Conferences just keep getting better. Whether that is because I'm more mature or some other factor I don't know; many family and friends say the same thing. They just get better each time.
It's been interesting to read other's impressions about overall themes and such. I kept hearing in the talks much about personal and family responsibility, repentance and relying on the Savior. Another important theme that penetrated my spirit is that we are truly in the last days, time is short, don't delay, pay attention to eternally important things, such as the family, and distance ourselves from the distractions of the world.
Here are some of my thoughts and observations:
Saturday morning - The invocation was given by Elder John B. Dickson who was our Stake President in 1991 when we moved to Mount Vernon, Washington. I remember meeting him and shaking his hand (left). He is a marvelous man. I love how the choir sings familiar hymns in magnificent ways. You Can Make the Pathway Bright! At the end of the song I believed I could.
I wrote three lines for President Monson's talk. Repent and improve. Oppose evil. Nothing can stop the work of God. The last always gives me comfort and hope, that no matter how bad things get and how it looks like the opposition is winning, God and the righteous will prevail and win in the end.
Elder Packer's and Sister Esplin's talks about children and families touched my heart and I felt gratitude first that we had chosen to have children and then to homeschool our child. I had many opportunities to teach the gospel to our five children during the course of each day. Quantity time is what it takes, because the teaching moments are so fleeting.
Elder Hallstrom's talk about the church and the gospel hit the nail on the head for the area we live in. I wrote in the margin "I love it when I'm right!" And "True conversion is what the Branch needs." Elder Hallstrom said "Church activity is important, Gospel activity is more important." "We need to be converted to the Lord and joined to the church."
Elder Paul Koelliker said a mission becomes a template for our lives. I wrote "This is why I had to serve, to know how to teach the gospel to my children." He also said "Love of God is the root of all virtue." I'd like to have that on my wall! I also wrote in the margin "I want a large posterity!" There is nothing more important than that. (Have you seen the pictures of Bro. Romney's family? They are beautiful!)
Elder Oaks' address about the Atonement and sacrifice was masterful as usual. I learned in new ways the importance of a broken heart and contrite spirit.
President Eyring's explanation about the blessings of adversity helped me want to continue on. He said If the foundation of faith is not embedded in our hearts, the power to endure to the end will crumble. Personal Integrity creates solid ground under our faith.
The choir sang one of my favorite hymns to close the morning session, Redeemer of Israel.
Saturday afternoon - Not knowing who to look for I completely missed seeing a young man from our Provo ward singing in the MTC choir. When JET came over on Sunday he showed us, then it was easy to spot him several times when the choir was singing. It did JET good to see his friend!
Elder Holland's talk about the Laborers in the Vineyard pierced my heart. "Why should you be jealous because I choose to be kind?" The race is against sin, he said, and envy is one of them.
1. Coveting does not elevate me; be kind and be grateful God is kind.
2. The end is worth enduring for; don't dwell on old grievances.
3. This is about Grace-Atonement-Goodness of God; don't delay, it's getting late.
I loved the choir singing Lead Kindly Light, as I sang it often on my mission when walking home at night in the dark.
Elder Hales taught powerful lessons with his discourse on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. "We become converted and spiritually self-reliant when we prayerfully live our covenants.
Elder Baxter touched my heart with his story of his single mother. I married a non-member, who, although he joined the church, hasn't always been active, and has generally left the teaching of the gospel to our children up to me. It has been a hard and lonely road. We are just now seeing the fruits of my labors as our children reach adulthood and are turning our wonderfully. (My husband taught them other valuable lessons.)
Elder Cook also spoke about family, using Lehi's dream of the tree of life to describe today. He said that praying with our children may be the most important thing we do; and that the defining test of mortality is obedience to the commandments.
Elder Scott's address about revelation was instructive. I've been teaching the Old Testament in Seminary this year and recognized the phrase "to sanctify yourselves" which he said means to keep the commandments. He told us that to receive revelation we need to fast, pray, study scripture, ponder and pray some more. Nothing new, but put in such a loving and understandable way.
The MTC choir's rendition of Praise to the Man gave me chills. Those missionaries don't know or understand yet, the power of Joseph Smith's words and testimony, but I do and I love the Prophet Joseph.
Sunday Morning - President Uchtdorf will be remembered for his simple, direct exhortation: "Stop it!" I love the scripture he quoted from Luke 6:38 "Give, and it shall be given you. . . " , then he told us to give mercy, love, kindness, etc. What a wonderful reminder. It was what I needed.
Elder Nelson reminded me that our degree of gratitude to God is a measure of our love for God. I need to be more grateful and less complaining.
Elder Rasband's story of his grandson Paxton was touching. We don't ask for trials in this life, (unless you're Pres. Eyring!) they just come to us. We need to bear nobly our burdens, reach out to others, thank God for our blessings, and commit to continued service.
I knew that Sister Beck and her presidency would be released as they had served for five years, but that didn't make it any easier to see her go. I will miss her directness, her spiritual depth and her unflinching commitment to the truth. I appreciated this talk about the purpose of Relief Society-to strengthen faith in God, strengthen our families, and to give relief.
Elder Christofferson should be on the nightly news! His explanation of our doctrine and how it is established was so timely.
President Monson gave one of his classic discourses about the eternal truths which answer the questions Where did I come from? Why am I here? And where am I going after this life? This will be a good one to share with non-members.
Sunday afternoon - The choir sang two more favorites to begin this session, On This Day of Joy and Gladness, and Come Unto Jesus. I love hearing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! Their perfection lifts my spirit.
Elder Perry's talk about the Book of Mormon reminded me of my grandfather (died in 1985) who was a lifelong scholar of the Book of Mormon.
Elder Ballard's discussion of the topic of families is another newsworthy talk. "The most important cause of our lives is our family." "Organize your lives to have time for prayer, scripture study and family activities."
Elder Haleck reminded us to focus our vision on the Savior and his teachings--the things that matter most. We need to remember that counsel when the "world" crowds our lives with distractions.
The hymn Hope of Israel is special to me because it was one of the first hymns I learned on the piano many years ago.
Elder Wilson talked about raising children and the application of agency. This should be required reading by all parents still raising children. Then Elder Evans continued the theme with a talk relating how we best build the Kingdom of God by building our families. One thing he said that resonated with me was that "real letters are tangible." I love getting a real letter in the mail, something to hold and take with me from room to room and read over and over. Some today don't know the joy of a real letter.
I look forward to rereading Elder Piper's address about encounters with the divine, the sacred versus the secular.
Elder Anderson gave another power discourse asking the question "What thinks Christ of me?" He stated profoundly that we are on a lifelong migration toward a celestial world. I thought it particularly timely with our study of the Old Testament and the migration of the children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land, with their forty years in the wilderness. It is a type and shadow for our mortal lives and the migration to the celestial world.
All I can say about President Monson's conclusion is that I'm grateful to have a living prophet. I didn't write any notes but do remember he counseled us to do away with disputations and contentions. We have to become a Zion people, of one heart and one mind to be ready to greet the Savior at his second coming.
I loved the closing hymn, I Need Thee Every Hour, which expresses the longings of my heart.
It was a wonderful conference with such timely messages. My husband asked if my questions had been answered. Yes, but not in a straightforward way. I have been much concerned with the current political situation in our country and the general decline of the world. Nothing was said directly, but rather we were called to repentance and directed to strengthen ourselves and our families. I remember as a young girl being taught that in the last days our families would be church units; it appears that we are headed that way with all the instruction of recent years.
I'm so thankful to have a living prophet and apostles on earth to guide us. I look forward to reading each talk and distilling further the things I need to do in my life to change and be the woman the Lord wants me to be.