This past weekend was Stake Conference. In case you're not well-versed in LDS vocabulary, Stake Conference is a series of big church meetings--comes around every six months or so (though not as big as GENERAL CONFERENCE). Additionally, thinking of those not fluent in MormonSpeak, allow me to further define a stake. First of all, we belong to a ward, our local church congregation. Each congregation is called a ward and several wards (in our stake, this would be six wards at the moment) comprise a stake, a bigger unit of church members. I'm not Catholic, but I have sometimes explained that a ward is like a parish and a stake is more like a diocese, but I'm not completely sure that's as accurate as I would like it to be. At any rate, by the end of this laborious paragraph, you are getting the idea! Oh, one more thing, the ward is led by a bishop and the stake is led by a stake president. Both bishops and stake presidents have two counselors.
So, K and I attended the Saturday evening session for adults eighteen and over. Fabulous! They had a couple of members of the stake bear their testimonies (give short talks) about implementing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives. All three members of the stake presidency and their wives also spoke. First we heard from President and Sister Abels. President Abels is the second counselor in the stake presidency. They have five children. They spoke about prioritizing things in our lives with three categories: essential, necessary, and nice to do. The essential things included prayer, scripture study, and those sorts of things. The necessary things included work, laundry, cooking, etc. The nice to do things included crafts, hobbies, computer time, etc. Then they talked about how they are attempting to do the essential things even with five children. What I really enjoyed about these talks is that they admitted things aren't perfect. The point is they try and they really, really hope they're getting points for trying because they won't be getting many points for actual execution of all essential things (and that's okay).
Then President and Sister Law spoke. President Law is the first counselor in the stake presidency. I know Sister Law a bit and she is wonderful. They talked about raising their children as well. They talked about service and the joy they've experienced by doing all these essential and difficult things.
My favorite talks were by President and Sister Bratt (pronounced "brought"). President Bratt is THE stake president. They started by introducing themselves. They were in a bad car accident on their honeymoon and had to be driven home by his uncle while she sat in the backseat alone the whole way! Their first child arrived ten months later. They've been married almost thirty-two years and that ten months was all of the time they had "alone" in their marriage. They spoke of learning that they were expecting a seventh child. Their sixth was already seven years old and they thought they were done. President Bratt candidly mentioned that they were pretty depressed by the news for the first couple of months. I just LOVE the fact that these people were keeping their experiences REAL! They weren't hanging out any unnecessary dirty laundry, but they weren't glossing over difficult situations either. Everything is not peaches and cream but it's still a wonderful life!
The Sunday morning general session was also wonderful! The theme was "Daunting Tasks." They had more stake members bear testimonies: a girl who recently joined the church, a husband and father who entered drug and alcohol rehab a year ago, and a father who recently lost his daughter. All of them spoke and testified of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. "I want you to know that God lives." "I know the Savior understands me." Such inspiring testimonies.
The Sunday morning talks were excellent as well, but I'll finish this post by sharing President Bratt's closing comments. He explained that his mother loved to sew. He would watch her in admiration as a child because she was so driven to complete a project. They lived on a farm and raised chickens. One day, at the age of eleven and while in the livingroom, he saw the neighbors dog with one of their pretty little hens in its mouth. He took off running outside and the dog also took off, so he ran through the orchard and intercepted the dog with perfect timing. He kicked the dog to get it to let go of the chicken and it ran yipping home. The chicken was ripped open from the top left side of her breast all the way across and down under the right side of her wing. His brother had caught up to him at this time and they both lamented the fate of the chicken. Then they looked at each other with the same exact thought, "Let's stitch her up!" They carried the chicken back home and asked their mother for a needle and thread. They sewed her up and put her in a box and watched over her for several days. The hen became stronger and started healing. The day came when they had to take the stitches out. The feathers began to grow back. In time, she looked like the pretty, perfect chicken she used to be. You would never know that she had been torn apart by a dog.
I'm sure there are many lessons here, but the point for me is that the Savior Jesus Christ can heal us. As we pray ("and you better believe we prayed for that chicken every morning and every night after we stitched her up"), ask forgiveness, and repent, the Savior can step in for us and fix things. He can heal us. He can do it so well, that our sins/scars are no longer visable. Sometimes repentance is one of those Daunting Tasks, but with the Lord's help, we can accomplish and overcome. And it's not just repentance. Jesus Christ can assist in healing us from a variety of burdens, burdens we did not bring upon ourselves. He can help us get to the place where people can't even tell our feathers have just finished growing back in.
38 minutes ago