“It’s pretty fun. A bunch of cute old guys give really inspiring messages and afterwards we have a barbecue. Wanna come?”
I had spent the last week, holed up in my dorm room, trying to avoid the freshman party scene that had emerged. I had intentionally set out to find some Mormon kids, knowing that their idea of fun was what I preferred. I found them at religious club fair. I walked around and around and finally found the booth I was looking for, hesitant to approach, knowing that this could set me on a path that I was still unsure about.
I met some great Mormon kids at the booth and they invited me to a social to celebrate the new school year. So the next night, I arrived and found that familiar comfort I had felt being around Kyle before he left to serve a two-year mission. For the first time in two months, my mind relaxed and my spirit brightened.
I had a ton of fun that night and at the end of it I was asked, by the same girl who invited me to the social, if I wanted to join her for General Conference the next morning. Old guys with inspiring messages, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but I knew I didn’t want to let go of the light and joy that I had felt at the social.
So the next morning, she picked me and few other students up and we drove across the 520 bridge towards the bishops home which was nestled in a strangely rural area outside Seattle. Inside his house, tons of young adults gathered, each vying for the best spot on a comfy leather couch. They all agreed that I definitely should get couch privilege and I felt special being there. Bowls of nuts and candy were set out and blankets were dispersed. I settled in and watched a small countdown in the corner of the tv tick away.
People started hushing each other and soon the room filled with a swell of organ music, then a prayer took place and then we sat and listened for two hours to cute, old guys give inspiring messages.
It was wonderful. My whole body felt warm and light and my mind filled with so much peace. It was like someone was pouring out the goodness of God upon me.
Afterward we ate pulled pork and potato salad and they informed me that in another hour there would be another two hours to watch, if I wanted to stay I was more than welcome.
After that I was told it would happen all over again tomorrow, but without the comfort of the bishop’s house and a barbecue. The messages of love and hope were enough for me to say yes. So the next day, I joined my new friend and my soul was filled again.
This was my first experience going to church and really, it was what set me down my path to getting baptized. When I tell members of my faith this story, they laugh because it is quite unusual for a non-member to endure the eight hours of general conference that happen twice a year.
I thought I was just looking for good, clean fun, but instead I found a fountain overflowing with treasure.
This experience gave me a deep and abiding love for General Conference. I excitedly look for ward to clearing off those two weekends of my year and relish in the excitement of messages that have always answered the questions and thoughts of my heart.
My spirit still leaps at the first swell of organ.
This weekend is one of those exciting weekends. I now gather with my family, we eat toasted bagels with lox and cream cheese for breakfast and I sit and journal my thoughts while the boys build legos on the floor. It is a special time set aside. At the end of the weekend I am always grateful for it, even when it seems inconvenient.
The messages from general conference fill me with a brightness of hope for the future. As the heaviness of the world wears me down, I find that the inspired men and women who speak at General Conference speak messages that lift me up. They fill my mind with ideas and action that I can take to combat whatever comes my way. They remind me of God’s infinite love and his constant hand.
Each weekend feels like a reset, a time to get a full-charge.
I have so much gratitude for that friend who had the impression to invite and introduce me to what might seem like a pretty overwhelming weekend. She knew the power that can come from taking the time to sit and listen to a servant of the Lord. The men and women who speak are called of God and the messages they prepare are done so with a great deal of prayer and study. There have been messages that have answered the complicated questions in my heart, there have been messages that bring clarity to thoughts and ideas I have been having, and there have been messages that fill me with the Spirit of God, strengthening my testimony and trust in a loving Heavenly Father.
I will always be glad that I accepted that invitation that led me to the greatest bounty of peace in my life. General Conference will always serve as a reminder to me that I am not alone on this earth. Heavenly Father has sent servants to help and aid me, to help bring a surety and confidence to move in the right direction.
I know that His hand is outstretched still.
If you are curious about General Conference, I encourage you to watch. You can do so from your own home. The link below has a list of the many ways to watch (It starts 10am MST, so if you are in the PNW with me, it starts at 9am).
Have a wonderful, uplifting weekend. I know I will!