Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stake Conference Report - Saturday night adult session

My wife and I attended the adult session of Kaneohe Hawaii Stake Conference last night and it was wonderful.

We arrived a few minutes before 7pm to find a well-occupied stake center parking lot.  "Wow, lots of people tonight," I remarked to my wife as we made our way into the building.  Once there, we found a line of ten people waiting to enter the chapel, including Sister Lorraine Kawakami, the Poliahus (from K2 ward), and Jeff & Libby Tom (now of K2 but formerly of our ward).  At that point, a decision was made to open the sliding partition doors to the rear section of the chapel which saved us from having to hunt down seats in the gathered body of Saints in the quite-full front section.

We enjoyed the prelude music being played on the organ by David Ahuna and noted those sitting on the stand: the stake presidency (Kaluhiokalani, Kawakami, Gibson, Lee), Elder Scot Whiting of the Seventy (and our former Stake President), Brother Bob Uyehara (a former bishop & counselor in the stake presidency), a handful of brothers and sisters we did not recognize but who would be giving talks, and a choir composed of single-adults from the stake which included a couple of members of our quorum--David Suficiencia and Gene Tamashiro.  Micah Hirokawa, formerly of our ward, was the choir director.

Talk 1:  Brother Paul Andrus (K3 ward), 87, is, according to this source, a  former missionary, mission president (see pic at left), stake high councilor, member of the stake presidency, and regional representative.  He gave his testimony of "true doctrine." Before reading from his scriptures about Nebuchadnezzar's Dream from Daniel 2, Brother Andrus realized that he had forgotten his reading glasses.  Instantly, as if on cue, President Gibson arose and offered his glasses to Brother Andrus.  A grateful Brother Andrus then remarked, "These are perfect. In fact they're even better than mine."  A delightful moment.
  • Talk 2: Sister ?? (I didn't catch her name) spoke about "things that matter most."  She read excerpts from personal journal entries she had written for her children. 
Talk 3:  Sister Pauline Saizon (Kahaluu Ward) used the saying "If you build it, they will come" from the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams as the framework for her message, which included references to "field builders" like her mom (a faithful member who lived to be 100 years old), her daughter (who inspired her after a year and a half of inactivity), and her grandson (who encouraged her during a family trip to Disneyland).  Sister Saizon also counseled us about the perils of being too BUSY (Burdened Under Satan's Yoke). 
  • Talk 4:  Brother Bob Uyehara spoke about receiving inspired counsel from a church leader to serve a senior mission with his wife.  After consulting with his wife regarding serving a mission, they received an answer from Isaiah 65:24.  In a personal aside, I first met Brother Uyehara in the 1980s at Kamehameha, where I was on the coaching staff of the junior varsity football team which his son, Randy, was a member of.  While I did not know Bob was a member of the church, I do recall him as being friendly and supportive.  After those Kamehameha football years, I next encountered Brother Uyehara at my first LDS church service in November 2005.  He was seated on the stand of the Waikalua Chapel that day, probably as a member of the stake presidency or stake high council, and after the meeting we renewed our acquaintance.  
Talk 5:  Stake President George Kaluhiokalani, in an inspiring talk, spoke about life's lessons learned which, for him, included keeping a personal history to give to his children, recognizing that there will be thorns and thistles in life (he told the story of Wilma Rudolf as an example), being grateful (he told the story of watching the sunset from Ala Moana beach as an example of something he was grateful for), being forgiving, attending the temple, and making the gospel the center of his life.  He concluded by expressing his gratitude for the two young men who, in the late 1970s, answered the inspired call to serve missions in New Jersey, where they carried the good news of the gospel to the Kaluhiokalani family, which included a son named George (him).

  Talk 6:  Elder Scott Whiting, in yet another inspired talk, explained why it is important to have older members on the stand during meetings like this one. The reason:  these members serve as examples of individuals who, through their diligent and steadfast faith, have attained holiness in their lives.  Elder Whiting also taught us a lesson about drawing close to God.  He did so by telling a story about wanting to attend the temple during the time when the Laie temple was undergoing renovation.   During that time, he was on a church assignment to California and he made plans to attend the San Diego Temple.   When he arrived at the temple, he encountered a closed and locked gate and was informed that the temple was closed for two weeks for its annual cleaning and renovation.  Disappointed, Elder Whiting drove off and soon thereafter received a prompting that the temple was not the only place to go to draw close to God.  Drawing close to God can happen anywhere.  A good lesson for all of us.

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