And so it was this weekend that we Latter Day Saints congregated for our semi-annual General Conference. We spent the Saturday and Sunday in our Retro House coloring and cutting out Halloween spooks while listening to messages from the powerful leaders of our church (men and women). Of course, this Conference weekend had more flavor due to the spices added of children (last G.C. we didn't even have El Chiefo) and our hearts open to any words of comfort at this time. The Lord answered our prayers, we heard much given to us by the way of example, parable and teaching the good word of God.
In the past few years of my life I've been a bit selfish about being a Latter Day Saint. Because we are a lay clergy, it is up to us members to do all the work in keeping our church intact. My job for the last few years was to be the president of the organization for young women in our ward (about twenty of them) and let me tell you, it was exhausting work. There were weekly activities, Sunday lessons, summer camp, youth conferences and the overall emotions of working with teenage females. At times I wondered how much I could really give for a church. I knew that the doctrine was perfect, but was I willing to sacrifice for it?
But I am finding that as I have given, I am also helped, lifted up and encircled with love. Now, I see that sacrifice really does "bring forth the blessings of heaven."
Our church is set up in the same way that Christ's church was organized in the bible. We have a prophet, or president, who is the head of our church. We also have twelve apostles who have the direct responsibility to testify of Jesus Christ. They are also called to tend to the flock, or, to be about the people of the church helping those who stand in need. They mostly do this by teaching doctrine to increase the understanding of the gospel. As we are now a church of many millions this becomes a daunting task, one that is benefited by local leaders who seek counsel from church leaders. As you can imagine, when we are able to be in the presence of an apostle it is a marvelous experience, one that becomes unforgettable.
Last month our family was able to meet with one of these apostles. We were invited to be with him after a message he was giving to the students at BYU about trials. As we have known his family for a few decades, we were also in the company of his sweet wife, son and daughter-in-law. He acknowledged that my father was the head of our family, and asked his permission to lead a family meeting. He sincerely mourned with us. His sweet wife cried with us. And ultimately he prayed--childlike--with us as we all kneeled together as a family. After this meeting my heart was so full of hope that it gave me the same sensation of having the hiccups. I was vibrating with joy. I only wanted for one thing, that my sister and Christian could've been there too.
This morning was also special to us. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang at both our morning and afternoon sessions of General Conference. We had word last night that they would dedicate all their songs in the morning session to Stephanie and Christian and their family. The girls listened intently to each piece. Has that choir ever sounded so sweet?
This weekend also brought with it Grandma and Grandpa Nielson who always pioneer to Utah for the October conference. We had them over on Friday night along with other lovely Nielson relatives as well as Umi and Grandpa too. Our guest of honor was Uncle Marcus who very recently returned home from a mission to Germany. Added to that was loads of BYU Creamery ice cream, the children really thought they had reached heaven. Well, almost. A couple key people were missing. But to remedy that, the children were able to talk to their father for the first time since the accident over the phone.
We all went to bed smiling.
This is the part where c jane says: Sacrifice? Is there really such a concept for mortals? It always seems that the going without yields more return, making the original sacrifice not a sacrifice at all. It's an imperfect conversion.
To which I am fully converted.
See more about General Conference here.