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October 1999 General Conference

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Our Legacy

by Elder Stephen B. Oveson

of the Seventy


What are we doing to ensure that [our] legacy is being passed to our beloved children and to our grandchildren?

My brothers and sisters, how grateful I am to be here with you in this historic Tabernacle today. Seventy-four years ago, my grandfather Lars Peter Oveson stood at this pulpit and bore his testimony as an invited stake president from Emery County, Utah.

Although he died when I was just a boy, my grandfather has always been one of my heroes. I have studied his journal, which recounts over and over again his willingness to answer the calls that came to him throughout his lifetime. He and his parents converted to the gospel in Denmark, immigrated to this country, and came across the plains to join the Saints in Utah. One of the calls that came to him required leaving his new, young wife for six months to work on the building of the St. George Temple. He left her and their young family again to serve a two-year mission in his native Denmark. Later, the calls of bishop and stake president necessitated their relocating and rebuilding their home and farm on three different occasions. Through all of these upheavals, he remained grateful, cheerful, and faithful to the principles of the gospel, leaving a great legacy of faith to those of us who bear his name.

This legacy was passed to me by my father, Merrill M. Oveson, the youngest in the family of 13 children. He and my mother, Mal Berg Oveson, also from a faithful lineage, were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple, boarded a train, and went to Oregon to further my father's education. They remained for more than 40 years, during many of which they lived in a very small farming community where we were the only members of the Church.

I have often thought how easy it would have been for my parents simply to change their faith and join their many friends in the community's Christian church. This action would have simplified life for them, especially during the World War II years, when rationing of gasoline and tires made it impossible for them to travel the 40 miles to the nearest organized branch of the LDS Church. Instead, they received authorization to have a home Sunday School, which they faithfully held weekly during all those years. There we shared the sacrament as a family. There my brother and sisters and I learned the principles of the gospel and listened to Bible and Book of Mormon stories literally at the feet of our parents.

My father, another one of my heroes, passed away several years ago, but my mother, now in her 96th year, still attends her ward faithfully every week and is an inspiration to all who know her.

My wife has a similar legacy in her background. How grateful we are for this. We know that we have been entrusted with this current calling partly because of the faithful actions of those who have gone before us. The question is, what are we doing to ensure that this legacy is being passed to our beloved children and to our grandchildren?

Whether we descend from generations in the Church or are the first link in the generational chain, we have a responsibility to convey to our posterity a heritage of faith, manifest through our daily actions. Those who are newly converted members have a particularly great opportunity to become the pioneers for their ancestors and for their posterity. In order to fulfill this obligation, all of us need to ask ourselves some pointed questions:

(See Conferences home page; October 1999 General Conference home page)

Copyright 1999. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All rights reserved.

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