Elder Donald Hallstrom: All are Children of God. #ldsconf

“In real life, we face actual, no imagined hardships.” Elder Hallstrom noted that there is real pain in life, physical, mental, spiritual pain. There are heartbreaks, when circumstances are different from what we anticipate. Social and personal injustice and it can be disorienting. There can be times of questioning, when doctrine or history is beyond our understanding at present.

Elder Hallstrom encourages us to think of our divine heritage: we are children of heavenly parents. Children of a loving God. “He allows some suffering because He knows it will bless us, like a refiner’s fire, to become like Him and to gain our eternal inheritance.”

Elder Hallstrom quoted Jeffery R. Holland to the effect that hardships have eternal purpose though we may not understand it at the time. Elder Holland: “You can have what you want, or you can have something better.”

Elder Hallstrom tells of a remarkable experience while visiting Liberia last year after the WHO ebola warning was lifted. At Monrovia, 4,100 Saints gathered to hear Elders Bednar, Hallstrom and other speak. The congregation was enthusiastic and the spirit powerful. The congregation was participatory, lining out scripture passages as they were mentioned from the pulpit.[1]

Elder Hallstrom: “I was taught a profound lesson that day. We live in a world that can cause us to forget who really are . . . What we witnessed that day in Monrovia was a group of sons and daughters of God who knew it.”

[1] That is, the congregation repeated aloud the scriptural passages as they were quoted from the pulpit, a practice well-known in oral cultures and early American religious meetings where printed hymnals were rare for example.


  1. anitawells says:

    this was one of the most powerful stories for me in conference today, but I was disappointed that we didn’t sing that hymn he referenced following the talk!

  2. I heard this talk in a very different and painful way. It’s not appropriate or necessary to detail my hearing, which is quite clearly a result of what I brought to it. But perhaps it is useful to point out that there are multiple hearings and that my experience of conference is probably not the same as anyone else’s.

  3. I actually had a real problem with this one. He presented something relatively complex and inconsistent across scripture and modern LDS doctrinal history as if it were obvious, simple, and always consistent.

    I suspect this is because he only knows the institutional memory of this particular doctrine (the nature of fatherhood of god) over the last 50 years, not the actual history or scriptural background. And how would he, given this story from Elder Packer?

  4. ck: I don’t think there is any question that there were parts of the talk that seemed to be almost ad lib take backs of worthy ideas.

    Anon: it’s pretty much the way we typically handle ideas. It’s certainly not unprecedented there are clear examples of such things in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. Religious traditions do that. Not disagreeing with your point at all though.

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