Saturday, October 13, 2012

"Topped Up"

In Great Britain, when you have a pay-as-you-go phone or Wifi access, you can take a little credit card replica with your phone/Wifi account number on it to any grocery store and "top up" (or add more minutes to) your account as you're checking out with your groceries. You can also "top up" online. Slick.

This weekend, it was our turn to get "topped up."  It was General Conference weekend. Hooray! What a blessing to be half-way (almost) around the world from home and to still be able to turn on our computer and hear the counsel of living prophets.  As I mentioned in April, it's a little more of a challenge with the different time zones, but I never take for granted the fact that we can hear every word of General Conference - in real time.

As a child, growing up in California in the "olden days," I remember the first time we were able to receive the Sunday morning session of General Conference on TV. It was in October 1953, and it was the first time any part of Conference had ever been broadcast outside the Intermountain west. It was such a marvel to me, even as a young child, that the experience is forever etched in my memory. To actually see a prophet and the apostles speaking on our little 12" by 12" TV screen!

Fast forward (and it was fast) almost 60 years to October 2012. Here we are in London, receiving all four general sessions on a live Internet feed and projecting it through the Visitors' Centre theatre projector - larger than life. It's an even better view here than a front row seat in the Conference Center, though we're missing out on the electricity of being on Temple Square with thousands of enthusiastic, excited church members. No problem. We are watching with our enthusiastic, excited fellow missionaries, a few temple workers, and several investigators. All the sessions are also being broadcast downstairs in the Accommodation Centre in the building attached to our Visitors' Centre. Most of the temple missionaries and full-time staff are gathered there, in an eating area much larger than our theatre. And as I mentioned in April, it's impressive to see the respect with which everyone treats these broadcasts. Without directions or suggestions from anyone, men come to all the sessions dressed in suits and women in dresses. There's a definite atmosphere of gratitude for the privilege of watching General Conference here.

In our time zone, we watch the Saturday morning session at 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The Priesthood, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning sessions are watched on Sunday. The Sunday afternoon session is watched Monday night. So between the two sessions we watch on Sunday, our Visitors' Centre missionaries decided to have a potluck dinner and invite the Mission Office staff to join us. We had a great dinner together! Even though the Mission Office is on the other side of the Accommodation Centre, we are constantly walking back and forth and working with each other during the week. Very few days go by without at least one trip -  and often several - to the Mission Office. We love the Mission Office missionaries!

Elder Gong, from the Mission Office, is
always available when someone's in need.
Those who helped
(Elder Eccleton with Sisters Howard, Cardona and Cabrera)

... and those who didn't .   J/K. - these guys did the dishes :)

Plenty for everyone.

Enjoying a delicious dinner together.

I predict this is going to become a semi-annual tradition.

I absolutely love General Conference weekend! It is my time to "top up" -- to focus on the things in life that are truly important, and to gain the wisdom, understanding and perspective that I need for the coming six months. It is a time for personal revelation. Some people take notes while they listen to Conference, some just absorb the messages, but each person who comes with an open heart takes away something that speaks directly to them, something that gives them hope, perspective, faith, gratitude, inspiration, correction, confidence, direction, or confirmation of truth.

Each person takes what is most important for their own life away from Conference, but since this is my blog, I get to share some of the messages that spoke to my heart:

  • Repentance will be the only panacea for the ills of the world.   - Elder Quentin L. Cook
  • Distancing yourself from the kingdom of God during a trial of faith is like leaving the safety of a secure storm cellar just as the tornado comes into view.   - Elder Neil L. Andersen
  • Sometimes our insistence on acting on our own timetable can obscure [God's] will for us. The Lord's delays are always calculated to bless.   - Elder Henry B. Eyring
  • If ye love me, keep my commandments, Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord.           - Elder Jeffrey R. Holland 
  • First observe, then serve.   - Sister Linda K. Burton, General Relief Society president
  • ...sad to say, we often even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, were an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.  Is it? I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished. I can't see it. Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.  ...many of the deepest regrets of tomorrow can be prevented by following the Savior today.   - Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf
  • Testimony alone is not and will not be enough to protect us in the latter-day storm of darkness and evil in which we are living....  We should know the gospel is true and be true to the gospel.   - Elder David A. Bednar
  • Every prophet since Joseph Smith has emphasized the imperative need to provide all ordinances for ourselves and our deceased ancestors. Do you young people want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life? Immerse yourself in searching for your ancestors, prepare their names for the sacred vicarious ordinances available in the temple, and then go to the temple to stand as proxy for them to receive the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.               - Elder Richard G Scott 
  • I have found that, rather than dwelling on the negative, if we will take a step back and consider the blessings in our lives, including seemingly small, sometimes overlooked blessings, we can find greater happiness.   - President Thomas S. Monson

Now that General Conference is over once again, the very best thing about it is that we can get "topped up" again and again. During the next six months, before the April 2013 Conference, I'll be listening to excerpts and talks online at as often as I need my faith, hope and perspective recharged. What better way to fill my mind when I'm exercising, driving, doing chores, or just wanting to feel inspired and uplifted? With laptops, IPads, and smart phones, I can get the message I need to top me up almost anywhere or anytime.

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