President Preston called an 'All Mission Conference' at the Manchester Stake Center. (Has that ever happened? We've only been gathered half at a time!) In March, that would have meant around 160 missionaries. Elder Meese says it now pushes 220, and they were shoulder-to-shoulder filling the chapel. Senior couples were ushered to the front row, as we all waited in silence. As President Preston said, 'The time for talking is now past.'
Quiet prelude music, then we silently stood together as in walked Elders Patrick Kearon and David Evans of the Seventy, Elder Russell M. Nelson, Elder Jeffery R. Holland...and all their wives. At the same time, Elder M. Russell Ballard was addressing the pageant cast in Chorley. They each spoke to us. I just remember tearing up as Elder Kearon (in his beautiful British accent) asked if we realized the impact of what was taking place. We had three apostles in this mission at the same time. There were about to be great miracles taking place here.
Thank heavens Sister Owens was asked to take shorthand during the meeting. You could hardly avert your eyes long enough to take any notes. I do remember two things, though. One was Elder Holland, in his totally personal style, relating his continuing love for this area that has been such a huge part of his life and service. He told all of us 'Fifty years and ten months ago, I was here on a mission. And that experience changed absolutely everything in my life.' .....as he ended, he told us, (Does this sound exactly like Elder Holland) "You WILL get what you really want. As sure as I'm standing here, you are going to get what you want! Elders and Sisters, love your mission! Do not waste one minute of it. We're in this together We're going to pull to the end of the row!" I think we all wanted to get up and convert the next 'man on the street' outside the building!
The other thing that will stay with me is the feeling at the end of Elder Nelson's talk when he said, 'Now you wonderful Elders and Sisters, I am going to leave you an apostolic blessing.' I remember thinking I should bow my head because it felt like there were hands placed on each of us. And he pronounced it as personally as though we were each receiving it individually.
Later, at the pageant, Pres. Kerr announced there was a queue of 100 people outside still wanting seats at curtain time. He then asked all full time missionaries who had seen the production to sacrifice their seats. The audience applauded as we all left, which I thought was very thoughtful.
These are some of my sweet Sisters who exited
together. Later, I was invited to an impromptu
scripture study some of the missionaries were holding up at the chapel.
This Army of God doesn't waste a minute.
It was also wonderful to sit alone for a while on
a wooden bench and listen to pageant music
ringing out from the marquee. Things are about
to happen here.