We are starting into what I would call stake conference season. For the next two months there are conferences scheduled in at least one stake every weekend. In order to get to as many as we can, we might go to the evening session at one stake and then drive to another city in time for the Sunday session of stake conference the next day. There are a ton of great things about stake conference.
1. You see the missionary's investigators. They come from all walks of life, but what they have in common is an awakening in their souls. I love the look on the missionary's faces as they introduce them. Oh so, so much love!
2. You meet leadership and ward members who are excited about the gospel and sharing it. I always laugh when someone comes up to me and says, "If you have any pull with President, next transfer see if he could do....." Mostly it is in jest, but I have come to realize that often when it is a Bishop or Branch President it is because they have been bit by the missionary bug and are ready to restart, recommit, and re-find. It is incredible!
3. You see all of the missionaries serving in the zone. You can see how they interact with their companions. You get a pretty good feel for where they are and how they are doing.
4. You hear people's testimonies and feel their spirit. This Saturday they asked a young adult who had been baptized about a year ago to speak. As she explained that a year ago she couldn't have spoken to a crowd, it was all I could do to keep my mouth from dropping open. About every other sentence was a wise statement that I wanted to remember. I couldn't even keep up while trying to write them down. It was awesome.
Sunday we went to stake conference in Springfield. I forgot my tag. Could hardly believe it, but it was true. After some friendly razzing from the missionaries, I told Elder Dicks_____ that I didn't want to hear about my name tag bumble all across the mission. About an hour later I received a text from Elder Nea_____ in another zone. I believe some words in the message were. "Newbie, forgot, name tag, better luck next time." What a hoot! I just love the missionaries!
After stake conference on Sunday, we went on exchanges with missionaries in Springfield South zone. I went with Sister Bast_____ and Sister Owe____, and President went with Elder Hak___ and Elder Davi________. By far, my favorite part of missionary work is going on exchanges. After two "not home" stops we decided to knock on the door kitty-corner across the street. It was so great. What started as a civil guarded conversation on the porch went to a warm friendly exchange. A little ways into our conversation we asked if we left her a copy of the Book of Mormon would she be interested in reading it. She honestly replied no. I laughed, thanked her for being honest, and then I left her with a message about Jesus Christ. 2 Nephi 2:6-9. As I read about Jesus Christ the Spirit came powerfully on that porch. I finished. She asked questions. When it came time to leave she reached out to give me a hug. We went away full. The only thing I wish I'd done differently is ask if we could leave with a prayer. I would have loved to have petitioned the Lord in behalf of my new found friend. Oh well, I will definitely do that next time. At the next home the lady was in her car getting ready to leave. I jumped out of our car and knocked on her window. I felt bad for a slight minute as I could tell I'd scared the heebyjeebies out of her, but our visit with her and the sweet, young 9 years-old that was with her was priceless. The 9 year-old's name was Faith. She wanted to have more discussions if her mom said yes. And if her mom does, I know Faith's life will change forever.
We ended up having dinner at the home of a member that the Sisters were going to eat with. It was a little embarrassing to come last minute, but I was more than glad for the food. I've never liked cold sandwiches for Sunday dinner.
Since Neal didn't have school on Monday we decided to stay. We stopped at President Chandler's home. He now serves as the 1st counselor in the mission, but was the previous Stake President who had bought the land for the new chapel in Ozark. It is right on the freeway and lit up at night. Absolutely beautiful!
The next day we had companion study with a set of missionaries and talked with a threesome of missionaries before we met the zone at Pro Bass. Now that was some place! Alligators, ducks, fish, and enough taxidermy for a life time. The best part was to be with the missionaries!