Prior to the recent Devonport Stake Conference we invited a number of people to put pen to paper (or finger to tablet) and record some of the thoughts and feelings they had about the meetings, which we could share on this blog. Over the coming days we will be sharing some of the responses we received. We hope you are inspired by the words which these fantastic individuals have to share.
Remember, Elder Meurs said, is one of the most important words in the dictionary. The recent Devonport Stake Conference was certainly one to remember! We were blessed to have Elder Meurs of the Seventy presiding at the conference, sharing messages at the general session of conference and also a Youth Devotional afterwards, where he shared the 5 things to remember.
The Sunday Morning session was an excellent spiritual feast. Some of the highlights included President Walters talk about helping those who are astray even if we may not have a full testimony ourselves. Sister Challis gave a wonderful talk about the impact of the choices of women. Sister Triptree gave an inspirational talk about sharing the Gospel, and having the confidence to do so. In the ensuing weeks I really took this talk to heart, having many more chances than I would have ever thought to share the gospel. Sister Nicole of Devonport Ward gave a truly inspiring testimony about her conversion story.
Despite the mini-heatwave that Sunday, the spirit continued burning at the Youth Devotional straight afterwards. President Walters began by talking about spiritual self-reliance, starting by trusting in the Lord and having faith in Him. Elder Meurs then gave his talk about 5 things to remember, that we are literal spiritual children of Heavenly Father, we have a body and a spirit, we don’t really know who we are and could become, our future is not determined by past mistakes and that the world is waiting for us.
I know that I grew spiritually after attending this conference, and I am absolutely looking forward to the upcoming General Conference coming up in April.
Lucy Gorniak - Devonport Ward
It was such a blessing to attend Stake Conference and to be spiritually uplifted and enlightened by the messages spoken. Elder Meurs from the seventy attended our conference. I had met him a few months earlier at the YSA Perth Convention and had been touched their by his presence and I was excited to see him again at the conference.
We were taught by Elder Meurs about the importance of each individual and their journey in the gospel; their journey to perfection. Too often we get used to routine in the church and significant moments such as receiving the Priesthood or going Visiting Teaching becomes mundane. As we listened and discussed this concept with Elder Meurs I reflected on two aspects. One being on my mission and the other being about the Pre-mortal life. Firstly On my mission we taught many people. Every person was different and had a different pace in learning and applying the gospel in their lives. What made a big difference in the investigators life were the small and simple moments. Such as coming to church for the first time. This may not have seemed like a big deal however to that individual this was a moment they will remember forever and always reflect back on their ‘first time.’ Once that investigator wants to take the step in the gospel it is then up to us missionaries and members to help that investigator have a wonderful first time at church. Likewise when a child turns 8 and gets baptized in the ward even if we aren’t close with that family we still should reach out and support that child and family. Because I know that child will remember and recognize the efforts. Whenever I witnessed a baptism of a person on my mission the individual always commented on how amazed they were at the amount of people who came just for them. You would think that the individual would be more amazed and excited about being baptized and making sacred covenants, becoming a member of the church, or the service, but no the most important thing to them at the moment was seeing the support around them.
While listening to Elder Meurs I then reflected on the Pre-mortal life. We know that we existed before this life. We don’t know too much about our pre-mortal life but we know we were told about God’s plan of happiness for us. I like to think we would have been looking forward to the monument moments in our life.
Star Wars was used by two speakers as they made the analogy of Obi Ko nobice to worthy men receiving the Melchezidek priesthood. It is always enjoyable to relate the gospel to a well-loved movie to understand the concept. I feel movies are used because we look up to certain movies that contain strength, majesties, powers and omniscience. However the gospel is all of these things. The Priesthood is so much more than any power in any movie. It is God’s power! His literal power which has been used to create this earth, to raise the dead, this power is given to worthy men. I am sure we would have been very excited in the pre-mortal life knowing here on earth we could assist in the Priesthood power to assist God’s children.
One of the Relief Society presidency sisters spoke saying it takes a village to raise a child but a congregation to get a missionary out. I loved hearing this. When I was preparing to serve my mission I really depended on my ward members advice and help. As I am the first in my family to serve a full-time mission for the church I wanted as much help as I could receive. I don’t think my members in my ward know the impact they had made in preparing and being on my mission. It was little things that they did for me such as: preparing a night to talk about England before I left, writing to me on my mission, praying for me, and supporting my family when I was gone. Once again the little things make a big difference and help those significant steps in the gospel to be remembered with fondness. All members are needed to help each member.
President Walters taught about the importance of engaging fully in the work of salvation and to not worry about trivial things. We have not come to earth to find time to do gospel centred tasks but we have come here to live the gospel and become like our Saviour Jesus Christ. He talked about the importance of being honest in all we do. The next day I had work; I do In-Home care support work. I was taking the clothes of my client off her clothes line and I accidentally broke a part of her peg. I thought about telling her or just leaving it because the peg still worked. I didn’t feel that comfortable on the inside and I knew that the spirit wanted me to tell her. So I told her and she sarcastically said ‘Oh dear you broke a peg, do you feel better now you had confession?’ She was totally fine and I was very happy I didn’t hold it back because she was able to learn that I was an honest person and I knew that following the spirit is always the best choice to make.
Sister Jess Tripptree taught me an important lesson. She continuously stated that we should never pre-judge someone on whether they would accept the gospel or not. I know that we are all God’s children and He wants us all to return home with Him.
In conclusion from this conference I have come away with the important message to remember that Satan will make us focus on unimportant things in life. Therefore it is imperative that we do not waste this precious earth time but we help our brothers and sisters every day to come closer to their Saviour Jesus Christ in turn as we do this we will be coming closer to him. Each day is a gift!
Brother Peri Kauwhata - Tamar Ward
President Triffitts talk: he spoke about strawberry's and how much work there is to get a paltry amount and that he was going to try again in the next year as he felt he had got the right specie or plant, the right spot and the right soil.
Then he introduced the scripture Moses 1: 37 - 38 and this resonated with me. It says in 37 at the end that all the heaven's "they are mine" and " as one earth shall pass away, ....so shall another come".
What made me sit up and notice was that I too am the Lords and are His creation. So I felt that if I failed to serve Him in a given task that another would be given the opportunity to receive the blessing. There are lots of opportunities "right in our way, do not let them pass by and say sometime I'll try...". I know that the Lord prepares his children to receive blessings and that sometimes I am that blessing through impressions I get from Him.
This was only one of many great moments in conference, I wish all could have been there to witness it.
P.S. The elders quorum from Burnie presentation in First Session - they quoted Star Wars - what would they know? They quoted Obi Wan Kenobi - everyone knows Yoda had the wisdom! Guess what - you had to be there!
Peggy Bogar - St Helens Group
Thinking upon The Lord’s: ‘When ye have done this to the least of my brethren ye have done it unto me’ e.g. feeding the poor, clothing the naked and visiting those in prison inspired me with the analogy: when we do Genealogy and Family History and add these names to have their ordinances performed in the Temple, and participate in this sacred work, we are Saviours in Zion, we are rescuing those imprisoned, we are visiting them with our research finds and they are encouraging our endeavours and loving us finding their stories and photos.
It’s the same thing as finding the one who is lost but still living on this earth whereby we may be instruments in instigating the way back for one individual leading to their spouse and children on occasion, so can deceased families return to the fold on the other side of the veil.
Finding one ancestor can lead to a hint, either that green leaf on ancestry.com or the links to Birth, Death and Marriage or Census records etcetera in FamilySearch. It feels good to know we have helped with indexing Passenger lists, obituaries, and other records that will be used to hasten the work of salvation.
Watch out you don’t get concussion being hit with all those ancestral branches. Go slow, have joy in the journey and always begin with a prayer in your heart asking for the Spirit of Elijah to accompany you like that young woman who prayed and read her scriptures and lived her life with Temple focus which equates to a Christ-focused model.
Do not be afraid to ask next of kin if you can present their deceased loved ones name to have all the ordinances necessary for them to enjoy eternal life because if we remain silent and they are not members, nor interested in Missionary discussions at this time, they may not feel the love we can show them.
So be respectful, tell them something you liked about their deceased family member and entice questions to do with the Gospel as hearts will be softened through sincerity and service.