Sunday, March 9, 2014

Visit of an Apostle and Other General Authorities

A week ago our mission was blessed by a visit by Elder and Sister Holland. They were accompanied by Elder and Sister Hallstrom and Elder and Sister Funk. We were grateful to bring all of our missionaries together for a Mission Conference with the visiting General Authorities.

Our week began in Hong Kong with our semi-annual Mission Presidents' Seminar. We were inspired by the instructions from Elders Holland and Hallstrom and our Area Presidency (Elders Gong, Wilson, and Funk). The instruction, testimonies and meal time associations were wonderful. It is such a great opportunity to associate with the nine other couples who preside over missions in our Area. We learned much.

Our discussions emphasized the key responsibility for mission presidents to help every missionary develop a testimony which runs deep into his or her soul. one of our primary challenges is to help every missionary to have at least one enduring convert - himself or herself. In a later session there was emphasis on the importance of each missionary knowing and feeling the love of the mission president and his wife.

Some of our instruction sessions included "The Doctrine of High Priests", a necessary component for helping districts become prepared to be stakes. Here we focused on Alma 13. We discussed the Doctrine of Christ and how it is the foundation for the work of Salvation. We talked about increasing expectations for our missionaries and for our members. We discussed the work of salvation.

Finally, we were blessed by concluding instruction and testimonies by Sister and Elder Hallstrom, followed by Sister and Elder Holland. The conclusion of their instruction was an apostolic blessing from Elder Holland. We were humbled as he blessed us. We could feel that he was speaking on behalf of the Savior, whose special witness he is.

Then the group came to Bangalore. We began our mission conference with a session where the missionaries were instructed by each other, Sister Berrett and me. We talked about the Doctrine of Christ, and how the central element is obedience - the Savior was obedient in that He came to do the will of His Father and we must be obedient as we follow the commandments of the Savior.

Following this session, we adjourned to the cultural hall of the building for a picture of the entire mission. We were joined by the visiting General Authorities and their wives.

28 Feb 2014 India Bangalore Mission
The session which followed was a once in a lifetime experience for most of our missionaries. The General Authorities and their wives lined up to shake hands with the missionaries. For Elder and Sister Funk, this was "coming home" as many of our missionaries served with them. As Elder Holland spoke to the missionaries, he commented that while shaking hands, he had interviewed each missionary by looking into their eyes. He then stated that this is a pretty good group of missionaries. Only one or two of them seemed to be struggling. Based on what I know of the missionaries, he was spot on.

I know that what the missionaries were taught has the potential to impact the rest of their mission and the rest of their lives. Many of them have commented on this in their letters.

The mission conference was followed by a Young Single Adult conference for YSA in the Bangalore District. We had about 175 young people assemble to be taught and inspired.  It was a great session.

The next day, after the missionaries departed back to their areas, we gathered together in a Priesthood Leadership Conference for all of the District Presidencies across India and Sri Lanka. The session was broadcast to Priesthood Leaders in Pakistan. After several hours of instruction including a wonderful question and answer session, Elder Holland said he felt impressed to do something he had not previously done. Since our group was relatively small - about 45 people - he had us all come to the front of the chapel and kneel together. He then offered the closing prayer for the meeting. It was both a prayer and a blessing. The Spirit was powerful and every one there was touched.

For Sunday the general authorities divided up and held special Stake/District Conferences in Hyderabad, Coimbatore and Bangalore. We stayed in Bangalore with Elder and Sister Holland.

As would be expected, the attendance was grand - about 770 people. Certainly, more people in attendance than when I preside at a district conference.
2 Mar 2014 Special District Conference

The program was excellent. We especially enjoyed the Sisters Choir, which you can see seated behind us. We just love their beautiful saris.

We had the opportunity to speak, which is a fairly intimidating assignment when there is a member of the Twelve behind you and you know he will follow you. But, Elder Holland was most gracious and we did not embarrass ourselves. I particularly am impressed with how Terry (Sister Berrett) is rising to the challenge of speaking in almost every meeting we attend. She has become a master of the 7-10 minute "on the spot" gospel message.
2 Mar 2014 Special District Conference

2 Mar 2014 Special District Conference

Late Sunday evening the Hollands departed for their trip back to Utah. We feel so blessed to have had them and the other general authorities in our mission for a few days. One of the common comments we have heard is "Good things happen when an Apostle visits a country." We expect such to be the case for India.

1 comment:

  1. This is fabulous! I know your assignment is challenging, actually I can only imagine the challenges you face, but experiences like this must certainly buoy you up and give you the physical and spiritual energy to keep doing good. Terry, I knew you'd be a natural! You both are doing a great work and we're proud of you. You continue to be in our prayers.