Sunday, April 20, 2014

Riley #62 - Inglewood, CA - The best kept secret

                                             April 7, 2014

Hi Everyone,
     Thanks for the email and pictures. I'm glad to know the Conference tradition (going to our friends' house for waffles and ice cream after Priesthood Conference session) lives on. I really like Michele's blog posts on grad school. It's interesting to see what it takes to prepare. The conference post was also enlightening.

      Conference was good for us as well. Saturday we pretty much were at the church all day. We had to be at the Stake Center to watch it, and it was too far from our area to do much in between sessions. I spent a lot of the time studying Chinese. We are only on bikes, but there is a companionship that helps drive us places when we need to go farther, like Conference. It is pretty safe here, so we don't need to worry too much.

(click to enlarge)

     As far as Conference goes, my favorite session was Priesthood. The talks were all really great. As usual, I will need to read them again afterward to understand some of the concepts they talked about, especially Elder Oak's. The Saturday morning session was also really good.

      It was noticeable how the central messages of the talks were similar. I liked how they talked about not segmenting yourself. Know who you are and then always be who you are, regardless of the circumstances. When persecution comes, rely on God and be loyal to him. Standing for what is right often means standing against what is popular and although you may feel you stand alone, you never are truly alone.

     Have integrity and live true to what you believe. Your actions often reflect your thoughts and desires and these, in turn, your character. I really loved how much of it focused on developing a stronger and better person, developing integrity and character which isn't swayed or defined by other people.

     One of the people we've been teaching came and watched the Saturday sessions with us. While he liked the conference, he seemed to really enjoy the World Report after Conference. 

     He is well-known in the faith community in Inglewood and has often worked with our church and others in interfaith efforts. He was amazed and touched to see what the Church was doing around the world, also to see that they were willing to work with others to do it. It really surprised him how what was taught was similar to other churches, messages of hope and testimonies of Christ, messages that no Christian church could disagree with. 

     Despite the common, negative feelings other churches have toward us, the differences in what we believe are not as deep as he had been made to believe. He told us his member friend, the person who had led him to investigate the church, told him that she thinks the Church is the most misunderstood of any religion.

He told us he thinks the Church is the best kept secret.

     As he has encountered more and more of the church, he has been continually impressed not just with the message which the church shares, but also with how they share that message. As we've showed him videos and the Visitor Center, and as he personally has perused the Church website, he has again and again marveled at the way the videos and the presentation of the message is designed to speak to the people of today, in such a way that they can understand it.

As he said Saturday, everything is run just the way it should be.
     He has already begun to see the greater vision of the church and its purpose. We not only have the desire to spread the message of the gospel, or to help lift those in need, but we are doing it successfully, on a scale and in a manner which he, for all his experience working with churches and communities, has never seen done. But he feels this is how it should be done. 

     It has helped me appreciate that the way the church is run is simply miraculous. All the obstacles and challenges that others face in doing this work are obviated simply because it is not man who leads this church. It is lead by revelation and it is Christ's Church. As I listened to conference, I was once again reminded of that.

      We were teaching a person from Egypt the other day who grew up in Islam. He was fascinated in the idea of a living prophet, as Islam claims Muhammad as the last of the prophets.

     One of the largest differences between us and other religions is continuing revelation. Many of the people we talk to believe in a story that has already been written, a tale that's been told, that all is complete.

 In contrast, we believe that God's plan is continuing to unfold before us, and we still have a part to play in that plan, under the direction and guidance of Christ.

               Elder Bowman