Only 13 more days left! I leave two weeks from yesterday. Time is moving really quickly. I've loved my time here but I'm also excited to hit the field. I'll most likely get my flight plans in the next couple days, and then I'll know exactly when I head out. The MTC has been good to me, though, and I've learned so much. I'm going to make the most of these next two weeks and work my hardest so that I'm as prepared as I can be.
General Conference. Wow. Those two days were kind of a blur. I've never before feasted upon the word as I did this past weekend. For the first time in my life, I truly understood the power of the prophets and apostles and the power of Conference. For me, Conference was like a spiritual Stratosphere. As it begins, you're enjoying the view and having a good time. Then suddenly you're plummeting through space, up and down, and the only thing you can do is hold on. There are moments of calm reflection -- just before the next
drop. At the end, you're a little out of breath, but you want to do it again and again. Or you throw up -- but that's not part of the metaphor. :)
Anyway, General Conference was amazing. I use an 8x5 notebook for my fireside/devotional notes, and I filled 19 pages, front and back, for Conference. I was pretty much taking notes the entire time, and I still couldn't capture everything I wanted to remember. I wrote both quotes from the speakersand inspirations I received throughout the talks (which sometimes were completely unrelated to the talk at the time, but directed specifically at me). There were a couple times, however, where I just stopped writing and focused all my attention on watching and listening becase the message was so powerful. That happened during Richard G. Scott's talk and for most of Elder Holland's, and in several others. (Elder Holland's talk was so powerful. I can't really describe the impact it had on me. Most of the other missionaries felt the same way -- you could tell.)
I loved every talk and found answers to questions I had, plus answers to questions I didn't know I had. I wish we could have General Conference every day... except I think my hand would fall off. I want to share some of the insights I had and things that I liked. If I had a day's worth of email time, maybe I could get through everything I liked about Conference -- so a short sampling will have to do. :)
I really liked what Elder Scott said about how spirituality is both inspiration and power. It goes along with what you were saying, Dad, about how it's great if you understand the power of love, but the whole point is that you must also show it. It's that principle of action that is so important. So our spirituality isn't just the inspirations, revelations, and promptings that we receive -- it's the knowledge of how to do that (the power), and then actually *doing* it. (Somewhere in my mind your repeated words over the years "be proactive" are echoing...ha)
Elder Bednar's talk was also very inspiring. I liked how he talked about Family Home Evening (that sounded pretty familiar) and that it's not the individual brushstrokes, but the overall canvas that is so important. Each time you feel the Spirit might not be extremely memorable by itself -- but after you've had many of them, they all combine to create something amazing. It really ties in to the idea that it's better to read the scriptures a little bit every day that to read for a long time once a month. It's not just that you do something, but that you do something consistently. That's what being a Keeper of the Faith means (but more about that in a second).
I noticed that pretty much every single talk was focused, in one way or another, on love. The love of Christ for us, the love we should have for others, the effect that love has, the way we receive love through the Spirit -- all of those talks add together for a grand picture of what love is and how we should demonstrate it in our lives. Love is the way of the disciple, as President Uchtdorf said. Elder Oaks talked about those who don't understand love -- they might say, "If you really loved me..." or "If God really loved us..." I liked how he said that love doesn't overrule commandments. Commandments are God's expression of love for us. True love doesn't allow self-destructive behavior, either.
Several talks were focused on anger or pride, which are the absence and opposite of love. Those talks fit right in with the theme of love, as did the talk about temperance. Those talks helped me to see how to have greater love in my life by avoiding the emotions that drive it away.
I liked Elder Christofferson's comments about the commandments as well. When talking about being chaste, he said that wanting or not wanting to do something isn't the point -- it isn't even related. Sure, I may want to do something, but what has that got to do with whether I do it or not? It tied in really well with the idea of being a keeper of the faith, like the Apostle Paul. The whole point of keeping the faith is that it's something continual -- you can't keep the faith for just a few minutes, days, or years. It's something you always, always do. Paul was a great example of that -- look at the trials he faced; yet he never backed away from his faith or his love for the Savior.
One main idea that I drew out of Conference is that the way we become keepers of the faith, the way we finish the course and fight the good fight, is through love. The speakers at Conference talked about many ways we can do this and the reasons why. If we start having more love in our lives, and if we let that be our driving factor, we keep the faith of Jesus Christ and we keep it forever. Love is what motivated His sacrifice; love is what should motivate our every action.
Okay, that's about all I can get into. I apologize if that's scattered or disjointed, but there was so much I loved about Conference. There are a couple more things I want to add in my last few minutes.
First, I'm loving the cold weather. Yes, it's cold -- but I won't be in the cold for the next couple years, so I might as well make the most of it right now. Plus, autumn and rainy days are my favorite. Miranda, I'm glad you enjoyed homecoming and that things are going well. Gabbie,I'm really excited for you to get your Mario costume. Reagan, stop stepping on Nikka's head. :) Mom and Dad -- I love you very much. Thanks for the example you've always set me and for raising me the way you did.
Thanks for all your letters and packages. I'll talk more about specifics in my handwritten letter. Until then, remember that I love you, and thanks for everything you've done.