Note: These are the instant, mildly-filtered things that ran through my brain and heart as I watched this session of General Conference. If you are looking for deep, spiritual analysis, this is not the place. Drive on. Please check back later for that, after I have had some time to process.
President Eyring opened with a lovely tribute to Elder Robert D. Hales. Lovely man, great leader. I’m gonna miss him. Pretty confident he will rest in peace. I also like that he just barely got sustained yesterday.
• I LOVE “Have I Done Any Good in the World Today.” Not so much the musicality, but the lyrics are one of the great calls to action in the church. A personal mantra of sorts.
• Had to go re-wash my hands. Don’t want to get buffalo sauce on my keyboard.
Elder M. Russell Ballard “The Church is stronger… than it was the day I was first baptized.”
“The early saints were not perfect, but they established a foundation upon which we are building families and a society that loves and keeps commandments…”
Talked about the importance of retaining our ties to our pioneer ancestors (I’m lucky, because I have a bunch of them.)
He is busy calling people out for seeking “secret knowledge” and warned us against listening to those who don’t have callings and authority. Watch out for get-rich or get healthy quick schemes. Don’t give money to them. (I’ll look for the actual quotes, but this was rapid-fire awesomeness.)
“Welcome and embrace anyone who is making their own Trek today, no matter where they are in their journey.”
One thing I love about Elder Ballard is that he is very current, and not afraid to bring down the hammer. He managed to take on apostasy, racism, sexism, nationalism, get-rich-quick schemes, and quack medicine – all in 45 seconds. The hammer has been dropped.
Tad R. Callister (Sunday School President): Testimony of the Book of Mormon. How did a farm boy write something so complex, both historically and doctrinally?
MMM personal witness: Being a writer has only increased by testimony that there is no freaking way Joseph Smith could have written the Book of Mormon in 65 days with one draft. Flat out impossible. It required divine intervention.
“God’s fingerprints are all over the Book of Mormon.” Amen and amen. “While some may choose to believe the critics, for me it is a intellectual and spiritual dead end.”
A powerful, compelling witness of the Book of Mormon. He’s the Sunday school President, laying down some serious Gospel Doctrine.
“While some may choose to believe the critics, for me it is a intellectual and spiritual dead end.”
“We not only have the privilege to defend the Book of Mormon but the opportunity to take the offense—to preach with power.”
I didn’t take many notes, because I was too engaged it what he said. So, so good.
Elder Joni L. Koch. (Brazilero, former president of the Mozambique mission.) A lovely talk about unity, and yet another shot across the bow of racism.
“The Lord expects us to be one…we should leave behind our differences, including race, social status, political preferences and concentrate on our common spiritual objectives.”
“So many ways to destroy unity.”
“Sometimes we put permanent labels on someone.” “We have no right to portray anybody as a badly finished product.”
“Our words about our fellow beings should reflect our belief in Jesus Christ and His Atonement.”
“What really determines, solidifies or destroys our unity is how we act when we are apart from our Church members.”
Spoke a lot about sustaining our leaders, and being aware of how we speak about them. This has a been brought up quite often in this Conference.
• This feels like the “Mic Drop” session of Conference.
Elder Stanley G. Ellis. “God Trusts Us.” “The question for this Conference is, Do we trust Him?”
“It seems clear that hard is good. It makes us stronger.”
One of the great church quotes of all time: Joseph Smith: “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation”
“In the world of nature, hard is part of the circle of life. It is hard for a baby chick to hatch out of that tough eggshell. But when someone tries to make it easier, the chick does not develop the strength necessary to live.”
“Hard is the constant! We all have challenges. The variable is our reaction to the hard.”
Note to self: Make kids suffer.
“The Lord has taught me that discouragement and fear are tools of the adversary.”
I like the hope in this part: “Regardless of the issue, hard can be good for those who will move forward with faith & trust the Lord & His plan.”
• So, I mentioned that they front-loaded the first session, but it looks like they saved some of the best ammo for the last.
Adilson de Paula Parella talked about his family’s conversion story, and heading back to Brazil to find a wife. Funny story. It was fast, but not fast by Provo standards. Haha!
One of the great blessing of the Gospel is having a correct idea of the true nature of God. “How blessed we are to know that God is a being with a body of flesh and bones as tangible as ours.” (That is a big deal to anyone coming from a religion based on the Nicene Creed)
“He is a loving God who provided a plan through which we can enjoy happiness in this life and in eternity.”
A lovely testimony of the Savior: “Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Lawgiver, the Holy One of Israel, our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer, our King, our All.”
• Elder Ian S. Ardern might challenge President Uchtdorf for coolest agent. New Zealand.
“Our Savior Jesus Christ, is the light of the world and He beckons us to follow Him.”
He is also a veritable quote machine:
“The greater the light in our lives the fewer the shadows.” (Third talk about light)
“Questions about our Church history and beliefs do arise. Where we turn to find the correct answers requires great care.”
“As we study from the best books we protect ourselves against the menacing jaws of those that seek to gnaw at our spiritual roots.”
“Questions are an invitation to build our faith and should not fuel a passing moment of deceiving doubt.”
• It was at this moment that I picked up the remote an turned off the cable box, losing the last few minutes of Elder Adern’s talk. Yeah, I got dirty looks.
• Elder Jose Alonso. Born in Mexico – Surgeon?pediatrics
Told a tragic story of a boy Cooper who was killed in a car crash. Makes me want to hug everyone. Anyone.
“Love without service is like faith without works; it’s dead indeed.”
“Love is a combination of actions as well as deep feelings.”
“What many of us need to do is leave our mobile devices behind & with our hands & feet, help others in great need.” (A great thought, and I just got a handle on putting my phone away when I drive.)
• I enjoy the international sessions with more, shorter talks.
And to wrap things up, Elder Neil A. Anderson teach about how General Conference talks come to pass. They are not assigned. And it sounds like it is tough.
“General conference is one of the very important times He gives direction to His Church and to us personally”
“Trusting and believing in the words of the First Presidency & Quorum of the Twelve is vital to our spiritual growth & endurance.”
“Thoughts and feelings will come into your mind that are customized especially for you.” Talking about the type of inspiration we can receive listening to conference, and studying them later. (Here’s a plug for my “Nudge List” idea.)
Interesting: He is reading quotes from some of the talks given today and yesterday – even Elder Ballard from earlier in the same session. Then “because we have an extra minute” he read some remarks that Elder Hales had written:
“When we choose to have faith we stand in the presence of God. Our faith prepares us to stand in the presence of God.”
He shared with us that President Nelson took off quickly after the morning session, skipped lunch and arrived at Elder Hales bedside before he passed.
I don’t recall a talk like this that was not completely written and rewritten long before it is delivered. I kinda like the spontaneity of it.
• My Apple Watch keeps telling me that it is time to stand up. Amen.
• I have no idea who Julie Olson is, but she does these “Conference Sketches” that I stumbled upon. I think they are cool. Check them out: https://twitter.com/julieolsonbooks
• Another great session, made al the more poignant by Elder Hales passing. Another great Conference.
• Don’t forget to keep track of your “Nudge Lists” and keep them accessible.
• Thanks for putting up with me – God Bless!