October 2016 General Conference thoughts

6 minute read

While trying to listen to the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from home this weekend, I’m taking notes on things that strike me as important. Yes I can read all the talks online too, which is handy, but it’s nice to have my own list of important teachings. What’s more, I think it helps me internalize it. And this is a good place to write down any inspiration that comes to me.
Morning session
We actually missed this session while taking baby Celeste to her weekly starfish swim lesson and running some errands. Actually some of that was interesting: we ordered our groceries online and picked them up in 5 minutes from the Great Canadian Superstore. It was a pretty smooth experience actually. And Amanda paid using her phone for the first time at the grocery store. Both kinda cool. Anyways, I’ll have to read this session of conference later.
Afternoon session
So I don’t actually have any notes from most of the speakers in this session either… lots of kids romping etc.
Elder oaks

  • “What can be more joyful than sharing the truths of eternity with others?” That’s kinda a nice perspective on why we should share the gospel that I like. Much better than “Repent snd do it”. I think maybe that’s what people need, but this more positive take on it is more encouraging to me.
  • “All members can pray for opportunities to share the gospel, accompanied with a commitment to act on it”.  That does sound like a universally good idea, that I’m not good at doing much now, but I think I’ve seen it working for me before (mostly when I had sufficiently little else on my mind so I made time and effort for it).
  • People are rarely interested in the doctrines of the gospel. Usually they are interested in fruits of it. They usually only become interested in the doctrine when they are first interested in the fruits, and realize those fruits come from that doctrine
  • Don’t invite people to learn about  “our church”, invite them to learn about Christ and his restored gospel. Our feelings of love for the church only come because we first had a love for Christ and his gospel, and afterwards we developed an appreciation for his church because it is the vehicle through which we learn and live his gospel. Many people legitimately are skeptical of churches, while simultaneously appreciating Christ and his teachings. (I suppose we’re a bit like “Treky’s” inviting people to join a local Treky’s club, without first inviting them to watch a Star Trek episode. I suppose they can invite people to come to their club, but they certainly wouldn’t invite them to learn more about the club, they’d invite them to learn about Star Trek at the club.)
  • “We have noticed no correlation between depth of conversion and the relationship between investigator and members”. Ie, you don’t have to be a friend of someone’s for years before you can share your beliefs.
  • Wards can organize missionary Sundays when they can be assured the content will be appropriate. (Eg where speakers will be talking about things they can relate to, from “good” speakers, etc)

Priesthood session
Some follow up notes from earlier, about people only being interested in the doctrine after they’re interested in its fruits and associate it’s fruits with the doctrine: I think that’s a principle that applies to a lot more than religion.having s family is an example. People usually aren’t interested in changing diapers, losing sleep, disciplining, etc. They want the fruits: cute babies, fun kids, sharing loving moments. But those other moments are necessary for the fruit; and what’s more, they actually become a bit of the pleasure too. I have said that it that it’s actually a privilege to be up in the middle of the night with a little one. And I suppose it’s a privilege to help teach them. And yes a privilege to serve them and my wife by doing diapers. Looking back on it, as I’ve become more familiar with raising a family, those seemingly unpleasant parts are part of the blessing and desirable.
While listening to the choir, who is composed of regular members from near Salt Lake, I think their music is more beautiful given that they’re not professional, but regularfks with lots of other important things to do that are mostly there because they want to praise God (although yes I’m sure a bunch are there to be on TV and others are there for the refreshments they might get).
Elder holland

  • gave an amusing story of hometeachers visiting a sister on the night her basement flooded, but left when they saw “she was busy”. It’s worth reading for us hometeachers.
  • if he had to hometeach 100 families, he’d have a schedule to visit ALL of them over several months. Not just give up, or say it’s too much. And the would prioritize who to visit: new members, receptive less scribes, those with special needs, single sisters, etc. They would communicate with their families any way possible: not just a home visit, but use email, text, social media, etc
  • we should leave behind the tradition of having a rushed, end-of-the-month visit to deliver a scripted message they’ve probably already read
  • what “counts” as hometeaching? Everything counts. Report it all. What matters is that you love your people

The conductor changed the tempo a ton during the hymn. Weird. But maybe informative. Are we actually following our leaders? Or just doing what we always do, looking at them, but actually ignoring them?
President uchtdorf

  • Told about the Book of Mormon teachers Alma and Amulek. He invited us to, like Alma, to search for out “Amuleks” we should call.

President eyring

  • he says president woodruff reported he received no more divine assistance as an apostle than he did as a teacher. There is no difference so long as we are doing our duty. That’s news to me: I assumed if I were a apostle I would automatically be more spiritual, thoughtful, patient, etc. I suppose I would have more prominent responsibilities that would require more sensitivity to the spirit to perform at all (for example, a teacher can do an ok job at their responsibilities without much divine guidance; but an apostle couldn’t, they’d have an impossible time deciding church policy, giving inspirational talks at conferences, etc.)
  • I feel incapable of inspiring others to serve and improve. But I feel I can make the baby steps the Lord directs me to.
  • I think making these notes is really of little value. But reflecting on them, giving a summary and expansion on them, is really of value. So I suppose taking time to reflect on them is what’s important. Which we’re told to do anyway (so it’s not really news, it’s just me realizing something for myself that I’ve actually already been told a bunch). I remember when I went to the Provo temple weekly, sometimes feeling very little inspiration while inside there, but receiving lots as I wrote in my journal outside (coincidentally right next to where I proposed to Amanda).

Sunday morning

  • Admittedly most of Sunday morning was a write off. We got a bunch of things ready to help keep the girls entertained, but they were done with them by the time the opening prayer happened. I stated off pretty frazzled. So… Ya… Not many notes from this part. I took Danielle or Celeste or both out at various points so Amanda could listen of nurse or sleep. I think it was probably better to do that than get more frustrated that we weren’t having a celestial experience trying to be reverent for, in kids time, is basically forever.
  • I did like Elder Nelson’s point though: that happiness has less to do with the circumstances of our lives, and more to do with the focus of our lives. And he later made the point our focus should be on Christ. I’m going to need to re-read that one later for sure

Saturday afternoon
Elder Ashton

  • Repentance is not just s backup plan in case we slip up. It is the plan: repentance is how we improve continually. On this topic I remember how on my mission we often tried our hardest to not disappoint our leaders and hoped to not need their counsel, and especially not their reprimands. In Mexici city north lingo, our favourite word was “plancha”. Directly translated, it means “plate” (as in gold plates), or iron (for clothes). We used it for when you taught in such a way that you absolutely humiliated the receiver. Some if us relished I’m “planch”-ing Jehovahs Witnesses (the most prevalent, and probably best educated in terms of religion, with whom we encountered) and others who really needed to be straightened out- like another missionary who was being lazy, a bishop who was making missionary work difficult, etc. Really it wasn’t very Christlike, especially the way we relished in it. Anyways, it certainly wasn’t pleasant to be on the receiving end of getting “planch”-ed: no one likes to hear they’re doing things wrong, need improvement, and certainly not that they’re not currently being a bad person. And yet one missionary leader I knew had a very different perspective. Elder Balboa used to say “planchame! Planchame!” meaning “give it to me! Tell me what I’m doing wrong! Humiliate me!” etc. I think that was an excellent example: he had totally abandoned trying to maintain his image and pride. He has no delusion that he didn’t need to improve, or that he’s ever, in thi life, become perfect. He had abandoned all defensiveness. He craved correction and embraced his need to repent continually. In some ways that must have been very liberating: instead of focusing on defending himself, he was focused on improving himself. I think I’ve tried that a bit but honestly have a LONG way to go.

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