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Sunday, September 9, 2018

President Russell M. Nelson Celebrates His 94th Birthday Today

Hello again, everyone! I am back once again, this time to share a post which will serve as a tribute to our beloved prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, who is celebrating his 94th birthday today (September 9, 2018). So let's talk about this wonderful man whom we sustain as the President of the Church and as a prophet, seer and revelator.

Russell Marion Nelson was born on September 9, 1924 (a day before his future predecessor to the Quorum Presidency, Boyd K. Packer) to Marion C. and Edna Anderson Nelson in Salt Lake City Utah. Though he grew up in a loving family, his parents were not active in the Church. As a teenager, he went looking for books about the Church at Deseret Book. His parents allowed him and his siblings to be baptized when he was 16.

In terms of his family, President Nelson married his first wife, Dantzel, in the Salt Lake Temple. They have nine daughters and one son. When his wife unexpectedly died in 2005, he described having "inconsolable grief" for a time. He married Wendy Watson, a BYU professor, the following April.

He studied at LDS Business College and went on to obtain his BA and MD at the University of Utah. He simultaneously trained as a surgeon and did doctoral studies at the University of Utah. He was part of the research team that developed the heart-lung machine that was used in 1951 on the first open-heart operation on a human being. He spent two years on medical duty for the US Army during the Korean War, then underwent another training period in Boston at the prestigious Harvard Medical School's Massachusetts General Hospital.

At some point in his medical career, the University of Chicago was anxious to get him to come and teach at their school of medicine, so the president of that university asked Dallin H., Oaks, a professor in the law school there, to try and persuade him. Then-Brother Oaks did his best to convince then-Brother Nelson to accept the offer. But Church President David O. McKay advised him not to go, so he rejected the offer.

In 1955, he accepted a teaching opportunity at the University of Utah School of Medicine. where he built his own heart-and-lung machine. Around a year later, he was on duty to perform the first pediatric cardiac operation. In 1960, he performed the first successful operative repair of a tricuspid heart valve. Being worried that a surgical procedure he had been asked to perform was too risky for anyone, he requested and received a blessing from President Spencer W. Kimball, who was one of his patients.

That surgery was a success, and he later w used the same technique to operate on President Kimball himself while the latter was serving as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which resulted in the Church being blessed for many additional years by the inspired counsel of President Kimball.

He has served in many positions on different hospital boards and has received several awards for his pioneering work. He likewise had many service opportunities in the Church. He served as a stake president for over six years, during which time he served alongside another future apostle, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. He also served as Sunday School General President (during which time, Brother Wirthlin would again serve alongside him) and in the now defunct calling of regional representative.

In the early 1970s, the Church was looking for a new president for BYU-Provo. Although Dallin H. Oaks was eventually appointed, then-Brother Nelson was also considered. In April 1984, with the advice and consent of President Spencer W. Kimball, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then Second Counselor in the First Presidency, called Brother Nelson to fill one of two vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Then-Brother Oaks was called to fill the other vacancy, and the two have sat side-by-side in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since that time.

Over the next 31.5 years, all the apostles that were junior to President Monson but senior to President Nelson passed away. When President Boyd K. Packer died on July 3, 2015, Elder Nelson became the de facto President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He was officially set apart in that capacity 12 days later, on Wednesday July 15, 2015.

He was still serving in that role when the senior apostle, President Thomas S. Monson, passed away on January 2 of this year. President Nelson directed the affairs of the Church as the senior apostle for 12 days before his ordination as Church President. After meeting individually with each of the other 12 apostles, he selected his seatmate, Elder Oaks, and Elder Henry B. Eyring, who had served as a counselor to both Presidents Monson and Gordon B. Hinckley.

President Nelson took great care towards his Brethren in the apostleship. Many of you will recall how, in the midst of an address about charity, the pure love of Christ, that Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin began shaking uncontrollably, In a silent demonstration of what his colleague was talking about, Elder Nelson stood by and supported Elder Wirthlin until he closed his address, then gently helped him back to his seat.

And, of course, we heard recently how, following the Sunday Morning Session of the October 2017 General Conference, President Nelson followed a prompting to skip his lunch break and go immediately to the hospital to visit Elder Robert D. Hales, who passed away within a few minutes after President Nelson arrived.

President Nelson has demonstrated a keen intellect, a willingness to seek for and follow revelation from the Lord, and an undeviating loyalty and full commitment to his family, his Church, and his apostolic colleagues. We have seen him respond swiftly to such revelation, and perhaps the greatest details of the revelation he continues to receive regularly are yet-to-be revealed in the upcoming General Conference.

I have always been impressed and touched by President Nelson's remarks. He has given 75 addresses thus far in General Conference, including 5 last April in his first General Conference as Church President.To review any of those remarkable addresses, click here. He is also rising among the ranks of our other nonagenarian apostles, and he may very well live to become the oldest living apostle, which will happen in just under five years from now.

Though he may not ever read this personally, I am grateful for the chance to have paid this birthday tribute to President Nelson. He and the other apostles have my unequivocal support and sustaining vote. I know for myself that President Russell M. Nelson is a prophet of God, that he will not lead us astray, that he speaks for and in behalf of the Lord and that we will be blessed by the Lord as we follow the counsel given by His chosen mouthpiece.

That does it for this post. Any comments are welcome and appreciated. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly-added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.