I was assigned to preside over the conference at one of our districts two years after being called as an Area Seventy.
That Sunday the day appeared serene to me; we all hoped to have good weather. Soon it looked a beautiful day with bright sun. The sky was almost cleared, there were no clouds, and the sky was blue. We felt a cool wind that began to wonderfully blow in this city of Kananga, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Fortifying spirit present in Conference
We were refreshed with a fortifying spirit from a good Saturday evening session. We felt a good spirit throughout the sessions for priesthood leaders and adults. We taught them about their duties and urged them to have faith in Jesus Christ, and I constantly focused on family. Our congregation was edified. We were with the mission president and his wife, for whom I keep good memories of their love and their effort during their valiant call. The stake president was very young, called a year ago.
We arrived at the venue well before the members came. The stake president checked if everything was in place. We were at the door waiting to welcome members. They came in numbers, and we could read on their faces enthusiasm and joy, and we warmly greeted them. This passage in 1 Nephi 22:24 comes back again to my mind: “And the time cometh speedily that the righteous must be led up as calves of the stall, and the Holy One of Israel must reign in dominion, and might, and power, and great glory.”
What wonderful Saints who came to attend the conference! Our hearts were full of joy. And there was no doubt that in the next two or three years this district would become a stake. The scriptures teach us, “But, behold, I, the Lord, will hasten the city in its time, and will crown the faithful with joy and with rejoicing” (D&C 52:43).
Meeting with new converts
That day all new converts were invited into a room. As usual we took a few minutes and asked them how they joined the Church. Personally, I will never forget the spiritual words that I heard. They did not come out of the mouth, but from the bottom of the heart of each one. Listening to the stories of converts caused much emotion, and our cheeks were streaming with tears.
We listened to about 20 converts; it was wonderful. Their experiences were touching; what humility we noticed! What faith that nourishes them! They displayed obedience and sacrifice. The gospel that we live is about love; it prepares the human family for eternal salvation and gives people joy as eternal families. The Family: A Proclamation to the World is the essence of a model and generous life and of a special life.
One sister’s story of conversion
One of the spiritual expressions that touched me most was that of a young woman—I cannot remember the name. As she took the floor to talk about her experience, I felt the love of God for giving her peace in Christ; His perfect love now abides in her home. Indeed, she said she had long sought to be happy. Her story was touching. She said:
“The Lord came into our home to save our family. I was an unhappy woman due to the behavior of my husband. I meditated and often asked myself what was the use of living under a roof where marriage is based on a tradition that stifles women, for the woman is a precious creature of God. I had nothing to say to my husband. And every reply that I brought to make him understand the right direction, he became furious. I lived in fear in my home that I loved so much. I was considered a prisoner because I could not do otherwise than comply with his bad-mannered commands, as if I was the cause of the failure of his life. I am a respectful woman and by nature, beautiful. Maybe it’s because of our two children that the Lord has given us he dared not repudiate me.
One day, I noticed something surprising. When coming back from work, he sat next to me and read his book as long as he could. His tone had completely changed, and this went on for a week. Curiously, he spoke to me politely. Sometimes he did it without disturbing me in my work. The days that followed, he was no longer the same man I had known. I could not understand how he became humble, kind, and calm. Who advised him to change his behavior? But I saw him always stuck to his book, which was the Book of Mormon.”
Impact of Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life
The story of Lehi had changed him to acquire such a feeling. “And as I partook of the fruit therefore it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruits” (1 Nephi 8:12).
The sister, in her history said: “My husband has changed. My heart is at peace, the conversation is no longer the barrier between us. Two Sundays in a row, he went to church with his book and children. One day he told me that he would like us to go to church of his choice that changes people by its doctrine. I asked him which church he wanted us to go to, and he replied, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.’
When her husband spoke, he said that what has been said was truth: “I became a different person from who I was in the past. I almost lost my family because I was far from the restored gospel that changed my way of being. It saved my family. It is the tree of life that attracted us, and I could not eat alone! What an experience! And what a perfect model of God, of hope that our families find peace in our homes, thanks to the restored gospel and the teachings of prophets that strengthen each family.”