Before the meeting began, all 3 men stood in the front of the chapel and shook every missionary's hand. I thought it was a very heartfelt gesture and greatly appreciated the opportunity. Then we sang the opening hymn, "Behold a Royal Army," and I knew we were off to a powerful start. Hearing 200 missionaries sing that hymn started the tears flowing and almost instantly brought the Spirit. I'd love to reiterate everything that was said, but that' impossible, so I'll try to share a few main points and ideas.
Sister Hansen began, and, as usual, packed great lesson into a short message. She's actually a convert to the Church. Her family joined when she was 16. Speaking from personal experience, she said converts don't understand the long term implications of joining the Church. It's our responsibility to give them that vision. She cited 2 Nephi 2:2. Lehi tells Jacob, "thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain." Trials that we, converts, or anyone experience now will help us later.
President Hansen said that each of us has a different story of why we're in the Church. His family goes back several generation, and he related the story of his great great great grandmother who joined the Church in Denmark. She would go from door to door to get sewing. One winter her legs froze and she couldn't straighten them out. Her father built something for her to exercise and stretch her legs and worked continually to help her. Then she found the Church, but he was opposed to her joining because he feared that she would move to America. When she boarded the train, leaving to join the Saints, he raced his sled to the next train station and begged her not to go, to no avail.
Elder Cook brought greetings from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve and told us, "You are loved." If you read the last chapter of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and the last 2 chapters of John the message is, almost exclusively, to preach the gospel. Who else, in all the world, can preach the gospel but the Savior's disciples. That's not always easy for any of us because of disinterest, persecution, etc, but we must realize that we are following the Savior.
Then Elder Cook said he had 3 messages for us.
1 - In proclaiming the Gospel you are branch and ward builders. You are not the marketing arm of the Church. D&C 31:7 "I will open the hearts of the people, and they will receive you. And I will establish a church by your hand." Do everything you can to strengthen and build the wards and branches.
2 - You are the message. You'll always have at least one convert--you! Be spiritually in tune to find those who are ready.
3 - You succeed when you invite; you haven't failed. Share that message with members. They succeed, also, when they invite.
Next, Elder Cook opened the time up for questions and answers. The first question kind of took me by surprise.
Q. Why did you come here.
A. The Quorum of the Twelve assigns their members to hold Priesthood Leadership Trainings all over the world, but whatever else they do is up to them. So he requested that we have this Mission Conference and probably the special Stake Conference that will be held tomorrow.
Q. How does obedience correlate with the Spirit of Revelation?
A. Obedience is essential! Some missionaries "get it" early in their missions and others never do, and they struggle against the rules. Giving your will to the Lord is the only thing we can really give Him. You only need to make the decision once that you will be obedient. Revelation comes when we give our will to the Lord. We block the revelatory process by disobedience.
Q. Hm. I didn't write it down but loved the answer.
A. The essence of faith is personal righteousness. Substitute "personal righteousness" for faith in the scriptures. For example Ether 12:15 "Behold, it was the faith (personal righteousness) of Ammon and his brethren which wrought so great a miracle among the Lamanites." Personal righteousness is the key to your success. You're only successful to the extent that we "hear" the Lord. See D&C 76:10, 130:21, 29:7
Q. Why are some less obedient missionaries able to sometime have more baptisms than the obedient?
A. Success may be because the people are elect even though the missionary is not the most obedient.
Q. How do we know we've given ourselves completely to the Lord?
A. Do your best. Don't be overwhelmed, but put forth your best effort. Dont' get down on yourself for not doing everything. You need balance. Don't be overwhelmed by perfectionism.
The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve attend and meet monthly at the temple. One of the Apostles said to President Hinckley when he was about 96, "I wish you wouldn't work yourself so hard." President Hinckley's response was classic. "I want you to know that I want to wear myself out in the service of the Lord. If I die sooner, there's plenty to do on the other side!"
There were other questions, but that's all I'm including. Maybe I'll add them later, and I'll definitely finish transcribing my notes, but I'm done for tonight.
|Lafayette Sisters picking up commissary--Sisters Lucherini, Hockemier, Earl and Worthington|
|Elders waiting for their ride back to the Alexandria area--Elder Sabey and Elder Smith|
|Sister Call and Sister McMullin, from Many and Natchitoches|
|The Alexandria Zone Elders, Assistants and Office Elders|
|Sister Arntz, Sister Kongaika-Aholelei, Sister Neeley, Sister Plumb and Sister Abercrombie--five more sisters from the Alexandria Zone|