Sunday, April 17, 2016

Visit from an Apostle

I'll just begin with yesterday and our visit from Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elders James B. Martino and Larry Spackman of the Seventy.  What an amazing morning we had.  First of all, to have all 200 of our missionaries sitting in the chapel together--it was a magnificent sight!  And we completely filled that chapel--there was not a space left.  Our missionaries began arriving early to get a good seat.  When Steve and I got to the parking lot about 8:15 there were already many of them there...they have been anticipating this event for quite awhile now.  We asked everyone to be in their seats at 8:30 and just listen to the prelude music from Elder Christensen while they waited.  About 8:40 we saw Elder Spackman (our Area Seventy) and his wife Flora drive up with Elders Christofferson and Martino, so we went out to meet them.  It was so fun to greet them--Elder Christofferson is from our home stake, and so we have had many occasion to be with him, and I served with his wife in the Stake Relief Society Presidency many years ago (before he became an apostle)--so it was special for us to meet our friend!  And then it was fun to be with Elder Martino again--we enjoyed his mission tour with us last September and grew to love him and are so thankful for the continued support he gives us.  And then the Spackmans have become our friends here--our mentors, really.  Elder Spackman served as president of the New York, New York South mission about 15 years ago; and so they have been a great to help us out offer their counsel and lend a listening ear.
So, after greeting everyone we all walked into the chapel and all of the missionaries stood in respect for Elder Christofferson.  We took our places on the stand and began the meeting.  The first thing Elder Christofferson wanted to do was to shake everyone's hands.  So he and Elder Martino and Steve and I stood down below the pulpit and each missionary came up row by row and shook their hands.  What an amazing experience for our missionaries!  So many have never been in the presence of an apostle, let alone shaken their hand.  I am sure it is one they will never forget.  Following the opening hymn and prayer we had a special musical number, "Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy" performed by Elders Murdock and Fitzgerald and Sisters Rasmussen and Shields, accompanied by Elder Farnsworth on the piano.  It was so beautiful!  It brought such a wonderful spirit to the meeting--I just wanted to grab them all and hug them when they were through!
Steve and I were asked to share our testimonies along with Elder and Sister Spackman.  Then Elder Martino spoke to us and reminded us of the charge we have as missionaries to 'teach repentance and baptize converts'.  He also reminded us of the importance of working closely with the members in our missionary work, and bringing them to the lessons we teach.  He then shared his testimony of the apostles and their calling.  Then Elder Christofferson spoke to us and told us he feels a particular spiritual power with the missionaries.  He explained how the Seventy are an extension of the apostles and how the missionaries are an extension of that--so in reality we are their companions in this missionary work.  That was very powerful for our missionaries to hear.  He counseled them to love, read and study the Book of Mormon throughout their lives, and to never neglect the Book of Mormon in our teaching, or when our mission ends.  He told us that as we read it it reminds us of when we need to improve, repent, and change.  He then opened it up for some questions from our missionaries.
They had some good questions for him--the first one being, "What do you attribute most to your progression in the gospel?"  His first response was, "The Book of Mormon".  Another question was, "How do we help our family members that have wandered from the gospel, now and when we get home?"  He told them the greatest thing they can do now is to be faithful, diligent missionaries.  He told them God will bless them because of their faithfulness, so to press on, keep praying, keep working.  Following the questions and answers he went on to teach more about 'teaching repentance and baptize converts'.  He told us that the message of repentance is that there is a Savior.  He told us that true repentance is a re-direction of our whole life.  He also said that each time we repent we are invigorating our baptismal covenant.  Then he said that 'none of what we've talked about has any significance without Christ.'  He told us the atonement makes us holy--it takes away the sin and the stain, and makes us spotless.  It helps us to become like Christ, and that is what this gospel is about--becoming.  He then shared his witness with us that Christ does live and leads this church.  It was such an incredible experience to sit at the feet of an apostle and be taught by him.
I am so grateful to have a modern day prophet and apostles that  under the direction of the Savior, lead and guide us and help us become better, and teach us the way to find happiness in this life.  I know from my own experience, if we follow their counsel, we will be happy and our lives will be immensely blessed.  Because what they tell us, is what the Lord would have us know.  And all He wants is our happiness.
So, earlier in the week we completed our interviews; finishing up with our Calgary West Zone on Tuesday. Following those interviews we drove out to Canmore to meet our new senior couple who will be serving out there--Elder and Sister Gardiner.  They are from Willichak, BC.  They had just barely finished unloading their belongings into their apartment.  We took them to dinner to get to know them better and try to answer a few of their questions and get them going.  They are going to be a great asset to the branch in Banff/Canmore, and we are excited to have them in our mission with us!  Then on Friday we had a meeting at the mission home for the missionaries that will be training  the new missionaries coming in this next week.  We only have 8 missionaries coming--and 3 of those are visa waiters.  So, in reality, we have 5 we are keeping.  This is our smallest group yet.  We had a great meeting with these  new trainers, and they are excited and willing to accept this new assignment.  Training is such an important assignment.  To train a new missionary is a sacred trust and it sets the tone for the new missionary's whole mission.
On Friday following our training meeting, we were saddened by the news of the death of our dear friend, Janell Berry, who has been battling cancer for about 18 months.  We love she and her husband Bryce, and their family.  We pray that they can feel an abundance of the spirit at this difficult time.  We are so grateful for their examples and friendship over the years.  And are so grateful they have a testimony of the plan of salvation--and that because of the atonement they will see their mom and wife again as a beautiful resurrected being, and because they have been sealed in the temple as a family, will be together again eternally.  How grateful we are for this knowledge--that gives us such hope and peace in difficult times.
Polka dot day!  Sisters Dobyns, Blazer, Trimble (at interviews)

Friday afternoon walk along the Bow River Walkway in  Calgary

Found these 2 geese on our walk

The Bow River, which winds right by downtown Calgary

The missionaries gathering for our meeting with Elder Christofferson

More missionaries arriving!

Some of our senior missionaries awaiting the meeting- Elder & Sister Gardiner, Sisters Thorley & Peppinger, Elder Sefcik, The Sonntag's

1 comment:

  1. What a great meeting. Wish I could have been there!