"And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." D&C 84:88

Sunday, February 15, 2015

East London Stake Conference and a Problem Generator

The theme for our Stake Conference in East London was focused on “Hastening the Work of Salvation”.  The speakers on the Sunday Session of Stake Conference were wonderful.  In particular President Merrill and the three talks by the members of the Stake Presidency were some of the best I have heard in a long time.  It was a pleasure to attend and be spiritually fed from the Stake Presidency.

However, I wanted to highlight a side story that occurred during the meeting.  The meeting began at 10:00 and load shedding (not enough generating capacity in South Africa so the power is turned off at different times and in different locations so as to lighten the load on the electricy grid) took place at 10:08, just as President Van Heerden, the first counselor, was sustaining the leaders in the Church and Stake.  When he finished he went to start up a backup generator.  They were very prepared.  They had a backup plan.  The generator was all plunged in, the wires had been laid and were in place.  All they had to do was pull the crank on the generator and they would be ready to move forward with the meeting.

As he and some other brethren were rushing to start the generator, it became flooded.  Luckily, there was a priesthood holder who had some tools.  The congregation was singing hymns (without the electric organ).  I was sitting inside and felt prompted to go out and see if I could help.  I arrived as there were frantic efforts to take the spark plug out, clean it, check for spark and replace it.  President Van Heerden then urged one of those helping to now pull the cord.  A lovely Afrikaans phrase that ended with something like  “trek my boet” or “pull my brother” was said.   In a time of crisis it was an encouraging plea to a fellow priesthood holder.   There were two or three pulls with no success.  As I watch this unfold, President Van Heerden then exclaimed in loud frustration, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”  They knew that load shedding might happen.  They had given it thought, they had prepared, the wires had been laid, the plugs connected, the generator had been started the day before.  What more could have been done?  In his frustration he raised his hands slightly and looked heavenward questioning where his help was going to come from.  Right then, in that instant, on the next pull, the very next pull of the cord, the generator came to life.

I must admit that it was not your normal prayer and was more a cry of frustration.  While not anything like the dreaded circumstances that Joseph Smith was in when he exclaimed “Oh God where art thou?”,   but you could see the concern in his eyes and his desire to fulfill his promise to his Stake President that all would be well.  He did not want to fail in a promise to his priesthood leader.

Later in the meeting, President Van Heerden began his talk by asking in jest, “How many Priesthood holders does it take to start a generator?”  I learned today that it takes those with keys, knowledge, tools and sometimes an outcry in your time of need.  When you desperately need His help, He will step in and help you… after all you can do.

That is President Van Heerden posing with the problem generator after the meeting for me.

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