Saturday, March 18, 2017

Stake Conference March 2017

WOW....what a weekend!!!  It was smashed full of goodness and has left us tired, fulfilled, and re-energized.

We were lucky to sit at the feet of Elder Juan Uceda all weekend.  What a treat to hear him share his testimony and devotion to God.  The main take home thoughts I took from the weekend is to have a one-on-one relationship with Christ and to value the privledge of going to the temple.  Birch was treated to lots of personal time with just the Stake Presidency being trained by Elder Uceda.  

Birch gave a memorable talk at the Priesthood session of Stake Conference.  He spoke on Leading After The Pattern of the Lord.  I bought this white shirt for him at Goodwill this week and then Birch cut off the sleeve and sewed a patch on the elbow to help represent the words from Elder Holland's talk given in 2008.  
Patterns and ReplicasLet me use a parable that I hope can make this point, whatever your marital or family circumstance. For lack of a better title, I call it “The Parable of the Homemade Shirt.” My mother, bless her, was a marvelous seamstress. In my childhood years, when money was short and new clothing hard to come by, she would sometimes make clothing for us to wear to school. I would see a shirt in a store window or in a mail-order catalogue, and my mother would say, “I think I can make that.” By looking at the shirt as closely as she could, she would then cut cloth and put in seams to a degree that was close to the expensive original. 
I pay her the tribute of being both willing and able to do that. But she didn’t like to do it that way. While she could study the commercial product and come close, what she really wanted was a pattern. A pattern helped her anticipate angles and corners and seams and stitches that were otherwise hard to recognize. Furthermore, if she went back for a second or a third shirt, she was always working from a perfect original pattern, not repeating or multiplying the imperfections of a replica. 
I think you can see my point and hers. We are bound to be in trouble if a shirt is made from a shirt that was made from a shirt. A mistake or two in the first product—inevitable without a pattern—gets repeated and exaggerated, intensified, more awkward, the more repetitions we make, until finally this thing I’m to wear to school just doesn’t fit. One sleeve’s too long. The other’s too short. One shoulder seam runs down my chest. The other runs down my back. And the front collar button fastens behind my neck. I can tell you right now that such a look is not going to go over well in the seventh grade. 
The Ideal Pattern from GodNow, I hope this helps you understand why we talk about the pattern, the ideal, of marriage and family when we know full well that not everyone now lives in that ideal circumstance. It is precisely because many don’t have, or perhaps have never even seen, that ideal and because some cultural forces steadily move us away from that ideal, that we speak about what our Father in Heaven wishes for us in His eternal plan for His children. 
Individual adaptations have to be made as marital status and family circumstances differ. But all of us can agree on the pattern as it comes from God, and we can strive for its realization the best way we can.
(taken from General Patterns and Specific Lives; Elder Jeffrey R. Holland; Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Building Up a Righteous Posterity, February 9, 2008)
I thought it was particularly clever of his idea because you didn't know anything was amiss until he took off his suit jacket when he gave his talk.  I was lucky to hear him speak as I was at the church setting up for a dinner and was able to listen to him.
My big part of the weekend was putting on a dinner for thirty-six Bishops, wives, Stake Presidency and wives, the mission president and his lovely wife (Elder and Sister Lewis), and Elder Uceda.  I happily volunteered to put on this dinner (I just did Cafe Rio for 400 so dinner for 36 is easy-peasy). Taking into account some dietary needs and needing to be able to serve and eat within about 45 minutes, I came up with doing a gourmet salad bar.  It turned out super cute and I was so grateful to Emily for doing the cute chalkboard signs and for two other good friends for pitching in and making the homemade bread and grilling all the chicken.
Cute waterbottles with lables sharing our focus for Stake Conference and chocolate dipped strawberries for dessert.

The salad bar was SO colorful!!

I saw an idea online where the wedding salad bar was served in square bowls.  After hunting around for square dishes I came up with this idea from The Dollar Store.  These black containers are drawer organizers.

We had four different salad theme suggestions - a Mexi, Thai, Spring, and Asian Salad.

Each of the dressings for whatever salad you decided to make.

It was so wonderful to see all the seats be filled and everyone enjoying the hard work.  Elder Uceda invited all the sisters to ask him a question.  Being caught off guard we couldn't really come up with an questions so instead Elder Uceda asked us a couple of questions.  It was a treat to be in such close proximity to a servant of the Lord.
So the BIG weekend is over!!  Birch visited several members of the stake Saturday morning with President Linde, we attended several meetings (including a special early morning fireside for all the Spanish families in the stake today), and the other three regular meetings.  I think we'll both go to bed tired and happy tonight!!

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