A couple weeks ago we had Stake Conference. It was an extra special treat because an Apostle and a Seventy were going to be there! Elder Richard G. Scott and Elder Brinkerhoff attended and spoke on a couple different occasions. We attended both the Adult Session on Saturday night and the General Session, Sunday morning. Steve also attended the Priesthood Leadership meeting earlier Saturday evening. Thanks to Granny for coming and picking up Jilly, then keeping her all Saturday evening so we could attend without distraction!
(For those of you, not of our faith, Stake Conference is a regional conference that happens twice a year. Our Church is led by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Scott is one of those twelve. We have a few Quorums of the Seventy, one of which Elder Brinkerhoff belongs to, that are generally more localized area/regional leaders.)
The Saturday Adult session was amazing. I really enjoyed myself. I felt the Spirit there in a very strong way and it was so special to be so close to people who've dedicated their lives to serving the Lord. First off, we had a couple (husband and wife) from the Temple Presidency speak, as well as a couple from the Mission Presidency. They were all very pleasant and uplifting talks, but I admit, I didn't take notes on their's! Elder Brinkerhoff spoke next, and again, I didn't take notes. Oops!
Finally, it was time for Elder Scott to speak. I was so excited! His talk wasn't your typical lecture-talk. Instead, he took questions from the audience and answered them. It was clear that he not only a very practiced orator, but he also is very in tune with the Spirit. Elder Scott was able to take all questions and comments and weave them together into a very coherent and organized talk. Here are some notes I took:
*We should be absolutely unanimous in decisions as: Husbands & Wives, Bishoprics, and Elder's Quorum Presidencies. We really should be an unanimous as possible in all settings, but it's essential in presiding authorities.
*When asked what he's learned from President Gordon B. Hinckley, he listed the following: Humility, first and foremost, and extraordinary communication through prayer. Pres. Hinckley never uses cliches or repeated phrases, but is very specific and concise in his prayers. He spends most of the time praying, in gratitude to our Heavenly Father. President Hinckley is very good at getting things done efficiently and to the benefit of man. The example used was about temples. While President Hinckley has been President the number of operating temples from 47 to 124, with 12 more announced or under construction. Pretty impressive, when you take into account that he has only been President since 1995. One other thing was that President Hinckley has remarkable confidence in following the Lord to implement several changes in the operation of the Church and other things.
*Elder Scott was asked how we can make our temple worship more meaningful and "get more out of it". He suggested that we set dates to go to the temple and treat them as if they were major trips. He wants us to view our trips to the temple with the same degree of determination, as if we had to travel long distances to attend. It can be easy to say, "Oh we'll just go next month instead," with the temple being so close. His point was to not let that mindset affect our temple attendance. Another suggestion was to take off your watch and forget about time while in the session. When you're worried about the time, you're thinking about outside issues. You need to focus on what's going on at the moment, and what the Lord has to teach you. Another was to prepare spiritually to be taught by the Spirit. If we go in expecting to learn something, we're much more likely to be taught, rather than waiting for something to happen to us.
*He said something about the Sealing ordinance that stuck with me. I think too often people view it as once you've been sealed to your spouse, you're set. You've checked off everything, and you'll be stuck with the person forever. What Elder Scott said was that both people have to be live worthily and both have to want to be together for eternity. We're not actually bound to eternal togetherness, we have to want it and choose it. By being sealed, we have that option, that would otherwise not be given to us, but we still need to work for it. I really liked hearing that. :-)
*He counseled us to make two lists. One of the thing we want to accomplish on the Earth; the essential, fundamental things. Then make a list of how you have used your discretionary time in the last year. Compare the lists. You want them to match up as close as possible. If you find yourself watching TV more than reading the scriptures and praying, then you probably should make some changes so that you're spending your time on what's really important to you.
*To improve our scripture study, he suggested:
-making notes in the margins
-when you get a new significant calling, get a new set of scriptures and read them with your calling in mind.
-we each need our own physical set of scriptures. The scriptures on the computer are greating for researching and gathering quotes and such, but not for pondering. Reading the actual books will help pondering.
*When asked how we can strengthen our personal relationship with Heavenly Father, Elder Scott replied that we need to understand who His Son is and what He means to Heavenly Father. We focus on Christ being our Savior and Redeemer, but we'll come to know Heaven;y Father more when we truly try to understand who His Son is.
*He spoke about how the Atonement can heal and help rectify the consequences of things that are grossly unfair. The example he used was of abuse. Someone who was abused didn't cause it, and it was grossly unfair, but through the Atonement, they can be completely healed and not have to carry that hurt with them for their entire lives. I found that particularly inspiring.
* "No evil influence can affect a righteous person." That stuck with me. He was showing that just because bad things may happen around or to us, we don't have to give in to the evil. We can, and should, still choose to be righteous.
*Whatever we've earned in this life is ours and no one can take it from us (like forgiveness, blessings, etc). We lose those things through disobedience. But if we're faithful, our love will only increase, thanks to the law of justice.
That's the end of my notes. I really really very much loved attending that meeting. It was a close, intimate meeting. I felt like I was almost sitting in a living room and he was just talking to us. It was amazing.
After the meeting closed, most everyone lined up to shake Elder Scott's hand. I was so excited and made sure Steve and I met him. We waited for a bit, but not too long, and then spoke with him. He shook our hands and told me I had a beautiful smile and that we looked very happy. We replied that we ARE really happy. It was only a moment, but I have NO doubt in my mind that he is an apostle and true servant of the Lord. He doesn't just have a testimony, he knows. It was amazing. (In case I hadn't mentioned that before. ;-))
Sunday morning, we were too late to sit in the chapel or gym and see the meeting. We ended up in the Primary Room, with some other people. It was harder to concentrate because I couldn't see him and the kids were playing. But it was still wonderful to hear everyone speak and the Children's Choir sing. I loved it.
So that is my experience with meeting and hearing Elder Richard G. Scott at Stake Conference a couple weeks ago!