Feb 26, 2017
Six p.m. on Saturday is one of my alert times. You know like when your body tells you it’s lunchtime without having to look at the clock. It just knows.
Without realizing it, I start to feel anticipation for something good. It is the time the Saints begin gathering for Stake Conference.
My calling has allowed me to be privy to many stake conferences. With the background of prelude hymns, I sit on the stand and watch - wondering. My personal experiences of going to stake conference influences my interpretation of what I imagine is happening. I notice old friends who haven’t seen each other for a while as evidenced by their greeting. Many who once served side by side, but are now in different wards or different callings wave to each other. I watch, wondering if they are reliving moments from their past. Others sit; quietly seeking the solace that comes from the spiritual outpouring that is there. I marvel at the difference in those attending. Age and walk of life are definitely varied, but that doesn’t seem to matter; they are all part of the gathering.
How blessed we are to be part of the gathering of Israel and not the scattering. I am not like my ancestors who were driven from the places they loved, having to start over again and again. I am well aware that I am part of an era that prophets of old foretold. An era that provided the hope they needed to carry on.
Saturday night we was in Joplin for Stake Conference. Sitting next to us was a man who proudly proclaimed that he and his wife were going to be sealed in May. He confided that he’d never prayed in public and was nervous to say the opening prayer. Several times he sought the confirmation from my husband about when he should approach the podium to pray. To my right was one of the speakers. With shaking hands, he related that he had been a member for about a year and a half and would receive the Melchizedek Priesthood the next day. In his talk he expressed gratitude for the missionaries who were using their priesthood as they baptized and confirmed him. Rea____ sat next to him. She had not only been baptized less than a year ago; but also, had shared the gospel with several friends. As she spoke she proclaimed in amazement that a year ago she wasn’t even a member of the church and here she was speaking in Stake Conference! Another speaker sat in the seats behind us. Her baptism date had been 11/11/17. She was the product of members who had reached out to her. Each speaker spoke with power as they professed how the gospel had blessed their lives. Names of missionaries I knew were spoken with a reverence as they related how “their missionaries” had taught them. Names like Andru_____ and Anders______, Lop______ and Rob_______, Lin______, Russ_____ and Hel_____. I couldn’t help but feel a gratitude to be part of this gathering.
The next morning more faces where added to the crowd. The first couple of rows were reserved for new converts and those who would be advanced in the priesthood. I watched as a young mother came in and briefly whispered to her husband. She then left, bringing back an older woman supported by a cane. She settled her into what used to be the mother's seat and left to sit in the back. When the conference business was commenced, I watched as members raised their hands to sustain the leadership of the stake. I knew that there were some whose sustaining had come at the price of forgiveness and faith. I also knew there would be some who in the coming months would have experiences that would lead them to understand better what it meant to sustain someone.
Again the meeting opened and closed with prayers from people whose activity level had at one time waned. After offering the closing prayer, the sister sitting next to me said that she had not been to church in 3 months. With tears streaming down her cheeks she said that she needed to get a new job so she could come more often. It had felt so good to be there. I met more members and investigators who had been brought by others.
Driving to the last stake conference, I’d recalled some of the sacrifices my ancestors had willingly made to follow God – experiences of courage and trust. I wondered what experiences I’d had that would be placed beside theirs. I couldn’t help but think that it was not too late to live so that I had some experiences worthy to stand with theirs.
Oh, how blessed we are to be part of the gathering!
A series of small miracles allowed Elder Udy to make it to Salt Lake City late last night. Tuesday,the doctors in Springfield had scheduled a series of procedures that would take anywhere between 3-5 days to complete. It just so happened that the doctor came in right as Sister Udy was talking with Dr. Donaldson our Area Medical Advisor. She gave the phone to the doctor in Springfield and they were able to determine that the procedure could happen in Salt Lake. (Thank you to Dr. Donaldson and Sister Atherton our mission nurse who have been incredible!) In a matter of hours Elder Udy was on his way.
We still need many prayers in his behalf, but certainly having him closer to home will make things easier on his family. Thanks again for your prayers!
Sister Wiener is reporting her mission this Sunday, February 19. Her church starts at 1:00 pm. The address of the church building is 1208 W. 12400 S. Riverton, UT 84065. We appreciate all she has done for us!
The following is part of her release letter:
During her 18-month stay we learned that Sister Wiener never wanted to inconvenience anyone and was always willing to do what needed to be done. She was one who quietly went about doing good. She might sponsor a missionary’s dinner or buy a suit without anyone knowing.
After being out for a little while, I noticed that she wasn’t going home even though I had told her to leave. After pressing her, she explained that she didn’t want to go until I left - in case I needed something. Most times she was the last to leave the office. Often she did the “above and beyond”. She interpreted my messy notes, patiently reminded me of things I needed to do, and anticipated many situations – being prepared before I asked her to be.
Another part of Sister Wiener’s service that was wonderful to watch was her interaction with Nathan Bunch. When she first came, she really wanted to be part of a missionary conversion. One day at the gym she met a young man. Unbeknownst to her, that day he had prayed for a sign that he should get baptized. Her talking to him, ended up being the sign he was seeking. Their friendship continued to develop. During her time here she was the extra support he needed. Certainly that friendship will be a very significant blessing from her service. Sister Wiener formed other friendships that benefited both those she knew; as well as, us as missionaries. Sister Wiener’s friendships ended up getting us temple names to do on a mission temple trip, help with cars, and knowledge about where to get haircuts and dental appointments, and a whole slew of other things.
Her service to Sister Loveland, and I was unmatched. If we needed it, she would do it. Intensely independent, if she didn’t know how to do something she did what was necessary to find out how to do it. Consequently we are sure she can do anything. Just a few of those things include driving a 15-passenger van, driving a moving van, shuffling cars, and fixing copiers.
But most importantly, Sister Wiener answered phone calls. With the phrase, “Hello, Arkansas Bentonville Mission” came kindness, a listening ear, common sense, courtesy, calmness, and anything that the person on the other end needed – all done with a charity like the Savior’s. There are two phrases from the scriptures that fit Sister Weiner – “no less serviceable” and “hold up-that which ye have seen me do.”
She will definitely continue to serve where she is asked, and she will be diligent. She will go forward, serving where she can, quietly calming any storm she finds around her.
To her friends, her family, and her ward we say, “Thank you for sharing her.” We love her and will treasure our time that we were lucky enough to serve together in the Arkansas Bentonville Mission.
Rogers & Bentonville
Joplin & Monett
Saint Robert, Springfield, Springfield South, West Plains