Saturday, April 3, 2010

General Conference!

It's about twenty minutes to conference, and I'm as excited as I can be. The semi-annual general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a great gift to me.

It hasn't always been so. I grew up in Pittsburgh where we watched one session on public television, sometimes at home and sometimes at church, but usually on a Fast Sunday (so as a kid I sat in the kitchen watching TV but not being able to eat!).

When I got to BYU as a freshman, conference was everywhere, but I didn't watch it all. It was not part of my habit.

While I was in the MTC, I watched all the sessions of conference for the first time in my life. I made connections between the speakers, discovered some speakers I really enjoyed and others I didn't understand so well. But mostly, watching the conference in that setting, I caught the spirit of the meetings, the talks, the music. I took notes, and learned new things.

When I was on my mission in Germany, I saw or heard very little of conference until my last one when I listened to direct-wire broadcast of a couple of sessions, one in German and one in English (for the benefit of the US servicemen who shared the chapel we attended).

When I came home, I made more of an effort to listen and / or watch, though sometimes a college work schedule interfered. But it wasn't until I went to grad school back in Pittsburgh that I really became an adult convert to the "all sessions" conference. I had the assignment to do a follow-up lesson in Elders Quorum on the conference, so I determined I would attend all the sessions at our stake center (where our ward met). We took the kids along and they played in the children's room while we watched on the TV there. That became our pattern for years to come until we could listen or watch at home on the internet.

When we lived in Japan, tapes were made available to us well after conference. In Venezuela, we received tapes made by my wife's brother (he lived in Ogden), and we arranged to watch a session at church after sacrament meeting several weeks after conference. In Taiwan, we had "conference weekend" the week following conference in Salt Lake, and again we watched at home via computer.

Now that we're back in the US, we are watching while visiting family over conference weekend.

I still take notes, even though I haven't done a conference summary lesson since I taught institute in my stake several years ago. Note taking helps to focus my attention and to note key messages (for me) in the speakers. I enjoy returning to the conference issue of the Ensign, and listening to the talks again on my i-Pod.

Enjoy conference! (And tune in at, if you like!)

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