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Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Visit with President Uchtdorf

When Matt was a senior, he and three of his best friends worked with the chaplain to officially invite President Uchtdorf to visit the Air Force Academy. President Uchtdorf was a German fighter pilot, a top graduate from a USAF pilot school, the chief pilot for Lufthansa and, most importantly, is now an Apostle and a member of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The paperwork finally went through, the visit was scheduled for last weekend, and the four Second Lieutenants were invited back to the Academy for the occasion. It was such an incredible experience for everyone involved, but probably especially for Matt, Mike, Chase and Jon. Matt wrote to his family about it and I'll include a little of what he said throughout the post.

"There was a special meeting just for the LDS cadets on Thursday night that the four of us were invited to attend. President Uchtdorf spent about an hour and a half telling us of his flying experience along with various pictured illustrations. He talked a lot about the importance of being humble and being a good example. 'Never underestimate the power of your good example.' He opened it up for questions. The questions that the cadets asked really prompted some amazing instruction. The spirit was incredible, especially while he bore his testimony. He truly is called of God, and it was so neat to have that witness reconfirmed to me while I was sitting 20 feet from him. Afterwards, he went around the room and shook everyone’s hand."

The next day, President Uchtdorf spent the morning with Academy officials and then ate lunch on the staff tower of the infamous Mitchell Hall. Matt, his friends, and a small group of LDS cadets were invited to the lunch. My husband said Mitch's has never tasted so good.

After lunch, everyone went outside to take pictures.

"I told him where I had served my mission and we talked about a few people that we both knew. I then expressed how special it was for me to be serving in Germany and Austria when he was called as a Apostle. I told him that a German missionary stood up during the session when he was called and started dancing around in the aisles! He actually knew the missionary's family and we both got a good laugh.

"He then gathered me, Mike and Jon around him and again expressed his gratitude to us (for inviting him there). This time he included how thankful he was that we were there as an example to all the cadets that they can make it through this place. He said, 'Your being here is an inspiration to all around you.' I thought it interesting that he would say that, considering that was exactly what I was thinking about him!"

That was probably the thing that Matt and I were most impressed by--how sincerely kind President Uchtdorf was to everyone. He complimented every single person he spoke to and made them feel special and loved. Talk about teaching by example!

That evening's events were opened up to guests, which meant I was able to accompany Matt to the Academy (which was as beautiful as ever).

The Academy had sectioned off a portion of Mitchell Hall for the LDS cadets to have dinner before the meeting. Matt and Mike introduced me and Jenna to President Uchtdorf and we were able to have a neat conversation with him. Such a great memory to share!

That night's meeting was held in the Cadet Chapel for LDS cadets, their cadet friends, and their sponsor families. It was incredible! (I wish I could share all of my notes, but you're more than welcome to call if you'd like to hear more.) President Uchtdorf spoke extensively about what an amazing place the Academy is, the quality of people who are involved with it, and the opportunities for good that these men & women will have throughout their time with the Air Force. He said that peace in the world begins with finding an inner peace through God, and told the cadets to never doubt that they are where they're supposed to be.

I've always been so grateful for Matt's experiences at the Air Force Academy and for the path that it has given us, although it's not an easy one. It brought tears to my eyes to receive that validation from an Apostle.
I am so grateful that Matt was led to the Academy and for all of the incredible experiences he was able to have there. I know that it is where the Lord wanted him to be, and that He continues to guide our lives now. I'm so thankful for the opportunity we had to meet President Uchtdorf last weekend. He truly is one of the Lord's Apostles on the earth today and the Light of Christ shines through him. I didn't have to meet him to know that, and yet it was confirmed to me every second that we spent with him. We are so blessed to be members of this church and to have the gospel in our lives. It brings us so much peace and happiness; I don't know what I'd ever do without it.


  1. I was crying at the end of this post. What a beautiful experience for the both of you. Having that validation of being where you are supposed to be in your life is priceless. Thanks for sharing this story!

  2. Such a beautiful post Ash.. President U.. I know I'll spell his name wrong.. is my favorite speaker. I adore him.

  3. Wow! Experiences like that are once in a lifetime. It allows you to feel the spirit in a very special way and you can really see how these men are special witnesses of Christ. You see it and feel it and it confirms your faith and testimony in such a powerful way. The kindness aspect you talked about is so true. If we could all just emulate that attitude. These men are so powerful yet so meek, much like our Savior.

  4. Wow, what a neat experience and an amazing post! That would've been such an amazing experience to spend so much time with President Uchdorf. He is one of my favorite apostles (is that okay to say? :)) and I think he's such a powerful force for good, especially internationally. Wow, so amazing!

  5. What an amazing experience! I'm glad that the Air Force is also bringing you incredible spiritual experiences. You have some great pictures of you both with Pres. Uchdorf--wonderful memories.

  6. Ashley, that was such a beautiful and incredible post. You literally had me in tears by the time I was finished reading. What an amazing experience to have, memories that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. And, what a great experience to share with those around you. I can't even imagine how much greater your testimony is now after feeling the spirit so strong and getting that validation. I am so excited to hear all about it during our next catch-up phone call!! :) You are such a beautiful woman and together, you and Matt make an incredible team. You are both two of the most spiritual and inspirational people I know. You have blessed my life tremendously and strengthen my testimony every time I see you or talk with you. I am extremely grateful to have you as my best friend. I love you Ash!!

  7. Great post! You have a powerful testimony Ashley. You and Matt are a great couple who will set an example to others wherever your journey in life takes you. What an awesome experience meeting Elder Uchtdorf at the Academy. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I googled the visit to see what news coverage it recieved and I found you. I loved your/Matt's recap and wow! Such a wonderful experience. I really wanted to go but I had surgery just days prior. What a wonderful opportunity! I think I'll continue to read your blog if you don't mind?


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