This weekend, in the Pennsylvania Williamsport Stake, we had the rare opportunity to learn from some very special leaders of the church.
One of them, Elder Christoffel Golden of the first Quorum of the Seventy, is from South Africa and spoke in General Conference just a year ago. The other Elder Milan F. Kunz has roots in Philadelphia and recently served as President of the Omaha, Nebraska Mission.
Having a visit from a member of the first Quorum of the Seventy is special in and of itself, but what excited me was that Elder Golden had spoken recently in General Conference.
I saw this as an opportunity for my children to see a Conference speaker in person and make the connection that these leaders that they have been learning about and from, are real people, with real experience with the Savior, and real testimonies to share with them, in person, not just "people on TV".
To prepare my kids to listen to Elder Golden in stake conference, we listened to and watched his General Conference address and looked at his picture in the General Authorities poster that is included in the General Conference edition of the Ensign. I hoped that this would help them recognize Elder Golden when we got to stake conference, both by his looks and by his South African accent. When I told them that we'd be hearing from someone who had spoken in General Conference, they were very excited!
We arrived at the stake center about thirty minutes before the meeting began and tried our best to get a "good seat", but still we were sitting in the overflow. The chapel in our stake building is actually pretty small, so overflow seating is still pretty close, plus we had easy access to exits to take out crying children, so we were good.
|Playing the "Bee Game" while we waited.|
The children sat quietly for a while coloring, when I noticed that Elder Kunz, who I had met the night before, had entered from the back of the gym and was stopping to talk with people here and there.
I said, "Autumn, look! It's Elder Kunz...that's him right there!" In her 5-year-old way, Autumn yelled out, "Hi, Elder Kunz!!" He stopped and seeing this row of about seven kids sitting together in a row, came over and shook hands with all of them starting with Autumn. The kids were so jazzed, and probably just felt special that an adult was noticing them at all!
Then, like clockwork, a few minutes later, from the opposite entrance, in walked Elder Golden with our Stake President, President Hoffman.
I said, "OOh, Guy, look over there! That's Elder Golden, walking in with President Hoffman!" Guy's eyes got all big and serious. I said, go on over to him and see if you can shake his hand and welcome him.
Guy tried to walk up to Elder Golden, who was greeting various adults in the aisle, but in the confusion he wasn't able to get his attention. But then, sure enough, Elder Golden glanced over at all these kids sitting in a row, probably all looking longingly up at him and he stopped and shook hands will each child, muttering little greetings and smiling that big generous smile, even patting little Honor gently on her sweet little head.
Elder Golden smiled at me (I had met him the night before as well) and I mouthed a heart-felt "thank you!!" and he turned and made his way to the stand, stopping to greet a few others sitting in pews as he went.
It was a small thing and took only a minute, but I was so happy that my desire for my children to meet these great men was granted. I could tell that they felt the spirit. In that moment, I knew that what Elder Golden had taught the evening before was true...Heavenly Father IS in the details of our lives. He micro-manages it all. He knew my desire, and out of his love for these little ones, He made sure this little meet-up took place. My best efforts alone could not have done it.
It might not mean much to anyone else, but it was special for our little family, and we took time to write this experience down in our journals after church today.