Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mosta Branch Conference

January 24, 2013

Martin J. de Carlo
Branch President
Mosta, Malta Branch
 January 24, 2015

Today, I felt the need to review with you some highlights from the history of our branch for these last six months since we had our last branch conference in July of last year.
1.   In the month of July, two weeks after our last conference, our Youth attended the international FSY in Germany together with Elder and Sister Hancock; It was a wonderful opportunity for the youth to be able to meet others their age, especially when we consider that here in Malta they are so far away from other youths of the Church. I would like to thank the Mission President for supporting our youth and giving them this wonderful opportunity and also thank Elder and Sister Hancock for all their dedication.

2.   In the month of October, we increased our local membership with one with the arrival of Sister Joyce Shaw who decided to leave behind the rainy weather of England for a little more sunshine in Malta. Sister Shaw surely is a blessing to the Relief Society and to the whole branch in general. I surely encourage other faithful members from other counties to follow in the footsteps of Sister Shaw and come here.

3.   Many wonderful things happened in the month of November. I would like to mention some of them in the order that they happen.

During the month of October we had the news that a large number of Latter-day Saints were going to visit the island on a cruise ship on the 1st Sunday of November. We were told that they were going to be around 45.
We discussed various ways how we could accomodate that large number of Saints in the old building together with our regular members. We agreed that if we open the door of the chapel and place the chairs in the corridor we probably would be fine.

But about a week before they were suppose to arrive here, Elder Hancock got a phone call from a lady incharge of the group and we were told that we should expect not 45 but .... 85.

We were also told that a very renowned Mormon singer and musician was going to be part of this group. His name was Michael Ballam. I remember telling Elder Hancock to ask the person in charge of the group if brother Ballam can sing for us; Later we were told that Michael Ballam would be happy to do so.

We were surely very excited to have such a large group of Saints among us but 85 more in the old building!! No way!!

We were very much hoping and praying that this new place will be ready on time;

After all it was nearly ready! Or at least hopefully we will be allowed to use it even though it wasn’t completly ready.

But only few days before the cruise ship saints were about to arrive, we were told that as the new place was not completly ready, we are not allowed to use it!

Now we really had a problem, A very good problem.

Because we assumed that we were going to hold the meeting in this building, the people coming from the cruise ship were already given this address.

It took us a while to accept reality; When we did, we decided to better start looking for a place close by to this building.

Brother Assuero and Elder Hancock went to look for something, maybe a small hotel in the centre of Mosta but they were told that there was nothing here in Mosta.
I remember I was at work and was completly confused what we were suppose to do;

I remember that I went to a room in the back of our offices and sat down on my own to try to prayfully contemplate about the situation.
All of a sudden, I felt like a ray of light illuminating my mind and a voice telling me,
“Go to the Mosta local concil”.

I must admit that I had a difficult decision to make;
It was one of those moments when I had to chose between faith in God and reason;

The voice of reason was telling me: “No way! The Mayor is a staunch Catholic and they are not going to help us find a place, even if they know about one”

Then there was faith: The Lord spoke to me in my mind and the voice was clear:
“Go to the Mosta Local Council!”

I decided to go by faith;

I went back to my Office and I called Elder Hancock and asked him if he and Assuero could go to the Mosta Local Council and asked them if they know where there is a hall in Mosta that we could use;

I got a phone call from Elder Hancock some time later and he told me that the people of the Mosta council knows very well were there was a hall that we could use.
And this hall, was their hall, the town hall; Elder Hancock told me that him and Brother Vassallo went to see the hall and it was perfect for us;

I really thought the reason I sent them To the Mosta Council was to enquire about a wedding hall in Mosta.
I didn’t know that the Lord had in mind their hall!!
I didn’t know it but the Lord knew it!

Those of us who attended that meeting, we know very well what a spiritual and beautiful meeting that was. Michael Ballam indeed sang and played the piano for us. He gave us his beautiful rendition of How Great Thou Art.

I also remember that the people of the council were kind enough that they even prepared the chairs for us and left the place ready to use. If I am not mistaken they prepared about 100 chairs.

I remember that when I went inside the hall on Sunday and I looked at the back of the hall, I felt impressed to tell some of the members to keep filling the rest of the hall with the rest of the chairs that were stacked up against the wall.

I am glad we did that, as even these additional chairs were taken by the members.
What happened was that even more people than it was expected came to our meeting.
Some of them were members who, even though they were part of the same cruise ship, were not part of the two large groups.

And we also had even more members and friends visiting from the UK and other countries.

If only our prayer was answered the way we were hoping, and we were allowed to use this building, we were never going to be able to fit all those people in here;

We didn’t know it, but the Lord knew it!

One of the things that we surely remember from that meeting was the words spoken by a sister who shared her testimony with us and in a very emotional way she told the members of the congregation how her great-great grand father found the Church here in Malta in the 1850s and was baptised here and afterwards emigrated to America.
It was her first time ever in Malta.
Let’s not forget that also that morning, Elder Fullmer and Brother Ballam discovered that they were cousins!
4.   Now while that morning we were all thinking about the large gathering in the hall, the Lord was preparing two people to meet infront of the Council Hall.
Sis. Carmela Azzopardi was going inside the council hall for our meeting when she saw bro. Oreste wandering in the street. They didn’t know each other but she invited him to come for that large meeting and he has been coming to Church ever since. What a good and faithful man Oreste is!

5.   A week after the meeting in the town Hall, our branch was once again blessed with the arrival of the wonderful Miller Family. What a blessing to the branch they really are!
Not only the Elders Quorum and the Relief Society were blessed with the Miller family but also our Primary, with the addition of Brooklyn and Holly. How grateful we are to the Lord for sending this family to our branch.

6.   A few days after the arrival of the Millers,  we all gathered around the pool of the villa of Mr. Gatt to witness the baptism of sister Lorena Martinez. Sister Martinez came all the way from Columbia to Malta to study.
At least that’s what she thought; that she came here just to study!
But the Lord had other plans for her.
She didn’t know it, but the Lord knew it!
Now sister Lorena left Malta, and she left from here as a member of the Lord’s Church.

7.   After months and months of anticipation, in the very last week of November, we finally were allowed to move into this new building. Even on that very first meeting, we can say that we all felt that this is our home.
That first meeting was also the very first meeting where sacrament meeting was once again the first meeting of the three hour block;

Also we completly changed the times of our meetings. Now we are starting our meetings at 10.30 instead of 9.30;
Therefore the members will finish their meetings at 1.30pm instead of 12.30.
It’s a challenge, but we’re getting there!

8.   We started the month of December by celebrating a marriage between two members of the branch; Brother King and Sister Melanie; A number of friends came all the way from Scotland to celebrate with us this union. We are happy to say that since then, Brother and Sister King got sealed into the House of the Lord, in the Philippines Manila Temple.
Brother King came to Malta all the way from Scotland for warmer weather and Sister Melanie came to Malta all the way from the Philippines to work here;
At least that’s what they thought when they came here;
But the Lord had other plans for them;
They didn’t know it, but the Lord knew it!

9.   On the very last week of the year, our Young Single Adults were invited to go to the YSA New Years Conference in the north of Italy. Even though they knew the weather was going to be probably freezing, they still went; We are very proud of our Youth! We thank once again the Mission President for supporting our Youth!

10.                 Now we started this new year by following the coucil of the Brethren and as a branch presidency we were glad to have the Priesthood and the Auxiliary groups participating in the organization of the sacrament meeting programme;

So far this month we had the Youth Sacrament meeting and the Relief Society Sacrament meeting and next week we will have the Elders Quorum sacrament meeting. I do not have a doubt that this was indeed an inspired decision by the Brethren.

11.                 Now yesterday it’s still too fresh in your memories for me to say much about it;
Now we can say that from today we started having our meetings in a dedicated new building. We recognize that for the first time ever in Malta, leaders of differenti faiths and members of the local community were present for an LDS meeting and we can proudly say that on the island of Malta, many more are now aware of the presence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Yesterday I was invited by the Times of Malta if I can go and give them some comments about our new chapel; me and Brother Vassallo went to the Office of the newspaper yesterday and we discovered that the journalist was an honest person who really wanted to enquire about our faith with a sincere heart;
I expected that we were going to stay there for about 5 minutes;
What was suppose to be just a comment turned into an interview that lasted for nearly an hour.

12.                 This week I also got a reply from the Eden Cinemas in St Julians that they are interested in showing the Meet the Mormon movie in one of their theatres.

Brothers and sisters, the Lord is indeed blessing this branch here in Malta. Let us be grateful for all the blessings we recieved so far;
The Lord has still many more blessings in store for us;
Now it all depends on us; as individuals, and as a branch;
We all have our own unique characters and ideas, but, even with all our differences, we can still be of “one heart and one mind”.
Let us continue to be faithful servants of the Lord so that He will continue to bless His Church and his children here.
Let us remember, that the future is as bright as our faith.
That we always remember our blessings and always stay faithful to be worthy to recieve even more, is my humble prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.  

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