This morning at church we only had 23 people. Last week we had 52. The branch president, primary president and relief society president were all out of town this week, as were pretty much the rest of our branch. We only had 7 regulars, which included the sister missionaries. We had no kids for primary or young mens. We don't have any young women in our branch. It was so crazy that so many regulars were out of town. We were grateful for a few visitors, however most left after sacrament meeting. There were only 12 people in Sunday School and 5 in Relief Society, which again included the sister missionaries. The sister missionaries spoke in sacrament meeting and one gave the RS lesson. I didn't want them to have to go home to make dinner after all they did for our church meetings, so they came to my house for lunch.
The impressive thing however about this morning is that we still were able to partake of the sacrament and be taught by the spirit. It doesn't matter how many people are in attendance, the church is still true. I love being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, because it doesn't matter where you go in the world, the church is the same; the meetings are the same and the spirit is there in abundance. There are no surprises. Granted we do start a little late here, but we are on island time!
I greatly enjoyed Sunday School where the lesson was entitled, Come to the House of the Lord. The lesson was out of 2 Chronicles 29-34. In the lesson there is a quote that I have always loved by President Howard W. Hunter which says, "Let us be a temple-attending people. Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it. Teach them about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Have them plan from their earliest years to go to there and to remain worthy of that blessings." I'm so excited to be in attendance of the open house of the Phoenix Temple and to be there when it is dedicated this Fall! There is such an amazing peace that comes from attending the temple.
In 2 Chronicles 32: 7-8 it says, "Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed...With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles." I love those versus. They give me much strength and hope in knowing that if I have courage that God will help me fight my battles. I have certainly seen this in my own life, especially last year as I fought my ovarian cancer battle.
As I sat in Relief Society, I thought about the early saints and when the church was restored of how there were only 6 people in attendance at the first meeting. Our lesson was actually a combination of 2 lessons, Bringing up Children in Light and Truth and Sealing Power and Temple Blessings. I loved the following quote by President Joseph Fielding Smith, "There are thousands of Latter-Day Saints who are willing to go to meetings, willing to pay their tithing and attend to regular duties of the Church, but they do not seem to feel or understand the importance of receiving the blessings in the temple of the Lord which will bring them into exaltation. It is a strange thing. People seem to be content just to slide along without taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them and without receiving these necessary covenants that will bring them back into the presence of God as sons and daughters. If you want salvation in the fullest, that is exaltation in the kingdom of Go, you have got to go into the temple of the Lord and receive these holy ordinances which belong to the house, which cannot be had elsewhere. No man shall receive the fulness of eternity, of exaltation alone; no woman shall receive that blessing along; but man and wife, when they receive the sealing power in the temple of the Lord, shall pass on to exaltation, and shall continue and become like the Lord. And that is the destiny of men, that is what the Lord desires of His children." Talk about powerful. What great blessings we are promised if we go to the Temple!