Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Mission Reunion and General Conference

Several weeks ago we began to hear about a reunion at the home of Elder and Sister Zwick.  Just before we left Puerto Rico there was a crisis in the mission and the Zwick’s were sent down to help get things back on track.  We were only there 3-4 days with them before we finished our mission.  In that short time, however, we felt as though we had been reunited with long-lost friends.  It is amazing how the fellowship among the Saints will do that.
The reunion was planned for the Friday before Easter.  Since General Conference was also on Easter weekend this year, that created some conflicts.  We decided to go, however, and it was the right decision.  The drive to Salt Lake is always long and boring.  Sometimes Gaye and I talk a lot, and we use that time to resolve communication snags that have arisen in our relationship.  We have learned that those issues do not resolve themselves, so having opportunities to work through them is always a good thing.

For me the best part of the reunion was seeing the missionaries, old 

and young, 
whom we had grown to love while in the Caribbean.  
There were many who could not come, and there are even a few still out there who have not completed their missions.  We will see them next year.  Sister Zwick had arranged a nice meal, followed by a short devotional.  Sister Dew was also in attendance, and it was fun and uplifting to get to know her a little bit.  She has written a couple of biographies of Church presidents, as well as served in the General Relief Society Presidency.  She is CEO of Deseret Book and she travels the world on assignment from Church leaders.  Her example is a light for all of us.  I asked if I could take her photo and she said I could, so here is a photo of three lovely women.  There is a glow about them, don’t you think?

I have been trying to think of why this was such a heart-warming, fulfilling event.  We don’t get to go to the home of a General Authority very often.  In fact, just physically meeting one is a rare occurrence these days.  When I was a deacon there was a GA, often even one of the Twelve, present at our quarterly stake conference.  We would go up after the meeting and shake the visitor’s hand.  As the Church has grown those leaders are spread out more, however, and even the bi-annual stake conferences don’t have GA visitors very often now.  I have learned that they are simply ordinary people, like you and me, who have been given extraordinary assignments.  Most of them set a great example for the rest of us of how we should magnify our own callings.  Whether we serve as the hand, the eye, the head, or the little toe of the body of the Church, the thing that will make the biggest difference will be how we serve.  Paul fittingly described it in 1 Cor 12.  It is a beautiful concept.

We drove immediately back home, arriving just after midnight.  All our kids except the Alaska contingent were here for Conference and Easter.  It is one of our favorite family times.  When lived in Alaska we were blessed to receive a broadcast of one of the sessions, but it would come at 0700 on Sunday morning.  Our little kids didn’t like to get up that early. We would often try to have friends or neighbors over to share the Gospel message with them.  There were no recording devices then, so Gaye started making cinnamon rolls for the occasion.  We would have orange juice with the rolls as we watched the broadcast.  The circumstances have changed, but the tradition has continued.  So this Easter morning we had cinnamon rolls and orange juice as we watched the Choir broadcast and then the first Sunday session.  This year Gaye made the best cinnamon rolls I have ever tasted!

Just a brief mention of some things I learned from this year’s conference.  There has been a lot of commotion the past several months about same-gender marriage and the rights of LGBT people.  There has also been a big noise by some inside and some outside the Church about ordaining women.  There have been some high profile defections and church discipline actions when a couple of “members” have gotten way out of line.  In conference this year there were even some rude members who stood and shouted their disagreement when the church officers were presented for sustaining vote.  The instructions were given to raise their hands, which is what all who sustain the leaders did, but they decided to stand and shout.  President Uchtdorf recognized their dissention, and he instructed them to contact their stake presidents for further review and action.  We don’t contend with those who disagree with us.  God never argues with Satan, either.

It was very like the Sonya Johnson affair of several years ago when the Equal Rights Amendment (a title of pure propaganda value) was a big issue.  D&C 121, especially verse 33,  “As well might man stretch forth his puny arm…”  tells the truth.  Members might kick against the pricks and fight against God, but in the end, those who do so will be the ones who are hurt.  Gamaliel offered some advice to the Sanhedrin when the social opinions differed from the actions of Church leaders.   In Acts 5:39 he basically made this statement:  Either this Church is led by inspired men of God, and therefore by God himself, or it is not.  If God is in charge, then we will do best to get in line with what he tells us to do.  If God is not in charge, there is no hope and we might as well do what Peggy Lee said in her song “Is That All There Is?”—let’s break out the booze and have a ball.

I choose to believe that God is in charge.  I have learned that I am not smarter than God is.  He knows what is best, even for me.  I think we need to stop trying to persuade God to do things our way and just accept his wisdom.  Happiness lies in being obedient.  There is no other way.