Thursday, April 9, 2015

April 5, 2015 - Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

Dear Family,
It has been a very eventful week. Between Conference and Easter it has been quite the weekend.I have had an amazing Easter and hope you have as well. I got your Easter package just in time for Easter.So thank you for the chocolate bunny, cookies, and eggies :).By the end of conference I found myself particularly sad that it was over. This conference had a unique spirit to it different with conferences in the past. That's because it was on an Easter this time. All the messages were so good. I felt the spirit so strong throughout the weekend and can't wait until the Ensign edition of conference comes out. Then I will be able to highlight things I missed and add notes as well. As Robert D. Hales has said "The greatest blessings come after general conference." In honor of Easter, I have been reading Luke 24 where it talks about the Resurrection and Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was a good read and I would encourage you all to read it as well.
Wednesday: President Leavitt asked all the missionaries to fast for success in the next 3 months. The mission has had a very low baptismal rate this winter due to church cancellations, snow days, and bad weather. So he's wanted that to change and he wants us to do a better job at working with members, District Meeting was an hour longer then it normally is. President Leavitt standardized how to organize member books, area books, and wall maps. Before missionaries could organize them in whatever way they want; now it's standard and both set of missionaries in the area has a record for each member. President wants us to create a tracting plan by using the members. By doing so, the members will trust us and give us referrals. His big push right now is working through the members. 

Thursday I went on an exchange in Sackville with Elder Sortomme. Sackville is starting to do a games night every Thursday. They liked how that worked out for us and wanted to try it themselves. About 10 members showed up. It was decently attended. We played Charades and Contact. It was really fun.
Saturday we basically camped out at the church all day. After the first session, the sisters had a baptism. She is 19 years old. She has been going to church for 3 years now but her mother wouldn't let her join the Church. So she had to wait until she could get baptized without permission. She is a really sweet girl. Her mother was there to support her despite being against it. There were a lot of people at her baptism. All of the people who stayed for the first session stayed afterwards for the baptism. But the baptism did end on time and we had just enough time for refreshments. All of us went back into the chapel for the next session after the baptism was over. There was a potluck for all the priesthood right before the priesthood session put on by the Elders Quorum. There were a lot of priesthood that came. I actually wasn't that tired during the session; I stayed awake during the whole thing and was very attentive. I wasn't even that tired when it was over.
Some of my favorite talks from conference were Elder Bednar's talk on "Hushing our fears" through faith in Christ. It made me think of "Hushing" my anxieties, my fears and my stress by looking toward the Savior. "Jesus Christ is the only source of enduring peace" I also liked how he talked about Godly Fear being a good thing. "Godly Fear is loving and knowing that God loves us." I never really thought that much about Godly fear before so it was very enlightening. My other favorite talk was by Elder Holland. He gave a really powerful testimony of the Atonement using the story of the boys on the cliff. My favorite quote from his talk was when he said "Every fear, every discouragement, every sorrow and pain has been taken away from the Savior." It was a really powerful talk and almost made me cry. Another talk I liked was by Elder Michael T. Ringwood where he talked mainly about doing good out of the motivation of the love of God. I like the story he shared when he was a young missionary and he got a companion he knew nothing about. He had heard from the mission that this companion was hard and he wasn't given any leadership assignments so he was skeptical. But when he got this new companion he found he was faithful. He got up on time, he was on time for studies, he was out the door on time, he went out and worked every day. He wanted to tell the mission that they were wrong about this Elder; that he was a good faithful missionary. But when he spoke with his mission president he said "God knows it, the mission president knows it, you know it. Who else's opinion really matters?" Those are some of many talks I liked this weekend. Elder Oaks gave a good talk, Elder Ballard gave a good talk, President Uchtdorf gave two great talks, President Monson gave a good talk. So many inspiring talks this weekend. Some things I noticed during from Conference was that President Monson looks like he aged quite a bit.

I did a double take when I heard President Evanson's name announced as a new area seventy. He has done so much for the stake and for our family in particular with my mission situation and Ayla and Arles. Although he will be an area seventy you will still see him around :). As mom e-mailed, the new stake president has big shoes to fill. He's an amazing man and will be missed by many. I know there will be many tears this weekend. Send him my love and my thanks to him on my behalf. He is the most Christlike man I know. He will be a great area seventy. That doesn't surprise me one bit that he got called as an area seventy.

It has been a remarkable weekend. As I continue to ponder and reflect on the talks given, I pray that I will take from it what I need to and move forward with my life.
Hope you have a great week! Let me know how stake conference goes :). I'll been thinking of you and praying for you as I now will come home to a new stake president.
Have a great week!
Elder O'Brien

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