The Mesquite Nevada East Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held their conference on Sunday, January 14, 2024 and a new Stake Presidency was selected to serve. Ryan W. Toone is the Stake President, with Travis L. Wakefield and Darrell L. Garlick as Counselors. Elder Ahmad S. Corbitt, a General Authority Seventy presided with Elder Emerson B. Carnavle, an Area Seventy accompanying him.
The Mesquite Nevada Stake was formed on February 13, 1994. Subsequently on Sunday, January 15, 2023, the stake was divided into the East Stake and West Stake with David J. Anderson as president of the East Stake and Jared M. Hollingshead, president of the West Stake. There are 2,754 members of the East Stake in the Virgin Valley. The first church that was held in Virgin Valley was on January 7, 1877 on a hill overlooking the valley and the river with 23 in attendance.
“These men were chosen by the law of common consent and not voted on. Raising the hand is a symbol from ancient times when Moses’ held up his arms,” Pres. Anderson stated. This is God’s church and not man’s. “We will be victorious as we hold up the hands of the Lord’s servants. If you want to see the church in the valley grow, be there for Pres. Toone and his counselors. Be united, listen, pay attention to their voices and admonitions and you will see members exalted and sealed as families in the Kingdom of God.”
President Anderson spoke about his service over the past many years, being a seminary teacher, bishop, counselor in the stake presidency and then as stake president. He spoke about the joy of Jesus Christ quoting Luke 2:10, “Fear not I bring you tidings of great joy unto all people.” He said, “Seminary has made all the difference in my life as an adult teaching the youth in Virgin Valley. It was never in my plan to teach seminary; in fact, I threw the letter in the trash inviting me to apply. My wife retrieved it and said, ‘I always wanted to be the wife of a seminary teacher!’ After that my focus changed and my trajectory changed.” It was at his request that all the seminary youth 14 – 18 formed a choir to sing the hymn, ‘How Firm a Foundation.’ Filing the choir seats they sang with great enthusiasm the words, “The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes.”
Anderson reminded the audience of his quote, “I give you permission to be good all the time!” He continued with the request,” Look for opportunities to strengthen, to edify and love one another. Be patient, kind and loving.”
President Wakefield recalled the thirty-six months, of the picket line in front of the porn store – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Continuing the story, he said, “As a result of the picketing, our landscape is not one dotted with billboards as other towns. It was Pres. Anderson who wielded the sword of justice and as a direct result the store was closed. The seminary building across from the Virgin Valley High School also became a reality.”
Pres. Garlick has served as a seminary teacher and bishop of the Littlefield Ward. He spoke of the perfect organization of the church and testified that Jesus Christ is at the head of the church.
President Toone spoke of Father Lehi’s dream of the tree of life which invited us to go and receive and then invite others to come and receive the blessings of the temple. While serving a mission in Norway he was taught by Pres. Nelson about prayer – to pour out our hearts with the challenges we face. He said, “Prayer had made all the difference in my life and every day since we were married our family has knelt in prayer daily.” While at a judges’ conference many of the attendees were visiting and telling funny stories about their family and they asked him to tell a story of his family. His humble and unassuming
reply was, “My family kneels in prayer every day and reads the scriptures - it has brought great blessings to our family because of it.”
Pres. Toone spoke of Christ coming to the Nephites and He wanted them to see and feel the prints in his hands and feet. Christ wants each of us to have the same opportunity to know and see and feel him as we read and study and attend the temple.
Keith Reber, President of the St. George Temple, spoke about his choice to go to a leadership conference instead of going on a skiing trip and how that benefited him the rest of his life. Others he met there expanded view of his community and civic responsibilities and had an impact on him. “The principal, David Anderson, looked at the potential benefits in my going to the conference. God see each of us and our potential.”
Elder Corbitt spoke about looking forward and not backward as did Lot’s wife. “Looking backwards is the thief of joy,” he said. “Some are unduly depressed and have lost faith and hope. Look forward to the promises of the Lord.” He further asked, “If you are in a crisis of faith and doubt your faith, your leaders, - murmur not! Label these as deceptions and label them for future review, put these doubts on the shelf and let the Lord work it out in His own due time!”
Elder Corbitt told the story of being a new convert and as such he had decided never to serve a mission. After he attended Ricks College and saw his friends going on missions, he decided he would go. He approached his bishop, a retired marine. The gruff retired marine asked him if he had saved the money to be able to go and when he said no, the bishop said, “get a job and save the money!” Elder Corbitt said, “that challenge made me set and achieve some goals which zi had never done before having grown up in a ghetto area in Philly. I could have been offended and said I am not going back! But I got a job and saved money for a year and half but still did not have enough. Who made up the rest? The abrasive had edged man, the marine, the bishop! He paid the rest and wrote me on my mission.”
Elder Corbitt also spoke about the culture of today and how critical it is of others faults and imperfections. He admonished all to not condemn but to give thanks that we can learn to be more wise than others have been. “Condemn not others for their imperfections but learn from them,” he stated.
He was able to see the painting of the founding fathers as they appeared to Wilford Woodruf in the St. George Temple. “Some would condemn them for the events in their past that we find unacceptable today.” He admonished us to, “remember Moroni’s words, give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections that ye may learn to be more wise.” Mormon 9:31
Travis L. Wakefield, 1st Counselor, President Ryan W. Toone, Darrell L. Garlick 2nd Counselor
Elder Ahmad S. Corbitt, Travis Wakefield, President Ryan W. Toone, Darrell L. Garlick, Elder Emerson B. Carnavale