May 25, 2012
Our mission had the privilege of having Elder Russell M. Nelson come for a Zone Conference. He was in the Philippines for a Mission President Seminar the weekend before and also dedicated the new Manila Missionary Training Center.
Elder Nelson was scheduled to come to lunch prior to the zone conference, so we wanted everything to look great including the garden area in front of the mission home . . . President Martino and Jose were pulling the weeds to make it look a little nicer.
|Getting the courtyard garden ready|
|President Martino didn't even change his clothes to dig in the dirt . . .|
|Jose working in the courtyard garden|
|Even Elder Jewkes got into the cleaning mode in his office . . .|
All of our missionaries attended this conference. It is the first time since we have been here that ALL of the missionaries have attended one meeting. So, before the meeting began, the missionaries started arriving and visiting with their previous companions . . . It was a reunion for all to see each other.
|Missionaries visiting before the meeting|
|Missionaries catching up with each other|
|Everyone was excited to see old companions and friends|
|Ward members stopped by to say hello to the missionaries too|
|This lady cried the first Sunday that Elder Pioquinto left the area - She came to visit him before the meeting ~ the members become attached to the missionaries|
|The Flatter family stopped by to see missionaries who served in their ward|
The meeting was wonderful. The first speaker was Sister Nielsen, wife of the counselor in the Area Presidency. She told about a bridge in Twin Falls Idaho where people base jump. They learn to trust that the parachute they are wearing will open and 'catch them'. Likewise, going on a mission is like this form of base jumping. The Lord is our parachute and we learn to trust that He will always be there. "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." (Doctrine & Covenants 123:17) We need to get up every morning with a big smile and trust that the rest of the day will be wonderful. What wonderful advice!
President Nielsen spoke about how all of the missionaries are loved and cared about. He told the following story . . . While serving in the Pacific a tsunami hit Samoa and Tonga. Within 24 hours all but 2 missionaries were accounted for. After another 24 hours the mission president was told to charter a plane to go to the island where these 2 missionaries were missing. When they arrived on the island, they found the 2 missionaries helping the people on the island. When they were told they needed to return to the mission home, they told the mission president they needed to stay there to help and serve the people.
He spoke about personal revelation. He also told us how when Joseph Smith left the Sacred Grove, the heavens opened - they are opened to everyone. He spoke of the sons of Mosiah when they were with Alma and an angel appeared to them. These men had a strong knowledge of the truth; they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. "But that was not all; they had given themselves much prayer and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority from God." Doctrine & Covenants 2 -3 We are all given the opportunity to have revelation in our lives.
Then it was time for Elder Nelson to address us. All of the senior couples were seated on the front row in the chapel (I think it was so we could all hear clearly). We were seated at the feet of an Apostle of the Lord, literally!
He told us to "See beyond what you see and see what they can be." He was referring to the investigators that the missionaries are teaching, but we can apply this message to all we meet. He told us the story of a Chinese doctor that he met on a trip to China in 1980 to speak at a medical conference. He said when he got off of the plane and saw this doctor, in his mind he saw this man dressed in white. When he met the doctor's wife he also saw her dressed in white. The doctor asked him about the church. Of course he was pleased to tell of our beliefs. Several years later, after he was made an Apostle, the doctor called him. The doctor was living in Canada at the time. He asked Elder Nelson if he would baptize him. Later he sealed this doctor and his family in the temple. President Nelson saw what this man could be . . .
He asked if anyone had any question they would like him to answer . . . at the end of this question/answer period, Elder Nelson said, "There is someone here that has a question, that hasn't been asked; and I will answer that question now; Your families and loved ones will be blessed as you are here serving your missions."
He told us to count how many missions and temples that there are in the Philippines at this time. He told the us to write this in our journals and that someday we can tell our families and grand children that we helped to establish the church in the Philippines. (Currently there are 17 missions and 2 temples with another temple that has been announced.)
He concluded the meeting by pronouncing an apostolic blessing. "The authority I have in my calling allows me to give you a special blessing. I bless you that you will have a deep burning desire to know the Lord and his doctrine, and a desire to share that feeling with Heavenly Father's children, and the message of the restoration. And that you will apply it in your life. I bless you with wisdom and obedience. And when you return home that you will always be a missionary. To teach and testify, to bless the lives of others. We are his people, his disciples, and we get to play a part in this great work. I bless you that if any of your family is sick they will be healed and have health consistent with the Lord's will." (Written from notes and memory at a couple meeting following the conference by the senior couples.)
To be at the feet of an apostle and to have him look directly into my eyes as he spoke was a very special experience ~ I felt like he was talking just to me. I know my Savior lives! I know that we have a living prophet today, Thomas S Monson, and apostles who lead and guide the church. I know that Joseph Smith restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth in 1830. I am thankful for the opportunity that I have to be a part of this great work. Amen.