Farewell Picture

Visits from Dallin H. Oaks, his wife, Kristen & Elder Gerrit W. Gong, his wife Susan

Tuesday, May 30

We had a wonderful mission conference/tour for our missionaries, with Elder Dallin H. Oaks and his wife, Elder Gerrit W. Gong and his wife, Elder Choi Yoon Hwan and his wife Sister Koo Bon?, and Elder Jung Tae Gul (area Seventy). The time with them was so short but I was happy that at the beginning of our time with them they shook the hands of all our missionaries. Then the meeting began. With so many people speaking there wasn’t that much time left for Elder Oaks.  The visiting authorities rushed out at the end of the meeting with Dad conducting to end the meeting. I don’t know how but Dad got us to the Lotte Hotel (where they were all sleeping overnight) before they arrived even though they left before us. That is where we ate dinner; the same hotel restaurant we ate at with Elder and Sister Whiting. The buffet was delicious.  I enjoyed visiting with Sister Oaks as we went back to the buffet for more food. She shared with me about their courtship and how/when she met President Boyd K. Packer.  Back at the dinner table Elder Oaks shared with all of us their courtship.  Elder Oaks’ first wife had died of cancer two years earlier. She had prepared their children by telling them that Elder Oaks could not live alone and that they would need to help him find a wife/accept her. After each of his four daughters came to him saying it was time for him to marry again, THEN he was willing to make it a matter of prayer. One morning he felt especially inspired to talk with Elder Ballard about the matter. Elder Ballard had met a woman the week before who had come into his office applying for a job, who was Sister Oaks. They went for walks and visited family members every day of their courtship; though they did not “go out in public” for people to start talking/gossiping. They were married August 25, 2000 which was a short month and a half after meeting each other. I asked Sister Oaks what it was like telling her mom she was going to marry an Apostle/feelings/etc. Sister Oaks told me that it wasn’t quite like how I might imagine. Sister Oaks is a convert, who served a mission in Japan. During the dinner conversation she mentioned that she had been disowned (but she did not go into details that her family must have accepted her back because she now has a good relationship with them).  Her parents/family would not have thought about the church influence issue when meeting him. In fact, when Sister Oaks was explaining to her parents about Elder Oaks her father said, “Are you trying to tell me he’s a Republican?!” It was fun talking and they were very good about answering questions. We felt very comfortable around them/at ease. It was fun to see them eat ice cream for dessert just like us (we weren’t the only ones who wanted dessert as everyone at the table got some!).

Mission President's Seminar - Sister's Session

Monday, May 22

These mission president seminars are wonderful as we learn and discuss and grow spiritually. I remember being so nervous attending our first seminar, not really knowing the purpose. This session was different as this is the only time we did not have a homework assignment. Over the two days of instruction we learned about such topics as the difference between a special witness and an especial witness, spiritual gifts, the growth of individual missionaries, when someone feels the Holy Ghost for the first time, inviting the right way, make it delicious, focusing missionaries efforts to teach and work with youth and young adults, MLC-how to be a council member, the missionary daily schedule (which was recently changed), simplify key indicators for conversion, working with priesthood leaders, the missionary interview and zone conference schedule, the connection between developing Christ-like attributes and increasing convert baptisms, and a separate sister session.  The sister session was conducted in a separate room with the wives of the area presidency speaking on the topic of Ask in Faith/Fear. We were each given a gift bag with a couple of talks that were used/quoted from as the sisters spoke, along with a sweet syrup/topping that we each are holding up in the picture.  I will remember Sister Wada (the wife of the area temporal affairs manager) as they were mission president and released a year ago, as well as their son is Ben’s age and was enrolled in the same online Seminary class.  I will remember Sister Sonksen as being hilarious! She told us that in years to come her husband will be dead and she won’t remember a thing as she will probably have Alzheimer’s.  I will remember Sister Madsen with her voice sounding like Kaylene Coleman-they are cousins!  It was bittersweet saying goodbye to these wonderful mission presidents and their wives along with the area presidency and their wives because we were not there in person to talk during meld and travels to and from the temple and other places and activities.  I will remember the Zarbock’s especially in advising/helping with an island mission.  I will remember the Smith’s with their connection with the Nielsen’s/close friendship.  I am impressed with the Welch’s with their attitude and desire as she battled cancer, and continued to serve faithfully. My life is so easy! I am so blessed!  I will remember the fun time when President Whiting and his wife came for a mission tour, and did not have dry cleaning service late at night.  I will remember Sister Yamashita teaching our missionaries to Open Your Mouth!  I will remember the Choi’s singing I Love To Sing!  The outgoing mission presidents and wives shared their testimonies, before the area presidency and their wives shared their testimonies. What a privilege to listen in on that and participate.