Saturday, June 6, 2015

Stake Conference

We attended two sessions of the Sarasota Stake Conference and one additional meeting today.  We started with a stake missionary correlation meeting.  The zone leaders attend this meeting along with several stake high councilors.  Since the zone leaders are concerned about exceeding their mileage allocation this month, we drove to Bradenton to pick them up for the meeting in Sarasota.

The missionary meeting is basically a means for the stake to learn about the missionary efforts and vice versa.  The members of the stake have not been as diligent in providing referrals to the missionaries nor having investigators taught in their homes.  So we asked the high councilors to preach this message to the stake members in their visits to wards.  Brother McKinney, the high councilor over missionary work in the stake, has been very diligent.  He is moving to Kentucky soon and this will be our last meeting with him.  He is an impressive young man of 30 years with a tender story about his reactivation.  He will be missed! 

Next was the priesthood leadership meeting of stake conference.  It was announced as a priesthood meeting, at least in the wards we have attended for the past couple of weeks.  The visiting authority for the conference was Elder Stephen Thompson, an area authority seventy.  He lives in Ft. Myers, and formerly was the president of that stake.

In this meeting, and repeated again during the evening session, is that we should strive to increase the spirituality and improve the content of our sacrament meetings.  Ward councils should now be included in the planning for sacrament meeting, both for setting topics and selecting speakers.  Music should be familiar hymns.

President and Sister Cusick both spoke and talked about missionary work and the need for members to be more engaged.

Renee speaking:  Brother McKinney shared his testimony about how he was reactivated after a six year hiatus from the gospel and from a very low point in his life.  His move to Kentucky was somewhat motivated by his need to help his brother come back to church.  He bore a very strong witness of the Savior and has shared life changing experiences in a past sacrament meeting where he referenced speaking at his grandmother's funeral.  He said he didn't really know her and so was reading her journal before the funeral.  He found a section where she had written a note in the margin:  "Please read this immediately.  It is important."  She then shared a powerful experience and testified that everlasting peace would come to all who will accept and follow His teachings.  She commented that someone must pay for this terrible wrong (referring to an experience)--and that someone already has!  Personal redemption in life is not only for big things but little things as well.  It was a strong witness to me of the importance of keeping a journal, not only for ourselves but for our posterity as well!

Renee's comments:  Elder Franklin is another special missionary whom we have gotten to know and appreciate.  Today was his birthday.  I only found out because I was responding to a text from his mother thanking me for a picture we had sent.  She mentioned how much she missed him--especially on that day because it was his birthday.  When I asked if there was anything I could get for her to give to him she said that a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup would be special because, although he liked them, it was her favorite candy and he would get the message.  The picture is of me presenting him his birthday treat from his mother.  It was a tender moment for both of us. 

Elder Franklin

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