General Conference: Sunday afternoon

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Hey friends! Sunday afternoon was amazing. The conference was great too! I was lucky to be able to spend my whole day with Maren’s family and to squish on her kids. She made the most delicious smelling roast, I peeled some potatoes, and Anna let me squeeze her. I was also properly introduced to yak, an apparently quintessentially Mormon dessert. I figure, it was super Mormon weekend, why not try the super Mormon food. Even if it looked like how it sounded. Yak. 

For those of you unfamiliar with yak, try this:

a tub of cool whip, a package of pistachio pudding powder, a bag of mini marshmallows, chunks o’ pineapple, some coconut. Put it all in one big bowl and stir. Then eat it.

Maren makes it a bit differently, but since I couldn’t remember the exact recipe while I was at the store, these were the ingredients I purchased.

Anyway, if I took nothing else away from conference on Sunday, I took with me the feeling of home and family. I miss it and I want it.

But, since this is the conference edition of LadyMo, I will continue with my reflections. Here we go!

Elder Russell M. Nelson

At baptism we covenant to serve the Lord and keep His commandments. When we partake of the sacrament, we renew that covenant and declare our willingness to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. Thereby we are adopted as His sons and daughters and are known as brothers and sisters. He is the father of our new life. Ultimately, in the holy temple, we may become joint heirs to the blessings of an eternal family, as once promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their posterity. Thus, celestial marriage is the covenant of exaltation.

When we realize that we are children of the covenant, we know who we are and what God expects of us. His law is written in our hearts. He is our God and we are His people. Committed children of the covenant remain steadfast, even in the midst of adversity. When that doctrine is deeply implanted in our hearts, even the sting of death is soothed and our spiritual stamina is strengthened.

Natalie and I spent most of our evening discussing this very topic. What does it meant to make and keep covenants? Well, as Natalie reminds me often, “where much is given, much is required.” To say I have been blessed is an understatement. I would be lying if I said I have done enough for God to receive the blessings I have received this year. During this talk, I thought a lot about my experience with my Patriarchal blessing and how so very much I have been given and will be given as long as I “remain steadfast, even in the midst of adversity.” During this talk, I also reflected a lot on when Elder Hale talked about receiving answers to prayers and blessings according to what he could bear, or all that he was willing to do.

I know that Heavenly Father wants to offer us every blessing. I think now about the conversation we had before my baptism. I remember Him telling me, “I am ready to give you all of these blessings, but I need you to show Me you can do at least this much.” I have to remember that conversation, that promise, at every turn.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“What think ye of Christ?” With those words Jesus confounded the Pharisees of His day. With those same words I ask my fellow Latter-day Saints and other Christians what you really believe about Jesus Christ and what you are doing because of that belief.

His talk … was good. I am not here to “grade” the talks, but I felt like the power punch of his talk was in the first few sentences. Especially after reading his talk again, I can’t help but think it was a really long list of scriptures testifying to the existence of Jesus Christ as divine. Cool, yes, but I was not moved. His first paragraph, however, did it for me. I am prepared ponder his charge and be able to answer and act on it.

Elder Matthew O. Richardson

Moroni helps us understand how we can teach by the Spirit without replacing, diluting, or dismissing the Holy Ghost as the real teacher. Moroni said the Saints conducted their experiences “after the manner of the workings of the Spirit.” This requires more than just having the Spirit with us. To conduct ourselves “after the manner” of the Holy Ghost means that we may need to change our way of teaching to emulate the way the Holy Ghost teaches. As we align our manner with the Holy Ghost’s manner, then the Holy Ghost can teach and testify without restraint. This important alignment may be illustrated by the following example.

First, the Holy Ghost teaches individuals in a very personal way. This makes it possible for us to intimately know truth for ourselves. Because of our different needs, circumstances, and progression, the Holy Ghost teaches what we must know and do so we may become what we must be. Please note that while the Holy Ghost teaches “the truth of all things,” He does not teach all truth all at once. The Spirit teaches truth “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.”

Those who teach after the manner of the Spirit understand they teach people, not lessons. As such, they overcome the urge to cover everything in a manual or teach all they have learned on the subject and focus instead on those things that their family or class members need to know and do. Parents, leaders, and teachers who mirror how the Spirit teaches, quickly learn that real teaching involves much more than just talking and telling. As a result, they intentionally pause to listen, carefully observe, and then discern what to do next. When they do this, the Holy Ghost is in a position to teach both learners and teachers what they should do and say.

Second, the Holy Ghost teaches by inviting, prompting, encouraging, and inspiring us to act. Christ assured us that we come to the truth when we live doctrine and act accordingly. The Spirit leads, guides, and shows us what to do. He will not, however, do for us what only we can do for ourselves. You see, the Holy Ghost cannot learn for us, feel for us, or actfor us because this would be contrary to the doctrine of agency. He can facilitate opportunities and invite us to learn, feel, and act.

My Holy Ghost’s name is Abinadi and it’s pronounced (Ah-bih-NAH-dee). How does my Holy Ghost teach me? By slapping me in the face with truth, sassing me in a Boston accent, and finishing his lecture with a “capisce?” with eyes that say, “we both know you really don’t have a choice in this.”

In other words, I’m so thankful for my missionaries.

I cannot say enough about them. They taught me, not lessons.*** They met me where I was willing to meet them spiritually (but also at Sylas and Maddy’s ice cream shop). I was talking to one of my missionaries this evening who recently returned from his mission. He asked me, “LadyMo, we only talked a few times before you were baptized. Why do you call me one of your missionaries?” This talk explains why. Because every missionary I met, most of whom I will name by name here (Elders Cox, Zaugg, Hayter, Bradshaw, Patterson, Smith, Noriega, Jensen, Robinson, Stover and Sisters Robinson, Smart, Lund, Avauli, Rupper, Bowman, Glade, Stover) each taught me something I needed to learn when I was ready and willing to learn. Like Elder Richardson said, truth is not made known to us all at once. This is why it was so important for me to meet so many missionaries. Elders and Sisters, you all brought with you the piece of truth I needed to learn. There’s a reason I met you all over a year and not all at once. I had to be ready to learn what you were ready to teach me.

Also, missionaries, you gave me everything you had. I’m so thankful for that. You taught me that neither you, nor the Spirit, could do for me that which I had to do for myself. I had to act and think and feel and decide for myself. I’ve learned from you that the Holy Ghost can only sass me so long. At some point, I must decide to act.

***Fun Fact: Sister Robinson and I didn’t actually go through all of the official lessons until three days before my baptism. I was clearly not a conventional investigator.

Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita

Ha, a talk about missionaries!

I would like to express my sincere love, respect, and feeling of thankfulness for all the returned missionaries who have served around the world. I am sure that those you helped convert have not forgotten you. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings … !”

I am one of those converts.

Amen.

I would now like to say a few words to the missionaries currently serving missions around the world. Your attitudes and the love that you show toward others are very significant messages. Even though I didn’t immediately grasp all the doctrines that the missionaries taught me, I felt of their great love, and their many acts of kindness taught me important lessons. Your message is a message of love, a message of hope, and a message of faith. Your attitude and your actions invite the Spirit, and the Spirit enables us to understand the things that are important. What I want to convey to you is that through your love, you are imparting the love of God. You are a treasure of this Church. I am so very thankful to all of you for your sacrifice and your dedication.

Amen.

Elder Randall K. Bennett

We all face adversity. We all have temptations. We all have made mistakes. It is never too hard or too late to make correct choices. Repentance is one of those critical correct choices.

The Savior’s arms of mercy are always extended to each of us, When we sincerely and fully repent, we can be completely forgiven of our mistakes and the Savior will remember our sins no more.

His was a simple and direct charge. Choose eternal life. Simple and clean. Also, during this talk, Elder R and I texted each other at the exact same time: I WANT ICE CREAM!! Love that kid.

Elder J. Devn Cornish 

My beloved sisters and brothers, God our Father is not a feeling or an idea or a force. He is a holy person who, as the scriptures teach, has a face and hands and a glorious immortal body. He is real, He knows each of us individually, and He loves us, every one. He wants to bless us.

In His mercy, the God of heaven, the Creator and Ruler of all things everywhere, had heard a prayer about a very minor thing. One might well ask why He would concern Himself with something so small. I am led to believe that our Heavenly Father loves us so much that the things that are important to us become important to Him, just because He loves us. How much more would He want to help us with the big things that we ask, which are right?

I am deeply grateful for the privilege of going to my holy Heavenly Father in prayer. I am thankful for the countless times He has heard and answered me.

I know this is true. I know so hard this is true. If I were to mount my testimony on anything strong and solid, it would be on prayer. I have seen the power of it in my life and in the lives of my friends and family. I know that He hears and answers my prayers, and I’ve learned that sometimes His answer is “no.” I think about how, last year, I thought my prayer was broken or that God just didn’t care to listen. At the time, I was asking our Heavenly Father to tell me that the missionaries were wrong and the Book of Mormon wasn’t true. Needless to say, I wasn’t getting much. Who’s surprised? But then I asked other questions: Are you there? Do you love me? 

I got an answer.

As strong a testimony I have of prayer, I still struggle with praying out loud and with other people. When asked to offer an opening or closing prayer, I always refused. Not just declined, but refused. I’ve stopped doing that, but only with some gentle chastising along the way. I was reminded that I should never feel ashamed to speak to our Heavenly Father. I should never run away from the chance to tell Him how I feel. God wants to hear my voice. That all sounds nice and right, but I still feel my heart race and my ears burn fiery red when I’m asked. (In case you were wondering, Marie, I feel like I’m going to puke).

After some much needed encouragement (chastising), I resolved to stop saying no when asked. I’ve not come so far as willing to offer or raising my hand, but if asked, I’ve made a deal that I will not say no. I might not like it, but I won’t say no. (In fact, I put a little extra effort to becoming invisible and avoiding eye contact when someone starts asking for someone to offer a prayer.)

This week, I’ve been asked four times.

Elder Quentin L. Cook

We should be grateful for all the tender mercies that come into our lives. We are unaware of hosts of blessings that we receive from day to day. It is extremely important that we have a spirit of gratitude in our hearts.

The scriptures are clear: those who are righteous, follow the Savior, and keep His commandments will prosper in the land. An essential element of prospering is having the Spirit in our lives.

However, righteousness, prayer, and faithfulness will not always result in happy endings in mortality. Many will experience severe trials. When this happens, the very act of having faith and seeking priesthood blessings is approved by God. The Lord has declared, “The elders … shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name; and if they die they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me.”

It’s funny, in November, the sister missionaries asked me if I would ever consider asking the Elders for a blessing. What they were really asking was if I believed in the power of the priesthood. They were really asking if I had faith and if I would ever consider exercising it. I have a hard time asking for blessings. Aside from my confirmation and Patriarchal blessing, I’ve only asked for a priesthood blessing three times. The first time, I was sick and Natalie said, “LadyMo, suck it up and ask for a blessing.” Brother S and his son came over. The second time, I was in the hospital, and the missionaries showed up and asked if I wanted one. (I guess, actually, I didn’t ask for that one.) The third time, I was preparing to go to the temple and I was feeling funky. Not “sick” funky, but my body and mind were in a weird space and something was preventing me from feeling “whole.” So I asked for a blessing.

I admit, pride gets in my way. I think it’s easier for me to have faith in the priesthood authority of the older members than it is of the Elders. Seriously, they are 19 and 20 year olds, and some of them are still just boys. I have a very hard time asking them for blessings, even when I think I need or want one. I know that to ask for a blessing is to exercise my faith in something in which I say I have a testimony. I need to practice seeing these 19 and 20 year old men how God sees them. He trusts them, and He intends for me to trust them as well.

I wrote in an earlier post:

For nearly a year, I had never actually seen any priesthood holder offer a blessing, so I never really knew what it meant. That night, the missionaries confirmed her and I had an overwhelming and crushing feeling that what they were doing was real. I was shaking and found it difficult to catch my breath. I recognize now that it was the Spirit testifying so strongly to the power of the priesthood, but if you told me that at the time I would have probably punched you in the face.

That feeling that I got that night has never left me. When I think about or study the priesthood, I am reminded over and over and over again how I felt that night and the impressions the baptism and confirmation left. I saw these four geeky missionaries that I had come to love like my best friends magically transform into something so much more powerful than I thought I knew them. I felt so much love and so much peace and it helped me understand that what I was learning was true.

I’m going to work on this.

President Thomas S. Monson

His closing remarks were sweet.

We are all here because we love the Lord and want to serve Him. I testify to you that our Heavenly Father is mindful of us. I acknowledge His hand in all things.

Brothers and sisters, I assure you that our Heavenly Father is mindful of the challenges we face in the world today. He loves each of us and will bless us as we strive to keep His commandments and seek Him through prayer.

I thank you for the service you so willingly give to one another. We are God’s hands here on this earth, with a mandate to love and to serve His children.

May heaven’s blessings be with you. May your homes be filled with harmony and love. May you constantly nourish your testimonies, that they might be a protection for you against the adversary.

Dear readers, I thank you for joining me on this review of conference. Please feel free to share your thoughts and testimonies of these talks as well. I have a lot of learning to do and I learn so much from you.

So much love,

The LadyMo

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