The following is my own summary and reactions to the Saturday Morning Session of General Conference.
Spoke rather briefly. He welcomed everyone to conference and mentioned that 4 Temples were dedicated since the last conference. He then announced plans to construct 5 additional Temples. He also urged members to serve missions, saying that it is an obligation and duty for young men, welcome from young women, and needed from senior couples.
- When Pres. Monson mentioned that each Temple dedication is preceded by a “cultural celebration” (and I witnessed such a celebration when the Temple here on Manhattan when the Temple here was dedicated), I wondered how long this custom has been done, and what is the purpose behind it. I don’t remember such a celebration before the dedication of the Washington D.C. Temple (the other Temple I lived close to at dedication). Is it meant to be a celebration of Mormon culture? or local culture? or both?
- Yea! I cheered out loud at the announcement! My second country, the second that I love, gets a Temple! Lisbon, Portugal was one of 5 new Temples announced. Others were in Indianapolis, Indiana; Urdaneta, Phillipines; Hartford, Connecticut and Tijuana, Mexico.
- The emphasis on missionary work is welcome, I think. With the number of missionaries trending down over the past decade or so (mainly due to relative birth rates, I believe), more missionaries are really needed. Pres. Monson seemed to emphasize senior missionary service, saying “We need many, many, many more senior couples.”
Sought to express gratitude and support to members of the Church for their service. He went through a long list of Church members who served, expressing gratitude for the different kinds of service they gave. He told the story of how he saved for his own mission, but then his parents, without telling him, worked and saved to pay for the mission so that his savings could be used for college.
- A unique approach, as far as I remember. By expressing gratitude for a variety of behaviors, Elder Holland suggests what we should be doing, and establishes a standard of LDS behavior.
- When Green Jello and Funeral Potatoes are mentioned in General Conference like this, do those in other cultures become curious about what they taste like? Certainly this promotes sometimes odd Utah cultural elements a little.
- Elder Holland’s evocative language even reminds me of some of the ‘Mormon Image’ photographs here on T&S. The best of those images evoke the same kind of feeling that Elder Holland expressed.
- Elder Holland’s story of his parent’s sacrifice for his own mission was really wonderful. The fact that his parents said nothing about their efforts to pay for his mission and leave the money he saved for his own later use reminds me of the savior’s teaching that when we give we shouldn’t let the left hand know what the right is doing. A stark contrast to today’s world, in which many ‘gifts’ are really purchases of naming rights or a disguised effort to gain notoriety or some other benefit.
The General President of the Primary, Sister Wixom talked about loving, teaching and raising children in the gospel. She told the well-known story of Joseph Smith’s childhood surgery and how he declined using alcohol as an anesthetic. She also told a story of a family who read the scriptures consistently for 3 1/2 years in order to finish the Book of Mormon, noting that it isn’t about speed, but consistency. Another story she related told how a young mother and her children used the power of faith and prayer to get through icy roads while attempting to get home.
- Probably the most memorable statement in her talk (in my view) is: “What we want them to know five years from now needs to be part of our conversation with them today. Teach them in every circumstance; let every dilemma, every consequence, every trial that they may face provide an opportunity to teach them how to hold on to gospel truths.”
Reviewed Ezra Taft Benson’s 1981 BYU address on 14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.
- For me, the most notable new piece of information was the prophecy, made during Brazil’s period of hyperinflation, that Brazil would someday stabilize and become important economically. As a long-time Brazil observer, I have to agree that this clearly has happened. Betting against the stability of Brazil’s currency didn’t work at all for me!!
A fine address on “how to learn.” But also covered what makes a good teacher. McConkie said that teacher attitude is what matters most, because “a teacher’s attitude is not taught, it’s caught.” He told how, as a Stake President, he learned the importance of studying the guidance already provided — for Stake President’s the Church Handbook of Instructions, and for all members, the Scriptures. He also told an oft-repeated story from the life of long-time LDS manual writer Barrett, who had a Danish sunday school teacher who reached him as a youth despite language, age and cultural barriers.
- His point that we should first look to the Scriptures when we have questions is a very good one. Too often we ask leaders what we can find out by a little research. [Of course, some people have a learning style based on interaction with others instead of research.]
Spoke about the “Consecrated Life,” the dedication of one’s life to God, others and to the Gospel. He started by mentioning the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and the LDS film that premiered there, “Man’s Search for Happiness.” Richard L. Evans, in the soundtrack of the film, taught that God has given man two great gifts, Time and Choice. Those gifts, Christopherson said, are the basis for stewardship and consecration. He discussed five elements of a consecrated life: purity, work, respect for one’s physical body, service, and integrity.
Suggested that we need to slow down at times in life and focus on the things that matter most. He drew an analogy to flying airplanes, where, he said, pilots are better off slowing down and concentrating on fundamentals when they face turbulence. He suggested that there are four fundamentals or things that matter most in life: our relationships to our God, our families, our fellow men and to ourselves.
- Gave perhaps the best joke of the session when, after telling about tree rings and how tree growth slows down in times of stress, he said: “But some of you may be saying, ‘that’s all very nice, but what does that have to do with flying an airplane.’ “
- I love his proverb given in this talk: “In family relationships, love is really spelled t-i-m-e.” Something I need to work on.
- I couldn’t help but think during his talk how much time relationships require and how much more effort I need to put into maintaining and improving these four relationships.
Unless someone else here at T&S is planning on summarizing the afternoon session, I’ll be back to comment on it.