This last weekend, Elder Christofferson came and visited our mission! First, he gave an exclusive missionaries-only fireside on Saturday morning. Then, he spoke at a region-wide devotional Saturday night followed by a special Stake Conference down in the south of the mission where he dedicated the brand new (and beautiful) Stake Center.
Of course, it was all wonderful. Let's start at the beginning...
We woke up bright and early Saturday morning, determined to be the first ones to the church. We wanted front row seats and we weren't going to let anyone take them from us. We all showered (some other elders spent the night for the meeting) and were on the Subway by 6:00 AM. Just under an hour later, we arrived at the Stake Center on the other side of the city and discovered that we were indeed the first people there. After 30 minutes, others began arriving as well and not before long, the entire mission was there. We ended up at first sitting down in the front, but then the APs pushed us back 6 rows because the mission choir would need to be in the front.
Anyway, Elder Christofferson arrived with his wife and 3 other seventies and their wives. They all spoke to us one by one until finally it was Elder Christofferson's turn. For weeks now, all of the missionaries have been debating what he would say to us... "He's going to slam us all in our seats and rebuke us for not serving diligently enough!" some would say. "No, come on, he wouldn't do that, he's too nice" others would reply. "But I heard from a friend who's on a mission that when his brother's cousin's aunt's nephew was on his mission a few years back, Elder Holland came to a mission and practically yelled at them the entire time because the spirit told him that they weren't living up to their mission's potential." to which I would think to myself "I'm surrounded by idiots," but instead enjoyed the show. Finally the moment had come and Elder Christofferson stood at the pulpit.
What a shocker! All he did the entire time was open the floor for missionaries to ask questions for him to answer. At first, NOBODY raised their hands (terrifying, anyone?) but after the first few questions, the ball was rolling and it was impossible to be called on in the sea of arms. Even though I didn't get to ask him anything, in the end, other missionaries asked really good questions and it proved to be a wonderful hour listening to and watching an apostle ponder and think and search through the scriptures and share his answers with us. After the last question was answered, he took 5 minutes and blessed us as a mission and as missionaries, bore his testimony, and then left. We were ordered to immediately leave the church in order to clear it for other meetings.
However, that was only round one. Round two was the night devotional, and if you had an investigator to bring, you were allowed to attend...
Our investigator (lets give him the code name Jason) was extremely excited to come. He is 17 years old and really likes us missionaries. The only problem is his dad won't let him join the church and so getting him excited about anything gospel-oriented has been a little difficult recently. However, when we asked him if he would want to come, he responded to us with a definite "It's an apostle, isn't it?! That's a big deal!!" and we were off.
Jason the entire time was paying attention like none other. He was laughing with Elder Christofferson's jokes, asking me questions when he didn't understand a gospel principle (like what the millennium is), and was smiling almost the entire time. After the meeting closed and Elder Christofferson was being ushered out of the chapel to his car, Jason told me "Elder Graf! Quick, take a picture!" and he was opening my backpack to get my camera out. I tried to turn it on, but there was no battery. "Ahh, Jason, no battery!" I said, but then got a slightly-against-the-rules-because-they-told-us-to-NOT-follow-him-outside-but-genius-idea. "Wanna go shake his hand and get a picture outside?!?" I asked, to which Jason said "LETS GO!" and took off busting through the crowd in the chapel waving goodbye.
After shoving our way through masses of people and running around the stuffed-packed parking lot, we caught up to Elder Christofferson as he was being ushered into the backseat of the car. Jason just went straight up and said "hello!" in English, sticking his hand out to be shaken. Elder Christofferson turned around and saw him standing there, to which he stuck out his hand and shook it, thanking Jason for coming. I was hiding 10 feet behind at first, but I then ran up next to them and blurted out "This is my investigator". What was I trying to do, show off to the apostle?? Haha, whoops. But then Elder Christofferson shook my hand as well and with a smile said "That's wonderful" looking at Jason, and then back to me "Keep up the great work, Elder."
Alright, I can die now.
Haha, the two of us said goodbye and left his car beaming. Jason was actually cheering "I shook his hand! I shook his hand!" as we went back to where the other missionaries and their investigators were. We found Elder Skinner and told him what happened, to which he then took off with our recent convert who was baptized a few weeks back and did the same thing right before Elder Christofferson's car left. Success on both parts.
Anyway, I'm out of email time now, but as you can see, it was a fantastic week. Next time an apostle is coming, I won't keep it a secret from you all.