Stake conference welcomed speakers

Missionary Heidi Hendricks and Libby McSheehy
In the photo are Joe Anderson, Spencer Kimball, Stake President Mike Roberts, Elder Bradley D. Foster and Craig Miller. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

The members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Northwest Florida were treated to a special event when Elder Foster visited in February. He became a general authority in 2009. Prior to that occasion he served as a missionary in Texas, as bishop, as stake president and as president of the California Acadia Mission. After becoming a general authority he supervised South America and then the North America southwestern area of the Church. Foster was born and raised in Idaho and attended Ricks College as a veterinary major and then started his own business in 1971. He is married to Sharol Anderson and they have four daughters.

In his talk he stressed that we are here on earth to make choices. Instead of filling our time with “busyness’’, we need to work on becoming more Christ-centered, to hallow the Sabbath Day, to foster greater personal worship. He stressed that the Holy Ghost must be with us to withstand the adversary. Real growth in the Church is a by product of real growth in the people of the Church. Agency produces growth; vision determines direction. Later he said, “President Nelson loves you and always prays for you. Heavenly Father’s plan is personal and very difficult. It’s meant to be that way. But, we don’t want to wear you out. I hope you will seek His help and guidance in all that you do. Tonight, be learners. There must needs be opposition in all things. And, it’s all for you.” He went on to say how valuable family history is and the importance of sharing stories with our children so they will feel a part of something bigger. He encouraged us all to help our children to learn about their ancestors. The more they know about family history the more they understand they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Start with stories and photos.

President Joe Anderson shared how he learned a lesson in grade school about strength in numbers. They were assigned a task to use toothpicks to hold a lot of weight for a project. He did not think it would work, but when glued together they could hold a lot of weight. Sharing one another’s burdens works like that. Zach and Sister Hart of Crestview shared how the new “ Come, Follow Me” program is a blessing to their family. With all we must do, we must choose what is most important.“ When I put the Lord first, everything works out," said Sister Hart.

On Sunday the stake clerk, Charles Perry, who served in that post for 19 years was released. President Craig Miller was released from his calling as 2nd counselor to President Roberts and called in his place was Spencer Kimball.

When President Miller spoke he remarked about his gratitude for the Priesthood Keys. He thanked the stake members for their acts of service day in and day out. “When you do good, you feel good,” he stated. To the youth he advised, “Decisions now determine what happiness you will have later in life. If you have a grudge, let it go. Grudges rob us of eternal bliss and happiness.”

Stake Young Women president Karen Jones shared how the Handcart Trek in January was filled with challenges. The youth told their leaders not to make it easy and they were tough. They pushed handcarts up and down 9-foot embankments. They experienced/sacrificed in order to be true and faithful to the Lord … cold, wet, hungry, exhausted ... they bravely faced uncertainty. It rained a lot on Day 1. And we talked about how “rain comes into each of our lives” and that we need to be prepared. Scripture: Philippians 14: I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.

Tallahassee Mission President Smith and his wife spoke about their missionaries, saying that missionary work is a “team sport” in that they all have to work together to make a goal. He reported that there are 22 sets of missionaries in the Fort Walton Stake and four senior couples. He asked for prayers and more vegetables for his missionaries. Sister Smith spoke about the new programs we have which stress teaching our own families. “We have a new and holier approach,” she said. She also encouraged us to show more love and approval to our children and to teach them more about their ancestors and their lives.

Sunday’s concluding speaker was Elder Foster. His message was on marriage and making the family stronger. In Hebrew the word father means the strength of the house. Mother means food or water or the nourisher. They hold it together. Foster advised us to “Never love anything that cannot love you back, and to find time for things that matter most.” He admonished husbands and wives to be honest with one another, communicate , counsel and reason with one another and understand one another. He reminded us that sometimes our challenges that appear “bad” may actually be for our good. His final words of advice were to not just “endure to the end, but enjoy to the end. Don’t miss these wonderful times with your children.” The meeting concluded with the hymn “Lord, I Would Follow Thee."