News Release

President Pace and Brother Wilcox begin North Asia Tour in Tokyo, Japan

“Don’t let the world change you, when you were born to change the world.” (Bradley R. Wilcox, 1st Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency)

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Sunday School General President Mark L. Pace and Bradley R. Wilcox of the YM General Presidency started their tour by participating in a fun service project with youth from Tokyo Stake and Tokyo South Stake (English speaking). There were several elements to the event, with the primary effort focused on preparing 23 graduation kits for orphans who are graduating from high school and preparing to venture out on their own. The kits contained a variety of items to get them started. Youth also enjoyed creating and decorating 250 cards and creating origami to be included in the kits, and for future service projects for orphans. 

President Pace and Brother Wilcox, along with their wives also enjoyed dancing the Virginia Reel, an American folk dance, along with the youth. Sister Joanna Freeman, a violinist from the Yokota Military Ward, provided the music. Sister Kathryn Randall, the dance instructor, said, “I love it when I see all the youth smiling!” The dance was followed by a delicious lunch, featuring Japanese and Western food.  

Tokyo South Stake youth, Merideth Michels (Tokyo 1st Ward) and Mantoa Terooatea (Tokyo 2nd Ward) conducted the meeting, with Elder John McCune presiding. About the experience, Merideth shared, “The leaders worked so hard to prepare for this event. I felt the Spirit when Sister [April] Cook showed the video about the starfish, and how even though we can’t help everyone who needs it, what we did will mean a lot to the ones we can help. Sister Cook told us that as disciples of Christ, it is our opportunity to serve others.” 

Following the service project, Brother Wilcox and his wife, Debi, shared a short message, telling the youth, “You have really made a difference today. You have touched the lives of people you don’t even know.” They encouraged the youth to prepare now to be wonderful missionaries. President Pace and his wife, Anne Marie, said, “You have a beautiful spirit about you. Because of that, people can notice that you are different. You have a glow about you, because of the Holy Ghost.” 

A young man from the Tokyo Stake said that this was the first time he has had the opportunity to interact with Latter-day Saint youth from the Tokyo South Stake. It was fun for him to practice speaking English. He would like to do another activity together – a sporting event. A few of the Tokyo Stake young women had fun dancing. They said that the Tokyo South Stake young men are cute. 

Eliza Shirley, from the Yokota Military Ward, was not looking forward to getting up early on a Saturday morning to travel nearly two hours to attend the event. She wanted to help though, so she came, and she was so happy that she did. 

President Pace and Brother Wilcox also presented a devotional for the youth on Sunday evening. This event, which was conducted by Tokyo West Stake President Ueno and presided by Asia North Area President, Elder Takashi Wada, was broadcast to youth throughout Japan. Brother Wilcox encouraged the youth to attend FSY (For the Strength of Youth) this summer. He said, “You will discover that fun and the gospel can go together. You will feel Heavenly Father’s love.” He shared the experience of a young man who said, “I always felt like a tourist in my mom and dad’s church. When I attended FSY, I felt the Spirit, and then I knew that this is my church.” Brother Wilcox explained that the FSY guide is “not just a book of rules, it is a book of reasons.” The youth who attended the event in person were given pocket-sized versions of the guide. 

Daniel Shirley, who is 16, is looking forward to attending FSY in Japan this summer, and he hopes to also attend in America. Daniel was able to attend the last FSY and said that it was the strongest he has ever felt the Spirit. He enjoyed the Sunday devotional, and said, “Brother Wilcox makes learning the gospel fun and the principles clear.” 

President Pace shared three scriptures that helped him as a young missionary serving in the Spain, Madrid Mission to recognize the Holy Ghost. From Doctrine and Covenants 6:22-24, “... did I not speak peace to your mind ...,” he learned that feelings of peace are a manifestation from the Holy Ghost.  From Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3, “... behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart ...,” he learned that when we have good thoughts, they are from the Holy Ghost. He counseled that we need to write them down, and act on them, or they will go away. The lessons he learned from Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-9, “... you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me ...” was a reminder that, “the Lord loves effort” and it helped him to get an answer about marrying his wife. 

Young Single Adults in Japan were privileged to meet with and hear from the General officers. Brother Wilcox opened the devotional saying, “I love thinking of you gathered all over Japan!” He then shared the story of a young adult who asked him why we need Jesus Christ. Brother Wilcox answered the question by sharing the story of when his daughter was just a child and exclaimed, “Dad, you always say you don’t have enough money. Why don’t you just go to the bank and get more?” Of course, she didn’t realize that someone must put money in the bank first before anyone can make withdrawals. He then related the Atonement of Jesus Christ to deposits in a bank. Although some may not recognize it, Jesus Christ is the source of every spiritual gift and blessing.  

Brother Wilcox explained the difference between mercy and grace. Mercy: “He loves us just the way we are.” Grace: “Jesus loves us enough to not leave us the way we are.” He said, “Our Heavenly Father and our Savior are making something wonderful of us.” 

President Pace said that to “receive the Holy Ghost” is the effort of a lifetime. He explained that we receive guidance without overriding our free agency. We can choose whether we will follow the promptings we receive. When we keep our baptismal covenants: to take His name upon us, to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments, we are promised that we will always have His Spirit (the Holy Ghost) to be with us. Taking the Sacrament and renewing our covenants every week is essential. It helps us to be worthy to have His Spirit. President Pace reaffirmed that we have been promised there will never be a general apostacy in the Church, and he promised that as we always remember Him (Jesus Christ), there also will never be a personal apostacy. 

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