The weekend of April 17 was Burnie’s branch conference. We started off the weekend with a branch dinner on the Friday night. It was a wonderful night with around 60 people in attendance. The adults were able to participate in a Church quiz whilst the children played ‘pass the parcel’. It was a great night where families and friends were able to enjoy each others company as well as a delicious meal cooked with love by Sister Linda Szekely. She provided us with a choice of potato or pumpkin soup, followed by apricot chicken, mashed potato, carrots, gravy and corn and to top it all off we enjoyed a delicious apple strudel with ice-cream for dessert.
I would like to thank her for her amazing effort and love for the Burnie branch! I know personally that I had an amazing time with many good laughs. One in particular with the YSA at breaking the tip of the only sink plug in the building and having to stick a piece of corn in the hole made so the water would not drain out and we could wash up! At the end of the night I was pleased to see that everyone pitched in to help pack and clean up. It is times like these that remind me of the love of Christ that shines through each one of us when we serve and help each other.
On the Sunday the Burnie chapel was filled with Stake visitors. We all enjoyed and appreciated the lessons that we were taught and the Spirit that we felt. For me there was something in each talk and lesson that stood out and I would like to touch on each of them.
President Szekely, Burnie Branch President, was the first speaker. The points I remember from his talk are that when we have a change of heart others will see the difference and come unto Christ as we live what we believe. Something that has really stood out to me as I have worked around children is that they watch us and they follow our examples. If our influences are so profound when we truly are living what we believe others will notice and they will want to know why we do the things we do and why we seem to shine. Our desire to do better and follow Christ with broken hearts and contrite spirits will not go unnoticed.
Sister Sam Triffitt, of the Stake Relief Society, was the next speaker and spoke on callings that we do not feel capable of fulfilling. With all the recent changes in callings throughout the Burnie branch, I felt her talk was very relevant to us all. Sister Triffitt gave this talk so well, drawing on her own experiences and in a way that I have never heard before. It reminded me that the Lord, who knows our fears and weaknesses better then we do, asks us an imperfect people to do a perfect work. He trusts us enough to do His work and He knows what we need and what others need perfectly. Sometimes we are called so that we can be in the right place, at the right time, to say the right thing for the one person who needs to hear it. Her talk reminded me of a comment Elder David A. Bednar made at one of his face to faces; he said that he travels around the world and gives talks not for everyone who hears or sees him but for the one person who needs to hear what he has to say in that very moment. So long as we have done all that we can and have touched the heart of one person, whether we know it or not, we have done enough. One other thing that I wrote down from Sister Triffitt’s talk was that Christ calls us to positions in His Church to show us who we can become, who He wants us to become and to show us that if we look outside ourselves and serve we will become that person. He truly does know our potential and we need to trust in Him.
President Buckley of the Stake Presidency was the final speaker. He talked on the importance of the Temple, which has been something that I have been focusing on this year. The House of the Lord is a place where there are no distinctions; it is the most peaceful place on earth and our homes can be Temples on earth. Like Temples our homes can be where we seek comfort and peace as well as love and guidance. President Buckley reminded us that everything we do should lead to the Temple. I feel that in a world that is getting increasingly further from the principles of the gospel of Christ we need to have the Temple always in our sights and always working towards being able to go therein. I know that as we prepare to enter and to research and find our own family names to take with us we can find added strength to overcome the challenges we face and can find rest from worldly cares. President Buckley ended by saying something that really stood out to me, he said “the field is white ready to harvest, here and for those who have passed, but the wheat doesn’t harvest itself. We can be saviours on mount Zion.” The Lord never said that the harvest would be easy, but it does bring great rewards and not only for ourselves.
Brother Honey taught the YSA Sunday school class and there was something he said as a side note to the lesson that really stood out to me. He said that we need to expand our circle of friends without there being a thought that we want them to join the Church. Simply have the intention of being a friend and they will notice the difference and light that shines through us. I think that this was especially pertinent to me as I was talking with one of the other students in my one of my uni classes who informed me that she was Christian. I told her that I was also and we talked briefly about our beliefs. I instantly thought of what an amazing member she would be if she was taught and accepted the gospel of Christ. She speaks about her beliefs in a way we all should, without fear and as apart of her life, in fact through her example she has taught me much. But my intention of writing this was that yes it would be fantastic if she was taught by the missionaries and baptised but that I need to be her friend without expectation or intent of her joining the church, but with intent of being an example. Our examples often speak more than anything we could ever say. As we become friends with others we will learn to truly care for them and with that love comes a true and righteous desire for them to have the gospel in their lives. We can often have the righteous desire to share the gospel with others but for me I have found that sometimes my intentions may have been misplaced in bringing others to the church rather than bringing them to Christ. And I feel that to fix this is first and foremost becoming their friend and having a sincere love and desire for them to come unto Christ.
Relief Society was taught by Sister Tammy Rowlings, the Devonport Stake Relief Society President. She reminded us all that we are children of God. She pointed out that in both the Relief Society and Young Women’s themes the first line states that we are daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. Too often this simple yet profound statement becomes mundane, we need to remember always who we are but not only remember, sincerely know it. The simple truth that we are daughters of God should be how we define ourselves, for we truly are His children. Sister Rowlings had Sister Sam Triffitt take a handful of ‘goop’ (cornflour and water) and mould it between her hands. I cannot remember the exact analogy but my interpretation of it was that as we remember who we are and act on that knowledge we are able to become who we are meant to be, Christ is able to mould and shape us. But, just like the goop when not moved which turns to liquid and falls from your hand, when we forget who we are we fall apart. It is so important to remember who we are and what that truly means.
As you can see the weekend was full of entertainment, friendship and Spiritual learning and growth. It was a weekend that I was very much looking forward to! The branch also held our ‘mingle and munch’ after church, which always seems to happen when Stake comes, though I am not sure whether that is deliberate on our part or theirs! It is a privilege and a delight to learn from our Stake leaders and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity.
Branch conference. Always a really great sabbath experience. This time was no exception. When I think back a week later to what I took from it, a quote springs to the forefront of my mind. "Dissapointment, but never discouragement." This quote was given to me the Wednesday before conference by the missionaries. We had just been stood up by a prospective investigator. The reason this quote was pertinent was due to the rocky start that was my branch conference morning. I had invited a friend to attend with me, but was stood up the morning of. I was given a bit of comfort as President Szekely instructed us that "Success in found in the invitation" this hit home to me again during priesthood class when we discussed how we can be better at rescuing our struggling brothers and sisters. In this recount, I didn’t want to just retell what happened, but rather show you it through my eyes. You never know that something you say could have such an effect on someone. You are called, placed, prompted to be where you are in this very moment. You never know who you are influencing. I needed to hear those specific quotes from those people at that specific time. This was my experience from branch conference.
The gospel is true.
What a wonderful weekend the Burnie Branch has experienced. It started on Friday evening with the Burnie Branch Council Conference Dinner and Social. The event was held in a beautifully decorated hall at the chapel and a large number of the members and friends attended as did President Walters and some of his family. Sister Linda Szekely did the catering, cooking and serving with the aid of our branch YSA and the meal and the entertainment was enjoyed by all who attended. President Walter’s comment about the evening was that it was a unique evening the kind that used to be held and enjoyed quite a long time ago.
The conference on Sunday was well attended with many visitors from throughout the Stake. After the formal proceedings and a presentation by a choral group President Szekely told a story about a Welsh man’s conversion to the gospel and spoke about his change of heart after he recognised the ‘spiritual radiance’ exuding from the missionaries who knocked on his door. He was able to see how different it was from that of the minister whom he had always rejected. He said that radiance shows when you are a member of the Lords church and how people will recognise this. So we should never underestimate how useful this is when we ourselves have a missionary opportunity.
Then we learned from Sister Triffitt why we are given callings and how our calling will not only bless our own lives and help us to grow, but will also bless the lives of others that we serve.
The last speaker President Buckley quoted the fields are white and ready to harvest and said it is not a spectator sport but we must be involved in the harvest. He also spoke about the importance of temples and the peace and blessings we receive in them. In the temple there is no distinction, we are not lawyers, doctors, farmers or manual labourers we are all the same, children of God. He told us how important it is for us to let others know about the blessings of the temple.
The Sunday school and Relief Society classes were taught by Stake members and the parable of the olive trees and a general conference talk titled ‘I am a Child of God’ also fitted in with the conference theme.
A soup and sandwich lunch followed which allowed the members to mingle and catch up before they travelled home.