This weekend was Stake Conference. It was really wonderful. Saturday afternoon there was a Priesthood Leadership meeting and at the same time a Relief Society meeting. Elder Yoon Hwan Choi (pronounced Chay) and his wife were the visiting authorities. She spoke in the Relief Society meeting for almost two hours. Unfortunately, there is no microphone in the Relief Society room and she was very soft spoken. If I had realized that she would speak so softly, I would have sat on the front row as close to her as I could get; but instead I sat with Sister Sanders on the 3rd row at one end, just about as far away as I could be and even with my hearing aid turned up as loud as it would go, I still missed half of what she said. But what I did hear was well worth hearing. She spoke about the Primary, that the purpose of Primary is to help children on to the path that leads to Heavenly Father. She said that the purpose of Young Women was to help them to prepare for the temple. And she said that the purpose of Relief Society was to enjoy the fruits of the first two! She also talked about the differences in men and women, mainly, men are simple and women are emotional!
About 30 minutes after the afternoon meetings, the adult session began--a lot of sitting, but again, worth it. Elder Choi is an amazing man and speaker--very opposite of his wife--not at all soft spoken. He began his talk by saying, "There were no general authorities from Korea. I AM THE MAN! And I am the most handsome man in the world. How do I know that? Because my wife tells me I am. Come on up here, dear, and tell them." Reluctantly, she comes to the microphone and says, "Yes, he is the most handsome man in the world." He then goes on to talk about how important wives are to men and how important husbands are to women. Then he tells us how he and his wife have a lot of fun together and how much she likes him. Then he asks her to come back up and bear her testimony.
Again, reluctantly, she comes to the microphone and says, "I don't like him very much when he asks me to talk." Then she continued on the theme of how important wives and husbands are to each other. She said her neighbor had told her about a friend who was thinking about divorcing her husband. Her husband was not nice to her and his family was mean to her and she had been patient with this situation for 20 years and she thought that was long enough. Sister Choi was very distressed about this situation and wondered what to do. She told her husband about the impending divorce and he said, "she shouldn't divorce him, she should be patient with him." "But she has been patient for 20 years! She thinks this is long enough." "She should be patient more." Then Sister Choi said to us, "Then I realized that I had been patient with HIM for 30 years!" This brought the house down!
Then she said she decided to go to the temple and see if she could get an answer. All through the session she kept saying prayers that she would know how to help her friend. No answer came. Then at the very end of the session, it came. "Your husband is one of the least." Huh? It came again, not to her heart, but words in her ear, "Your husband is one of the least." Then she read Matthew 25:34-40 and I understood that she meant that any service she performed for her husband was done for the Savior.
Elder Choi continued his talk by drawing a triangle, writing Jesus Christ at the apex, a figure of a man at one of the bottom angles and a figure of a woman at the other bottim angle. Then he drew an arrow from the man to Christ and another arrow from the woman to Christ, saying, "As both the man and the woman draw close to Jesus, they become closer to each other." Then he drew lines parallel to the bottom line up the sides of the triangle showing how the lines got closer as the couple drew closer to Him. It was a very effective visual for me.
Sunday morning we picked up Sister Smith and Sister Castaneda and took them to Rome for the Sunday morning session. This session was not held in the Stake Center because one of the counselors to the Stake President moved to Arizona last week and the new counselor was was sustained today. They were afraid the stake center wouldn't be large enough to hold the congregation, so it was held in a school auditorium in Rome. The new counselor is Brother Poland, who was released as Bishop of the Utica Ward about 3 months ago.
Sister Choi spoke again (this time by assignment) and told the story of their 16 year old son who decided that he wasn't going to read the Liahona at family prayer in the evening any more. This had been a family practice for a long time. "I have a lot of really nice friends and none of them have to read the Liahona, so I don't want to any more. Don't push me!" So she didn't say anything, but began praying, "What shall I do to help my son?" The answer she got was, "Wait."
This went on for a month, so she decided to go to the temple. This time the answer was, "Wait more." "I don't like this answer! I've been waiting for a long time. I'd like another answer." "Wait more."
When she got home from the temple, her son was playing a computer game. She got mad and said, "YOU..." and stopped. She remembered her answer and decided not to say what she was going to say which was, you can't play computer games until you start reading the Liahona again. Her son turned to her and said, "Did you want to say something to me?" "No, enjoy your game."
At family prayers, he still didn't read the Liahona with the family, but said to her, "Did you want to say something to me earlier?" "No."
The next morning, they got up as usual, got ready for the day, and she took her son to early morning seminary. "What did you want to say to me yesterday? Did you get an answer?"
"You are always getting answers. What was it?"
"Wait more." He looked at her and went to seminary.
That evening he joined the family for reading the Liahona. After family prayer, he said, "I decided you had waited long enough." and went to bed.
Elder Choi told about his family's conversion. He came from a large family--one brother, 7 sisters, parents and grandparents. His father decided that the family should investigate Christianity, and it didn't matter which church they joined because they were all Christian. He and Elder Choi joined the Presbyterian Church, his mother became a Methodist, and his sister joined other churches he didn't specify. His younger brother who was 14 at the time, was the only one to join the Mormon church. At Sunday dinner, they didn't have a peaceful discussion about Christianity, they argued! Loudly! Because the Christian churches weren't all the same. But his father became concerned about his 14 year old son. They had heard stories about the Mormons, their horns, many wives, etc. but they had never met one. So the son invited the missionaries to come visit the family--one missionary was American, the other was Japanese. At first the father wouldn't join in the discussions, but went into the other room. After about an hour, he came out and quietly listened. Eventually he joined the church, as did the rest of the family. The father began sharing the Gospel with his extended family as well as friends, and many of them joined the church. Some time later, during a District Conference, the visiting authority asked the father to stand. Then he asked any member of the congregation that had been converted through the efforts of the father (who was a branch president at the time) to stand; 150 people stood up!
Elder Choi continued to preach about the importance of sharing the gospel with our family and friends. The auditorium where we were meeting holds about 1500 people, but there were only about 700 people in the congregation. He said, "Next time you have a Stake Conference, bring your friends. If you don't there is no reason to come to this large auditorium--the stake center is plenty big."