I want to start by saying that I have not had the great privilege of meeting Elder Holland-one of the Lord’s apostles, but his powerful and encouraging spirit has been a guiding and comforting light throughout my adulthood.
As mentioned before in other blogs briefly, I have expressed my encounters with adversity and turmoil. The fiery furnace of opposition is felt by all in one form or another. That is how we as sons and daughters of God learn and grow.
Shortly after the beginning of my difficulties, General Conference was approaching-something I looked forward to. It was October 2007 and the talks had left a great impact on me-more specifically Elder Holland’s talk about God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Before conference started, I had a very distinct and clear impression to pay very close attention to Elder Holland’s talk. I didn’t really think anything of it, and as Conference unfolded, that same, strong impression came and with more instruction-“Pay attention to Elder Holland’s talk, not only now but every conference, his talks will change and save your life.”
I sat in awe and in tears as he so eloquently spoke of the divinity of our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, our Savior. It was as if he was sitting in the room with me, speaking directly to me as a friend.
In April of that next year is when the brunt of the failed surgeries and tests came to fruition, and again Elder Holland spoke with the authority of one holding the priesthood of God. His testimony of the Book of Mormon gave me courage and hope. Over the next 6 months I experienced severe disappointments and failures with my health and school-a few more brain surgeries and dropping out of school due to the stress on my body.
I went deeper and deeper into discouragement and frustration-my faith was waning and my determination diminished. My self worth was fading into the background of a few years worth of struggle.
In October of that year, Elder Holland spoke of ministering angels, and again I wept as he spoke of ministering angels with regards to family members and church leaders and promised that angels have not ceased to minister to the saints. He was fulfilling that very promise by speaking to me.
“None were with Him” was a talk given by Elder Holland in the April 2009 conference and I felt as though God had left me alone up to that point-my doctors gave up on me, I was decreasing in faith and hope, more questions arose instead of answers. I felt anger and fear, sadness and sorrow. But yet again, that conference talk lifted me out of that despair.
You can see a pattern here as I have explained my situation-The years following were the same-I had an additional number of brain operations that failed, a total of 13 more in the span of 3 years, along with 3 back surgeries.
I learned a valuable lesson in the power of not only General Conference, but in the vast spectrum of revelation that occurs. Yes there is 10 hours of instruction over the course of the weekend so answers we may be seeking will most likely be resolved from one speaker or another-but I have gained a testimony that those men and women leaders are truly inspired of God and that Heavenly Father is aware of each unique situation. In those few years, it was the worst of my life and also the best.
In that time, each conference arrived and Elder Holland saved me.
He saved me from giving up, along with the encouragement of my wife and family.
He saved me from leaving a church that I had grown up in and symbolically held me up and carried me back to the fold.
He saved me from losing my faith, from giving in to fear and depression.
He saved me time and time again.
Elder Holland has been one of my ministering angels, and for that I am eternally grateteful.