Easter themes are expected to permeate the final day of the 191st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A week ago, in a Palm Sunday YouTube message — which has amassed nearly 30 million views — church President Russell M. Nelson invited viewers and listeners to tune in Sunday to all-virtual sessions “filled with Christ-centered messages and music.”

President Dallin H. Oaks, Nelson’s first counselor in the governing First Presidency and conducting the morning session, said the music would feature choirs from around the world singing previously recorded hymns. A troupe from Mexico and a children’s choir from Korea performed two initial songs.

At Nelson’s request, Oaks said, the speakers would also have an international flavor.

Going to church once a week isn’t enough, says Seventy

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Chi Hong (Sam) Wong of the Quorum of the Seventy speaks at General Conference on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021.

Chi Hong (Sam) Wong of the Quorum of the Seventy, a native of Hong Kong, urged Latter-day Saints to “let God prevail in our lives and not the adversary.” And he urged consistency.

“Some of us may think, ‘The gospel is good, so we need to put it in our lives, maybe once a week,’” Wong said. “Just going to church once a week is not enough to build upon the rock. Our entire lives should be filled with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“The gospel is not part of our life,” he added, “but our life is actually part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Wong was called to be a general authority in April 2014. Six months later, he became the first speaker to deliver a General Conference address in a language other English — Cantonese.

See life’s trials as ‘learning experiences,’ Seventy advises

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Taniela B. Wakolo a general authority Seventy, speaks at General Conference on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021.

Taniela B. Wakolo, a general authority Seventy who was born in Fiji and serves in the Philippines, addressed the ways in which God shows his love for humanity — through family relationships, through an inspired prophet and through chastening.

During 2020, the Philippines was “severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a volcanic eruption, earthquakes, strong typhoons and devastating floods,” Wakolo said. “But, like a pillar of light shining through dark clouds of fear, loneliness, and despair, came the words of the prophet.”

Nelson, a former heart surgeon, called for “worldwide fasting and prayer” and counseled people to “move forward despite the pandemic,” the Seventy said. “He invited us to make our homes personal sanctuaries of faith. He called upon Latter-day Saints everywhere to respect all of God’s children and to let God prevail in our lives.”

Also stirring, he said, was Nelson’s video testimony in November about the power of gratitude.

In 2016, while serving a mission in Little Rock, Ark., Wakolo unexpectedly learned that his older sister, who lived on an island in Fiji, had died 10 days earlier.

“I had self-pity and even felt a little upset that my family did not even bother to let me know,” he said. But his wife assured him that “all these experiences” were for his good and development.

“You have been teaching and sharing your testimony about the atonement of Jesus Christ,” his wife told him. “Now live accordingly.”

He concluded that he would “no longer refer to my challenges as trials and tribulations,” he said, “but as my ‘learning experiences. … And because of [Christ’s] perfect and sinless life, I will no longer refer to my shortcomings and lack of abilities as weaknesses, but rather, as my ‘development opportunities.’”

Keep your eyes on ‘heavenly home,’ Seventy says

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José A. Teixeira of the Presidency of the Seventy speaks at General Conference on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021.

José A. Teixeira of the Presidency of the Seventy, a native of Portugal, said that “one of the most important things we can do in this life is to recognize and remember the pathway back to our Heavenly Father.”

He offered “four reminders that, when used and applied consistently in our lives, can rekindle feelings of our heavenly home.”

• “First, we can remember that we are children of God.”

• “Second, we can remember the foundation that protects us.”

• “Third, we can remember to be prayerful.”

• “Fourth, we can remember to serve others.”

Teixeira recounted the story of a Portuguese couple who were forced to abandon their home amid a civil war and said, “We lost everything we had, but it was a good thing because it compelled us to consider the importance of eternal blessings.”

“They lost their earthly home,” Teixeira said, “but they found the way back to their heavenly home.”

Seventy Edward Dube recalls tender moment with apostle

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Edward Dube of the Seventy addresses General Conference on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021.

Edward Dube, a Seventy from Zimbabwe, was feeling “overwhelmed and inadequate” in 2012, when he entered his first General Conference leadership meeting.

He did not belong in that group, Dube thought. “A serious mistake had been made.”

Just as he was taking his seat, apostle Jeffrey R. Holland approached him and “tenderly patted” his face.

“I felt like a baby,” the African said. “His love and embrace warmed me up and helped me to feel the spirit of belonging, the spirit of brotherhood.”

The next day, he saw Holland “warmly patting Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ face, who is his senior,” Dube said. “Elder Holland, through his kind, natural actions, helped me to overcome my self-centeredness and my feelings of inadequacy. He helped me to focus on the sacred and joyful work to which I had been called — to bring souls to Christ.”

The Seventy, the third Black leader to speak this conference weekend, recalled a night when his mother suffered terrible pain from cancer.

“As my mother expressed her acceptance of God’s will,” Dube said, “I remembered the reason Jesus Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Golgotha.”

Recently, he talked with a bishop in Pretoria, South Africa, whose wife and his adult daughter both died from COVID-19.

“Bishop Teddy Thabete’s response strengthened my resolve,” Dube said, “to follow the words and counsel from the Lord’s prophets, seers and revelators.”

Thabete declared that “there is always hope and comfort in knowing that the Savior has taken upon himself the pains of his people, that he may know how to succor us.”

The challenges of mortality “will come to all of us in one way or another,” Dube said. He then encouraged members to focus on the goal of “‘pressing toward the mark’,” which is the prize of the high calling of God.”

Daughter’s death led Dad to Mormonism, says general authority

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S. Mark Palmer of the Seventy addresses General Conference on Easter Sunday, April 4. 2021.

S. Mark Palmer of the Seventy recalled a family tragedy.

The New Zealander’s parents, who were sheep farmers, were “on holiday together at a lake” when “17-month-old [daughter] Ann toddled off,” and “she was found lifeless in the water. … Dad wrote years later that some of the laughter went out of their lives forever.”

But it “also caused a yearning for answers to life’s most important questions: What will become of our precious Ann? Will we ever see her again? How can our family ever be happy again?’”

His father and the family found their answers after two young Latter-day Saint missionaries came to the family farm.

“Mum instantly recognized truth and received a witness of the spirit,” Palmer said, while his father struggled before he “committed to the Lord.”

“Many years later, Dad told me that if not for Ann’s tragic death, he would never have been humble enough to accept the restored gospel,” Palmer said. “Yet the spirit of the Lord instilled hope that what the missionaries taught was true.”

Women’s leader Reyna Aburto recalls brother lost in quake

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Reyna I. Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, speaks at General Conference on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021.

Reyna I. Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, said she can empathize with the sorrow and pain felt by Jesus’ followers like Mary Magdalene.

Mary “stayed at the tomb by herself. Only two days before, she had seen the tragic death of her friend and master,” said Aburto, originally from Nicaragua and then from Mexico. “Now his tomb was empty, and she did not know where he was. It was too much for her to take in, and she wept.”

Aburto, the second female speaker this conference weekend, speculated that the Lord “may have allowed Mary Magdalene to grieve and to express her pain,” she said. “He then called her by her name, and she turned to him and recognized him. She saw the resurrected Christ and was a witness of his glorious resurrection.”

When she was 9 years old, Aburto’s brother was killed in an earthquake.

“Because it happened unexpectedly, it took me a while to grasp the reality of what had occurred,” she said. “I was heartbroken by sorrow, and I would ask myself, ‘What happened to my brother? Where is he? Where did he go? Will I ever see him again?’”

That kind of questioning and yearning, she said, is common.

“A few years after, I started thinking of my brother in a specific way. I would imagine him knocking on our door,” Aburto said. “I would open the door, he would be standing there, and he would tell me, ‘I am not dead. I am alive. I could not come to you, but now I will stay with you and never leave again.’”

That “imagining, almost a dream,” the Relief Society counselor said, “helped me cope with the pain that I felt over losing him.”

That thought was “a witness that my brother’s spirit is not dead,” she said. “He is alive.”

Through the “redeeming atonement and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, broken hearts can be healed, anguish can become peace, and distress can become hope,” Aburto concluded. “He can embrace us in his arms of mercy, comforting, empowering and healing each of us.”

Apostle Ulisses Soares: We must repent

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Apostle Ulisses Soares speaks Easter Sunday at General Conference on April 4, 2021.

Brazilian apostle Ulisses Soares hailed the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but reminded Latter-day Saints that “while through his sacrifice the Savior unconditionally removed the effects of physical death, he did not eliminate our personal responsibility to repent for the sins we commit.”

“My dear friends,” he said, “I testify to you that as we genuinely repent of our sins, we allow the atoning sacrifice of Christ to become wholly effective in our life.”

Soares, the faith’s first Latin American apostle, spoke of a married couple in Brazil who died within four days of each other of COVID-19 complications. Their son, a lay bishop in the church, told him that while “it was so difficult to see my parents depart from this world in that condition,” he could “clearly feel the hand of the Lord in my life amidst that tragedy, because I received strength and peace that transcended my understanding.”

The 62-year-old Soares contracted COVID-19 earlier this year and recovered.