We were towards the back of the chapel because of some traffic, but it was all right. I could still see him (blessings of having a tall torso). We were sitting in silence for almost an hour until he walked in. We all stood up and it was so cool. The spirit of just all us missionaries in one room was so cool and then add an apostle and three members of the quorum of 70. That was a spirit-filled room!
We each got to shake his hand and a photographer took a picture while we did that. Elder Holland has really soft hands. He asked us to tell him our name and where we are from. When it was my turn, I said my bit, " Sister MacKay from Las Vegas, Nevada," and he said, " Sister MacKay, very good!" After we all sat down, he talked about how a handshake is a personal interview and that, of course, there are a few that are struggling but, over all, he is so proud of us. All of us are extremely worthy to be here.
He went on to talk about the death of Elder Perry and how sad that has made him and the other members of the quorum. He talked about how we need to have that kind of brotherhood and sisterhood on the mission. He talked about his wife who was sick and that is why she couldn't come. It was cool to listen to him as he was in a bit of a blue mood, as he called it.
He said that he didn't feel the need to talk about obedience with us. He is so proud of our mission. He said we have one of the best mission presidents in the world and that we are one of the best missions. He said we should feel honored to be called England Birmingham missionaries and that that is a title other missions should want to live up to. All he asks is that we step it up more - improve even more. So that's what we are working on. He told us that he would be speaking on the Atonement with us.
On a side note, this is what was going on in my head as he was speaking.... In a video called "Heroes of the Book of Mormon" by John Bytheway, he talks about how in Alma 5, Alma has to preach to people who are not doing the basics (reading scriptures, praying). So, that is where Alma 5 comes from. Then Alma travels to another land and the people there arerighteous and choosing well, so he is able to teach them about Christ. That is where Alma 7 comes in. John Bytheway says something along these lines: If we each made sure we did the basics, how much more would we receive at General Conference. We wouldn't have to be told to read our scriptures and we would receive more! Then it hit me! We as a mission had been doing the basics of being obedient and he was so proud of us that we got to hear more - some really cool things.
It was about the Fall and the Atonement. He got out the white board and we discussed the pros and cons of the Fall, before and after. Then we talked about what part the Atonement plays in it and how Jesus Christ is the "other Adam." Think of the temple video. Who worked together to create the world?? Both Adams. Adam has played just as big a role in everything as Christ has - or almost. In Elder Holland's words, Christ said to Adam, "You get us into this mess and I'll get us out." He talked about the Garden of Eden and how it was a telestial place. They had to leave the garden for us to become like God. I don't have my notes with me but, man, this conference was amazing. He talked about how we as missionaries cannot teach the Fall without the Atonement A lot of what he said was combinations and parts of other talks I've heard over the years but, as you put them together in this order it meant so much more to me.
Oh, before he got to the Atonement, he talked about how we as missionaries are apostles with a lower case a and how we are never to go less active. If we really want to see him go ballistic, like embarrassingly ballistic, then just run into him after our missions being less-active. We are Christ's investigators as missionaries and humans. His goal isn't just baptism but lasting conversion. Missionary work is a calling for life. We are never off the clock as missionaries and we need to remember the members of the 12 when it gets tough. We are to remember Christ and the Atonement He made for us when we feel it's tough.
He explained that we as missionaries must feel some of the pain and sorrow Christ felt and that is why the mission is not easy. The straight and narrow path to salvation has to go through Gethsemane, not the heart of it, but some portion of it. It was so cool to hear him say how proud he was of us. Before he spoke, a few other people spoke briefly and I watched him as they were speaking. You could see that he really was receiving revelation on what we needed to hear - it was so cool!!
We could really feel the Savior's love that day. Elder Holland is so cool and he really is filled with attitude, haha! It was fun to see him work. We loved it! It went perfectly with all my studies on giving up the natural man, the Atonement, grace and gratitude. I love this gospel so much. I would be so lost with out it. The Lord really does know what we need to hear. I'm just in awe at all that I've learned so far, realizing how much you really can love the Lord. It was amazing! Words can't describe that meeting.
President cried at the conference, saying goodbye. Sister Rasmussen is leaving and I'm so sad. She was one of my best friends. She says we can email each Monday, now. The new mission president comes in 2 days before my birthday so it will be fun this next month.
I love the mission. It's the best decision ever!
Love you all!!!
Sister Ashley MacKay