Monday, 22 September 2014

Impressions of Stake Conference - Part 2

For Part 2 of the series we have chosen to share some writings from Sister Simone Triffitt, a Mother of 5 from Deloraine Ward.  The following paragraphs are her words:

Over the stake conference weekend, I had the privilege of attending the Saturday night session at the Deloraine chapel. I began the night, thinking I would just write down some of my favourite quotes from each talk but by the end of the night I had written over 8 pages because everything each speaker talked about, resonated within me.
The first speaker President Buckley, talked about an article by President Uchtdorf in a First Presidency message in 2013 called Walking In Circles. President Uchtdorf explained that if we are out bushwalking and don’t have something to fix our gaze on, a visible landmark as such, that we will start to walk around in circles. President Buckley said that we have our own landmarks such as reading the scriptures that help us and if we remove our gaze from these spiritual landmarks that lead us to eternal life, we will end up walking in circles.  President Buckley brought up Jacob 4:16 and explained how the Jewish people had the Saviour in their midst but they looked beyond him, they  “looked beyond the mark”. President Buckley said that we have many things in this world that can distract us from our spiritual landmarks and when we turn to these things, we are looking beyond the mark.
President Buckley also touched on Alma 37: 38-46 and the Liahona. He said the words of Christ can be a personal Liahona to us, as is our Prophet, President Monson.
President Buckley reissued a challenge set down by President Monson in 2012 for more senior people to go out and serve missions. He reiterated a quote by Elder Oakes that said “special sacrifices are made by senior missionaries”.  This challenge by President Buckley made me think of my own mother serving a family history mission in Salt Lake City and finding out about all the amazing work, senior missionaries are doing over there to “hasten the work”. What a great example and motivator are our own ward members out there serving senior missions.
The musical item was very beautiful and it truly brought a feeling of the Spirit and peace and humbleness into the meeting house. The choir sang “Lord I would Follow Thee” and many people were wondering why they didn’t showcase in the Meander Valley choirfest the previous night. Next time!
The second speaker was Sarra Triffitt who spoke about how children and youth can serve their families both living and deceased through family history. She touched on how family history research is suited to the rising generation who love to use modern technology for everything. She quoted Elder Bednar in a talk he gave in October 2011 about it being no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools are coming forth at a time when young people are so familiar with technology. Sarra talked about doing family history work during mutual and preparing to go to the temple next week. She spoke of her experience in the temple last year and how what she learned about the temple in Primary and FHE, now made sense to her.  I remember going to the youth temple day with her last year and seeing her enter the waters of baptism for the first time as proxy and to see her standing there in white surrounded by other youth from our Stake was a very special experience that both she and I and everyone in attendance will never forget. Sarra talked about her Nan serving a family history mission in SLC and the vast amount of work being done. For example 300,000 indexers work around the world each day, entering names into the FamilySearch database. Sarra said that working together this way, gives each person a greater chance of finding information about their own ancestors and be able to take those family names to the temple.
The next speaker was Samantha Triffitt who spoke about how family history can help young parents appreciate their own families. She highlighted a talk by Elder Allen Packer in 2013 who outlined the difference between family history and genealogy. Elder Packer said family history includes the past, present and future of families. I thought this was quite profound and saw it as our families in the present working to help our families of the past to benefit our families of the future. We have the very important job of connecting our ancestors to our descendants. Sam talked about finding out about her own family history and reading the conversion story of her grandfather, Jack Prebble senior. She sees it as the beginning of the Prebble line in the membership of the church. Sam said that this means she and her children are a part of that family history, binding her to family members yet to come. Sam also highlighted a talk by Elder Packer who outlined some ways you can create history with your children as you live in the present. These included recording stories of ancestors, putting memories in a box, picking a relative and finding out more about them and performing ordinance work in the temple.
The next speaker was Brother Corey Bailey who talked about how people of any age can master the tools of family history. He explained that we have spiritual tools in our hearts and hot just handheld tools in our hands. I loved that statement and it made me realise that technology is no barrier to anyone if we have the right spiritual attitude toward family history. I also liked it when Brother Bailey said that people don’t need an apprenticeship or years of study to become proficient in family history work. Brother Bailey explained that with the surge in modern technology even since 1994, we now have family history centres in our homes. Some of the tools available to us at home are indexing, FamilySearch, find my path and With the addition of FamilyTree now, people can attach recordings and stories to FamilySearch lines.
For me, to be able to go into FamilySearch and see photos and stories about my ancestors really brings them to life and makes the work so much more exciting.
Sister Maxwell spoke about how family history can help us in our missionary work. Sister Maxwell compared Elder Uchtdorf’s journey out of East Germany to the safety of West Germany, saying that was one of his family history stories and how families have their own story of making it to the safety of the gospel. Sister Maxwell said that “everyone wants to know where they came from”. This is a great tool for missionary work because members can give their friends a copy of the booklet, “My Family” and invite their friends to find out more about their ancestors. Sister Maxwell talked about an article in the New York Times that suggested that children who knew about their family stories and felt that connection were more resilient in life. A simple question for missionaries is explaining their name badge and asking if the person knows anything about their own family name. Sister Maxwell talked about the importance of adding saving ordinances to the family history connections. She said that the retention rate of new members is 95% in those who within 3 months of baptism, go to the temple on a limited use recommend. She also explained that in the last year there were 21,000 baptisms in the Pacific region but only 400 of those new members took a name to the temple so there is work to be done.
Brother Josh Triffitt recently returned from a mission in New Zealand and spoke about how full-time missionary service has changed his life. Brother Josh explained that he didn’t wake up one morning and feel different but that it was a process over the 2 yrs that has changed him for the remainder of his life. Brother Josh highlighted the importance of studying Preach my Gospel and that “you can’t convert beyond your own conversion”.  He said that serving a mission changed the way he thought about the gospel. I think this was my favourite part of his talk when he said,” it (the gospel) was not something to be done but a way to live”.   Brother Josh also said that his mission changed his perspective in that he now has a long-term perspective that brings him closer to Heavenly Father rather than just day to day goals. Practical changes that have happened include learning to talk to people and get along with your companion. Finally Brother Triffitt urged all young people to serve a mission because it is the best thing you can do.
Sister Tammy Rowlings was asked to talk about how we can help youth to prepare for a full-time mission. Sister Rowlings quoted Elder Bednar in a talk from November 2005 where he talked about becoming a missionary before you go on a mission. Sister Rowlings said she asked her son Jakob who is serving a mission in Japan, her teenage sons and the current full-time missionaries serving in her ward, what could be or what was done to help them prepare for a mission. Her son Jakob said working to save for his mission and having the trust of his parents to be a little independent, helped him to develop maturity before going out into the mission field.  Other helpful suggestions were having unconditional love from parents, the love of the gospel in the home, attending seminary and youth leaders who go the extra mile.  Sister Rowlings then touched on spiritual and physical preparation fo9r a mission. She said help the youth by understanding their hearts by taking advantage of teaching moments and be willing to listen to them talk about their day. Sister Rowlings studies “Preach My Gospel” with her two other sons and feels the closest to them each night as they do this. She also suggested that once your child turns 12, to make attending the temple with them a priority each year and let them see you attending the temple.
In relation to physical preparation, Sister Rowlings emphasised a talk by President Faust where he talked about future young missionaries working before their missions to learn responsibility and independence because they won’t automatically know how to work in the MTC. Lastly Sister Rowlings said always pray for guidance in how to help your child prepare for a mission because each child is an individual and needs help in different ways.
Next Brother Gary Woodward spoke about the power of everyday missionaries and based his talk around the book, “The Power of Everyday Missionaries” by Clayton Christensen.  Brother Woodward said that when he came off his mission, he was doing everything that he was doing on his mission but he felt like he wasn’t as close to heavenly Father like he was on his mission. He figured out that the one thing that was missing was that he was no longer sharing the gospel.  Brother Woodward talked about redefining the success of missionary work for members. He spoke about the fear of opening your mouth and said that each person is a successful missionary as soon as they invite someone. Even if they say no, you have still succeeded because you have given a person the opportunity. He referred to 2Nephi 2:16 where it talks about enticing men to do good and said that unless we invite people to do good, the only “enticing” will be by the devil because they have not been given a choice. Brother Woodward shared the experience of how he met his wife Lisa and how she came to join the church. He finished by saying that we are not to prejudge who we invite because we may not see people how the Lord sees them.
Elder Maxwell spoke about preparing for mature missionary service. I love the quote he gave that “logistics wins battles” and it is something that senior missionaries can do really well. He spoke of a senior couple in the mission office who were dearly loved and did so much for the running of the office. Elder Maxwell outlined some critical points for preparation for a senior mission. These included a desire to serve, to be willingly obedient, disciplined and financially prepared and the importance of scripture study in keeping your testimony burning brightly. He raised a point by Elder Henry B Eyering that “great faith has a short shelf life” so we need to continually study the scriptures to keep the spirit as our teacher. El;der Maxwell then touched on the blessings of serving a senior mission. These included friendships that last forever, high adventure, miracles and great joy, the memories from your mission remain with you for eternity and you learn lessons that last you for the remainder of your life. Finally he related a story by Elder Holland who said he thinks about his mission everyday and he is counting that it was 50 yrs and 11 days ago because it had such a big impact on his life.
President Walters then concluded the meeting with his testimony. He said that people are usually given a talk topic not because they are outstanding examples of the topic but that Heavenly father wants them to learn something and we learn something through them giving the talk. He said that every ward now has a monthly ward temple night to do family history work and every 3 months our stake has a temple trip to participate in saving ordinances. President Walters encouraged each of us to become actively engaged in hastening the work. He said  “sharing the gospel is the reason we join the church. Sharing the gospel was the only reason why the church was restored in these latter days”. Finally he encouraged each of us to go home and ponder tonight’s  topics and how Heavenly Father wants each of us to enlist in hastening the work of salvation.

I loved listening to each of the talks. The topics were truly inspired and each one has given me much to ponder on. I have always liked the idea of family history but I know now I am really going to enjoy the doing a lot more. I am excited to try out the new tools on FamilySearch. I already feel sorry for our ward family history consultants as I come armed with motivation and enthusiasm from tonight’s meeting ready to learn more how to  “hasten the work” and in doing so my connections to my loved ones both living and deceased will be strengthened as too my testimony of this great gospel work for those who have gone before us.