Sunday, September 18, 2011

Stake Conference

We were so richly blessed to have Elder Tate of the Seventy and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve attend our stake conference this weekend. I went to the Saturday evening meeting for adults as well as the Sunday morning general session and they were both wonderful.

Michelle's favorite part was listening to our Stake President, President Isaacs. He told about going to a very expensive mall in another state and seeing many people who were obviously not living the gospel. A man in a wheelchair with both legs amputated locked eyes with him, asking with his eyes if he had anything of value to share. He held a sign that said, "Even a smile would help." President Isaacs spoke about what he did have of value to share...something the man was not prepared for...a testimony of the Savior and His Atonement. President Isaacs then spoke about how we need to be valiant in our testimony and follow the Savior in faith, enduring to the end. We need to repent, daily. He shared an experience of President Kimball's where a young man had sinned greatly. President Kimball told him to get up the next morning and pray that Heavenly Father would help him to be clean that day and then go to school and work and do all in his power to stay clean. Then that night to give thanks to Heavenly Father for helping him and to ask for forgiveness for anything he had done. And to just keep doing that each day. Then he could have the life that he wanted.

Ella liked knowing that an Apostle was there. We also talked about Elder Tate's talk today where he spoke about the 3 D's. Decisions determine destiny. Elder Tate challenged us to read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year, a challenge that our Bishop also issued to us a couple of months ago. I don't know if I'll make it with my children, but I'm trying to make it on my own, at least. It's much slower going with my girls, but I've decided that's okay. I'd rather go slower and make sure they understand and are learning. Elder Tate also challenged us to go to the Bible Dictionary and look at the Harmony of the Gospels. Then he challenged us to read of the Savior's last week of life before General Conference. He said that we live in a difficult time, a time of many challenges and dangers, but if we want to know how to live in a time of stress and challenge, then there would be no better example of how to do that than the Savior in His last week.

Elder Ballard spoke about serving others as did President Peterson of our Stake Presidency. Elder Ballard shared an experience when he was a young bishop and he was quite close to an older woman in the ward who lived with her daughter. One night he'd been doing interviews and when he finally finished, he felt prompted to stop by and visit this woman. He looked at his watch, saw that it was nearly 10 PM and decided it was too late. He didn't sleep well that night and at 7 AM the next morning, he went to their home. The daughter answered and had been crying. Her mother had died a couple of hours before. Elder Ballard promised the Lord then that he would try to do better to heed the promptings of the spirit. He shared times when he had been able to serve by heeding the promptings of the spirit.

Last night Elder Ballard spoke about the temple and its purpose...to bind families together from generation to generation. President and Sister Bateman of the temple presidency also spoke of the blessings of the temple. Both yesterday and today we were counseled to cleave together as families and as spouses. To attend the temple regularly to strengthen our families against the temptations of the adversary.

For me, the talk that spoke to me the very most was Elder Tate's last night. He spoke about strengthening our families and strengthening and blessing the lives of others around us. He shared a story of a 14 year old boy that had begun making bad choices. The mother and father were beside themselves with worry and tried many things unsuccessfully. The mother prayed and felt prompted to tell her son that she loved him. She didn't feel like she even liked him or that it would work but the prompting continued. So she did. Every night, after her son was asleep, she would tiptoe into his room and kneel by his bed and tell him she loved him and stroke his hair. After awhile, he began changing, finding new friends and going back to church. Eventually, he served a mission. After he came home, his mother was talking to another ward member that was experiencing similar things with her daughter and the first mother said that she'd outgrow it and those things would work themselves out. Her son interrupted and said that's not how it worked at all. He said that all those nights when she thought he was asleep, he hadn't been. It was her love...her expressing her love, that had led him to change. Elder Tate said that all around us are those that need to feel of our love and our kindness. Especially, of course, our children and spouses. But also our neighbors, those we work with, and those we come in contact with. Someone said that the world has become so dark that it seems normal and we don't expect light. But we can be that light for others. As I listened, I had a renewed desired to do a better job of teaching my children the gospel, praying more fervently for them and doing more to protect them from the evils of the world. I also, though, felt very prompted that there are children in my class at school that don't feel loved and that by loving and teaching them, I can also bring more light into their lives and help them see that they are special and worthy.

I can't remember who said it...perhaps Elder Tate? but one of the speakers also said that the women of the church are so important, so special. Satan would have us believe that we are not good enough, that we don't do enough, that we are not important. But this is a lie and we are important and need to remember who we are.

Such a wonderful conference. I'm so grateful for the gospel and for the spirit I felt this weekend. I feel better able to go forward with faith and to love and serve those who I have a responsibility towards...in my calling, in my family, and at work. I am far from perfect but I give thanks for my Savior's example and Atonement so that I can be with my family forever. I'm grateful for the knowledge that "I am a child of God" and that He loves me and is aware of me and my challenges. I agree with President Isaacs' statement that he loves his wife, but that she'll tell you that when he is diligently serving the Lord and living the gospel that he loves her better and is more kind, patient, and slower to anger. That is true for me as a spouse and a parent.