Sunday, February 26, 2017

2017-02-25 In the Presence of a Prophet

Excitement filled the air and everyone had a hard time sleeping the night before Elder Bednar arrived.  Missionaries had flown in from Palawan on Thursday and were staying in apartments all around the mission.  The rest of the missionaries flew in on Saturday morning and made it in time for the catered lunch we enjoyed before our meeting with Elder Bednar.

This is the first and last time our entire mission will be together.  It truly was like a family reunion or Christmas where everyone comes home and we get to remember how much we love and enjoy each other.  These are a few pictures of the missionaries during the luncheon. They are just the greatest missionaries ever!

We were hoping to be able to get a mission picture with Elder Bednar, but didn't know if he would have time.  So we lined everyone up height order and "practiced" where everyone would stand.  It's a good thing we practiced, because Elder Bednar arrived an hour earlier than expected, and we just had to tell them to go get in place while we went to greet the Bednars and Bowens.

 This is one of the practice pictures Caleb took to check the lighting. It doesn't have us, the Bednars or the Bowens in it, but it has everyone else.   Once Elder Bednar arrived, the Area had their own photographer who took a picture with the mission.  We will post pictures as soon as we get them. 

I have to say that it was one of the most incredible experiences of a be with such a wonderful group of Heavenly Father's dedicated children....imperfect...yes! but all trying in our own way to serve the God we love and to be in the presence of an apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Just think of it, an apostle....just like Peter, James, John. 

The Bednars and Bowens arrived straight from the airport.  They had already been traveling around the Philippines for a week meeting with members and missionaries every day in many different cities.  The flight arrived early, but they ate lunch in the van on the way to the chapel.  We greeted them and they only took a few minutes to use the CR (restroom) before they were ready to meet the missionaries.  If anyone thinks an apostle's life is ever would be amazed at the pace at which they serve.  There was never a wasted minute. 

After they got ready, we entered the stake center and were thrilled to hear the missionaries singing, "We Thank Thee O God, For a Prophet".  I wish you could have heard them.  It was marvelous.  I get teary just remembering what it felt like to hear them.   As we walked in with Elder and Sister Bednar and Elder and Sister Bowen, the missionaries all stood to greet them.  We took our place in the picture and the photographers took a few pictures, then we all went to the chapel.

Elder Bednar allowed us to sing our mission song for the opening song as a gift of testimony for him. They truly sang with their hearts and had many of us in tears.  The Bednars and Bowens were moved by the spirit and shared that feeling as they began the meeting. (We recorded it later after Elder Bednar left so the missionaries will have a copy.  They were pretty tired after a long day, travel and lack of sleep, so it wasn't as energetic as when they sang it for Elder Bednar, but I will try to post it on facebook or youtube just so you can get a glimpse.)

You would have been really pleased and grateful for the way your sons and daughters handled this whole experience.  They were respectful, reverent, teachable and courageous in participating in the presence of an apostle of God.  Elder Bednar invited all of them to have the faith to participate.  He told them he would not ask anyone directly to answer a question, nor would he ask a question where he expected a specific answer.  He helped everyone feel safe to share what they were learning and feeling as well as their questions.  President and I were amazed at how many of them, with their limited English, were willing to share.

We spent three hours together learning about how we were created differently from every other of God's creations....we are agents that can act not objects to be acted upon.  We have the ability to chose what we will do not just have to controlled by things around us.  We learned that true faith includes ACTION.  There are many other things he taught, but it was amazing to watch as the Spirit taught the missionaries during the question/answer type discussion Elder Bednar led.  Elder Bednar stressed that the purpose of the speaker is to be a conduit for the spirit to communicate the Lord's will to the people.  Elder Bednar demonstrated that by his own actions.  He was a conduit, and we are hearing even now about how the spirit worked on the different missionaries to make changes in their lives. We all learned so much, from his teachings, from his wife and the Bowens  and from their examples.  Truly the Bednars and Bowen are consecrated to the Lord.  There is no doubt about that.  They are not in it for their own glory or benefit.  They seek only to serve their Master.  And they do so graciously, courageously and humbly.

We all felt the power of their witness, and at the end, Elder Bednar gave an apostolic blessing upon us.  He first blessed the seniors with a beautiful, powerful and specific blessing that touched our souls. He then blessed the precious missionaries.  I pray it is a day they will never forget and that they will never forget the blessings he pronounced upon them.

When the meeting was finished, he lovingly waved to the missionaries and was off to the van to get ready for the next meeting which was an entire Philippines area broadcast!