Well, it was a fabulous Sunday, today. It was stake conference yesterday and today and we were well fed by the speakers. Both the temple matron and president spoke to us last light and brought up some thought provoking things. Sister Armstrong quoted Elder Kikuchi thusly, “As you firmly grasp the iron rod, it will lead you to the open doors of the temple.” This is a confirmation of the thoughts that Georgia and I have that getting new converts to the temple is the real objective of missionary work. We are told in Sec. 109 of the Doctrine and Covenants that we can receive an endowment of POWER by going to the temple for ourselves. Surely, this power will convert into greater activity among the saints and new and growing leadership as they return from the temple and become “beacons” in their wards and branches. It is especially important in Ennerdale since relatively few members are endowed.
President Armstrong said that President Hinckley told the saints that “Every time we go to the temple, we leave as a better son or daughter of God.” What could be more inviting than to realize that each temple visit makes us stronger and more useful in the kingdom. Georgia and I both feel that there should be more emphasis on the saints receiving their own endowments and then returning often to the temple – whether it be in South Africa, Oregon, Utah, Nebraska or anywhere else in the world.
President Molema (Stake President) spoke on the fall and atonement and made a statement that struck me particularly. He said that just as Naaman had to wash seven times in the Jordan or he would not be cured, we must do exactly as the Lord has commanded to receive salvation. This is a point that is brought to the missionaries constantly as “exact obedience” just like the stripling warriors of Helaman in the Book of Mormon – they served in the stressful conditions of battle exactly as they were directed and were spared from death.
This morning, President Wrench (1st Counselor) told us of a brother who was searching for a secretary in his stake calling. He proposed a dozen men to the Lord and never received confirmation. He then was inspired to propose another brother who was thought by many to be a less than desirable member of the kingdom. He received strong confirmation that this man was to be the secretary needed in this stake organization. He had to convince the Stake President that his decision had been confirmed by the Lord. Pres. Wrench said that this points out the need of being persistent in search of inspiration. When we hit on the right answer, we will know it.
We then heard three powerful testimonies from returned missionaries – two brothers and one sister. President Msane (2nd Counselor) followed, pointing out that life is an open book test. Open book does not equate to easy – he said that we must be familiar with the material (scriptures, commandments, words of living prophets, etc.) and realize that there is a time limit. In life’s case, we are not given the exact time limit – it is different for each of us. This is a great lesson in not procrastinating the day of our repentance.
Sister Poulsen spoke next and posed the question – Did I promise in the pre-existence to find certain people and expose them to the gospel in this life? Wow, what have I/we done about this? How many times have I ignored a prompting to share the word and ignored it? Coupling Pres. Msane’s talk urging me to realize that there is a time limit and Sister Poulsen’s question gets me to thinking that I must do better than I have done.
President Poulsen then gave us a powerful message about being a missionary. I will just share one thought that he gave. He said that EVERYONE we meet already knows that the gospel is true, but that the veil has been drawn over their memory, so that they may find out for themselves in this life. This again relates to the pre-earth life – every person who is on the earth accepted the Savior’s plan, so they know it to be the truth. The point being that we should not exclude anyone from being exposed to the gospel – the Holy Ghost will bear witness that we are telling the truth.
President Molema then taught a powerful lesson in being where we ought to be when we ought to be there. He related a story (which I recall hearing) that President Packer told about getting to a remote Pacific island. The way through the treacherous reef surrounding the island was to be found by lining up two lights – one high on the mountain and the other at the water level. Due to storms at sea, their arrival was delayed and the keeper of the light at water’s edge had given up and gone home to sleep. It was a major problem for them to safely reach the landing area. Pres Molema pointed out that YOU and I are the keepers of that lower light and it is our job to be there for investigators and members alike.
The real payoff of the day actually came after the meetings as three brethren from our branch were given the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained elders. One of them will soon go to the temple, be endowed, sealed to his wife and have his daughter sealed to both of them. The other two have been members a bit less than a year. They both have the desire to serve as missionaries and I’m sure they will do just that and be good at it. I could not control the tears of happiness as I stood in the circle as these last two were ordained.
After the elation of the ordinations, we shared more joy with a sister from Ennerdale who had just received her Patriarchal Blessing. In the one year plus that we have been in the branch, she has grown tremendously. She will be a powerhouse among the saints, not only in Ennerdale, but in the stake and throughout South Africa. The three men who received the Melchidezek Priesthood will also be great leaders in the years to come.
All in all, it has been a wonderful day. “It is good for us to be here.”