Saturday, February 20, 2016

We Are One! - Part One

What an unbelievable sight! All of the missionaries of the Angeles Mission with visiting General Authorities and wives.  But seeing is believing and we have the pictures!  
A full mission conference was held on February 16, 2016 with President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve.  He was accompanied by his wife Sister Wendy W. Nelson, Elder Shayne M. Bowen and Sister Lynette Bowen.  We had a memorable afternoon conference. This is the first of a few posts to share the experiences of this visit.  
Photo credits:  Brother Garcia and Sister Pare

In the Philippines Angeles Mission, we have twelve missionary zones.  The zones are large and missionaries spread  over many kilometers.  Because of this, full mission conferences are rare and require Area Presidency approval.  Instead, we normally meet in smaller groups (2-3 zones) to reduce travel time and expense.  Last December, we were informed that President and Sister Nelson planned on visiting to the Philippines.  Our mission was asked if we would consider hosting them.  We were told we could bring ALL missionaries together for this conference.  How quickly can you say "YES!" The planning started almost immediately.  We know a lot about planning meetings but we've never seen anything like what happened here.  Attention to every detail was given both at the Tarlac Stake Center and the Mission Home - inside and out.  There was new landscaping at the church, painting of the sidewalk bricks, new stone paths, freshly painted lines on the basketball court, cleaning of every carpet and floor, fixing the stage curtains and that's just the Church.  The Mission Home got a face lift too.  Windows were washed, cobwebs cleared, railings painted and polished to perfection.  All of this done to assure that our facilities looked their best for our important visitors.  "Matching the Message" always is a good way to live life.

The staging of the full-mission picture above took some real planning.  Chairs were placed in position, areas measured, van tops used as platforms, tall ladders employed  - all so that everyone's face could be seen in the photo.  When the day of the Conference came, the missionaries arrived a couple of hours early.  They came by jeepney, bus and trike.  There was a joyful reunion by many missionaries who hadn't seen batch mates since the beginning of their missions.

The missionaries had assigned seating, by zone, in the chapel.  There they patiently waited for the conference to start at 1:30 PM. That was the hard part.  To fill time they ate a simple snack and then spent some time out in the sun preparing for the picture.  Height had to be taken into account - shortest sisters in the front and then it went back from there.  The result is quite amazing and for us truly beautiful.

The missionaries were able to watch some Church missionary oriented videos while they waited.  As the honored  guests got closer to the stake center, the Assistants prepared them to go outside to their given places. We pulled in the gates of the church just as our missionaries were filing into position in front of the camera.  They were perfectly prepared once Elder and Sister Nelson pulled in.  All of the planning by out Assistants and Office Staff paid off. The six leaders on the front row of the picture literally climbed out of the vehicles, sat in the six chairs provided and the picture you see was one of only two that were taken.  In our eyes, the picture is perfection!

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