This week-end we had an amazing Stake Conference with Elder Causse and Elder Kacher.
Before talking about conf. I want to talk about Tokey. Tokey is an awesome young man in the Lille Stake. He is from Madagascar. He served a worthy mission and has already finished up his preliminary studies. He is now in medical school studying to be a doctor. After the Hickenbothams left Amien, the Branch was left with no strong leadership. They were struggling and then Tokey was called as Branch Preident. This busy, smart, awesome young man accepted the responsibility and has pulled the Branch out of a slump. Many of the members are coming to church again and things are moving along so nicely. This is just an example of the quality of young people who belong to the church here in France. We saw Tokey last night and he really wanted a picture together with us, but it just didn't happen, so this morning he searched us out and we both took a picture.
The next photo is of the JA's choir this morning at Stake Conference. I am so excited to see this fine group of young people. Can you believe that when we arrived in Dec of 2008 there were only 4 or 5 youth who were attending regularly? Just look at this group. Of course, there are a few missionaries scattered in there, but just a few. I am just bursting with happiness to see the growth and the quality of these young adults. Their singing was so beautiful.
Our Stake Conference began yesterday in our little chapel that was filled to overflowing. There were probably about 300 people there. It was so stifling hot, but as the spirit filled our hearts and souls we soon forgot about the heat and listened and felt the words with thankfullness in our hearts.
President Smatti was the first speaker. Essentially he said that we must keep our love for Jesus Christ gowing and that we must do all that we can to deserve His blessings and love.
President Boutoille said that we should each ask ourselves the question, "How can I be better to meet others needs?" He spoke of Alma 42 and how mortality is a probationary time for man to repent and to serve God. When we repent of small things, the power of God increases within us.
He said that if we cry when we are talking of the things of God, it is the Holy Ghost speaking to us and we should thank Heavenly Father for that blessing.
Elder Kacher and his wife, Pres. and Soeur Staheli and
Elder and Sister Causse all spoke about the importance of families. They spoke of the things we need to do to keep our children from going astray. One of the most important points was that parents need to be united and they need to stay strong in the church. They need to show a good example and never waver. If parents deviate from the gospel, the children will deviate. We need to set a good example at all times. Elder Causse said that children and youth are the most important ones in our wards and that nothing will have a greater effect on us as what our children become. And how do we help our children to become strong in the church? We must pray daily by ourselves and with them. We must have family home evenings. We must go to church faithfully and read our scriptures. Children should have interviews with Mother or Father. We must have our children attend seminary. We can ask God to hep our children to stay clean. We can pray that Heavenly Father will pardon them for the things that they do not do, that they know they should. Let them know that they are good spirits and that you are confident that they will make good decisions. Let them know that they are members of good families who are members and that they know who they are. It is not enough for them to just go to church. We must make sure that our children have a relationship with God and we must make sure that they have a love for God. John 17:15 "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil."
He reminded us that if anyone of us have wayward children, but we keep faithful and keep the commandments and keep the covenants that we have made in the temple, the Lord will see to it that we will have them in eternity.
Today conference was held at the Grand Palais in Lille. This is a huge conference center and there were at least 1,000 in attendance.
First of all we got a new Stake Presidency. Our new Stake President is Pierre Duez with Olivier Smatti as First Counselor and Benoit Membre as Second Counselor. Our former Stake President Seube has been president for the past 9 years. He has been wonderful and is well loved by the people. All of these men bore strong testimonies and all said how humbled they were to receive their callings. Each one expressed that they felt like the least of people, but knew that God was the one calling them and that they would strive to keep His commandments and to do all that God expects from and wants from them. Each one of them was so grateful for all that the Lord has blessed them with and were so thankful for the atonement of Christ.
Elder Kacher told an interesting event that happened in his life. He said that once he had the distinct impression and actually knew that he was going to be called as a Bishop. But alas, in the following 2 weeks another man was called to be Bishop. He wondered how come he had the inspiration that he would be Bishop and then he wasn't called. What happened? About 3 years later that Bishop was released and he was called. Elder Kacher reminded us that our time is not the Lord's time. We must accept His will in our lives. We must make a decision to never be offended and we must stay in His church.
I'm quite sure that most of us who were in attendance left that conferance with an uplifted spirit and a determination to do the best we can in serving God in whatever capacity He wants us to.
The lovely vegetables above were a gift to us from Jean Luc and Gisela after we left our visit to their home tonight. Jean Luc was baptized by Dh and has been a member for about a year now. They are now preparing to go to the temple.