When Elder L was in the hall just prior to Stake Conference a young man, perhaps 14, came up to him, looked at his badge and asked who he was. They talked about us being missionaries. The young man said that his grandparents were serving in Samoa. They're in the mission office and responsible for "getting things to people." I'm thinking that means they take mail, supplies, etc. to missionaries who are serving on the island. What we've noticed here is that the youth aren't afraid to engage in conversation with adults. It doesn't bother them to speak right up. I love that!
We don't know anything about Pres. Marks,1st Counselor in the Stake Presidency, but what a talk he gave. I was looking forward to hearing him speak because he conducted last night and was eloquent! What a spirit he has, and it is infectious. A few of his thoughts:
He began with a quote from Martin Luther King but tweaked it a bit. "If a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live." The change is that we must live and die for things that matter.
We cannot serve God & mammon. Brigham Young said mammon is Satan's decoys. Ducks descend from a safe altitude to check out the decoy and doing so brings them into shotgun range. If we come "down" from a safe altitude we will also be in Satan's shotgun range.
We need to make the best possible use of our time.
When we put God first He can make much more out of us than we can make of ourselves.
We had several other speakers (a 15 year old girl who was baptized in July, a young man preparing to serve a mission, a young married woman, a returned missionary & a woman in her 50's who was baptized with her husband in 2007). Here are a few thoughts from them in no particular order:
No one gives up on a sure thing.
Endurance is an important principle.
Make Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ most important in your lives.
Drive is a good thing. It pushes us to do better.
We learn to love the people we serve.
Members are crucial in "hastening the work."
A Mormon Missionary was crossing the road one day when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket. The frog spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week." The missionary took the frog out of his pocket, smile at it and returned it to his pocket. The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess I'll stay with you for a month." Again the missionary took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket. Finally the frog asked, "What is the matter with you? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess and that I'll stay with you for a month. Why won't you kiss me?" The missionary said, "Hey! I'm a Mormon missionary and we're not supposed to have girlfriends. But a talking frog? Now that's cool!"
Yes, I heard this joke at our Stake Conference this morning from Sister Wall. How could I not share it or at least write it down so I wouldn't forget it. It led into her talk on "Doing Missionary Work is Cool!" Her main thought was from D&C 11:3 and finding joy in missionary work. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy." We find joy in working together and being unified with members and joy in miracles. They happen everyday in the mission field. They're not a rarity.
The more I hear Pres. Wall speak, the more I appreciate him and the love he has for his calling, his vision of missionary work, specifically, and his love for the gospel in general. I wish I could convey his words and spirit, but, sadly, I'm not capable of that. He talked about how important it is to answer the question "Why?" Why do we do things? Why something is important. Why should I do this or why should I do that? When we figure out the "why" then we'll know the "how."
When new missionaries come into this mission he has the opportunity to interview them and always asks why they're serving a mission. The answers are varied, but by the time they go home most of their reasons have changed and they usually include that they loved the people they served. Why was Alma serving? In Alma 31:35 he tells us. "Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee." It all comes down to love. There are many whose souls are precious to us including our families and the missionaries in our mission. (Today's count is 186.) We want to be with them, and all of those we serve and love, forever.
Pres. Riggs, the Stake President, gave the closing remarks. He's a retired CES (Church Education System) seminary and institute teacher with a wealth of gospel knowledge and experience. In Alma 5:6, Alma uses the phrase "have you sufficiently retained in remembrance" three times. He suggested that we take a soul-searching inventory of ourselves and determine the things that we need to "sufficiently retain." Have we had a mighty change of heart? Have we been born of God? Are we truly converted? Pres. Riggs also reviewed the revised Membership Challenge which are basics to becoming more like the Savior:
Daily personal prayer
Daily family scripture study
Participate in weekly Family Home Evening
Make the Temple a priority: have a current recommend, participate in stake temple days, attend regularly
Help the missionaries teach/practice 20 lessons each week
Strive for physical and spiritual excellence
Am I a Christlike person?
James 1:22 "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
What an outstanding way to spend 2 hours. It was an exceptional morning.