifting and loving her students, building them daily with a Christ-like love. At the end of the school year, she stood by the door to bid everyone farewell. That same little student walked by and grabbed her teacher by the knees, and she said, “You are the most beautifullest teacher in the world.”

As children of God, love is our weapon, faith is our sword, and our kindness has the capacity to change hearts and lives of those around us. Therein lies our power: “You are the most beautifullest teacher in the world.”

The Savior and the sacrament. The Twelve were praying about how to maintain activity in the Church when we face so much evilness, and they were given a very simple directive: “Keep the Sabbath day holy—if my people will do that, they will be blessed.” And the most sacred of all activities on the Sabbath day is the sacrament.

Do you wish for yourselves and your loved ones to be active in the Church in ten years, when perhaps there will be no tax exemption for tithing, a time when our beliefs will be so peculiar they will be offensive, when the name of Christ may be spoken only in hushed tones? You will be active, I can make you a promise, if you will partake with full purpose of heart the sacrament, taking upon yourselves the name of Christ. You become worthy of the ministering of angels, and they will come to you.

No one in this room is beyond forgiveness. Zechariah wrote it.[17] All uncleanliness may be sanctified. Jesus Christ loves you.

I wanted to make a personal observation about the sacrament. You took the sacrament this week, and I ask you when you take it next week, I want you to notice it—why is the bread bruised, broken, and torn for us instead of cookie-cuttered out? Each piece of bread is so unique. Could that teach us about ourselves? The bruised and broken nature of it could teach us something about what Jesus Christ suffered for each of us. It’s a thought, but it is meaningful. We are all so unique and important.

Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. This is what he taught: “As God has designed our happiness—and the happiness of all His creatures, He never has—He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed.”[18] This is a gospel of sheer happiness. But I want you to know that it is a gospel of sacrifice.

I want to quote from Jeffrey R. Holland. This is from a mission presidents’ seminar in 2005, and he was talking to mission presidents. He said to the presidents, you “will have occasion to ask, [and your missionaries will have many occasions to ask,] ‘Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? . . . [We have] the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles.’”[19] Why isn’t it easier?

Elder Holland continued:

I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. It is not Church doctrine. I am convinced that [being a member] is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him?

In turn, how could we possibly bear any moving, lasting testimony of the Atonement if we had never known or felt anything of such an experience? As members, we are proud to say we are disciples of Christ, and we are. But mark my word, that means we must be prepared to walk something of the path He walked, to feel something of the pain He felt, to at least occasionally, sometime in our lives, shed one of the tears of sorrow He shed. “Salvation is not a cheap experience.”[20]

Spiritual strength. I cannot encourage you enough to get involved in family history or to go to the temple. It was everything to me when I was single. “[The temple] is a place of peace, solitude, and inspiration. Regular attendance will enrich your life with greater purpose.”[21] Elder Richard G. Scott.

In the temple, we are allowed to see from the beginning to the end as if there were no veils. That should encourage us to understand that with the Lord, there are no barriers to our progression if we put our trust in Him. Veils are doorways, not barriers. In the temple we see how to progress all the way back to the presence of God. The Savior has thought our salvation through completely and thoroughly, from the beginning to the end, and made ample provision for every person who is faithful, and that is all of you.

Sometimes we forget how powerful God is and how inclusive His plan of redemption is. The millennium is a thousand years. There is adequate time to make things right. We know that all will be well for those who put their trust in the Savior. No one in the celestial kingdom will wonder why he or she is there or will say it was easy getting there. They all stayed the course, fought the fight, and when they felt all alone they turned to the Lord for help to accomplish what they agreed to do before the foundation of the world.

I encourage you to go to the holy temple and be worthy. Since this is about the prophets, I just wanted to read a bit from Gordon B. Hinckley. He was talking about going to the temple: “I plead with you . . . to keep yourselves free from the stains of the world. You must not indulge in sleazy talk. . . . You must not tell sultry jokes. You must not fool around with the Internet to find pornographic material.”[22] But you know why? Because it drains your purity. And when you drain yourself of virtue, you lose your power. “You must not rent [DVDs] with pornography of any kind. . . . Stay away from pornography as you would avoid a serious disease. It is as destructive.”[23]

The power of the priesthood in our lives. The power of the priesthood is the power of godliness on earth. It is the power given to seal, to heal, to protect, and to bind on earth the things of heaven.

[VIDEO: Elder Holland in “Sanctify Yourselves.”[24]]

Sister Oaks:

You stand ready. Sanctify yourself. The power of the priesthood does not manifest itself in isolation. And I wanted to—some of the comments I’m giving my friend Kathleen Andersen made me think about. The total strength of the priesthood manifests itself when men and women work in unison to achieve godly goals. Our true purpose as men and women, as future mothers and fathers, is to lead people to Christ, to serve them with love, and to awaken within them the knowledge that they are celestial and heavenly beings.

Prepare to live “after the manner of happiness,”[25] as did the Nephites. Remember, during the time described in Mosiah 21–24, it was not a happy time. They prayed to the Lord because there was so much oppression, so much opposition, heavy taxes. They were not respected. They weren’t treated well.

So, He didn’t change conditions; He changed the people. Now is the time that we need to know our religion and follow our religion, so we can live after the manner of happiness, as did the Nephites.

Some of you may know that I married in my mid-50s, and I am now a grandmother to 29. So many people have approached me and asked me how I made it through the loneliness being single, and now how I make it through being a grandmother to a tribe. For all our challenges, there is only one way. When we understand the basics of our religion, we come to understand ourselves. Our acquaintance with spiritual teachings becomes more expansive, and our thoughts and faith become more expansive.

I want you to know, too, I was also given a blessing, and it said: “If you cannot bear the challenges of being single, you will never be able to bear the challenges of being married.” Heavenly Father is there for us at all times, and I’ll never forget that blessing.

Prophets share the mind and will of the Lord as they listen. If you’ll notice, she is looking at a document, and I want to remind you that every six months the prophets speak to us. I quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley. He said, “You have prayed that you might hear things that will help you with your problems and add strength to your faith.” He then said, “I assure you that we [the prophets and apostles who speak] have prayed also. . . . We have prayed that we might be prompted to say those words which will build faith and testimony and which will become answered prayers for those who will hear.”[26] Conference is an answer to prayer and provides the inspiration we seek.

There is a Book of Mormon there, and President Packer taught that if we study the scriptures, they will immunize us against the world.[27] I want you to know that negative thoughts are never borne of God. God would never humiliate, debase, or say anything to destroy our faith and confuse us. And just before that horrible test or when you are wondering how you’re going to get enough funds to go ahead, or you’re feeling you have no one in your life, or you feel let down, Heavenly Father will lift and edify us and fill us with hope and faith and charity.

But we can’t recognize His voice unless we are familiar with His scriptures—we see how He operates and talks to us. We can’t differentiate counterfeit voices around us unless we are familiar with His voice. We have no other standard by which to judge. But that doesn’t mean that He won’t say things to us that are not hard or demanding. But He will do it by way of loving invitation, encouragement, and bringing us to remembrance of who we are.

I’m going to talk about that great elixir, service, when we are willing to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.”[28] And that’s what we all promised when we entered our baptismal covenant. Our service to others, no matter what our calling or lack of a calling, will be an expression of our love for the Savior. But I want to share with you what Sister Kimball said. Spencer W. Kimball’s wife was asked at the end of her life what she regretted most. And Sister Kimball replied when she failed to follow simple impressions of the Spirit, to make a phone call, visit a friend, see someone who is lonely, read her scriptures. These small acts of service add up to an effective life of greatness.

I’m asking you to take advantage—listen to the whisperings of the Spirit and never, ever miss an opportunity to serve. I do know, when I was single, it was hard to find a service project that—there’s my service project! And I really like him! Okay. Really, if I didn’t cook dinner, he wouldn’t eat, so . . .

Follow the prophets. “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”[29] “Now we have a world where”. . . When you were in Primary, did you ever sing this song, “Follow the Prophet”? It was written many years ago, but I pulled the words out this morning just before I came, and I’m quoting from that. It says,

Now we have a world where people are confused.

If you don’t believe it, go and watch the news.

We can get direction all along our way,

If we heed the prophets—follow what they say. . . .

Follow the prophet, follow the prophet,

Follow the prophet; he knows the way.”[30]

One of the duties of prophets is to warn, and I want to read this quote from Elder Ballard. Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “As Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is our duty to be watchmen on the tower, warning Church members to beware of false prophets and false teachers who lie in wait to ensnare and destroy [their] faith and testimony.” I want to add, many of these people are on the internet. “Today we warn you that there are false prophets and false teachers arising;”—and you will find these teachers in movies, books, internet— “and if we are not careful, even those who are among the faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will fall victim to their deception.”[31]

This is not an easy thing. I have seen my husband come home very sad sometimes. I don’t think anyone enjoys—they don’t even see it—chastising, but it’s out of love. I want to read something about President McKay. My friend’s father shared this with me because he worked with President McKay. He walked into President McKay’s office, and President McKay was slumped down with his head in his hands. You know how he had this wonderful white hair? And he looked up, and this man said, “President, you look so discouraged.” And President McKay said, referring to the members of the Church, “Don’t they understand that I warn them and I chastise them because I love them?”

I beg you to stand steadfast and immoveable. Now is your time to follow and sustain the apostles and prophets of the Lord. I quote from an article on LDS.org. This is hot stuff; it’s right off the web last night. I’m trying to be current. I’m quoting from the article, “Calling an Apostle.” “[The] foundation of living apostles and prophets—chosen and called through prophecy and revelation by priesthood authority, serving in love and unity [are] under the direction of the resurrected Christ.”[32]

In the scriptures, the Lord—this is John 15:16—reminds us of the heavenly calling of apostles: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you.” President Thomas S. Monson testifies: “Our Savior, Jesus Christ, whom we follow, whom we worship, and whom we serve, is ever at the helm.”[33] Follow the prophets, and you will never go wrong.

I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, and he restored the real priesthood of Jesus Christ to this earth. And I know in actuality we are led by a living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. And I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

[1] Mosiah 5:15.

[2] Thomas S. Monson, “Be of Good Cheer,” Apr. 2009 General Conference.

[3] Henry B. Eyring, “Education for Real Life,” Ensign, Oct. 2002.

[4] “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Ensign, Apr. 2000, 3.

[5] D&C 110:4.

[6] Hebrews 4:14.

[7] Isaiah 5:20.

[8] D&C 1:38.

[9] Articles of Faith 1:6.

[10] Articles of Faith 1:9.

[11] “Follow the Prophet,” Children’s Songbook, p. 110.

[12] Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Grandeur of God,” Oct. 2003 General Conference, quoting History of the Church, 6:305, and Lectures on Faith (1985), p. 38, 42. Emphasis in original.

[13] Journal of Discourses, 4:54–55.

[14] See Elder Lynn G. Robbins, “Which Way Do You Face?” Oct. 2014 General Conference. Emphasis in original.

[15] C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, rev. ed. (1982), 137–38.

[16] Boyd K. Packer, “The Relief Society,” Oct 1978 General Conference; quoted in Russell M. Nelson, “A Plea to My Sisters,” Oct. 2015 General Conference.

[18] Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Deseret Book Company: Salt Lake City, Utah, (1838), p. 256.

[19] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Missionary Work and the Atonement,” Ensign, Mar. 2001.

[20] Holland, “Missionary Work.” Emphasis in original.

[21] Richard G. Scott, “Receive the Temple Blessings,” Apr. 1999 General Conference.

[22] Gordon B. Hinckley, “Living Worthy of the Girl You Will Someday Marry,” Apr. 1998 General Conference.

[23] Hinckley, “Living Worthy.”

[25] 2 Nephi 5:27.

[26] Gordon B. Hinckley, “Listen by the Power of the Spirit,” Oct. 1996 General Conference.

[27] See Boyd K. Packer, “Do Not Fear,” Apr. 2004 General Conference.

[28] Mosiah 18:8.

[29] D&C 1:38.

[30] “Follow the Prophet,” Children’s Songbook, p. 110–111.

[31] M. Russell Ballard, “Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers,” Oct. 1999 General Conference.

[33] Thomas S. Monson, “‘Reach Out to Rescue’” Prophets and Apostles, https://www.lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/monson-encourages-members-to-reach-out?lang=eng; quoted in “Calling an Apostle of the Lord,” Prophets and Apostles.