A spiritual feast at missionary training centers with Elder David A. Bednar on Thanksgiving Day
By R. Scott Lloyd
LDS Church News
Published: Friday, Dec. 5 2014 11:48 a.m. MST
Updated: Friday, Dec. 5 2014 11:48 a.m. MST
Elder David A. Bednar speaks to missionaries at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Thanksgiving Day devotional
Speaking at the Provo Utah Missionary Training Center on Thanksgiving Day, Elder David A. Bednar invited missionaries to be alert as he spoke to them to what the Holy Ghost had to teach them. His wife, Sister Susan Bednar, also spoke.
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On Nov. 25, Thanksgiving Day in the United States, elders, sisters and couples at the Provo Utah Missionary Training Center partook of a spiritual feast, then later engaged in a service project assembling food packets for the needy.
At a morning devotional, the 1,468 missionaries in Provo joined with missionaries tuned in at a dozen other training centers around the world to listen as Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles with his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, answered questions posed by the missionaries.
To accomplish that, several hundred cell phones were distributed among the congregation in Provo, on which the missionaries were invited to submit their questions via text messaging. Elder Bednar viewed them on a tablet at the pulpit and selected questions for response.
At the other missionary training centers — in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, England, Ghana, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, South Africa and Spain — the missionaries were invited to email questions to Elder Bednar at the pulpit in Provo.
Elder Bednar also invited some elders and sisters in the Provo congregation to stand and pose their questions in person.
“Sister Bednar and I are not the teachers here today; the Holy Ghost is,” Elder Bednar said in introductory remarks. “During the time that we’re assembled here together, thoughts will come to your mind, feelings will come to your heart. There will be assurances, there will be invitations to change, and there will be instruction.”
Immediately after the devotional, the Church News posed this question to a few of the missionaries who were assembled in Provo: “What did the Holy Ghost teach you today while you were listening to Elder and Sister Bednar?”
“Today, I found out that the Holy Ghost is a real person, because He said something to me,” replied Sister Isabela Erekson of Loveland, Colorado, bound for the Tahiti Pape’ete Mission.
Speaking through tears, she said, “And now I know that God answers my questions, because He answered my question today.” She indicated her question was too personal to share.
“What I learned today was that by paying attention to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and really trying to listen and feel, our lives become better and our knowledge and understanding of the gospel is deepened even as our questions are answered,” said Elder Justin Jennings of Hurricane, Utah, who is going to the Japan Tokyo South Mission. “By doing the simple things that Elder Bednar said today, we’ll always be able to have that companionship of the Holy Ghost with us. I felt that very strongly today.”
Sister Ashley Hassell of Sandy, Utah, who is bound for the Italy Rome Mission, was one of the missionaries who was called upon to stand and pose a question directly to Elder Bednar from the congregation. After the devotional, she said the Holy Ghost had helped her to understand more deeply the importance of a mission and “the importance of Christ and how much He loves everyone and loves me.”
Elder Nathan Dunn, Dayton, Ohio, who is also going to the Japan Tokyo South Mission said, “The opportunity to listen to an Apostle was really special for me, and I really enjoyed how he bore witness. My question was, ‘What is your witness of Christ?’ As he bore witness, he answered my question, and I learned so much through the Holy Ghost. Through his witness, I gained a greater witness of Christ, and I really appreciate that and the blessing to have living Apostles to lead and guide this Church.”
Sister Heather Kofford, Highland, Utah, also going to the Tahiti Pape’ete Mission, said, “One thing I really loved that Elder Bednar said today is that we’re going to be transitioning from being full-time missionaries to being lifelong missionaries. It’s so true that we are here on this earth to bring the gospel to people and to help them know what we know and to feel what we can feel through the Holy Ghost.
“I love that we can have the Holy Ghost with us constantly to bear witness and to give us answers. I’ve been studying faith a lot through the past three weeks at the MTC, and I loved how he said that we don’t receive a witness until after the trial of our faith and that we can be made stronger each time we have these experiences. I know these missions are for investigators, but they’re for us as well, and they really do prepare us for life and for eternity. I’m thankful for the knowledge I have of the gospel, and I know it is true with all of my heart.”
In the afternoon, Elder and Sister Bednar returned to the MTC to help with a humanitarian project. The missionaries in Provo assembled 366,048 meal packets that will be distributed through the Utah Food Bank to less-advantaged children under the auspices of the organization Feeding Children Everywhere, said Spencer K. Christensen of Missionary Training Center operations.
MTC congregation sings a hymn during Thanksgiving devotional