This weekend was our Stake Conference. For the first time ever, I went to the adult session on Saturday night. I know, hard to believe that it was my first time. Well, it was totally worth it. During the adult session, we heard from some new members about their experiences in joining the church and how they are either looking forward to taking their family to the temple next month to be sealed for all eternity or how they went to the temple yesterday to have the baptism done for their son who had been murdered when he was just 17. It was so wonderful to hear their testimonies of this Gospel.
After they were done, we heard from the Phoenix, Arizona mission president and his wife. They, too, spoke of missionary work, eternal families, and temples. There seemed to be a very distinct theme through these talks. Lastly, we heard from Elder Douglas Callister of the 2nd Quorum of the Seventy. He, too, spoke of temples. I so hoped that he would announce the actual location of the new Phoenix temple, but he didn't. I thought maybe he would in conference today....
C and I were going to go to dinner with a number of couples from the ward after the session last night, but things just didn't work out for one reason or another, so we ended up by ourselves at Olive Garden. Good food - love their Zuppa Toscano soup and the salad. C had the chicken marsala.
This morning, we got up and headed over to the Stake Center early - 1) so we could get a good seat and 2) because C had to usher. So, we got there about 10 after 9 a.m. and the chapel was already starting to fill up. We, however, got the third pew from the front on the left - actually one of our favorite places to sit. I quietly read the LDS Living magazine we just received yesterday and C went to fulfill his duty.
As the conference started, my heart filled with the spirit as I heard the youth choir sing a wonderful medley of songs. My eyes started to fill with tears looking at these youth and the smiles on their faces and the goodness in their hearts. I know there are so many youth out there right now that are struggling, going through the rough times in teenage life. But, so many of them go through that because they choose to associate with kids that do not have the same beliefs we do. These kids, you could see it, were there because they wanted to be there on a Sunday morning. They wanted to be in the presence of one of the Lord's servants. They wanted to share their own testimonies through song.
President Hancock spoke first, then one of his counselors, President Kellis. The Mesa, Arizona temple president and his wife, President and Sister Clark, also spoke - again about the temple. He quoted from D&C 97. I didn't write down the verses, but I think these were the ones he was referring to:
10 Verily I say unto you, that it is my will that a house should be built unto me in the land of Zion, like unto the pattern which I have given you.
14 That they may be perfected in the understanding of their ministry, in theory, in principle, and in doctrine, in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth, the keys of which kingdom have been conferred upon you.
15 And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;
He mentioned how we need to pay more attention to how we dress when we attend the temple. I totally agree. I see sisters go there in their flip flops, jean skirts or dresses, and I know of one who even went in pants. If this is all they have, there should be someone who reaches out to them to give them something more appropriate for going to the Lord's house.
The next few things he said were especially pointed and poignant and I made special note to write them down. He said:
In the coming months, the members of our stake will be able to attend the groundbreaking for the new Phoenix temple. We would be needed to help prepare the temple for the open house and then we would be able to attend the dedication.
It felt like he was speaking directly to our stake members. I wrote: "Oh how wonderful this will be! I can't wait for a temple to be built in the north valley! I have so developed a love for the temple since C came into my life!"
We then sang "Now Let Us Rejoice". We all stood to sing and as we sang, I paid a deeper attention to the words of this hymn than I ever have before. They are:
1. Now let us rejoice in the day of salvation. No longer as strangers on earth need we roam. Good tidings are sounding to us and each nation, And shortly the hour of redemption will come, When all that was promised the Saints will be given, And none will molest them from morn until ev’n, And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden, And Jesus will say to all Israel, “Come home.”
2. We’ll love one another and never dissemble, But cease to do evil and ever be one. And when the ungodly are fearing and tremble, We’ll watch for the day when the Savior will come, When all that was promised the Saints will be given, And none will molest them from morn until ev’n, And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden, And Jesus will say to all Israel, “Come home.”
3. In faith we’ll rely on the arm of Jehovah To guide thru these last days of trouble and gloom, And after the scourges and harvest are over, We’ll rise with the just when the Savior doth come. Then all that was promised the Saints will be given, And they will be crown’d with the angels of heav’n, And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden, And Christ and his people will ever be one.
One other topic that really floated through this conference was being comforted during this rocky time that we are in economically and spiritually in the world. This song bore testimony to me that I AM in the true church and that as the time comes when the Savior does return to this earth, that I have not need to fear of the cataclysmic events that will unfold. That I will be protected and He will watch over me.
One of the missionaries was then asked to speak, along with President Nally's wife. Each speaker had something distinct and special to share, but again, the underlying message was about the temple. Sister Nally said that she loves the Book of Mormon because the trials that they went through are so similar to what we are going through, but that it's okay because it's all part of the "the plan".
Elder Callister then spoke again. He told three stories about God knowing what's best. He shared that we should be on our knees praying that we will recognize the signs of the times - not that the signs don't come - because they will. We just need to be ready for when they do! He said the signs of our times will have nothing to do with geography as in the past. We should not be troubled. The declining of the world cannot take anything of true value from us - only violation of our covenants can.
He ended up not saying where the new temple will be, but no matter where it is, I am so looking forward to being able to attend more frequently because of the closer proximity. It was truly a wonderful conference and I would have liked to attend the afternoon session as well (our stake has 12 wards and 2 branches in it so we have to have 2 sessions of conference). It sounds like we will likely hear within the next couple of months where the actual location will be so that will be an exciting day!