What an experience was last weekend! I don't know how they do it, but each General Conference seems better than the last. (Actually, I do know how they do it. It has to do with revelation, priesthood keys, and truth.) I've said it many times before, but it has never been more true than now: it seems like the General Authorities know my needs and write their talks just for me.
I think General Conference weekend is when the Church comes closer than ever to being Zion, because we are so united. That's something you don't feel as strong when you watch conference at home--the feeling of being connected to the Saints across the world.
A large part of those feelings of unity comes through the music. It is incredible when the choir and congregation sing together. Even though it be in different languages, the tune is the same, and the Spirit is strong. Several times durring the congregational hymns, I imagined my family, my friend Andrea, my converts, old friends, and fellow missionaries across the world, knowing that they were all singing with me at the same time.
I love the music in General Conference. In the hymn book it says that some of the greatest sermons are taught by the singing of hymns, and I think that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is one of the best preachers.
Here are some of my favorite General Conference moments from last weekend:
1. President Monson's talk. In fact, all of the Sunday Morning session was incredible. The prophets and apostles who spoke truly did their duty to be "a witness... of His resurrection" (Acts 1:22). President Monson gave His powerful witness of the resurrection, and immediately afterwards the choir gave a second testimony singing with such power. We had three investigators with us that session, and they all felt the Spirit strongly.
2. President Eyring's talk in the Priesthood session. What a powerful lesson on diligence! His talk was for me a call to be better and work harder.
3. My favorite talk was that of Elder Foster of the 70, who talked about Mothers. I love my Mom. I, like Elder Foster, "understand in a personal way the great influence of mothers." Mom, thanks for all you do.
4. Elder Andersen's description of conference as an "inspired symphony." What a great analogy!
There were many other talks that helped me a lot, like President Uchtdorf in the priesthood session, Elder Holland, Elder Cristofferson, Elder Perry . . . too many to name. I love living in a day when we have prophets and Apostles to guide us.
Another good experience I had in General Conference was seeing Ranulfo Villegas, my convert from Victoria. He is doing better than ever. He was very excited to tell me that he had just finished reading the Book of Mormon for the third time! (And he was just baptized in December.) His comment made me think about something it says in Preach My Gospel, "For you to grow in the gospel and stay on the path that leads to eternal life, you need to develop a habit of gospel study." (page 17).
Speaking of Preach My Gospel, this week in the mission we are dedicating all of our personal study hour as well as all of our language study time to reading Preach My Gospel. I have learned a lot this time reading it. One of the most important things that Preach My Gospel teaches, and one of the most important things that one can learn as a missionary, is how to work with the Spirit. Here are four of my favorite Preach My Gospel quotes on the Spirit:
- "Enjoying the gifts of the Spirit should be one of your most earnest desires." (Page 4)
- "You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you." (Page 11)
- "Through the power of the Holy Ghost we can feel God's love and direction for us. This gift is a foretaste of eternal joy and a promise of eternal life." (Page 65)
- "You will succeed in your work as you learn to recieve and follow personal revelation." (Page 89)
The Spirit is key to everything I do as a missionary. In fact, it is key to everything we do in this life.
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Cultural moment: It's mango season here, and I love it. When I first arrived in Mexico, I wasn't too excited about eating mangoes, but they have become one of my favorite foods. I often eat them with breakfast, lunch, and dinner since they are so common and so cheap during this time of year.