What a wonderful weekend! Having an apostle of the Lord come and give encouragement and instruction to the entire mission! It was a wonderful experience to be present and to feel of his presence and spirit. His apostolic blessing left me in tears, and it sounded like it did the same for everyone as well. I have taken lots of notes, both on paper and in my head. I will never forget this once in a lifetime experience. I can now stand a little taller and know that my effort will bring about a great harvest in the future.
Now, we all are applying Elder Holland’s talk from this last conference in some form. It was great seeing everyone at mission conference and will be nice see everyone again at MLT and at Zone Conference. This transfer is turning to be one full of conferences, but it will all be worth it.
I don’t really know how else to say it but Elder Rasband is awesome. I need to say no more, I might as well end the letter right here.
But, there’s more… But first, let’s start with Friday afternoon.
Friday afternoon: We are waiting for the missionaries who we are taking to Bedford (where the mission home is) and our Zone leaders arrive. We talk for a little bit and then the Brewer van and the Ellsworth ride arrive. Our apartment now has 5 sets of missionaries nearby. We get our group and off we go for 1 hour to the Portland mall. When we arrive, we find that the van made it before us somehow, and have lunch in the food court of the mall. The Portland missionaries (and a couple other missionaries) soon arrive, now there are 10 sets of missionaries in the mall. We are a big group of missionaries and we are at a mall, we stick out. It is now time to travel for another hour and a half to the mission home. We arrive at 8:45 tired and ready to go to bed. Because we have so many missionaries the front area can’t be used for the shoes, so we created a shoe “parking lot” in the living room.
We (the elders) talk with President Stoker about the events of tomorrow and we all adjourn to bed for some rest.
Saturday: We wake up at 6:00am in order to have time for showering. We have breakfast and talk some more about our excitement, leaving around 8:00am to get to the Concord chapel. We get there and half the mission is already there (I should have taken pictures of all the cars present) but there are now well over 200 missionaries at the chapel. We gather together for some hugs and handshakes, memories, and laughs.
We are soon getting in place for a mission picture. We take at least 20 mins to get in a place where the photographer is comfortable with everything and with out missing a beat, Elder Rasband’s vehicle arrives and out steps Elder Rasband of the Quorum of the 12 and Elder Bragg of the Seventy. The photographer makes a comment about waiting for the Apostle and promptly turns around to find him standing there. The pictures are taken and we reverently walk into the church and take our seats.
We then are instructed to stand in our rows and walk and shake everyone’s hand who is on the stand, starting with President Stoker, Elder Rasband, Elder Bragg, and President Anderson (Stake President of Concord Stake). It was a wonderful experience to be in the immediate presence of an Apostle, an honor which I will remember as long as I live. (This is turning into the longest letter I have ever written, bear with me). After hearing from President Stoker, Elder Bragg addressed us and talked a lot about a new initiative (Teaching in the Savior’s Way) that the church has started and related it directly to missionary work. Then Elder Rasband addressed us.
It felt like I was in the conference center during General Conference. Yet I was within talking distance with him. We asked him questions about his talk “A Divine call of a Missionary”, we talked about his experience as a mission president, and we were instructed as to many things. The most important of which is you never know all the seeds you plant. It’s a spin on the quote “You can count the seeds in an apple, only God can count the apples in the seeds”. He emphasized the point by telling of a missionary who served in New York. This missionary had been serving in The Bronx where a lot of work had been going on. During this last missionary’s transfer, he was transferred to a branch in Connecticut, where “all he thought he did was pass out Book Of Mormons.” In his farewell testimony he said “I enjoyed my entire mission, except when you transferred me to Connecticut, I did nothing but pass out Book Of Mormons.” He then went home, a returned missionary. A year later another set of missionaries serving in that same branch in Connecticut had a miraculous experience. In an interview with one of these missionaries, they said “We had gotten home from an unproductive day when heard the telephone ringing, we answered it and on the other side was a single mother of 4 asking for a certain set of missionaries to see if they could explain a book that was given to her by these missionaries. After explaining to her that they were gone, we said that we could explain the book, and we set an appointment. When the appointment arrived, we came to the house and taught this mother more about the Book Of Mormon, and then taught her the first discussion. After teaching her all the discussions, she and her family were baptized.” The missionary then expressed appreciation to these missionaries who passed out this Book Of Mormon to this mother. The mother was looking for the missionary who didn’t like his last transfer in Connecticut. He then talked about how mission presidents would like to stay in contact with their missionaries and how he has found 400 of the ~700 missionaries that served in the New York New York North mission, and that one missionary is one he hasn’t found yet.
We will never know all the seeds we plant and what the fruits will be. I have left some areas not knowing what seeds I planted. I have left areas thinking “I was the worst missionary for that area”. I have never complained about how I much I hate one area because of the success of another. But I know that I have planted seeds and they will eventually be of great harvest to some future missionary.
Now onto a more miraculous part of this mission conference. It wasn’t on Elder Rasband’s itinerary to do a mission conference. He was originally assigned to visit the Concord Stake Conference and preside there. It was an Elder (Elder Rasband’s grandson) in our mission who suggested the idea to both President Stoker and Elder Rasband. What story lies there, is not known to me. But we as a mission were edified because of it.
I’m now realizing my oversight in my lack of picture taking. I wish there was more pictures, but it’s all over and now too late. It was awesome and in the end you can imagine what it was like.
Have a wonderful week.
Elder R Seely
Sent from my Mission-Issued iPad