Saints of the Singapore Stake of Zion were uplifted by its annual Stake Conference held over 2-3 March, 2013. The Conference, powered by a strong missionary theme, was presided over by President Stephen Lai, with President and Sister Mains of the Singapore Mission also in attendance.
The Saturday session featured talks by four returned missionaries and other members based on 'D&C 132 and 3 Nephi 15:9-10 - Working towards exaltation'. Many of the speakers affirmed, and expressed gratitude for our relationship with a loving Father in Heaven, highlighting themes of enduring to the end, and the opportunity for eternal life with our families. Personal perspectives of gospel application and its associated blessings were shared in real and touching ways, prompting President Lai to exclaim, 'My spirit is fed, my heart is full because of the pure testimonies the Spirit bore witness to our hearts.'
He went on to bear stirring testimony in his closing talk of delighting in the fatness of the gospel and teaching our children to do so through teaching them of our privilege to repent by example, instructing them in pure doctrine and emphasizing the importance of marrying within Israel. He ended his remarks with a heartfelt expression of his love, particularly for the Young Single Adults whom he teaches in Institute, referring to them as 'our future leaders', 'the best generation of spirits to stay on the Lord's side' and 'a force to be reckoned with'.
The strong theme on missionary work continued on Sunday with a bonanza of five departing missionaries (a number of whom have already departed, and two newly-called mission presidents and their spouses speaking, leading President Lai to recall the 'stone cut out of the mountain without hands' as he opened the second session. Following that, the congregation heard from President Carlile about the spread of the gospel and temples in fulfillment of the latter-day restoration. Sister Rita Woo, the outgoing Stake Relief Society President, also shared her thoughts on accepting and uplifting ourselves and others, relating her personal experience of growing and changing through the gospel because others had not judged her and reached out instead to show an example. She also called for greater interaction between sisters in the Stake, echoing that we are sent where we are for the Lord's purposes. Sister Woon Chew Yian then took the stand as the newly-called Stake Relief Society President and expressed her faith and testimony of the Saviour. She shared that and choice to be His disciple as the incentive for her accepting the calling despite her trepidations. She further re-emphasized the threefold mission of the Relief Society, attesting to having seen its power in rallying the sisters from the Shanghai Pudong Branch where her family recently moved from.
Thereafter, Elder Shem Woo (Choa Chu Kang Ward), Sister Samantha Chen (Toa Payoh Ward), Sister Jarene Lim (Bedok Ward), Sister Karmaine Revilio (Woodlands Ward) and Sister Marie Ellis (Singapore First Ward) bore testimonies of going to serve a mission. Elder Woo recounted the unique blessings of being a Latter-Day Saint and our responsibility having received the privilege to be touched by the Spirit to share it and pass it on. Sister Chen shared about being called providentially to serve in the same area as her oldest sister and testified of our time as being the Lord's. Sister Lee, who also joins her two older siblings on their missions, spoke of her quest to find a testimony by asking others what was theirs until she learnt the simple truth of her own testimony by praying one day at work about Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Sister Revilio told of how she had to give up a hard-earned place in BYU-Hawaii and built her own testimony being away from home, believing that as a missionary, she will be apart from her family for this time so others can be with theirs forever. Sister Ellis, leaving at age 19 for her mission, expressed gratitude for the privilege to serve a mission and show her appreciation for the Atonement which has saved her and when utilised, grants us better, happier lives, even joy in the Church.
The new presidents and their wives of the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission and Philippines Quezon City Mission, the Bensons and Revilios respectively, then addressed the congregation. Both couples leave with their families this summer and have all previously served full-time missions in those areas. President and Sister Benson bring four young children aged two to eight with them, and both shared of the wonderful connection they have to the land: President Benson having wanted to serve there even as a boy, and Sister Benson having been pre-empted to serve there by her sister. They testified of the power of the missionary spirit and our foremost calling to preach the gospel to the world at no greater time than now. Sister Revilio recounted being converted amongst all others on her mission and how it changed her spiritual destiny, while President Revilio expressed excitement to be serving at the same time as their daughter Karlmaine and to have the Manila Temple in their mission boundaries.
President Lai then dedicated his closing remarks to the Single Adults, noting that all of us have, or shall occupy such a place in the Church one day. He reminded us of being one big family, to not forget the Single Adults, and reiterated God's love, knowledge and awareness of us individually. He spoke of the Saviour's promise that we will be comforted and given peace in our loneliness, and invited those who feel alone to first reach out in work and service in behalf of others as counselled by President Hinckley. President Lai encouraged us to develop ourselves, to come and participate and ended with an optimistic note for the future. Expressing his hopes to see more missionaries serving, a 2nd stake in Singapore, and the blessing of a Temple in South East Asia as we serve and let our light so shine, President Lai also suggested not to think so much of migrating so that the Church in Singapore could grow and flourish as counseled in the Church Handbook.
Sister Christina Lua, Toa Payoh Ward, a convert of a year and a half, was grateful for the missionaries and their enthusiasm to continue the work, 'They are diligent and carry the full gospel around the world.'Sister Ally Chan, 2nd Ward, was personally impacted by the missionary theme. 'I feel that the Stake must have been inspired to promote the cause of missionary work because I remembered one of the speakers said that the lowering of missionary age also means that the 2nd Coming might be happening soon as this is the last time that all people can learn about the Savior Jesus Christ and God’s Plan of Salvation. The Sunday session of Stake Conference cleared up some of my doubts and concerns about missionary work and I believe that some of us who, like what Sister Rita Woo said, went to Conference feeling spiritually flat, definitely exited the Conference feeling more spiritually motivated. I was also very impressed that the prospective missionaries displayed such faith and hope in the work of the Lord through their testimonies.'
Among several announcements of note was the removal of Home Study for the Seminary programme in 2014, and that of the total number of full-time missionaries serving from the Singapore Stake being 28 – 23 from the local wards and 5 from the expat wards. Music was wonderfully provided on Saturday by the Choa Chu Kang Ward Choir, and on Sunday by the combined Stake Choir.