September 15, 2019 - Missionaries in the New York Syracuse Mission gathered to be taught by the servants of the Lord...

D Todd Christofferson, Apostle, Robert C Gay, Seventy & Member of the Presidency of the Seventy, Robert K Bennett, Seventy, North America, Northeast Area President, S Mark Clay, Area Seventy, Peter M Johnson, Seventy

This was the first mission wide gathering of the New York Syracuse Mission (remember we merged the Utica & Rochester Missions to form the Syracuse Mission on July 1, 2019). What a wonderful spiritual feast for each of. What a privilege and blessing. Let me share just a few nuggets:

Elder Gay told us:
The Book of Mormon is an instrument to bring people unto Christ. Conversion begins with feelings before knowledge. We have to be a witness of the power of Jesus Christ. We stand for the Savior.

Elder Johnson shared some words of advice - 5 things that we should do as missionaries:
1. Remember who you are.
2. Exact obedience is key as we become instruments in the hand of God.
3. Remember your purpose as a missionary: you are to find, teach repentance & baptize.
4. Use the Book of Mormon in all you do.
5. Don't waste your time.

Elder Christofferson spent most of his time doing Questions and Answers:
Question: How do you receive personal revelation?
Answer: President Nelson addressed the importance of personal revelation after been sustained as the prophet in his first talk in April 2018 General Conference - "In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost."
Elder Christofferson continued, There is no single way to receive personal revelation. He then listed four ways to consider:
1. Doctrine & Covenants 9:8 - "But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right."
Study it out in your mind, ask the Lord. When you get an answer, ask if there is anything more that you should know or understand. Many times there will be - write it down. This shows your interest and the Lord may give you even more.
2. Studying the scriptures. As you study you will be in a condition for the Lord to speak to you. That is one reason we study the scriptures, to receive inspiration and revelation.
3. Prayer. Praying creates situations when you can take time. The Lord will sometimes tell you what to ask. This process prompts where the prayer takes you and helps you to pray by the spirit. And allows the Lord to give you even more.
4. Service. When you are serving, he can prompt you.

Elder Gay added to this question about revelation:
Elder Gay is responsible for sending out Missionary Surveys which include a question about what concerns the missionary the most - the answer that comes up most often is: How do we recognize personal revelation? Elder Gay's answer:
You can recognize promptings by their fruits - what happens if you follow a certain prompting? Is this inspiration or just a good idea? It doesn't matter, just do it!
Elder Clay added:
Keep a 3x5 card in your pocket. Write down every time you are inspired during the day. Review the card at the end of the day. You will be able to better recognize inspiration as you acknowledge what you are already receiving each day.

Elder Christofferson closed:
I bear witness that you are called by the authority of Jesus Christ to teach and to testify, just as the Apostles. You are engaged in an Apostolic work under Apostolic keys. I am a witness of your callings.
The Savior's capacity to save and to redeem is infinite. You are standing at the door with the Kingdom of Heaven in your hands. You have the power to give it to the people.
Jesus Christ is resurrected. His resurrection is the proof of everything else he taught. The resurrection is the seal.

In less than 3 weeks we will have the opportunity to listen to our prophets and apostles in General Conference. As you take the time to carefully watch, I promise you that you will receive answers to your prayers and peace and comfort in your hearts. You will be inspired to move forward in your lives and you and your families will be richly blessed as you watch conference and heed the words of those chosen by God to lead His church.

Sisters Wiese & Penrod - notice the Celestial Parking Lot - missionaries try to park so that they won't have to back up, so when we arrived at our Mission Conference all the missionaries that had arrived pulled forward into the parking space so they could drive straight out and not have to back up - so they term any parking space that doesn't require backing up to leave as a Celestial Parking Space. (When missionaries back up, their companion has to be outside the car directing and guiding the driver to back up carefully and safely. Before this rule was instituted, there were many backing accidents. This procedure has virtually eliminated this type of accident. So, if possible, the missionaries avoid the whole process by finding a Celestial Parking Space.)
Look who we found at our Missionary Conference: Sisters Weaver & Black (Plus one of their current companions). We sure love and miss these awesome Sisters who served with us in Massena.
Sisters Wiese & Penrod with President Vest after the conference. We have a rule: 5 Minutes from Amen - which means we aren't supposed to linger and visit, we are supposed to be in our cars driving away within 5 minutes of the final amen. President Vest was out in the parking lot saying goodbye to all of his good and faithful missionaries and helping us to leave quickly and get back to the Lord's work.

On our way to conference in Syracuse, we drive through Mexico, NY. So, I play the Mexican Hat Dance. So, we got Sisters Wiese and Penrod to reprise a previous version performed by Sisters Black & White!

Thomas (from the Nature Center) and I were looking for new born turtles in the parking lot - it's time for the turtles to hatch. Several turtles had been seen laying eggs about 3 months ago in areas near the parking lots. If the turtles wander on to the parking lot when they hatch, they get squished by the cars, so the Nature Center checks the parking lot and moves any baby turtles found to one of the ponds in the area. I found this baby snapping turtle (notice the long tail). It's still covered with dirt from just digging out of the hole where he was laid. The turtles dig a hole, lay their eggs and then bury the eggs with dirt.

Our new found baby turtles first swim (Tom put in a little worm type thing to see if the turtle would eat it - the turtle totally ignored it.)

Tanya and Sherry - The Nature Nuts learned about skunks.
Cute craft: Everyone made a skunk in Nature Nuts
The Sister Missionaries started a new Bible Study Class this week: Old Testament Prophets. Michel, Marilyn's back, Sister Wiese, Everette, Sister Penrod, John, Sharon, Tim and Karen's hand!
Sister Wiese, Everett and Sister Penrod. Everette made one of his famous signs for Sister Penrod - she's officially part of the Branch now!!! Thanks again, Everett.
We mourn the loss of our friend Reggie who will missed by family and all that knew him. Reggie passed away due to some lingering health issues. He had been meeting with the Sisters and we had visited him regularly too.
Reggie was a Veteran who served his country in Vietnam.
Reggie's memorial was held at the site of the A-4 Skyhawk plane and Vietnam Memorial that honors local Vietnam veterans in the Brasher Falls area.
A flag was folded for presentation of the Reggie's family.
Presentation of the flag to the family.
At military funerals, one often sees three volleys of shots fired in honor of the deceased veteran. The firing team can consist of any number and each member of the team fires three times (three volleys). The firing of three volleys come from an old battlefield custom. The two warring sides would cease hostilities to clear their dead from the battlefield, and the firing of three volleys meant that the dead were cleared and had been properly cared for and the side was ready to resume the battle. As difficult as that is, Reggie has been lovingly been cared for and we must find a way to go on until we meet him again on the other side.
Taps was played during the Civil War as a signal for the soldiers to extinguish all fires and lights and go to sleep. Taps later came into use as a figurative call to the sleep of death for soldiers. Reggie's time has come for him to join the sleep of the dead. But be at peace for he will awake and rise again and live.

We pray for peace and comfort for all those that mourn the loss of Reggie. We say good bye to our dear friend, Reggie - but just for now. We will meet again. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, died for us. He was resurrected on the third day and each and everyone of us will live again. We look forward to a great reunion with Reggie.

Another busy week in paradise! A few of our non-pictured service opportunities this week: We took Everette to Canton to meet with his counselor that handles some benefit programs that he is working on. We had several virtual student visits with our students from BYU PathwayConnect. At Young Women's meeting, Broderick offered to give all the girls back to school was very sweet and appreciated by the girls. We had our Virtual Orientation meeting with our BYU PathwayConnect group - it was awesome, we're going to have a great year with them. There were more piano lessons for 2 of the branch children. And we drove to the Malone Branch (about 50 minutes away) and did a BYU PathwayConnect presentation to the Young Men and Women of the Branch as well as a few interested adults. What a great additional opportunity for our youth to consider as they decide what they are going to do after high school.