Today was Stake Conference. I sort of felt like they tricked us into a full day of church, but in the end, I can't say that I minded. It was totally amazing. They told us that conference started at 1 pm, and didn't mention the fact that there was a session at 1 pm and a session at 3 pm - with only a half hour break between the two. Usually Stake Conference consists of a 2 hour meeting on Saturday night and a 2 hour meeting on Sunday. Since they combined the two meetings on Sunday, it was a FULL day at church.
But it was really good, regardless.
The first session had a mini speaker and then a Q & A portion. Because of technology, members of the stake were able to text their bishop on the stand and then have their questions answered. There were a few questions that I thought were interesting, and then some others that of course, don't really apply to me. Like such as the dating ones.
The next session was really spectacular. The Relief Society president spoke and she talked a lot about dating. She was funny though - so it made it OK. She sang the song Wonderful World by Sam Cook
Don't know much about history Don't know much biology Don't know much about a science book Don't know much about the french I took But I do know that I love you And I know that if you love me too What a wonderful world this would be
from the pulpit, and a few people sang along which was pretty funny. And then they turned the time over to several converts of the Church. I love listening to converts speak. I like hearing about what changed their hearts and their minds to the Gospel. I love the enthusiasm they have in learning about Christ's Church, about His grace and His atonement. And I love knowing that the Holy Ghost is there to be a confirmation of all those things. Plus, we have people in our stake from Eastern Europe, Brazil, Puerto Rico and South Africa. We had some converts that had been baptized 16 years ago, and others that have been members for only 3 weeks.
I was really struck by one comment from the guy who is from South Africa. He was talking about how his older brother, who is about 45, has been less active in the Church since he was 18 years old. In the time that he's been out of the Church, he's married a Catholic, fathered two girls who are now in their teens, and lived a life that by Church standards would be considered very worldly. This brother who was bearing his testimony spoke about how he had considered his brother beyond feeling. He had been out of the Church for so long, that he didn't think that there was a chance that his brother and family would ever make it to the temple - even though their mother had envisioned this family dressed in white and being sealed in the temple. But recently, one of the daughters has expressed her desire to be baptized. She has been attending church with her grandmother, and has gained a testimony of the gospel. And so the brother said, "Our friends and family were God's children before they were our friends and family. He will not turn His back on them and He will provide a way for His children to return to Him."
I've been thinking about that a lot because I was recently having a discussion with a friend who is not a member of our church, but is a true Christian. While trying to explain priesthood authority, he shared his concern with the fact that our church seemed to be "exclusionary" but he believed that Christ accepts all men and women. I want him to know that I know that our Heavenly Father and His son love us all. They want us to return to live with them and they have provided a way for all of us to do so. It is why he has established missionary work and more importantly temple work. It's why there are missionaries in the Spirit World. Heavenly Father will not forsake us. He wants us to return to Him. He loves His children.
Anyway, Becca and I got yanked up to the choir, and so we sang the prelude music and a special musical number, and I really enjoy doing that. Plus we were in the Fine Arts Center on campus, which means that church is in an auditorium. So performing is pretty cool. Plus, I really love singing. It is really my favorite part of church. I loved that we sang all the verses to How Firm a Foundation. And I loved that they didn't cut out the closing hymn of the closing song, because we actually ended on time.
Our Stake President, President Shallenberger, is pretty much the greatest guy. When he speaks, you hear the sincerity of his message and the love in his voice. You know that he cares about us as a stake, and I really can't put a price on that. Plus, he's funny. He seems to relate to us as young single adults. He speaks on our level.
There was a lot of talk on dating throughout the meeting. This always gets a little old, because in order to put into practice some of their advice, you have to actually be dating. Which we all know that I am not. So, that's kind of sad. But I did like listening to President Shallenberger's stories about dating. He also gave us 6 important acronyms that he encouraged us to live our life by.
- ESP - everyday scripture and prayer
- KTC - keep the commandments
- CT - Celestial time (as in, the opposite of Mormon Standard Time - as in, be 5 minutes early)
- BMC - be morally clean (keep a pure, open and clean mind)
- IT&S - improve talents and skills - seek to be the best (unfortunately, this ruins my complacency with being mediocre at everything)
- BPT - big positive thoughts (as a man thinketh, so is he...use words like "unbelievable" and "great!")
G - Gratitude
R - Resourcefulness
E - Enduring
A - Attitude
T - Tenderness