The weather forecast said about 4 degrees centigrade, but it appeared mild for this time of year. A beautiful day, blessed with sunshine. The congregation look imbued with joy, this Valentines Day.
Various people bore their testimonies. The first was a Portuguese sister, Sister Sonia de Freitas.
"The forces that are for you and greater than the forces that are against you. I feel Heavenly Father asks :'Do you want the remote control?' Sonia could write a book. She is one of 8 kids, with a grandma, a TV, a mother, a remote control, and a Father. When he returned from work, Father would take over the remote control.
Her sister, Sister Dulce de Almeida, also gave her impressions. "For me, God is wonderful. We have a lamp here with light. If we turn away, the light becomes less.. So it is better to have God's light with us. You know we Portuguese are a touchy-feely, loving, kiss-kiss type of people (I am not taking away anything from our dignified culture). We also do, you know, what the Doctors call 'the Bible act'. To me, everything is about God. He is my first love."
Brother Toba Obiwale got baptised recently. He is getting fluent in the culture of our Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Days Saints. He could even make (mere speculation) an Apostle sometime in the future. For now, he has to become a Melchizedek priest first; but he seems very much up to the mark.
His plain testimony today was this : "By the grace of Heavenly Father, I have now got a job and everything has improved since my baptism."
Brother David Foreman was enthusiastic about the Church. He visits regularly, and even cooks something for the missionaries (he is a trained chef, and would love to work as a chef). "Before I met the two Sisters, my life was going through hell. Everything was so unstable. I had no job, the house I was in was being sold, I had personal problems. After meeting the Missionary Sisters, and thereafter after my baptism, things have started to improve. After my Mother's death, I have been left in a lot of debt, but I am working myself out of it. That is my testimony. I would like to say this Church is true. Amen."
The Bishop (Bishop Michael Onaolapo) : "Joseph was 14 years old. He was not a University graduate. But he did it with the help of God. He established this Church, which is true, and continues to have a bigger congregation each year, in every country where we have a Mission."
Elder David Barter, President of the Romford Stake, perhaps referring to the inanities some people mutter or mumble, said that it is "not by what people say, but by the influence of the Holy Ghost which comes from our Heavenly Father" that we judge ourselves. The riches of eternity are ours. He loves us with a completeness which we cannot at the moment understand. I know that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God."
After singing hymns to the Lord, the Sacrament services completed with the Invocation given by Brother Charit Rucmal, saying Thanks to Heavenly Father for all that He has given us this far, and asking for his continued blessings for the immediate future.
This meeting was followed by a Munch-and-Mingle lunch, provided by the Bishop and his family. It was a joyful celebration of Love, of St Valentine's Day.
(written by Brother Duru Dadlani)
(c) Copyright, but okay to distribute among Latter-Day Saints and those who are interested.
P.S. a note for my readers and friends in St. Petersburg.
Last night, watching a documentary on the life of Leo Tolstoy, I realised that the great writer, after achieving fame, thought of his estate as being as breadcrumbs. He wished to be like the simple, ordinary people? No, I believe it was to be as one with the people, the expression of his Christ-like essence.