Coming Together—Worth the Effort

Coming Together—Worth the Effort

Often referred to as the 'Northern Capital' of British Columbia, the city of Prince George actually sits geographically closer to the centre of the province. Situated at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers, the area is also the traditional homeland of the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation, whose very name means 'people of the confluence of the two rivers”.

Supported by a vibrant, diverse and growing economy, combined with relatively inexpensive housing prices and comfortable weather patterns, it’s no wonder Prince George and the surrounding area attracts so many families relocating from other parts of the province and the rest of Canada. Like many other places in Canada however, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints represent a small minority of the local population. Most members live a long distance from the nearest Church building or for that matter, other Church members.
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The Prince George Stake is spread geographically across a very large area extending from 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Bella Coola, Quesnel, Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, and Dease Lake in the far northwest corner of the province. For these members, travelling long distances to Church meetings is a way of life—one that they accept willingly because of the faith and testimony that burns within them. Despite these challenges, the members of the Prince George Stake streamed in from their various communities and joined together the weekend of September 12-13 for stake conference. Many stake members drove several hours from outlying areas to attend training and receive instruction from their local leaders, as well as from Elder Jorge F. Zeballos of the First Quorum of the Seventy who presided over the conference.

'Travelling long distances is a small price to pay for the benefit and blessing of participating in sacred ordinances,' says Brother Fred Bigler, Prince George Stake Patriarch. Patriarch Bigler knows all about the sacrifices made by Prince George Stake members. He has travelled more than fourteen hours one way to give a member a patriarchal blessing.
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During the Sunday session of conference, Stake President Eugene Marks instructed stake members to rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ in their lives using the analogy of preparation for running a marathon. He encouraged members to 'put in the time' to prepare before challenges occur in their lives.

In addition to hearing from local leaders and members, the stake was blessed to hear from President and Sister Ellis of the Vancouver British Columbia Temple presidency and President and Sister Burt of the Canada Vancouver Mission. These leaders reminded members of the blessings that come through participating in family history and temple work, as well as the importance of hastening the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ through missionary work. The missionary effort is moved forward when members simply open their mouths.
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For many members in attendance, the highlight of the conference included instruction from Elder Zeballos. In his soft Spanish accent, encouraged members to live happy lives. Outlining the points of how accomplish that, Elder Zeballos taught that true happiness comes through living the gospel of Jesus Christ and he suggested four key ingredients to living a happy life:
1) Be obedient to the commandments
2) Repent often
3) Develop the capacity to forgive  
4) Bring souls to the kingdom through missionary, retention and temple efforts.

Elder Zeballos also reminded and encouraged members to improve their observance of the Sabbath Day, so that they might come closer to Christ.  Improved Sabbath Day observance has been one of the focuses of the Church  this year.
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After the conference, members of the stake lingered for a while to maintain the feeling of the “warm embrace of the spirit” that had attended the meeting and to enjoy associating with each other before heading back out on the road for the long drive back to their separate homes. Armed with the counsel of their leaders and their shared testimonies and sacrifices, the members agreed it was a trip well worth the effort.