Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Missionaries Thoughts on Conference

It takes a few days for missionaries to share with their families what they learned or thought about the past conference.  Different missionaries come away with different perspective depending on what resonates with the missionary.  My daughter serving in Taiwan Taipei came away from conference by admonishing my wife me and our whole family to conform closer to the gospel as she is doing. She wanted to know what we were doing to change our lives.

Sister B. wrote us:

How do we take what President Monson said about taking these things and changing, and actually change?  Seriously.  I personally cannot remember a big step I took to change after conference in my life...I remember after conference this time, feeling a big desire to change and become better.  As a missionary this is what my life is about...but then I wondered, how will my family and friends do this.  I, myself, have to take great effort to change, and that is what my life is focused on. And it's hard! Seriously.  My whole life is becoming more converted so that my investigators can be more converted, since their level of conversion can only be as far is mine is...and yet it's a daily struggle.  I focus on it constantly.  So for you guys, how is conference going to change you?  I heard maybe 3 of you guys write me about conference and tell me about what you liked, but I'd much rather know, how are you going to take conference and CONFORM?  Change and become more like Christ?  Being on a mission had made me realize our family is not very good at conforming, but conforming is a gospel principle. I hope you don't take offense at this statement, but I honestly believe it to be true. My growing up experience was unique, and I cherish that in a lot of ways...but as I testify about how the gospel blesses families, I wish to see a change in my own family that really shows how this mission is helping you guys.  Heavenly Father is an unchanging God.  His laws and his principles will never change.  And so, in order to obtain His salvation, we need to put ourselves in line with His laws.  We need to develop His love (charity) and not worry about being unique or different.  Believe me, you are unique.  You don't even have to try to be.  So what I'm wondering, is what are you guys going to change because of conference?  How are you going to be more obedient to God's will?  A big reason I ask is because I personally am struggling with obedience.  I want to be a conformed and obedient missionary, but sometimes some of the stuff I do or say shock people.  I'm working on this through goal setting...and I hope you guys can too.
 I am glad to see that the words of the general authority has power to her and that she wants to live the gospel and share it with those she meets.  Her mission is having an affect on her life.

S. Graff serving with her husband in Guatemala discussed her pioneer heritage:

At ten we went to Tomkinson’s apartment across the hall with Tilleys and Blackburns and watched the morning session of General Conference. They hooked up a projector to the computer and we had a huge picture on the wall. Seeing the Conference Center packed with thousands always brings tears. Today I felt like I had kids there because Reynaldo and Claudia are in Salt Lake. We had notebooks to take notes in that were passed out at the office. There was a picture of each member of the presidency and the twelve apostles and half a page to write our thoughts about each of their talks. President Monson announced five new temples: Brigham City, UT; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Chile, Brazil, and Japan. That makes a total of 151 temples operating, under construction and announced. I always love the gospel truths as taught by Elder Bednar. Elder Uchtdorf brought laughs from all of us as he wondered what people think about our Church where the children sing of talking streams, popcorn growing on trees, and children who want to be sunbeams. When I was a child “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” was my favorite song and I think that holds true for many of our grandchildren. The Tabernacle Choir singing “Come, Come Ye Saints” at the closing moved me to tears. I always think of the great sacrifices of my ancestors as they traveled to Utah because of their love for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I also think of the other pioneers, those here in Guatemala and elsewhere who join the Church and mark the path forward for their descendants.
Sister Chelsea Williamson bore her testimony about the Prophets and Apostles:

"Think of it, brothers and sisters. The heavens are opened. There is revelation in our day. Think of the miracle."

What a miracle it is. General conference has always been a special weekend for me; family gatherings, quilts being made, food being eaten, and hearing a Prophet’s voice. This weekend may not have been how the other weekends have been, however, it was perhaps my most meaningful general conference yet. I have never been an eloquent writer, I don't know how to express myself in a way that would be adequate, but I do want you all to know how deeply, deeply grateful I was for this past weekend. The heavens are opened. We do communicate with God today. We do have a living Prophet who leads us and guides us. Those men and women who addressed us are so in touch, so aware, and so good. What a privilege to be a member of this church, the only true church on the earth. I love what President Eyring said, "Any believing Latter-Day Saint is an optimist." He is right, when we truly come to understand this gospel, this marvelous plan our Father has provided for us, we have no reason to be afraid or to be discouraged, we have every reason to be hopeful and every reason to be optimistic.

As you know, Elder Holland has always been one of my all-time favorites. I am sure you all felt the same spiritual witness as I did that the Book of Mormon is true as he so powerfully testified. It is so true. That book changes lives every day. It inspires men to be better. It quiets fears and awakens faith. It motivates and strengthens. It is the word of God. Read it. Ponder it. Cherish it. It is true - what a privilege to have the opportunity to read from it every day.

I love this work. Our investigators are progressing and we have good things coming for this area. The Lord's hand is always involved in it. I see that in all we do. Share the gospel, please. I love what was said in conference about the Saviors last counsel to His apostles. Of all the things He could have shared, of all the things He could have taught, His last request was to proclaim this gospel. As I go on in this cause, I pray you all will too. Share the gospel - it will bless you and others.
I find it fascinating how missionaries develop a more mature insight in to the gospel and their obedience to the leaders.  I remember my own daughters could barely sit through conference but now they have profound insights.  I hope they keep the zeal of the gospel burning in their lives for many years to come.

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