October 2011 General Conference: Saturday (Morning, Afternoon, & Priesthood)

With technology, there are many ways to watch General Conference.

Many, usually including me, go to their local ward or stake buildings to watch the satellite broadcast.

Many, like my mom-recording-for-me, watch on satellite tv at home or through local cable companies.

You can also watch it online in a variety of formats:

Within the next week (CLICK HERE to see when talks will be available in different formats), all sessions will be available in both print and video format on the church website, LDS.org (NOTE: All sessions thus far in conference, including Priesthood session, are already available online in video format).  Archives of past conferences are available online (and for downloading) on the church website as well (CLICK HERE).

There is, however, one more way to attend General Conference.

It’s the old-fashioned way.

It’s called “taking the trax”!

Yes!  It’s true!  I am in Salt Lake City, Utah, attending the 181st General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This conference is held twice a year (April and October) at the Conference Center.   It’s a big deal in our world, and I got to come!

I love sitting in the Deaf section at General Conference, because they have two giant television sets.  One has the American Sign Language feed, and one has the closed caption feed.  That way we can see both, and define one or the other as we need, but one doesn’t get in the way of the other based on our differing preferences.  It is excellent accessibility, and beautiful cultural compassion.  I love it.

The Mormon Tabernacle choir is, of course, the whole reason to get cochlear implants:

Today was AMAZING.

I got to be in the conference center for the morning session.

Elder Richard G. Scott spoke to us about the importance of studying our scriptures, and how scriptures are “recorded solutions” to the problems of life.  We can find our solutions through the Holy Ghost by studying our scriptures, which are like packets of light for our spirits.  They are the key to communion with our Heavenly Father, and knowing the words gives authority to our testimonies so that the Holy Spirit can confirm them to others.  Pondering leads to revelation, and memorizing develops power.  I know that my life is a complete mess without my daily reading and studying, and that it is the scriptures that keep me protected – usually from myself.  It makes all the difference, truly.

Sister Thompson (Second Counselor in Relief Society) picked up there, diving into more about revelation.  She gave us a list of four things we need to do to receive revelation:  desire it, soften our hearts so that it can be planted in us, believe it will come, and obey what we receive.  We should seek wisdom rather than power, and our testimonies need nourishment (scripture study, testifying, and obeying) to have power.  I have tons of notes from this talk that were pure promptings, almost like a list of answers to my questions that I have been asking mixed in with things I need to do.  It was really helpful, very personal, and very specific.

Elder Clayton of the 70 reminded us of the Old Testament story of Daniel being “given the opportunity” to interpret dreams.  He talked to us about the “latter days”, and that this is in process, and that the knowledge of the Savior is spreading to every language, culture, and people.  I loved this because I was just studying this recently, so I think more came to me because it was fresh in my mind… which is another point for daily scripture study.

President Monson walked into the conference center just as it was his turn to speak (that’s why he said “Hello,” and we all laughed).   The official church news page says that he was “delayed en route to the conference center”.  He announced six new temples to be built (the tabernacle destroyed by fire in Provo will be rebuilt as a temple, Columbia, South Africa, Congo, Wyoming, and Paris).  He also reminded us that many are too far away to be able to afford to attend their temples even once, and that while we continue to build as many temples as possible, we can also donate to the “Temple Patron Fund” to help people be able to go to the temple.

Elder Alanso of the 70 spoke about service, reminding us of President Monson’s call for us to “go to the rescue”.  He stressed doing the right thing at the right time without delay makes all the difference, and that it is critical.  We don’t need planning meetings or lots of reasons to talk about rescuing.  We just need to do it, and to do it without delayThe Lord expects our action, our labors, our testimonies, and our devotion.

President Packer spoke to our youth.  He talked about how they are being raised in enemy territory, and that we need to be aware of this but not be afraid.  He spoke of the “wars and rumors of war”, and said that we may feel uncertain and insecure.  But that if we live obediently, and are worthy of the Holy Spirit, we will be guided and protected and warned of dangers and prepared to withstand them.   He also said “It is not expected that you won’t make mistakes, and you will not make mistakes without receiving warnings”… but to accept the chastisement in order to repent, so that we can be clean again.  He said, emphatically, that it is NEVER true that I am lost, forgotten, or un-important.  He also talked about the influence of others, saying that when I am pulled in the wrong direction, to use my agency and independence to choose what is right.   He reminded us again that if we heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we will be protected and shielded.

President Uchtdorf opened by commanding us to heed President Packer’s words.  He taught us about Moses, and about Abraham’s covenant.  He said that we are the reason that the Savior created, that He built all of this for us.  He said we are nothing compared to God, but we mean everything to Him.  He knows me and how to find me and where to find me, no matter how insignificant or forgotten or alone I feel.  He knows where I am, and He knows my circumstances.  He prompted us to let those who visit us (or that we are able to visit with), to help them feel loved, and help them to leave feeling better about life than they did before.  I am capable and designed to become…

That was a great morning session! It was my first experience to be there in person to feel the presence of the prophet and the apostles and the general authorities.  The music from the choir was amazing.  I felt so strengthened, and I learned so much.  It was so good for me!

After the morning session, I sat outside looking at the beautiful flowers.

I sat in that sacred space and called my mother and my niece to check in with them, and I watched the delight of little children as they discovered the Temple.  It was amazing.

I have only been to Salt Lake City twice before, and both times was winter, so this was the first time I got to see the amazing gardens.

I ate my little lunch and walked around and soaked in the gifts of summer that I so very much missed this year.  It was a gift to me in perfect timing, a tender mercy, I know.

I listened to the afternoon session on Mormon Channel on my phone as I rode the trax back home.

I loved Elder Bednar’s talk about family history work!  It was very doctrine based (see the original sources HERE), but made applicable to children and teens.   We all can do family history work!  It made me almost cry, to think of all I have learned about my family since starting to do family history work – and even more than what I have learned, the LOVE that I feel for them now, the love that I have for them now, and the healing that has come from that.  He gave our new link out for youth doing family history work, and it is so exciting to see him talk about it and for it to be up and running.

Elder Aldern talked about how we use our time, and prompted us to remember that real “busy” is also productive.  Anything else is actually stealing time away from us.  He warned us against social networking sites and using things like texting and other social media to spend time (as if it were a commodity), rather than as a tool (a productive way to accomplish a goal).  He said, “let us be as quick to kneel as to text”.  I thought back to last year, or worse – the years before that – and how much time I spent texting, and I was glad for my phone that is mostly silent now, other than sharing testimony of exciting days like today!  He said, “Electronic games and cyber acquaintances are no lasting substitute for real friends who can give an encouraging hug, who can pray for us and seek after our best interest.”

Elder Cook’s talk was so good for me, about letting go of burdens.  He said most of what we worry about doesn’t even matter in the long wrong.  He talked about releasing burdens, letting them go, and looking up for hope and courage and understanding who we are and how much we are loved.

The most profound thing I got from Elder Curtis’s talk, and it was profound, was that if we repent, then we need not repeat that sin.  I was hear with President Seal and his wife, the mission president for my area at the time I first started missionary discussions.  Had I not been so stubborn and obstinate, it would not have taken me so long to get baptized.  But I think I had so much shame, and had so much to work through, that it was very hard for me to look at it long enough to let it go.  So this talk tied together with the last one very well for me, and reminded me that the whole point of getting baptized was to be cleansed from all that sin… so don’t repeat it!

Elder Christofferson started by talking about Nehor and Korihor, which I would not have even been able to understand if I had not been writing those Book-of-Mormon blogs each morning.  Again, another point for scripture study!  He said that pretending sin doesn’t exist does not lessen the consequences or harm or hurt of it.  In the same way, the suffering Christ did for the atonement has no effect if we do not apply it.  I also loved how he defined “justification” as the forgiveness of sins, and “sanctification” as the purification from the effects of sin.

Elder Perry encouraged us to be bold in our declarations (testifying in word and deed).  He told us to be righteous examples in word and conversation, and in charity and service.   Shine first, he said, then speak up.  There is no fear in love, so we can be filled with His love and be bold and courageous.  We do not need to get defensive with those against us, and do not need to argue with those who disagree with us.  We can engage in respectful two-way conversations so that we all learn from each other.  Any sharing we do should be in love and with courage.

After this I finally got to sit with the Seals and speak with them.  I had to apologize for not getting baptized when I knew I was ready (that was my choice, they did not make me apologize), and I wanted to thank them for all they did for me three years ago.  I got to share my testimony and talk with them about how far I have come – how far the Savior has brought me – and how glad I am of it, and how different my life is, even with normal-life-hard-things.  Life is good, I think, and I am happy.

The priesthood session was intense, as it always is.  The video recording is already posted.  Ladies also can follow via the twitter feed.  The full text will be published, like the others, this week online and next month in the Ensign.

Elder Holland opened with a direct discourse about Satan being real and really attacking us.  We cannot play both sides.  We need more senior missionaries.  Elder McMullin continued the April theme about the authority of the priesthood being distributed, but the power lacking. He spoke directly to the young men.  Elder Waddell continued this, comparing mission exit interviews with our exit interview from mortality.   He said return missionaries should act like return missionaries, and those preparing for mission should arrive prepared.  President Uchtdorf spoke about the temporal and spiritual always being connected (which came up in the morning session as well, and it is one I have been studying this year, so I loved that theme).  He spoke about the welfare system, and that we cannot be dependent on Salt Lake or the church to do everything for us.  We should be self-reliant in doing our own work to help those around us.  We should use the resources in our own area to solve our own problems.  President Eyring continued this idea, saying that we should qualify for the Spirit so that we will know how to serve others.  He said, directly, that the priesthood is a priesthood of service. My favorite quote, though, from him was, “Don’t dwell on what you are, or what you think you are, but rather, with the Lord’s help, what you can become.”  Wowza.  President Monson closed with this call to fulfill our duties, saying that there should be no moral dilemmas in the church because we are constantly taught the laws of God (so we should be living them, and do what we know).  Going back to how priesthood session opened, we cannot serve on both sides.  I like how he said “activities not worthy of you” instead of “being unworthy because of these activities”.  That was powerful and worth pondering, I think.  We need to repent, stand up for our morals, and gain our own testimonies by reading the Book of Mormon and pondering what it teaches us.  Then be ready to share our testimonies (a requirement for us, part of our premortal covenants).

And then President Monson rocked-da-house, yo.  For realz.  Well, just the pulpit, or just himself at the pulpit.  It was his classic story about when he had to share his testimony on the bus, and he was waiting to see if anyone knew anything before he spoke up.

Pulpit-rocking is why we love him.  He totally one-up’ed the ear-wiggling.

His final question to us on this day:

“Do we have the moral courage to stand for what we believe even if we are to stand alone?”

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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October 2011 General Conference: Saturday (Morning, Afternoon, & Priesthood) — 2 Comments