While Aaron is continuing interviews this week, I am in the office to interact and help with any other concerns or needs that they have. It is great because I get to know the missionaries better. I hope they also feel the love I have for them individually too. Missions are hard work but they are great too. A lot of blessings that you don’t want to miss out on. J
President Nelson’s visit to the mission was amazing. Friday I delivered some Texas treats to his hotel as a little welcoming gift. As I got to the hotel the thought came to me that they aren’t going to let me just give them to him or place them in his room. So will security need to taste them before they would let him eat them himself? Who knows but if he gets to eat them, He will love them….chocolate/caramel covered pecans. Yum! I dealt with treats while Aaron dealt with the logistics of having an apostle come to your mission.
Aaron was asked to prepare the agenda in advance of their visit and to conduct the meeting. He along with his assistants organized the ushering, parking, seating, etc. so that all three Houston area missions could attend the conference; 700 strong. During the week he would hear from Elder Nelson’s secretary on various changes he wanted and on Thursday they decided to scrap the intermediate hymn and asked for a special musical number. Needless to say there was a lot of scrambling to pull off the meeting. Aaron also was told the day before that President Nelson wanted to shake every missionary’s hand. He role played the greeting in his office with the assistants so we could figure out how to make it work smoothly; it worked to perfection. :)
All three missions arrived and were in their seats by 8am so they could be studying and prepared for President Nelson's arrival. President Nelson began at 8:15 shaking hands with all 700 in attendance. His security shared with us afterwards that it was the most organized greeting they've ever seen! Score one for THSM. :) He was done shaking hands by 8:35 and President Nelson leaned over and said, "let's go". The musical number, 6 elders, pianist and violinist was incredible. President Nelson went down to the audience so he could watch them perform. After they were done he stopped them to see what the music was, the song is "Come Unto Christ". For the a couple of hours of practice they had, our missionaries sang like angels from above..
Elder Corbridge was the first to address our missionaries. He spoke on the Doctrine of Christ and why missionaries should serve. His message is always direct and powerful and he stresses the need for the missionaries to understand the most important thing, the Savior's Atonement. That the atonement helps people receive a remission of sins through baptism, and that the Gift of the Holy Ghost brings the power of God in their lives, and increases their desire to return to God.
Elder Nelson then had two hours to address us and he was incredible. I loved everything about him. He is thoughtful in his message and to the point with great knowledge. He began by talking about the importance of the missionaries need to earn referrals from members, not simply asking for them. Members have to trust that the missionaries will represent them and the Church in the best light possible. He invited the missionaries to earn the meal that they eat with the members by teaching the Restoration. He then turned to Aaron and I and asked us to come up with him. He turned to us and said, "if you could share one thing with the missionaries that they will remember you by, what will it be?" He then said to Kim, sister go first! My mind went totally blank. This was so unexpected. I then shared that I would want them to love the people. Love them like the Savior would love them and by doing so the people they teach would come to know the Savior and want to live with Him again by how they loved them. Aaron shared with them how as missionaries they had the ability to connect people to heaven so they could live with God again. Also that the missionaries are apostles with a little "a" and their calling is to invite all to come unto Christ. President Nelson then had the other two mission presidents and their wives do the same, the temple president and matron, and one of our stake presidents. Our missionaries loved what we had to say. I know they are biased, but they thought we rocked it because we kept our messages short and sweet. :)
President Nelson shared the continuation of the conference address that he gave in October of 2015 on his days as heart surgeon and the devastation he felt as he tried to save two little girls (sisters) and failed. It is an amazing story of how he was inspired to reach out to their family and help them become an eternal family. He spoke a lot about the temple, he had all the missionaries read 3 Nephi 11 (something Aaron had done just two weeks earlier) and brought up two of our missionaries to read it with him, the miracle of the Book of Mormon, the gathering of Israel, , the Doctrine of Christ, that God will win, and then left an apostolic blessing. He blessed the missionaries with the ability to feast upon the word of Christ and apply it, to become true disciples, that their families would be blessed and healed, and then bore testimony of the Savior. The meeting ended with "I Know that My Redeemer Lives", Powerful with 700 voices singing.
Following the meeting we held a brief lunch with him and the other mission presidents. We learned that he travels to over 14 countries a year, he's rarely home, skiis every Monday when he's in town with a standing invitation to family members, and performed nearly 7000 heart surgeries. Aaron shared with him that he had performed heart surgery on his grandpa Nowak, within minutes he showed us his medical log and let Aaron take a picture of his phone. His sincerity and love of the gospel was so deep.
We then had the blessing this evening of attending the youth fireside, 1200 youth attended in the same building as the missionary conference and approximately 2000 watched from the other buildings in the Houston area. Zac and Bode were able to eat dinner with us and had the opportunity to chat with President Nelson for a minute. For the fireside he covered the 8 points of the young women's theme and also left the youth with an apostolic blessing. One of the most memorable statements he said was instead of putting a question mark behind what the prophet says, put an exclamation mark behind it. I know Elder Nelson is a prophet, seer, and revelator.