Modern Day LDS Heroes: Toa Leiataua

To attend school in Samoa, each family must purchase the mandatory school uniform, which cost about $2.75. The Leiataua family had 12 children and could only afford to send their eldest son Toa to high school.

Due to Toa’s parents financial circumstances his lunch consisted of coconuts from the school’s coconut trees that he climbed at lunch time. However, from these sacrifices Toa was able to attend BYU-Hawaii and major in math. Now he teaches at Kahuku High School in Honolulu. He is raising nine children of his own on just his teacher salary and has sent most of them on missions.

Below is Toa Leiataua performing at the Polynesian Cultural Center while attending BYU Hawaii.

Hawaiin Hero: Toa Leiataua

That Awkward Moment (LDS)

That Awkward LDS Moment Ü

The Wise Words of Gordon B. Hinckley

Powerful Quote by Gordon B. Hinckley

For the last several months I have spent reading the conference talks given by President Gordon B. Hinckley. He was the prophet of my mission and for most of my adult life.  President Hinckley’s charisma and powerful stories both moved and inspired me on numerous occasions.

While courting my wife, we visited his funeral memorial and witnessed the hollow shell of a once great and powerful prophet of God. His lifeless body looked almost fake and plastic as he slumbered in the casket. I had never been that close in proximity to President Hinckley or any prophet for that matter. Yet, even in death President Hinckley seemed to be smiling, his wit and humor seemed to push beyond the boundaries of death and time.

This definitely is true with the countless words President Hinckley has shared over the years. From my studies I learned that during his life that President Hinckley spoke 237 times in General Conference. In fact, from the time he was called as an assistant to the 1st presidency in 1958 until he died in 2008 he spoke in every single General Conference, with the only exception of the  October 1961 General Conference.

Incidentally, this was the conference he was called and ordained as an apostle. President David O. McKay, the prophet of the time, probably felt that the new calling was overwhelming enough without adding the requirement to speak (though, I have no doubt that President Hinckley would have gladly spoke).

Below I have collected and linked to every single conference talk given by President Hinckley. actually only has the General Conferences from 1971 to present day. So, I had to hunt down the rest, which I found at the LDS Scripture Citation Index (another great site to find old talks is the Corpus of LDS General Conference, which lets you see how many times any particular word was mentioned in General Conference).

I initially wanted to read every single talk before publishing this post, but I quickly realized that at the rate I am going it will be 10 years before I finish. So, I plan to update this post as I add new quotes, search tags, thoughts, and even word clouds.

President Hinckley has offered so much wisdom throughout his vast life that I invite any and all to share in the comments their favorite quotes (both from General Conference and elsewhere).  ~Paul




Notable Quote: “No man proceeds alone. We grow according to the help given us by those who teach us and lead us.”

Tags: Gratitude, Examples, Respect, Teachers

Notable Quote: “I recall a little widow in New Zealand, the mother of seventeen children. Her husband was gone. A number of her children were gone. As she knelt about the altar with the beautiful children who were left to her and received the assurance that all that she had lost would also be hers, she wept. And all who were with her on that sacred occasion in that dedicated room, wept also. As I have witnessed these and many more inspiring situations during the past six months in these widely scattered lands, I have felt to sing with that convert from the steel mills of Sheffield: “We thank thee, O God, for a Prophet, to guide us in these latter days.”

Tags: Temples, Temple Work, Prophets, Missionary Work


Notable Quote: “One of the great compliments paid the Savior was that he taught as one having authority. The missionary who knows scripture and can quote it speaks with the voice of authority. It is not essential to memorize five hundred citations, nor even three hundred. Fifty well chosen verses of scripture will become a remarkably effective tool in the hands of a missionary. May I suggest that in our family night gatherings we make it a project to memorize one scripture citation a week pertinent to this work. At the conclusion of a year our children will have on their lips a fund of scripture which will remain with them throughout their lives.”

Tags: Missionary Work







Notable Quote: “There is belief but there is no faith. . . One cannot read the testimony [of the Word of Wisdom] without recognizing that true freedom lies in obedience to the counsels of God. It was said of old that ‘. . . the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light’ (Prov. 6:23). The gospel is not a philosophy of repression, as so many regard it. It is a plan of freedom that gives discipline to appetite and direction to behavior. Its fruits are sweet and its rewards are liberal . . .’Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage’ (Gal. 5:1). ‘. . . where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.’ (2 Cor. 3:17).”

Tags: Addiction, Word of Wisdom, Smoking

Notable Quote: Can we expect stability out of instability? Is it any wonder that many of our youth wander in rebellion when they come from homes where there is no evidence of love, where there is a lack of respect one for another, where there is no expression of faith? We hear much these days of the Great Society, and I do not disparage the motives of those who espouse it, but we shall have a great society only as we develop good people, and the source of good people is good homes.

Tags: Youth, Homes, Education, Faith, Patriotism, Rebellion




Notable Quote: “I make no defense of the war from this pulpit. There is no simple answer. The problems are complex almost beyond comprehension. I seek only to call your attention to that silver thread, small but radiant with hope, shining through the dark tapestry of war—namely, the establishment of a bridgehead, small and frail now; but which somehow, under the mysterious ways of God, will be strengthened, and from which someday shall spring forth a great work affecting for good the lives of large numbers of our Father’s children who live in that part of the world. Of that I have a certain faith. I have seen a prototype of what will happen as I have witnessed the development of this work in others of the ancient nations of Asia—in Korea, in Taiwan, in Okinawa, in the Philippines, and in Japan, where altogether we now have more than 25,000 Latter-day Saints. This marvelous membership is the sweet fruit of seed once planted in dark years of war and in the troubled days immediately following, when good men of the priesthood, both civilian and military, through the example of their lives and the inspiration of their precepts, laid a foundation on which a great work has been established.”

Tags: Missionary Work, War, Faith




Notable Quote: “True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well being of one’s companion. Companionship in marriage is prone to become commonplace and even dull. I know of no more certain way to keep it on a lofty and inspiring plane than for a man occasionally to reflect upon the fact that the help-meet who stands at his side is a daughter of God, engaged with Him in the great creative process of bringing to pass His eternal purposes. I know of no more effective way for a woman to keep ever radiant the love for her husband than for her to look for and emphasize the godly qualities that are a part of every son of our Father and that can be evoked when there is respect and admiration and encouragement. The very processes of such actions will cultivate a constantly rewarding appreciation for one another.”

Tags: Marriage, Husband, Wife, Anger, Prayer, Honesty, Respect, Tithing, Finances

Notable Quote: “What marvelous things happen when men walk with faith in obedience to that which is required of them! I recently read the interesting story of Commander William Robert Anderson, the naval officer who took the submarine Nautilus beneath the polar ice from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, a daring and dangerous feat. It recounted a number of other exploits of similar danger. It concluded with a statement that he carried in his wallet a tattered card that had on it these words, which I commend to you: ‘I believe I am always divinely guided.I believe I will always take the right road.I believe God will always make a way where there is no way.’ I too believe that God will always make a way where there is no way. I believe that if we will walk in obedience to the commandments of God, if we will follow the counsel of the priesthood, he will open a way even where there appears to be no way.”

Tags: Faith, Obedience, Relying on the Lord








Notable Quote: “To all within the sound of my voice who may have doubts, I repeat the words given Thomas as he felt the wounded hands of the Lord: ‘Be not faithless, but believing.’ Believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the greatest figure of time and eternity. Believe that his matchless life reached back before the world was formed. Believe that he was the Creator of the earth on which we live. Believe that he was Jehovah of the Old Testament, that he was the Messiah of the New Testament, that he died and was resurrected, that he visited these western continents and taught the people here, that he ushered in this final gospel dispensation, and that he lives, the living Son of the living God, our Savior and our Redeemer.”

Tags: Faith, Resurrection, Christ, Thomas, Belief


















Notable Quote: “We are becoming a great global society. But our interest and concern must always be with the individual. Every member of this church is an individual man or woman, boy or girl. . . This work is concerned with people, each a son or daughter of God. In describing its achievements we speak in terms of numbers, but all of our efforts must be dedicated to the development of the individual. . . Service in behalf of others, study, and prayer lead to faith in this work and then to knowledge of its truth. This has always been a personal pursuit, as it must always be in the future.”

Tags: Missionary work, the Church, individual

Notable Quote: How glorious is the past of this great cause. It is filled with heroism, courage, boldness, and faith. How wondrous is the present as we move forward to bless the lives of people wherever they will hearken to the message of the servants of the Lord. How magnificent will be the future as the Almighty rolls on His glorious work touching for good all who will accept and live His gospel, and even reaching to the eternal blessing of His sons and daughters of all generations through the selfless work of those whose hearts are filled with love for the Redeemer of the world.

Tags: Missionary Work, Optimism, Faith













Notable Quote: “May there be peace and harmony in your homes. Husbands, love and treasure your wives. They are your most precious possessions. Wives, encourage and pray for your husbands. They need all the help they can get. Parents, treat your children with great kindness. They are the coming generation who will bring honor to your name.”

Tags: Family, Marriage, Husband, Wife, Children

Notable Quote: “I will now present the General Authorities, Area Seventies, and general auxiliary presidencies of the Church for your sustaining vote. Before doing so, I should like to take note of the recent passing of President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. He was an extremely able man, a man of great faith and capacity, who contributed much to our meetings. We greatly miss him. We extend our condolences to his beloved companion, Ruth, and their children.”

Tags: Death, Church Business

Notable Quote: “Now the conference is adjourned for six months. We look forward to seeing you again next April. I’m 97, but I hope I’m going to make it. May the blessings of heaven attend you in the meantime is our humble and sincere prayer in the name of our Redeemer, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.”

Tags: Till We Meet Again

Enlightened Obedience — Proving the Existence of a Loving God

Why Adam Always Believed

In his King Follett Discourse Joseph Smith stated, “If a man learns nothing more than to eat, drink, and sleep and does not comprehend any of the designs of God, he is equal only to the beast, who comprehends the same things…”

These blunt words by the Prophet underscore the importance of understanding God’s purpose for our mortal existence. However, we cannot even come to an understanding if we do not ask the most basic question: “Does God Exist?”

There are several ways in unearthing an answer to this question. One approach is a philosophical method.

Alma, a prophet from the Book of Mormon, wrote, “All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44).

Gazing into the night sky illuminates exactly what Alma was teaching. We can see millions of dazzling stars and planets organized in such a manner that allows for life on Earth. Even the existence of our beautiful moon offers heavenly proof of God’s existence. Without the moon the ebb and flow of ocean tides would cease and oceanic life, an essential element in sustaining existence on earth, would quickly die. A plant’s transition of carbon dioxide to oxygen, known as photosynthesis, not only keeps carbon dioxide at healthy levels, but also gives us the needed oxygen to survive. This earthly balance and order did not happen by simple chance—truly “All things denote there is a God.”

When we see an airplane, automobile, or locomotive, we do not believe that it was created by a random act of nature. Instead, we understand that a pocket watch has a designer; a painting has a painter; and that order—such as ten paperclips lined up on a desk—has an “order-er.”

When we look at the earth and out into the universe we see creation, design, art, and order. It is not difficult to see that if all things temporal are associated to a creator, designer, artist, and order-er, than behind this incredibly complex universe all things eternal would also have a marvelous Creator, Designer, Artist, and Order-er.

The lack of being able to see the divine Creator doesn’t negate His existence. Just as the fact of not being able to see gravity, energy, or even love negates that these forces exist. It is the evidence of these phenomenas that make us aware of their existence (as an apple falling helped Newton formulate the law of gravity). The old adage “seeing is believing” is still true even if the seeing comes from beholding the created instead of the creator.

This philosophical approach on deciding whether God exists offers a logical base but, simply deducing that God exists doesn’t mean He cares. Utilizing the example of the painting can show that just because the artist exists doesn’t mean he has tender feelings for his painting. In fact, he may very well hate it.

Therefore, it is more important to not only know God exists, but to also know He loves and cares for us. If there was a means in discovering the existence of an all caring and loving God then this method would be superior to the philosophical approach. In order for this to happen though, we must go beyond the question of God’s existence and examine His evidence.

In speaking about faith and works the apostle James wrote, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” James sarcastically points out that even the devils believe, so how does our belief make us any different from them.

Having more than just a superficial knowledge of God requires us to know His promises and to prove the validity of them. The apostle Paul teaches in Hebrews 11:1 that, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

The last part of this verse, “…the evidence of things not seen,” shows that faith in God is built by receiving evidence of unseen things. Much like we know when we turn a light switch on that we receive light. Obviously though, we do not see the electricity surging from the light switch to the light bulb.

This same principle is true with God and His promises. He gives promises, and then the fulfillment of these promises are evidence of His existence. He remains unseen, but His actions—evidence—pulls into focus His existence.

Woven through the scriptures are promises that God has given to us. Promises that offer evidence of His existence. Promises such as:

  • Exodus 20:12 – Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
  • Proverbs 3:5–8 – Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
  • Malachi 3:10 – Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
  • Matthew 7:8 – For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
  • Matthew 6:30;33 – Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
  • Mark 9:23 – Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
  • John 14:12 – Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
  • Romans 8:6 – For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
  • 1 Peter 4:13–14 – But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
  • 1 Nephi 1:20 – …I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.
  • 2 Nephi 31:12–13 – And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
  • Jacob 3:1 – But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.
  • Mosiah 7:33 – But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.
  • Alma 15:8 – …If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed.
  • Moroni 10:4–5 – And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
  • D&C 9:8 – But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
  • D&C 89:18–21 [In reference to keeping the Word of the Wisdom] – And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.

An important aspect to all of these promises is an obligation on our side. To have the light bulb turn on we must move the switch. Entering a dark room and saying light doesn’t exist because the light doesn’t instantaneously come on is ridiculous.

The significance of this effort on our part cannot be underscored. D&C 82:10 shows why this is the case when it states, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” The Lord is clear, no promises are in place when we choose not to follow His direction.

Alma offers the analogy of a seed, which shows how we should begin to exert our efforts in testing the promises of the Lord, “Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me” (Alma 32:28).

What a simple but beautiful example. If we are promised that a tree will sprout from a rock, we simply need to plant, cultivate, and watch the rock to see what transpires. When nothing happens, we can know that the rock was not a good seed. However, if, like Alma shares, we plant, cultivate and watch a seed of faith, and if it “is a good seed” we quickly learn of its goodness. We begin to feel how it enlarges and enlightens our soul.

Notice how with this analogy we are required to plant and cultivate the seed. To know if God exists requires work on our end. Work which must be continual exertion and not just a one time, wait-and-see approach. Planting the seed, but not cultivating brings less than an optimal outcome. The seed may possibly sprout but it won’t reach its glorious potential without continual assistance.

Our efforts in proving God’s promises translate into obedience to His commandments. The more we obey what He has promised the more we are able to see fruition of these promises. In turn, His existence becomes known. From this we learn that strict obedience to God’s commandments is not blind obedience, but rather enlightened obedience.

Adam’s diligence in Moses 5:5–6 shows his understanding of enlightened obedience, “And he [the Lord] gave unto them [Adam and Eve] commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord. And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.”

Adam not understanding a commandment didn’t stop him from obeying it. What Adam knew made what he didn’t know insignificant. He had sound evidence that God existed and that God fulfilled His promises—no matter the outcome.

It is not enough for us to know if there is a God. Simple logic can give us a shallow assurance of His reality. Rather we must have an intimate understanding of God’s existence. Such an understanding comes only when we know His promises can stand the scrutiny of our obedience. If we do this we will quickly learn that “…this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life” (1 John 2:25).

“Let us Keep the Lower Lights Burning”

Hymn #335 “Brightly Beams our Fathers Mercy” is a well known hymn in the church, especially by the priesthood. But many don’t know its origin. When understood this story takes on a much more profound meaning.

Philip Paul Bliss, a 19th century American composer was directing the singing for a series of services being conducted by Dwight L. Moody, a well-known preacher. As Reverend Moody closed his message, he told the story of a captain who was attempting to bring his boat to the Cleveland harbor on a very dark and stormy night.

The waves rolled like mountains, Moody stated, and not a star was to be seen in the clouded sky. Moody painted a picture to the congregation of a boat rocking on the violent waves while the ship’s captain peered through the darkness for the sight of a signal light by means of which to guide his vessel to safety. When he finally spotted a single light from the light-house, the captain turned to the pilot and asked:

“Are you sure this is Cleveland harbor?”

“Quite sure, sir,” the pilot replied.

“Then where are the lower lights?” the captain continued.

“Gone out, sir,” the other man answered.

“Can you make the harbor?” the captain asked anxiously.

“We must, or perish, sir,” the pilot replied.

But despite the captain and pilot’s brave hearts and steady hands, in the darkness the ship missed the channel. With a resounding crash the boat piled up on the rocks and then settled slowly to a watery grave.

As the congregation listened intently, Moody concluded with this admonition:

“Brethren, the Master will take care of the great light-house; let us keep the lower lights burning.”

That was all Philip Paul Bliss needed to pen one of his most popular hymns, “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning.”

Hymn #335

Hymn #335 on

1. Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
From his lighthouse evermore,
But to us he gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.

Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

2. Dark the night of sin has settled;
Loud the angry billows roar.
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.

3. Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.

Text and music: Philip Paul Bliss, 1838–1876
Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–16
1 John 2:10

Often the lower lights are simply the lights in the homes along the shore. In the LDS Bible dictionary under temple it states:

“A temple is literally a house of the Lord, a holy sanctuary in which sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel are performed by and for the living and also in behalf of the dead. A place where the Lord may come, it is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.”

We must keep our homes sacred so they may be the lower lights in our lives.

I pray we may always be the lower lights for our brothers and sisters in and out of the Gospel, so that no one may be tossed to the spiritual rocks of life.

QUESTION: What is the new missionary verse to “Because I Have Been Given Much?”

The other day I received the following question via the LDSFriends contact form:

“On my way to church today I heard the song ‘Because I have been given much’ on the BYU-I radio station and there was an additional verse with something about because I have been called I too must serve, or something along those lines, really pertaining to going on a mission. Does anyone know the words to that verse? I would love to have them.”

I hadn’t heard that there was a new verse, but apparently there is (though, I am not sure if it is apocryphal or Church sanctioned). Here it is:

“Because I have been blessed Dear Lord, I too must serve.
I’ll leave the comfort of my home to teach Thy word.
I’ll find Thy sheep who’ve gone astray, and those who’ve never known the way,
I’ll make Thy work, my work today.
I shall give love to those in need
I’ll show that love by words and deed.
Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.”