President Eyring in the General Session

I don’t think that my kids have ever been that well behaved in a session of Stake Conference.  Don’t get me wrong.  Things weren’t perfect, and we had a rough spot near the beginning, but overall (especially near the end), I was amazed at how well they behaved.

The talks again were wonderful.  Even those talks that were given by the young man and young woman were inspired.  Perhaps it was the spirit that President Eyring brought with him to the meeting.  Regardless, this was perhaps the best General Session of Stake Conference I can ever remember attending.

For his last talk to us, President Eyring discussed prayer.  He shared the important message of remembering that the Lord helps those who help themselves.

He shared a story about when he was a young boy his adult teeth had grown in crooked.  And as kids are often likely to do, he was teased by his peers for it.  So, he offered a prayer of faith for God to turn his teeth so that they wouldn’t be crooked.

He knew that when he woke up in the morning that his teeth were going to be straight.  His faith was so strong that when he woke up he didn’t dare feel to see if they had turned for fear that it would show lack of faith.  Instead he got up with a smile knowing that his teeth were fixed.

Until he saw his reflection in the mirror.  They were still crooked.  After more thought and prayer on the matter, he realized that the Lord had provided him with the tools to straighten his teeth.  So after several years when his body was old enough he had them fixed by an orthodontist.

Thus, we see an example of how the Lord blessed him as a young man.  He didn’t need his teeth miraculously healed by the Lord overnight.  Rather he needed to know that the Lord cared for him.

It was a great session.  I feel very privileged to have had this chance to sit and learn at the hand of a prophet of God.  I thank the Lord for providing me this opportunity.

My testimony has been strengthened this weekend.  I know more assuredly, that President Monson is a prophet of God and that he leads Christ Church this day.  I know more fully that Jesus is the Christ, and that he atoned for our sins.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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President Henry B. Eyring at Stake Conference

It is an extremely rare opportunity for a member of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to visit a Stake Conference. In fact, President Henry B. Eyring told us in this meeting that as a general rule the First Presidency doesn’t visit Stake Conferences. However, he felt inspired to visit one before he spoke in General Conference in October. So, he received a list of three Stakes and we were blessed to have him be directed to our Conference this weekend.

Originally, I was planning on giving a complete run down of the things that I learned today. However, after the conference I feel that it would be more appropriate to share just a couple of quotes, and then my thoughts and impressions.

The first meeting was the Priesthood Leadership Meeting. As our church is guided by a lay-clergy, we need training and instruction in our duties. This meeting is a time for us to receive such guidance and council.

In this meeting President Eyring shared with us what he learned in this meeting today. He reminded us that everyone has the Spirit of Christ in them. They know that wickedness never was happiness. The world may have obscured the truth, but they still know it. Then he counseled us to that we should share the truth with these individuals because they don’t know where to find it.

After a short rest to come home and enjoy dinner with the family, we concluded the evening with the adult session of Stake Conference. In this meeting all adult members of the Stake are invited to learn. This is perhaps the part of conference I enjoy the most because I get to sit with my wife, and I can learn without the distraction of my children.

Here President Eyring talked about preparing to enter the Temple. His focus was on both our own re-entering the temple as well as preparing our children to one day enter the temple. The quote (as best as I could write it down) that I wish to share with you is this.

“One thing I could prepare my children to feel before they make temple covenants, It would be to love making commitments to God and keeping them.” (Emphasis mine)

This was and interesting statement. Am I preparing my children to attend the temple by preparing them to love making and keeping commitments to God? Do I love making and keeping commitments to God?  I think that I do, but I don’t know that I am a good example to my children in that aspect.

The other talks were great.  I was greatly moved by the talks give in the Preisthood Leaderhip meeting. I am more motivated in my efforts to work as a missionary because of the talks given by a recently returned missionary and a Ward Mission Leader.  They really were great talks and the Spirit was strong.

Before I end I must comment on how strong the Spirit was in the chapel as I listened to everyone.  It truly testified to me of the divine calling the President Eyring holds.  He is a servant of God, and we are blessed in our day to be directed today under him.  I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

A Christmas Missionary Memory

Our local ward is putting together a collection of Christmas stories to send to the missionaries who are presently serving missions from our ward.  They specifically asked for Christmas stories from our missions.  And when I heard that I knew that I had to share the following story:

In 1991, I spent my first Christmas away from my family.  I loved Christmas time as a kid, and it was hard to be away from my family.  But I was serving the Lord in Pusan, Korea and I knew that I was where my family and the Lord wanted me to be.

However, since, I was still a new missionary, and I hadn’t quite learned the language yet, I was lonely.  Sure, I had a companion, and house mates, and many wonderful people in the Ward that I was serving in.  However, I just didn’t feel like Christmas.

Koreans don’t celebrate Christmas very much.  It is at best an after thought for most people.  So, there were no dinner invites, or extensive decorations.  I remember that the only sign of Christmas was a Christmas tree in the lobby of the church that we had managed to acquire through the local U.S. Army Base (it is illegal to cut down any tree in Korea, so this tree was from the U.S.).

I finally realized that I was homesick when I was riding on a bus, and everyone seemed to remind me of someone at home.  I saw my Bishop, a friend from high school, and others.  It was getting bad.

Unfortunately, my companion didn’t make it much better.  He was in his 22nd  month and was ready to go home.  I won’t say that he was trunky, but I got sick and tired of watching the video that his family had sent him for Christmas.

The real kicker for that year on Christmas was Christmas day itself.  My companion had figured that since it was Christmas Day he didn’t need to work.  Instead we went to the Ward building and talked with the members for most of the day.  At first there were very few members, but as the day went on, teenagers started arriving after school was out, and my companion who spoke better than I was enjoying talking to them.  Instead, I was left to myself and the occasion member who felt pity enough to try and talk with me.

It was then that I had resolved that the next year, I was going to follow the council of President Kimball on how to overcome homesickness.  While in the MTC, my teachers encouraged us to memorize a quote from President Benson.  It said, “There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry. Work, work, work—there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work” (The Teaching of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 200).  So I committed myself to work on Christmas day.

A year later the opportunity came to follow-up on my promise.  I advise my companion, who was even more green than I was a year ago, that we weren’t going to relax on Christmas.  I told him that we were going to work.  Be a more humble missionary than I was, he graciously agreed.  We had no appointments and little plans accept an activity in the Branch that evening.  So, we hit the pavement.

At first, it was a lot of the usual street proselyting activity.  There was not much success as the city we were in was very small, and most of the people knew who we were any way.  After lunch I remember thinking that we need to head to the business district and proselyte on the way.  But the weather turned cold, and it was very tempting just to head to the Branch building to visit with some of the members.

However, remembering my commitment of a year ago, we pushed through the cold.  As the wind blew fiercely, I talked to a high school student.  Who at first didn’t really seem all that interested.  And honestly, when he made the appointment I was sure that he wasn’t planning on showing up.  Really, at the time I didn’t think much about the situation, accept that I remember the cold wind and this kid’s willingness to talk to me for so long.

He did show up to our first appointment and after several visits he ultimately committed to be baptized.  It was then I remember that I had first met this kid while proselyting on Christmas day.  The Lord blessed me with less homesickness, but he also brought one of his chosen children to help him onto the path.