Saturday, June 18, 2016

June 6, 2016

Dear Family,

Today I am thankful for prophets and apostles. In D & C 52:9 we read: "And let them journey from thence preaching the word by the way, saying none other things than that which the prophets and apostles have written, and that which is taught them by the Comforter through the prayer of faith."
They travel the earth and teach us about the Gospel and the Life of Jesus Christ. Last November Julie shook hands with Elder Rasband. Last January Chris shook hands with Elder Christoffersen. Yesterday I shook hands with Elder Renlund. Within a year every one of us has had an apostle come speak to each one of us. It is a small blessing from the Lord for our family.

Yesterday morning we woke up at 5 o'clock and left for the mission office at 6. The transfer van with all the metro missionaries left at 7. We got to Sackville, New Brunswick at 9. The bi-stake conference began at 10.  We ate lunch and mingled with members and missionaries until 2. It felt like general conference when we first arrived at Mount Allison University. There were missionaries and Latter-Day Saints everywhere. It was a sight I haven't seen for a long time and certainly not on my mission. I got to see members from all 6 of my areas on my mission. It felt like I was in the spirit world. As I greeted and fellow-shipped with members that I've visited and got to know that I haven't seen in a very long time it was very edifying and fortifying. It was very special and uplifting.

In Alma 17:2 we read: "Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God."

I rejoiced yesterday when I saw my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord. Some of my favorite people on my mission all came to hear from an apostle of the Lord yesterday. As missionaries we get to visit these people in their homes and visit them often. We draw close to them and develop a special kind of bond that is meant to last forever. We help them draw closer to God. We encourage them to share the gospel with their friends. We work with them in their callings to help the people they have stewardship over. Never again will I get to serve the members in this capacity and calling. The Saints of Atlantic Canada are blessed people and I love them so much. There's no Saints quite like them. They traveled large distances to hear from Elder Renlund. Don't get me wrong, the Saints of Alberta are great too but I'm afraid I won't get to know them and serve them quite like I have on my mission. It was neat to see how much I've impacted the members in each area I've served in on my mission yesterday. Yesterday was an amazing day.

Anyway, as for the special stake conference itself. The conference started off with the stake president of New Brunswick speaking; he spoke on the Book of Mormon and how pondering is the thinking and praying of the Book of Mormon.

Sis. Gong: (Wife of Elder Gong of the Presidency of The Seventy) spoke on why we come to Church and make sacrifices to go to Church. She said that going to Church teaches us how to be the best person we can be.

Elder Gong of The Presidency of The Seventy: spoke on "Staying together". He used the analogy of penguins diving into the water together. He even made the penguin noise haha. He talked about how as youth and YSA we need to be together in transition phases. When a Aaronic Priest becomes a Elder, when a young women advances to Relief Society. We need to stay with each other.  He also spoke on seeing ourselves through spiritual eyes.

The stake president of Nova Scotia spoke on how "Affliction and "Blessing" are in the same sentence in the Book of Mormon and how an affliction will work for our good.

Sister Renlund spoke on "bedrock fundamental doctrines" that unite us. When asked the question from a border guard "What are Mormons all about?" she responded "Mormons are what we know and live." Three fundamental beliefs unite us... Our belief that God is our Father in Heaven, all the truth has been restored through Joseph Smith and our belief in continuing revelation and prophets. She also spoke on how we all desire to make covenants with God and how we have Priesthood authority.

Finally, Elder Renlund of The Quorum of The Twelve spoke. To start off he spoke on how the hymn "Be Still My Soul" originated from Finland. He talked about how the tree of life is Jesus Christ and the fruits are the Atonement. He spoke on taking offense. He started by saying "If someone hasn't made fun of your beliefs already you haven't been a member long enough." He said that it is prophesied in 1 Samuel that if we give heed to criticism we will fall away. He also said "If you haven't been offended by someone in the Church yet you haven't been a member long enough. Imperfect people run this Church; I am a testament to that." He then concluded by speaking on how God works with each one of us one-by-one. Just like missionaries guide investigators into the waters of baptism one-by-one.

The special stake conference then concluded. We all lined to shake Elder Renlund's hand. When I finally got up to him, I shook his hand then he asked me "What's your name?" I responded "Elder O'Brien." He replied "Where are you from?" I remarked "Alberta". He asked me "What part of Alberta?" Me: "The Lethbridge Area." Elder Renlund: "Good to meet you." I then walked away.

What a way to end an extraordinary Sabbath day. Have a great week!

Elder O'Brien (the older)

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