Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stake Conference Report - Sunday General Session

I was unaware that this Stake Conference would be a live broadcast from Salt Lake City, but it was and it was a good one.  Here's a recap of the four talks we, and all the other Hawaii stakes, were presented.

Speaker 1: Elder Donald Hallstrom of the Seventy.  Elder Hallstrom is from Hawaii and recalled for us an experience from his youth when he attended a conference at the Honolulu Tabernacle  as a five-year-old with his older brother Jim (who is a former Kaneohe Stake President).  Presiding at that conference was President David O. Mckay.  Though he said he did not recall President McKay's message, he, from his seat in the tenth row of the Tab, received a distinct impression that he was listening to a prophet of God.  At that conference, one of the hymns sung was "Who's on the Lord's side?" In his talk today, Elder Hallstrom asked us if we are on the Lord's side and discussed things we can do to solidify our membership on the Lord's team including [1] gaining and nurturing a testimony, [2] studying the doctrine continually, [3] honoring priesthood ordinances and covenants, [4] rooting out duplicity and [5] establishing a life of service.  Elder Hallstrom made reference to these points in a talk that was recently published in the June 2011 Ensign.

Speak 2: Sister Cheryl Esplin, 2nd counselor in the primary general presidency spoke about keeping the Sabbath day holy.  Of course, keeping the sabbath holy is one of the commandments, and we were reminded that we "parents have a sacred duty" to do so for the sake of our children.  Sister Esplin shared a couple of stories about faithful observance of the Sabbath. One was about a talented young swimmer named Ashley, who, thorough her mother's counsel to pray and to study scripture about the Sabbath, decided to forgo swimming competitions on Sunday.  The second was about Elder H. Verlan Anderson, who "not only knew the truth but lived it" [ref]. It seems that Elder Anderson's son forgot to fill the family car with gasoline after an exuberant Saturday night outing with friends. The next morning, the Sabbath, upon discovering that the car fuel tank was empty, Elder Anderson "put on his coat, bid [his family] good-bye, and then walk the long distance to the chapel, that he might attend an early meeting." 

Speaker 3: Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke about the life and work of Joseph F. Smith (JFS), who spent six of his eighty years of life building the kingdom of God in the Hawaiian islands.  At age 15, JFS was called to serve as a missionary in Hawaii, his first assignment being in 1854 in Kula on Maui.  One of things that confounded early church missionaries to Hawaii was the language but not JFS who, in 100 days, was able to learn and speak Hawaiian fluently.   In 1866, at age 27, JFS was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.  Thereafter, he served as a counselor for Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow before being called as the sixth President of the Church in October 1901.

One of the great teachers of the gospel, according to Elder Ballard, JFS also was inspired in 1915 to dedicate the grounds for the Laie Temple.  Sadly, he died in 1918 at age 80, a year before the Laie Hawaii was opened and dedicated.  Today, JFS is remembered in Hawaii by the Joseph F. Smith Library on the BYU-Hawaii campus and the Iosepa, the 105-foot, double-hulled Hawaiian canoe that was launched in October 2001, a hundred years after JFS was called as Church President.

 Speaker 4:  President Henry Eyring of the First Presidency told us that the purpose of his talk was to help us feel greater confidence in our journey through this life to eternal life.  President Eyring offered three "helps" for us. 
[1]  Be clean.  He talked about partaking the sacrament weekly, about repenting for our sins, about being faithful, about being humble, about remembering the Savior.  "God will help us to be clean," said President Eyring.
[2] Be diligent.  He spoke of having a sense of urgency in our undertakings, using a story of a recent meeting with church leaders where President Monson told them about an initiative they'd been discussing, "We're all agreed that it is a good thing, so why wait?  Let's get started now!"  He cited D&C 4:1-2 and D&C 88:124, the latter scripture being one he said he reads/recites to himself when he is feeling tired and in need of a boost of diligence.
[3] Be prayerful. We were counseled to pray always, and as such, I was reminded of D&C 90:24.  To illustrate, President Eyring recounted the story of fainting spells he was having a few years ago, one fainting episode which resulted in a fall and a broken leg.  Medical examinations at first yielded no clear explanation for the fainting episodes but through continual prayer and a priesthood blessing (from President Monson), a doctor was found who identified the cause (a faulty heart) which was taken care of with a pacemaker.  All is well with President Eyring.

Summary:  Stake Conferences are meant to foster unity among members and us partake of the spirit.  In that regard, this was a great Stake Conference with timely and helpful messages for all of us. 

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