Elder Jeffery R. Holland: Shorter than I thought he'd be, though
definitely not to be categorized as a short man. Just as intense as I
thought he'd be, but also just as loving. I think he is one of the
most genuine people on the planet. Everything he presented to us was
100% Jeff Holland: no facade, no guile, just "here I am, and I'm not
afraid to show you all!" Hardly perfect, but not trying to hide any imperfection. Just speaking straight from his heart. He is definitely
worthy of the distinction he has among members of the church.
He started by having us all come up one by one to shake his hand and
briefly tell him our names and our hometowns. He told us that he made
sure to look everyone of us in the eye and give us a quick personal
interview with the gift of discernment from the spirit. He then based
his training off how he felt impressed as he "interviewed" each of us.
He just opened up the New Testament and expounded it to us all. He He
told President Smith afterwards that it was a very pleasant experience
for himself. He said he got to just teach the doctrine in it's purity
and he knew by the spirit that we could do the application on our own.
He also said that was the first time in 27 years as a general
authority of the church that he did not feel impressed to talk about
obedience when visiting a mission. The techie from the stake left the
speakers in the foyer on, so by the end, there was a small
congregation of members who recognized the voice of an apostle
gathered outside the chapel to gawk as he dashed into the elevator.
Some quotes from his visit:
"I am thoroughly convinced that no man has been more affected by his
mission than I was by mine. Some of the senior elders here might try
to argue and I'm ready to duke it out with them!"
"With the exception of a few keys, we are exactly the same. The
callings are nigh identical. Either you're apostolic or I'm just a
"If I I come across any of you in the future and find out you've left
the church..."(he grabs Elder Leishman by the throat with both hands
and shakes him--playfully of course) "I might resort to violence!"
"I'm glad the spirit has impressed me positively regarding you
missionaries. If those "interviews" had gone otherwise this would get
ugly. I'm serious! I have a reputation. I'd be off the walls! My head
would go through the ceiling! Back when Sister Holland would visit
missions with me, she'd be crawling out of the room on all fours
saying, 'I don't know him, I swear!'"
"Elders and Sisters, I'm not a stupid man. I went to a pretty notable
university just up the Long Island Sound from here. I've served as the
president of another university. I've done things with my life. I'm
not trying to aggrandize myself to you. I just want you to know, I am
no fool, and I would not give my life to a fairytale. This gospel and
this work is real; it is the work of the Lord."
The rest of our week was comparatively uneventful, though we did get
some good work done. We gave a blessing to one of the sister
missionaries' investigators who is severely ill. We also were able to
share some scriptures with her about the atonement to help her
understand how Jesus Christ took upon himself the world's infirmities.
We also helped a sister in the ward move some furniture. She is
straight out of Scotland with the traditional accent and attitude on
display for all to see. That was a lot of fun. She told us the story
of how she found the church. She asked to to teach her friend right
there about what temples are because she's going to take him to the
open house for the new Philadelphia Temple. She's awesome!
While I'm on the subject, Elder Beardall is going to the temple today
with President Smith and all the other missionaries who are about to
return home. Meanwhile we get to
hang out with Elder Casela from the
Philipines, whose companion is also going to the temple. A pretty
chill p-day for us.
I love you all so much! Thanks!
-Elder Samuel Burton
Here are some pictures from our trip to the temple a while ago that I
forgot to send.