Dear Brothers and Sisters of the whole Caribbean Area, the Area Presidency congratulates you in this new year. We pray that Heavenly Father may bless each of you with the choicest blessings that He has for His children.
The Caribbean Area is vast. It runs from French Guiana in South America to the Bahamas, and from Barbados to the Grand Cayman, “. . . Great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea.”1
The beginning of the path of discipleship for each of us is faith. It is to rely “alone upon the merits of Christ.”2 In the measure that our faith is nourished by living according to His teachings and those of His chosen servants,3 we will receive His blessings.
I want to mention some of these invitations that the Savior has given us and His blessings:
Keep His Sabbath Day holy, participating in the sacrament, so that we may “more fully keep ourselves unspotted from the world” (D&C 59:9) and, furthermore, by doing His will on this day, our Sundays will become Sabbaths of delight. (Isaiah 58:12-13)
Let us solemnly speak to others of His gospel “And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.” (D&C 100: 5-8)
May we be worthy to enter the temple, and may we visit it often, bringing with us the names of our ancestors. I quote President Thomas S. Monson’s words in his message about temple blessings in the April 2015 conference:
As I think of temples, my thoughts turn to the many blessings we
receive therein. As we enter through the doors of the temple, we
leave behind us the distractions and confusion of the world. Inside
this sacred sanctuary, we find beauty and order. There is rest for
our souls and a respite from the cares of our lives.
As we attend the temple, there can come to us a dimension of
spirituality and a feeling of peace which will transcend any other
feeling which could come into the human heart. We will grasp the
true meaning of the words of the Savior when He said: “Peace I
leave with you, my peace I give unto you. … Let not your heart be
troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:22)
The invitation is for us to keep His commandments, for us to follow firmly in our faith so that we may receive eternal life (D&C 14:7) for “He has promised you that if ye would keep His commandments you should prosper in the land.” (Mosiah 2:22)
Each member should have received or will shortly receive from his bishop of branch president a bookmark, which is a most important part of the vision for individuals and families in the Caribbean Area, established together with each one of the stake and district presidents in the Area. The purpose of this bookmark is for each member in each family in this region, in a spirit of meditation and prayer, to make goals for 2017. This vision is for all of us, to help us increase our faith in our Heavenly Father and in His Son Jesus Christ, so that we may obtain a more profound conversion as we keep every one of the covenants that we have made with Him.
We invite you to establish these goals as soon as possible and carry them with you always, so that during the year you may review your progress. Make them part of your personal gospel study and share them with others whenever you are moved to do so. Without a doubt, not only will your faith grow stronger by doing this, but Zion, too, will become more firmly established throughout our whole Area.
We are from a holy lineage.4 We are sons and daughters of God and members of the true Church, established by the Father and the Son when they responded to the humble prayer of the young prophet Joseph, and once again the authority of the priesthood and the ordinances necessary for us to return to His presence were reestablished on the earth.
My brothers and sisters, I testify of the divine mission of our Savior Jesus Christ, of His Atonement, and of the holy gospel that He has given us,5 which has the power to take a man together with his family and land their souls at the right hand of God.6 I pray that we may have the faith to follow Him and to do the things we have seen Him do.7 Never forget that he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.8 Amen.
1 2 Nephi 10:21
2 Moroni 6:4
3 D&C 21:5
4 Acts 17:28
5 3 Nephi 27:13
6 Helaman 3:30
7 3 Nephi 27:21
8 3 Nephi 27:29