Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Impressions from April 2016 General Conference: Saturday Morning

I wanted to share some of the overall impressions I had of General Conference from each talk.  This post will be about Saturday morning session. I won’t share all my notes, but focus on highlights.

Elder Henry B. Erying (12)

I was touched by his admonition to pray for different parties—choir, speakers, people praying-- as they participated in conference.  His major focus seemed to be for everyone to be spiritually prepared to listen, or barring that, that everyone could have a softening of the heart.  This was an excellent introductory talk. It’s like the Lord was saying, “Prepare your hearts! Listen up!  And even listen to the parts that don’t seem as important!”

His words about the importance of testimonies at the end of talks helped me listen more closely to those parts. In the past, the ending testimony part of conference talks has felt like sort of obligatory and tacked on, but this time I really noticed and appreciated it.

Sister Mary R. Durham (2nd counselor Primary presidency)

Her story touched me. If you remember, it was about the father who was weighed down by his shoes as he swam across the lake with one of his children.  While I know this talk mostly focused on helping children have spiritual experiences, I felt to ask myself, “What worldly things are weighing me down in my life?”  So I’ve been trying to make some changes to kick off some sins that too easily beset me.

Donald L Halstrom (?)

Elder Halstrom’s main message was about how our knowledge that we are sons and daughters of God can give us strength and power and motivate us to keep our covenants. I feel I get wrapped around the axle with such tiny troubles, and I think remembering my divine identity will help me overcome better.

I loved the story Elder Halstrom told of his daughter writing her answer to the question “You’ve drunk a witch’s brew. What happened to you?”  I loved that his daughter took the question so seriously, even to imagining what it would be like in heaven after she died from the witch’s brew.  I think that demonstrates how when we have been well-trained in the gospel, it permeates our imaginations and we see the world through its frame of reference and even can use it in our imagination.  

I appreciated his stories of the Saints in Africa and the zeal they put into gathering for regional conference and singing “How Firm a Foundation.” Their zeal is so encouraging, and their stories give me better perspective on my life.  (I also appreciated that the News and World Report included at least a small snippet of their singing.)

Gary E Stevenson (12)

I love how he took a story about losing his keys while skiing and made that the basis of his talk about priesthood keys.   Great question – “Where are the keys?”   It made me really glad that we are no longer locked out of saving ordinances and that the priesthood has been restored.

Kevin R. Duncan (70)

I was fascinated by his story of how he was able to get the splinter out of his finger with continued applications of ointment and a bandage.  (I’ve had some nasty splinters and cactus spines bother me for a while, so I’m going to try his method next time.) I liked how he applied this to how using Christ’s atonement can help us forgive.   I’ve heard talks about how Christ can help us heal after we’ve forgiven, but the principle that He can help us forgive is just as powerful.  Some offenses we can find it in our hearts to forgive, but others are so painful that we need help.

He said, “We don’t need to be a victim twice; we can forgive.”  At first glance, it may seem like this is saying we need not put ourselves at risk of being hurt a second time by the person who offended us.  And while that is true, I think it also implies that when we don’t forgive, we are hurt by the offense twice as much (if not more).

Steven E Snow (70)

I found it really interesting that Elder Snow approached the topic of humility by first talking about hymns of the church.  When I held up a copy of the church’s first hymnal, I think I exclaimed to my husband, “It’s so small and cute!”  And just think—today we can have all our hymns on a smartphone, and more besides.  (Insert marveling-over-technology noises here)

I appreciated the reminder to be humble. Humility is pretty counter-cultural right now when everything and everybody is described or complimented as “awesome.” 

Elder Renlund (12)

I thought his observation was quite profound when he said, “The greater the distance between the giver and receiver, the more the receiver gets a sense of entitlement.”  And showing how it was also true spiritually was illuminating, with comparisons between Nephi and Laman and Lemuel.  I can look back and see some spiritual entitlement in my life, so the counsel to draw nearer to God will be helpful.