Last weekend, we attended our Stake Conference. We were fortunate to have an apostle presiding: Elder Dallin H. Oaks. Elder David L Cook, an Area Seventy, also was there. What a wonderful experience for us! They weren't here to reorganize anything; they just came to preside, and to teach.
The Saturday night session was packed. As Elder Oaks observed, typical attendance at the Saturday meeting suggests that maybe they are "secret," but that was not the case for this conference. The chapel and gym were full. (The parking lot was full, too - people parked at the high school, about a mile down the road, and were shuttled back and forth in vans. We, of course, simply walked from home.)
I can't remember specifics from the Saturday night talks (note to self: take more notes). What I remember is how pleasant it was, watching and listening to Elder Cook and Elder Oaks. They felt like friends, rather than authorities. They laughed and smiled, and spoke to our specific needs. More than once, I felt that Elder Oaks was looking right at me, looking into my eyes as a friend would.
For Sunday's session, we met at the W.K.Kellogg Auditorium, in Battle Creek. What a nice facility! We arrived early, so that Jim could rehearse with the choir - they sang an arrangement of "Beautiful Savior" that really was lovely (definitely not the familiar tune). We were able to find comfortable seats, right up front, with leg room for Jim.
I remember a few thoughts from Sunday's meeting. Elder Cook talked to youth, about staying the course during high school, and the importance of finding good friends. He shared his own experience, in which he decided to separate himself from the friends he'd grown up with, because of their choices. On his first day of school, he entered the lunch room, and sat alone. Gradually, over those first days of school, others joined, until he had a core of new friends. Elder Oaks spoke of missionary work, pointing out the benefits of talking about religion with our friends; sharing literature; sharing our testimony; and inviting friends to activities with us. (This all makes sense, and yet we are afraid of offending our friends - why is that?)
Anyway... it was a lovely weekend, and I feel loved by our leaders, and (by extension) by the Lord.