Wednesday, July 6, 2016
A special visit from President Russell M. Nelson and Sister Wendy W. Nelson
February 20 and 21, 2016
The top photo is in the mission home in front of our family picture.
The bottom one was at the San Pablo Stake Center.
I believe it was in December that we heard that we would be hosting President Russell M. Nelson in our mission. Of course, it was exciting news but also a little overwhelming to think that we would be meeting and spending time with the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles! We were excited to think that our missionaries would have the blessing of being taught by President Nelson and then we received news that there would be a Priesthood Leadership Meeting, a Special Sisters Meeting for the Auxiliary Leaders, a Young Single Adult meeting, a special San Pablo Stake Conference but NO meeting with the missionaries! We were so disappointed that our missionaries wouldn’t have that experience. In talking with the San Pablo Stake President, who happens to work for the Church in the Philippines Area Office, we found out that when they were making the schedule for President Nelson he was asked which he thought would be more valuable—a YSA meeting or a missionary meeting. He chose the YSA meeting. It was disappointing and sad to me. President Mangum said that if there could only one of the meetings, the YSA meeting would give more people the opportunity to be taught by President and Sister Nelson. I have to say it was incredible to see the excitement of the Young Single Adults and what some of them were willing to sacrifice to come to the meeting. The building was packed and the meeting was wonderful.
There was a lot of activity at the Mission Home, Office, and grounds as well as the two Chapels were President Nelson would be attending. It was sometimes humorous to watch the Facilities Management getting everything ready for the visit. As we received our final schedule we found out that we weren’t invited to the Special San Pablo Stake Conference but were assigned to go with Elder and Sister Bowen (Shayne Bowen of the Seventy and 1st Counselor in the Philippines Area Presidency) to a different special Stake Conference in the Santa Cruz Stake. I was disappointed once again that we wouldn’t be able to hear President Nelson speak to the San Pablo Stake. We also found out that I would be speaking for 7 minutes at the special Sisters Meeting. It was overwhelming to me to think about speaking with Sister Nelson as well as Sister Bowen, Sister Tobias, and Sister Amstead (Manila Temple Matron).
The long awaited day finally arrived. President Mangum went to one chapel for the Priesthood Leadership Meeting with Elder Nelson and I went to a different one for the Special Sisters Meeting with Sister Nelson. We both had wonderful training and were blessed to be able to be taught by President and Sister Nelson as well as spend time with them. President Nelson is amazing; he has so much energy and had an iPhone and iPad he was using at age 91! (I kept thinking about how hard it was for my parents to even use the remote control sometimes or for Bart’s parents to answer their Face Time.) President Mangum asked if the rumor that he still snow skied was true and he said he hadn’t been for 10 days because he hadn’t found any snow in the Philippines--unbelievable! He was so kind, genuine, and personable. I was impressed with Sister Nelson’s grace, poise, and respect for others. I learned so much about being a woman of God as I observed her interact with the sisters and Priesthood leaders.
After the first two meetings we met at the San Pablo Stake Center where the Sisters Meeting was held and had a light lunch before the Young Single Adult meeting. The chapel and cultural hall were filled with beautiful Filipino Young Single Adults. It was thrilling to see. At the YSA Meeting Sister and Elder Tobias and Sister Bowen bore their testimonies. Elder Bowen spoke, then Sister Nelson, and President Nelson was the concluding speaker. Sister Nelson taught about the gifts of the Spirit and how each spiritual gift we receive we take one step closer to our Heavenly Father. She asked the question “What would you want to do and what would you be willing to do tomorrow if you knew you would be meeting with the Savior face to face?” It’s an overwhelming thought to me; I have so much to improve. She ended by telling them that their true self is spectacular and they should never settle for less! President Nelson taught many things to the young single adults about marriage, schooling, and spiritual preparation. He taught the importance of learning who we really are. He told them they that they need to expect and prepare to do the impossible. He taught the importance of learning to access the powers of heaven and how we need to ask inspired questions as we pray. He talked about the importance of following the prophets. He left a beautiful blessing on the Young Single Adults. It was very powerful and I know that he is a prophet of God.
The missionaries serving in the San Pablo Stake had the blessing of attending the special San Pablo Stake Conference and singing prelude as President and Nelson came into the Chapel. We were in Santa Cruz with the Bowens for the special Stake Conference there but we were told that the chapel, cultural hall and other rooms were overflowing. It was an amazing and spiritual experience for them to come listen to the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The special Santa Cruz Stake Conference was an inspiriting meeting as well. Elder and Sister Bowen are wonderful speakers and great to be with. That night our sweet night guard was saying what a rare experience that was for the Filipino members to have President Nelson come to their stake. I said yes and then told him it was rare for the members in Utah. We seldom see an Apostle at a Stake Conference in Utah any more.
After the Stake Conferences we met at the Mission Home where President and Sister Nelson came in for a few minutes before traveling to Manila. They were kind and personable asking about our family. We had a sweet conversation with them, particularly Sister Nelson, as we shared our experience of losing daughters to cancer (President Nelson had a daughter that died of cancer too). She asked about our son-in-law’s new wife and we expressed our gratitude for Wendy. She shared sweet feelings of a second wife and the closeness you feel to the first wife. It was a sweet experience to share a few minutes with these devoted disciples of Christ. Some of the feelings I had are so sacred that I can’t share but I will share that as President Nelson said good-bye to us we had a glimpse of what it must be like to have the Savior look in your eyes. I felt like President Nelson knew everything about my sins, weaknesses, insecurities, but all I felt was pure love radiating from his glowing face. It was a priceless experience and I’m not sure why we were so blessed to have this opportunity but it is something we will always remember and be grateful for!