Our Ward has about 50-70 people on a good Sunday. But they are amazing people, striving to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Good people that even though many are elderly they still contribute to the ward in whatever way they can. An example is our ward chorister. This 94 year old Sister just spent months in the hospital and home recovering from Spinal Meningitis. But as soon as she could she was back leading us in our Sunday Hymns. We are so impressed with these valiant members.
|SAY Y E S !|
This past weekend we enjoyed Stake Conference. Saturday evening is met in a small Chapel and we fill up about ¾ of the Chapel and overflow area. It is always so surprising to me when we walk in and see so many of our young missionaries already there. This Saturday evening I was particularly impressed with how many of the young missionaries participated in the evening program. Sister Walker conducted the music. At the last minute they needed someone to conduct. Someone suggested Sister Walker. She did not have experience doing this but she said “Yes”. Then Sister Walker and Elder Monterio sang a duet. You could tell Elder Monterio was nervous, as he never looked up or smiled. But he had an amazing voice. They both agreed to do this performance when asked a few weeks earlier, they said “Yes”. Later when Sister Checketts was leading a discussion from the pupit she asked for class participation and our young Missionaries were popping up their hands. Twice she asked missionaries to read something up on the screen above the pulpit. When she called on Elder Ashton, he said he forgot his classes but he stood up, button his suit coat and walked to the front where he could see better and read with a strong and powerful voice the paragraph. He said “Yes” in his actions. I think some 18 year olds would have hesitated or read in a timid voice. The missionaries throughout the world are being shaped and moulded into our future church leaders. So amazing to watch and see it happen in our missionaries lives here in Sydney.
Later that evening I told Sister Checketts how proud of these young people I was and she said she feels that way all the time. I am surprised at how I feel so close to these young missionaries. I guess working in the office and daily speaking to a number of these young people causes you to grow fond and even love each of them. Our wonderful Sister missionaries always rush up to me when they see me and give me great big hugs. It feels good to feel this love from them, although some of the Polynesians don’t realize how strong they are and how old I am getting (sob) and they about crush every bone in my body. But I love getting their hugs too much to ever shy away from receiving this sign of love.
I am preparing to give a talk in our ward at the end of the November. My assigned topic is Elder Bednar’s conference talk “Quick to Observe”. I have been doing a lot of observing and praying for guidance on this topic. Elder Bednar talks about different types of Spiritual Gifts that we may not observe as a gift. Such as, listening, asking, hearing the still small voice, being able to weep, avoiding conflict and on and on. So, with my desire to observe at a more heightened level, I noticed something special about Sister Checketts, our Presidents good wife.
She has a real gift at pronouncing missionary’s names, especially NEW missionary’s names perfectly on her first attempt. This might not sound like anything special to someone not here, so let me give you an example of some of our more challenging names and this is just a few. There are dozens of names that I still struggle with. Okay for Polynesian names how would you say Faasootauloa, Leaaemanu Tuimaseve, Taerea, Tahere, Taurere (last 3 names all pronunciated the same). Asian names Ng (hint keep your lips closed), Tseng (first 2 letters with your lips closed) no it is not Zing, and Saengkabkeo. A couple of random names from Australia and New Zealand, Riquelme, Ngatuvai and last but not least Venetsanakos. This is just a handful of names that have me tongue tied whenever I see these missionaries. Not Sister Checketts, she can pronounce them all… and even put a Polynesian accent, Asian Accent, Greek or Hispanic accent on these names. I commented to Sister Checketts how well she does with these names and she admitted that she has been blessed with the ability to not struggle with the names of the missionaries and speak their names clearly and recognizably. What a gift. I think I will have to use that example in my talk.
The other day after reading some church history I started thinking about how difficult it must have been for Joseph Smith Jr. to organize, spiritually lead and teach the many new and challenging members coming into the church. I thought about today and how we often need to do new and challenging things in our personal lives. Or when church leaders need to organize a new program or reinvent a program. As I was pondering how difficult life can be, I thought to myself, why can’t Heavenly Father just tell us what he wants, when he wants it and how he wants it done? I mean we get a lot of direction from our leaders why don’t we have answers to all our problems and needs? That seemed reasonable to me.
The next day when we were having our scripture reading this verse jumped out at me. D&C 58:26 “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant, wherefore he receiveth no reward.” Well then, I had my question answered quite clearly. Amazing how that works.
As I have mentioned before, our offices sit across the parking lot of the Sydney Temple. It is really exciting walking to work these days. Watching the hustle and bustle of the many electricians, grounds people and workers getting the grounds ready for the Christmas Season. They have trenched all over the oversized lawn, running new power lines to massive trees to be wired with Christmas lights. It will be a small version of Temple Square here. They say we will have 1000’s of visitors during the holidays. The junior missionaries will give the tours and answer the questions. The senior missionaries will be support and supervise all the action. It will be long days and nights during the holidays, but what better way to spend Christ’s birthday? Wouldn’t you agree?