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"I Was Falling to My Death": President Nelson Describes Near-Death Experience and What Brought Him Peace

President Nelson told the Argentinian Saints of the unusual tranquility he felt as his plane once spiraled toward the earth and some aboard shouted in fear of what was ahead. The source of his peace, he said, was his faith and the death-transcending power of the Christ-focused worship done in the Church’s temples. The Church teaches that these temple rites connect families together forever.

“Part of the tranquility I felt as death approached came from my knowledge of the gospel,” the 94-year-old prophet told the Saints gathered at Tecnópolis Arena. “I was falling to my death. I was surprised that I was not afraid to die, I remained calm. Why? Because I knew that my wife [Dantzel, who died in 2005,] and I had married in the temple. We had been eternally sealed to each other and our 10 precious children. I realized that our marriage in the temple was more important than any other achievement of my life. Temple clothes were more important than any other uniform I had worn. The temple covenants were more important than any other commitments we had made.”

President Nelson said it is important that we consider the time we each have left in this life as a gift of God to be used wisely.

President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Wendy, greet Argentinian faith leaders prior to an evening devotional at Tecnópolis Arena in Buenos Aires on August 28, 2019.                                                       

“My life and your lives have been preserved for a short season,” he said. “With that time, we have the privilege of working, living, loving and choosing. Part of that choosing is making the decision to participate in the sacred ordinances [or rites] of the temple. These opportunities have eternal consequences.”

The prophet’s advice for the people to be guided by God in their own lives was simple and familiar to Latter-day Saints around the world: keep the commandments of God, pray every day, worship regularly, and pay tithes.

The global faith leader then reminded the Saints, as he has done several times on this five-country Latin America ministry, that Jesus Christ makes everything good possible.

“Please teach your children, and also each other, about the Lord Jesus Christ,” President Nelson said. “His Atonement is the most important event in the history of the world and is the foundation of our religion. All other things concerning our religion are secondary to it. The Atonement of the Lord assures us of the resurrection of the dead and it provides the way by which we can obtain eternal life.”

A young girl listens to an evening devotional at Tecnópolis Arena in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 28, 2019.      

The South American country is the fourth stop on the five-country, nine-day Latin America ministry he embarked on last week with his wife, Wendy (whom he married in 2006), Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Cook's wife, Mary.

Elder Cook, Sister Nelson, and Sister Cook each spoke of placing ultimate things first in life.

“Despite the lack of righteousness in the world today, we live a sacred and holy time. Focus your goals on the temple,” Elder Cook said. He noted that in his lifetime, “no prophet has been closer to temples than President Russell M. Nelson. The Lord has prepared Him through many years of assignments to preside over the Church when temples will truly dot the earth in unprecedented numbers. He began his service as our prophet by addressing us from the Salt Lake Temple. He counsels us to begin with the end in mind and made it clear that the ordinances of the temple and the covenant pathway should be our primary goal.”

Since becoming the senior Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Nelson has announced the construction of 27 new temples.

President Russell M. Nelson speaks to Latter-day Saints at Tecnópolis Arena in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 28, 2019.                        

“Never wonder if being sealed to your spouse in the temple is important,” Sister Nelson said.

Sister Cook taught the Saints to value the most important things, such as faith in Jesus Christ and membership in the Church.

“We can be the happiest people in the world,” Sister Cook said. “The Lord has told us many times to be of good cheer. We have great treasure. The Lord explained to the Prophet Joseph Smith, ‘If you endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God’ [Doctrine and Covenants 14:7].”

The meeting was broadcast to all congregations in Argentina.

Earlier in the day, President Nelson visited a humanitarian organization that provides wheelchairs to those in need. Before the devotional, he met briefly with a group of young single adults and attended a reception at that venue.

President Nelson visits with a boy in Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 28, 2019, at a humanitarian organization that provides wheelchairs to those in need.

Monday evening, the prophet addressed a large audience in Quito, Ecuador. Over the weekend, he visited Guatemala City and Bogota, Colombia.

This is President Nelson’s seventh trip to Argentina. His first visit was in 1995 while serving in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He’s the fourth prophet to travel to the country. President David O. McKay visited Argentina in 1954. President Spencer W. Kimball visited twice in the 1970s, and President Gordon B. Hinckley was there in 1996.

Latin America Ministry

The senior Church leaders have visited Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, and Argentina since they began their Latin America ministry on August 24. Their final destination is Brazil, where a devotional will be held at the Anhembi Convention Center in São Paulo. They return to Salt Lake City on September 2.

President Russell M. Nelson waves goodbye with a white handkerchief to Latter-day Saints at Tecnópolis Arena in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 28, 2019.
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