Peering down, I could barely see President Nelson standing at the podium in the field usually reserved for nine innings of one of my least favorite games. This was the first time I had been at Safeco Field for any reason. I switched my gaze up to the “Jumbotron” where the Prophet of God’s face was as clear as day. His voice not only echoed due to the less than optimal acoustics in Safeco Field, but it reverberated in my chest. I felt a confirming witness of his words comfort me and bless me as he spoke. I tried to quickly scribble down every word in the new composition book I brought for the event but failed miserably. I kept getting distracted by the power that filled the stadium: Priesthood Power. The Power of a God who seemed to fill the stadium with His love.
In the year I have been a member of the Olympia Second Ward, I have gained many friends. I was so happy that I could catch a ride with some of them who shared a few of my physical challenges. The traffic was a little heavy through Tacoma, but we pressed north. When we took our exit, we noticed cars filled with other members heading in the same direction. Soon we found the parking garage and headed to a disabled spot on the roof.
After a relatively short line (the lines below us were back and forth and around blocks), we went through the metal detectors and then over a sky bridge. The ushers directed us to an elevator where we walked (all four of us with canes), then stood in line to go down to the 100 level. When we made it to the 100 level, an usher attempted to find seating for four disabled members but decided that our needs could be met better in one of the suites upstairs. We were given a pass for a suite, then directed back to the elevator and back up to the suite level.
The walk around the stadium to an open suite was excruciating but worth it. The four of us in our van were each disabled. Three with broken backs. The freedom to have a suite to sit in several soft chairs, then to be able to walk around in a private area all while not missing one word of the Prophet’s talk was a true gift from God to four disabled Latter-day Saints. It was a gift that set the tone for the evening.
I was relaxing and putting my feet up while going through some of the photos I had already taken of the suite and the stadium, when we heard members that were sitting in the suite’s seating exclaim, “That’s you!” They were referring to an Instagram post I had made that was being displayed on a Jumbotron screen that I couldn’t see from my vantage point. I smiled at the camaraderie the post caused both in our suite with the strangers become a suite family and the text I received from other Ward members who had seen it. I blushed.
After I missed being embarrassed on the Jumbotron (for a writer with a heavy social media presence, I am remarkably shy in some situations), I decided to change my seating to the combination desk/bar seating that the suite windows open up to. I could see the Jumbotron and the field filling up with Latter-day Saints from around the northwest. As the time neared, even the outfield seats began filling up. The overwhelming feeling of love in the stadium was felt by more than just the members. Workers who were in and out of the suites began to comment that we were not their normal crowd.
President Eyring began the talks after an introduction of hymns and prayer with statements about the character of God and His Prophets, “God is omniscient and omnipotent…Prophets give us revelation to assist us in our daily life.”
He asked us to seek and receive personal revelation to confirm the words of Prophets who receive direction in our lives. He expressed that we should NOT blindly follow what the prophet invites us to do. It is up to each one of us to confirm that the President of the Church is leading us all in the right direction.
Following President Eyring’s talk, Sister Wendy Nelson surprised the four of us with her insight into the private life of a Prophet of God. Never before could I have found myself picturing President Nelson in his bedroom closet writing revelation for us all on a yellow-lined pad of paper after his wife was called out of the bedroom by God. I never could have imagined that a Prophet’s wife would be awoken and told (by the Holy Spirit) to leave her own bedroom in the middle of the night so that her husband could in essence, ‘speak’ or really, get spoken to, by God.
Sister Wendy Nelson’s testimony of her relationship with her husband, our Prophet and the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a stirring insight into their personal lives. One I never imagined having. Sister Nelson’s witness that President Nelson appears to grow much younger than his 94 years was confirmed by each person watching his talk which was next.
President Nelson opened with remarks about the fact it was his first time to speak at a baseball stadium, and then proceeded to share a story about his family whitewater rafting. In that experience, President Nelson learned it was important to hold tight to the raft, just as it is important for each of us to hold tight in our lives to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
He reiterated his witness that reading the Book of Mormon every day immunizes us against the evils of the day and allows us to draw closer to the Lord.
President Nelson invited each person who is not on the path to return and not to allow the temptations of the world distract from the real reason we are on Earth.
“The Lord uses the unlikely to do the impossible,” was one of the lessons President Nelson stated he had learned in life. He followed and preceded this statement with his experiences after having been given the prophetic task of opening Eastern Europe to the preaching of the Gospel. He stated, “The Lord likes effort, He blesses our best efforts.”
The page following these notes in my composition book selected for this event is filled with a personal revelation written while President Nelson was finishing this portion of his talk. My testimony of the lesson, “The Lord uses the unlikely to do the impossible” is strong.
One of the most significant changes to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since the mantle of Prophet fell on President Nelson has been the evolution of “Home and Visiting Teachers” to “Ministering.” The Prophet spoke about the life lesson he had learned about focusing on others as a part of the ministering lessons to us all.
“We long to build bridges of cooperation rather than walls of segregation,” President Nelson seemed to speak to the hearts of the Pacific Northwest audience, before closing with a blessing for us all.
If any in the audience doubted Sister Wendy Nelson’s allegation that he was growing younger, the veritable leap President Nelson performed out of his seat, interrupting the closing hymn’s prelude, and back to the podium to correct the number in attendance did much to assuage it.
The corrected number was 49,089. It was a record for a non-sports event in Safeco Field.
As a member who lives in an area that has been characterized as the “least religious in America,” I was very very happy to see that many of my Latter-day family turn out. The power of the Priesthood was palpable and heartwarming.
God was there.