On the first weekend of March, Church members in British Columbia’s lower mainland had the rare privilege of listening to three general authorities: Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Bishop Gérald Caussé, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric. Elder Paul Christensen, North America Northwest Area Seventy was also in attendance. President Karl Tilleman of the Canada Vancouver Mission and Vancouver British Columbia Temple President Ronald W. Komm also spoke in the conferences. The brethren conducted meetings directed to the missionaries, to the local leadership, to Young Single Adults and at three separate stake conferences in the area. Member enthusiasm for the visits was evident by the large numbers attending the several meetings.
In the Surrey British Columbia Stake, Tiffany Harvey, White Rock Ward Relief Society President, described her congregation’s devotion. “When Bishop Caussé came in, everyone was so quiet! There was at least ten minutes of hushed preparation to hear our special leader and listen to the music. It was wonderful. I felt we could do the same for our local leaders when we have other stake conferences and sacrament meetings. If we are reverent and honour the priesthood our leaders hold, we are so much more prepared to hear and take in the inspiration of each meeting.
“There was a great focus on the temple and on gathering our families, especially to go to the temple. For our family, it’s been hard to get a schedule in our lives. I would like to follow the council we were given and schedule temple attendance, not just when there’s time, but on a more consistent basis. I want to be prepared with names for my children to take to the temple by doing my family history. When we attend the temple more regularly as husband and wife, we can avoid the ‘storm’ of the world. The temple will be our ‘safe harbour’. We were taught that the gathering of Israel will come through the temples as we gather our families together, uniting them for both here and beyond.”
In the Abbotsford British Columia Stake, Bishop Michael D. Towns of Brookswood Ward shared his thoughts about Elder Aiudukitis’ teaching along with President Tilleman’s encouragement to the Saints. “We were taught the world’s false notion is that love decreases after marriage, but our love should increase. To increase love for our wife, we should give her a two-minute hug every day and tell her the nice things that we appreciate about her. I need to emphasize in my heart that marriage gets better when we stick to the principles of the Proclamation on the Family. We also need to take heed of the simple, but important things like family home evening, family prayer and scripture study. The relatively easy and simple things lead to peace and joy within a family.”
“President Tilleman told us to love everyone around us and strike up conversations, not with only the intention to convert, but to show love and get to know folks.” Bishop Towns explained, “I learned that we need to increase our faith so we can be instruments in God’s hand. It takes a leap of faith to have a daily gospel conversation with someone to whom we haven’t spoken with before.”
Elder Christofferson and Elder Christensen met with members in Vancouver Stake. Elder Christensen explained that members need to learn to share the gifts of the gospel. He said, “It is time to change. It’s a new era. We need to stop judging and start inviting.”
After listening to Elder Christofferson and Elder Christensen, a visitor to the Church was impressed by the testimonies offered. He was born in Taipei City, schooled in Seattle and has been in Canada twenty-five years. He had been contacted by the missionaries at a Skytrain station and said he had not previously heard of the Mormon Church. He has been studying with the missionaries for four weeks and is working to understand the Church’s teachings. He walks to church meetings even if it takes him an hour and has been faithful in attending meetings for five weeks. He is learning how to pray and receive answers, so council given at the conference was timely.
He explains, “Elder Christofferson told us about when he was praying for answers, but received his testimony a period of time after he asked for it. He said when we pray, sometimes we expect something to happen, but it doesn’t. He told us to be patient, pray every day and someday we will get our answer. I feel that is good. I feel you should keep praying and your problem will someday be solved.”
When asked if he believes Elder Christofferson is an apostle, he said, “I ask myself, do I believe him? There is no reason why I could not believe him. I feel that he knows and that what happened to him is real.”
One of the missionaries teaching this visitor offered encouragement by telling him, “You have been worried, hoping that your daughter will understand the need to attend church. Today an apostle has given you and everyone here a blessing that all will know how to teach their children and that such teachings will be accepted.”
Following the Vancouver Stake conference, Elder Christofferson asked to shake hands with each of the children and teenagers in the congregation. He counseled with them, as well, explaining that they need to obtain their own testimony. “This is a witness you, too, must have.”
Elder Christofferson was interviewed after the conference and asked what members should have received from their attendance. He responded, “Often it is an individual communication through the Spirit, because the Lord knows each one and responds to each one's individual circumstances and needs. But generally speaking, we would hope that there are some messages that everyone grasps and incorporates. One is, certainly, the witness of the Saviour and the power of His Atonement and that would lead people to have faith in Him.”