Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Impressions of the Devonport Stake Conference - Part 2

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. 

Austen Howe

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.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Burnie Branch Conference Weekend 2015

Burnie Branch had its annual Branch Conference on the 22nd of March. Preceding its conference, the branch held a Family History night on the 20th and a family activity on the 21st. It was a busy weekend for Burnie’s members and many stake leaders, but it was well worth the extra time and effort.

On Friday the 20th of March Burnie Branch’s monthly Family History night was run by Sisters Brown, Hatchard and Svedin at the Burnie chapel. There were around 15 members who attended. Each Sister had a different role in teaching how to use Family Search more effectively. There was a teacher, a detective and a builder, each sister dressing appropriately for their role.
Sister Svedin was the teacher, she taught us about the help centre and what was on and how to use and read different governmental and church documents to help us find our ancestors. It was extremely interesting learning about the things you could find out about your ancestors on these records.
Sister Brown was the detective, she taught us about searching for names on the Family Search website and about the Granite Mountain Records Vault. It was fascinating how much work goes into storing and preserving records in this mountain.
Sister Hatchard was the builder, she taught us about the challenge given to members in the Pacific area, ‘15 in 15’. This challenge is to have four generations completed in your Family Tree by the end of 2015. She also taught how to build and attach information and sources to our ancestors and what information we needed for each person.
The night was a success and I loved it how the Sisters dressed up for their roles! I look forward to next month’s Family History night and what it will bring.

The next day, Saturday the 21st, a family activity was held at President and Sister Szekely’s home. Over 32 members and non-members attended and participated in activities such as wellington throwing, a scavenger hunt, tractor rides, egg and spoon races, horseshoe throwing and a piƱata. I never expected to have as much fun as I did, and it was great to be able to get to know one another better in a fun and relaxed environment. The food was also beyond amazing in taste and quantity (as it always is). I would like to thank those who helped organise and run this activity and to all those who took the time out of their busy weekend to attend. Without them it simply wouldn’t have been possible.

To finish off this big weekend was the Burnie branch Conference on Sunday the 22nd. During this meeting President Dean Corona and his counsellors where released and Brother Damon Szekely was called as Branch President with Brother Marcus Svedin and Brother Nicholas Clark as councillors. This was a massive change for Burnie branch and we are all excited to see what the future brings. The youth were also very excited that Brother Corona was called as Seminary teacher. I know that Burnie branch are all very appreciative for all the work that Brother Corona and his counsellors, as well as our previous Seminary teachers, did for our branch.
Due to all these changes we heard testimonies from brother and sister Corona and President and Sister Szekely. It was amazing to see and feel the love that all these people had for everyone in the branch!
We were then privileged to hear from Sister Esther Woolley and Sister Tania Honey. They talked about strengthening the youth and our families and Sister Tania shared a poem called Life is but a Weaving by Corrie Ten Boom. It reads:

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.

I love poetry and this was no exception. It really helps you to understand that we must trust God as He sees everything. We don’t always see the why of what God asks of us but He does.
Sunday School was a Q&A session with the Stake Presidency which included all adults, young single adults and youth. We learnt that we all need the input of others, both young and old. I personally learnt that our ward or branch conferences are to unify and to strengthen each other. I also learnt that people are not projects. We don’t want them to just come to church we want their lives to be changed, for them to experience the happiness in their lives as we do. To share the light and joy of Christ. We do not invite others to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32), to fill up our chapels. As the Stake Young Women leaders quoted in our Young Women’s lesson, “There are lives to brighten. There are hearts to touch. There are souls to save.” (President Thomas S. Monson, True Shepherds).

It was a fantastic weekend that I personally thoroughly enjoyed, as I know many others did. I would like to thank all those who helped make this weekend possible and for the amazing food that was provided for the family activity and the lunch Sunday. If our branch were to obtain anything out of this conference it was that in order to see a change we must change. As we strive to grow and strengthen our branch into a ward I know that we will all need to make small and simple changes in our lives. As, “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).

Sunday, 15 March 2015

YW Mother Daughter Day

On Saturday 15th March, the young women in the stake and their Mums had a mother daughter day at the Deloraine chapel. The day was focused on Personal and Family History. They went around in a group and participated in 3 workshops.

In the first workshop the Young women shared stories and information about some of their ancestors; we got to see some pictures and heard interesting stories from their lives. We had lots of laughs at some of the stories and felt grateful that we had a record of these stories to share and learn from.
The Second Workshop was about the importance of journal writing and the benefits it will give our posterity. We each were given a personal journal and a list of questions to answer with our Mothers about our own childhood and about our testimonies and some experiences we have had.
In our last workshop we talked about using family search to put in our family history stories and pictures. We also had the opportunity to sit with and ask questions with our Mothers about their testimonies and their life and recorded it our journals.
We ended with lunch and got to sit around talking for a while.
It was a great day and we all felt uplifted and felt the Spirit. It was a good reminder of the importance of keeping a journal and recording our history.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Impressions of Stake Conference - Part 1

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. 

Paige Triffitt - Burnie Branch

The annual Devonport Stake Conference is just one of the opportunities we have to gather together as saints and to hear the words of our leaders. It is a great opportunity "to spiritually recharge and find help to face life's challenges and opportunities” (Stake Presidency). One thing that always amazes me is how we can all sit and listen to the same talks by the same people and yet we all gain something completely different from each talk. So it is my goal to try and share with you what I gained from the talks in both the General session and the Youth and YSA devotional of the 2015 Devonport Stake Conference.

A musical item by the Devonport Ward Primary started the general session of conference singing ‘I Know That My Savior Loves Me’. It was such a beautiful song to be sung by the amazing rising generation, who were excitedly waving to their parents. I have always loved children’s enthusiasm in all that they do! Sitting and listening to the words of the song really brought the Spirit to the meeting.

Next was President Walters who, for me, emphasised the importance of rescuing members who might have gone astray as well as protecting active members, which will strengthen our stake. He talked about how we don’t have to have a complete testimony to bring others to Christ. He used the analogy of one of his daughters teaching him how to dive only to find out that he had taught her by looking at others examples and explaining to her how to complete the dive without ever actually being able to do it himself. President Walters also talked about how no one is perfect, not even the Prophets. How they are not perfect so that we don’t learn to trust the hand of man but rather to be able to see the Lord work miracles through the weak which strengthens our testimonies of our Savior Jesus Christ. He also taught that the Lord’s plan is perfect, which is something that I am really learning. We may not be perfect, but the Lord is. He has thought out every aspect of our mortal life and if we will trust in Him, and allow him to, He can help us to know His plan for us.

Sister Challis, the Stake Relief Society President, talked about the importance of women and their decisions. She said that “the decisions of women today have eternal consequences.” Which is not strictly limited to women but relates to everyone. As President Monson has said, “Decisions Determine Destiny.” It is important to have that eternal perspective to realise our full potential and to realise just how our decisions today are going to affect generations to come. It’s something that I need to work on keeping an eternal perspective and asking myself, “what consequences will come to others from this decision?” Sister Challis also stated that we do not have the luxury to say ‘tomorrow I’ll do it’. Something I am learning in the last years of my schooling is that there is no point in saying you will do it tomorrow because chances are you are just going to get more to do tomorrow. As my mother always says ‘work before play’. Sister Challis also quoted Sister Julie B. Beck who said, “We are not in the entertainment business; we are in the salvation business.” We all have unique roles to play in this life, these roles are there to help bring salvation to man not to help bring entertainment to man.

Sister Tripptree, who is currently preparing to serve a full time mission, gave a wonderful talk that really spoke to me. She talked about how we have a responsibility to share the Gospel with others. How it is not up to us to judge or decide who can come unto Christ or who is ready to hear His gospel. We cannot waste the opportunities we have to share the gospel with others. We must gain confidence to share what we know to be true and to prepare now the serve a mission. No matter what stage of life we are in and even if we do not plan to serve a full time mission, we are always member missionaries and so preparing to be the best missionary we can be is important. She said that as we prepare to serve a mission we will grow and have the desire to teach the gospel. Sister Tripptree really emphasised growing in confidence. It is sometimes difficult to share the gospel because the natural man fears the judgement of the world, but as we grow in confidence and remember to 'fear not man' we can share the gospel with those around us. I know that as we share the gospel we ourselves will come further unto Christ.

There were many testimonies shared and I would like to just share with you a few points that were made. A recent convert of the church said how she knew she needed to be baptised no matter what was going on around her, as the longer she waited the more trials would come. This relates to Sister Challis’s comment on how ‘we do not have the luxury today tomorrow I’’l do it.’ The longer we wait the harder it gets to complete what the Lord wants us to. We are subjected to more and more temptations and eventually it would have been easier if we had of completed it in the first place rather than waiting. Sister Stuart was also a convert to the church. She said that if it had not of been for that one girl who shared the gospel with her, she would not  be a member. As Sister Tripptree said we have a responsibility to teach the Gospel, it is not our right to judge who to share the gospel with but it is our duty to share the gospel no matter what. We cannot see the future, we cannot see the importance of people to the work of the Lord. Chances are you could be teaching the next Stake President, or Stake Relief Society President the Gospel.

We were lucky enough to have Elder Peter F. Meurs of the Seventy preside at Stake Conference this year. He was our last speaker and spoke about how organisations of the world will change, but the organisation of the Gospel will always be the same. He also spoke about how amazing the enthusiasm and unity of the Quorum of the Twelve was. How even though they meet several times a week, each time, they greet each other as though it has been years since their last encounter. How amazing would that be to see, I know that I for one would love to be a fly on the wall simply to watch them interact with each other. It is not something that I have ever truly thought about. Elder Meurs talked about how it can take them months to come to a conclusion on some issues, as they all bring different ideas to the table and they calmly, without contention, come to a unanimous decision. He also spoke about how we must become unified and be committed to that unity. He said that contention is not of God, that the Lord taught this throughout His earthly ministry. Of all the things He could have taught He chose to teach us about unity. This shows just how important it is to not let contention enter into our lives. He also briefly touched on how important families are to the Lord’s plan. If they were not there would not be so much opposition surrounding them.

Besides being one of the hottest days I’ve felt in a long time, the general session of the Devonport stake Conference was truly amazing and the Youth and YSA devotional that proceeded was just as wonderful.

President Walters was the first speaker and there where three things that stuck out to me the most. The first was twelve ways to be self-reliant. They being:
Exercising faith in Jesus Christ
Using time wisely
Being Obedient
Taking personal responsibility for work
Solving problems
Become one (working together)
Communicate (listening to and asking for the Lord’s help)
Show integrity
Seek learning and education
Stay on task and receive ordinances
President Walters pointed out the fact that the first thing we need to do to be self-reliant is to exercise our faith in Jesus Christ, and the last being to stay on task and receive ordinances. Self-reliance is crucial in our lives. We need it in every stage. He then spoke about how the work we do here prepares us for eternity. How we are here to learn and to grow to become the person the Lord wants us to be. That we need to trust in Him, and trust His promises.

We were then privileged to hear from Elder Meurs who spoke of how President Kimball said that possibly the most important word in the dictionary is remember. He then spoke about five things that we need to remember and opened up questions for us to answer. Five things we need to remember are:

We are God’s offspring — we are not merely His creation we are His offspring. Elder Meurs taught that if we were only His creations then we could not become like Him. He related this to a car being built by an engineer, the car was the engineers creation, but the car cannot become an engineer by simply being his creation. Neither can a painting become a painter, or a building become an architect. I really liked that analogy and understood in greater depth why it is so important to know and understand that we are not only God’s creations but His offspring.

We have a body and a spirit — just like our bodies need to eat and drink our spirits need food as well. Some ways we can feed our spirit are by the word of God, the influence of the Holy Ghost, going to seminary, partaking of the sacrament each week and going to the temple.

We don’t know who we really are — we know that we are sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, but we do not know who we were before this life, and we are not meant to. Elder Meurs talked about not asking ‘why me?’ when a responsibility or trial comes our way, because we do not know what we were preordained to do and be. The Lord knows who we really are. He knows what each of us are capable of doing. Elder Meurs retold the life of Enoch and how he told the Lord that he was not good enough, that the people hated him and so he could not teach them the gospel and the Lord told him to just go do it. Enoch did go teach the people and they became so righteous that they were lifted up into Heaven. Just think what would have happened if Enoch did not do what the Lord wanted of Him. Or more to the point what would not have happened. We do not know who we really are, but the Lord does, and that is why it is so important to listen and act upon what He wants of us which He makes known unto us through the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Our future is not determined by our past mistakes — satan tries to tell us that our future is determined by our past mistakes, that we cannot change. But we always have the ability to repent. It is one of the greatest blessing of the gospel. We are here to become the best person we can be, and we cannot do that without making a few mistakes. So long as we are trying our very best to, “Try a little harder to be a little better” (President Gordon B. Hinckley).

The world is waiting for you — Elder Meurs taught that we are different from the people of the world. We all have an incredible influence on the people around us because of who we are. He said that the world needs us desperately. To be an example to them to teach them the gospel. We need to lead by example. If we want change then we do it first. Elder Meurs counselled us to, “never ever feel embarrassed or concerned about being a latter-day saint. It is your greatest asset.”

When I was little my desire to come to conference was fuelled by my desire to receive the lolly bag that my mother made for each one of her children. Although I still have my lolly bag sitting next to me each year, as I have grown older and have come to realize the true importance of meetings such as stake conference. My desire to come is so that I can learn from the words of our leaders who have been called not by a general authority not even by the prophet, but by the Lord. As our closing hymn implied (219 ‘Because I Have Been Given Much,’ one of my favourites) because we have been given much this weekend we too must give of the gospel.