Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sacrament Meeting in Cleary Branch

 From Tom's Mission Journal - July 15, 2012

Today we attended Cleary Branch sacrament service. This is a colored ward where thick accents prevail and communication  in the English language is not always precise due to the choice of words and the language barrier.

Gareth Pullen, who has been a member about one year, is the 2nd counselor in the branch presidency.  I appreciate and enjoy him.  He presided at the meeting and commenced: “Brothers and sisters, welcome to our sacrament meeting.  He then went over some items of business then said, “Brothers and sisters, we have three speakers today: Elder Wolfgram, Elder Tukuafu and the third speaker is the stake speaker who did not want.  So the branch president just slipped me a piece of paper that said: “You will be the third speaker.”  So brothers and sisters, I will be the third speaker.”

After the sacrament was passed Elder Wolfgram spoke about commitment.  He was  followed by Elder Tukuafu, who talked about faith.  Then it was Brother Pullen’s turn.  He stood at the pulpit and said (and this is what I think is choice):

“Brothers and sisters, I stand before you as the third speaker because I do not know where the stake speaker is.  I have my Liahona but I cannot see him, and there is an article in it which I read at 5 a.m. this morning.  But I forgot to bring my glasses to read so I will give my talk on adversity.”

What was most inspiring about the meeting was that these speakers, who had not been given assigned topics, presented a most touching meeting.  It was what the members of the branch needed to hear.  Elder Wolfgram said that his family was a Polynesian family that lived in a poor neighborhood in Salt Lake.  He had a sister who was unemployed, a sister who was ill, his mother had cancer, and his father lost his job.  But they were faithful in paying tithing and attended church. The stress generated by trying circumstances caused his parents to separate.  He loved his parents and felt sad about the separation so he knelt in prayer and prayed to the Lord. After the prayer he felt comforted. Shortly thereafter his parents reconciled and the family was united again which was the answer to his heart-felt prayer.  As there is lots of unemployment in Cleary Branch and families struggle, Elder Wolfgram’s story touched many.

Elder Tukuafu’s talk was on forgiveness. He said that back home in Arizona where he lived there were snakes. He then proceeded to tell a story. A group of young adults were on a church outing when a young man was bitten by a rattle snake. His friends could do two things: forgive the snake and take him immediately to the hospital or seek revenge upon the snake by finding and killing it.  They opted for revenge, found the rattler and killed it. Due to the fact that the young man did not get to the hospital in time to receive the anecdote to counteract the poison, he lost his leg. It’s important in life not to seek revenge but be forgiving.  When we can forgive we can feel better. The healing power of forgiveness is the Savior’s anecdote.    

Brother Pullen’s talk emphasized both these gospel principles.  Not knowing that he was to be the third speakers he selected an article that complimented and enhanced the elder's talks.

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