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Writer: Caleb Trujillo
I still remember the first time I felt true conviction of the reality and mission of prophets. I must have been about eight years old. President Thomas S. Monson, then First Counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley, approached the pulpit on a chilly December evening as part of the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. As he shared lessons from his tender story, “A Christmas Dress for Ellen,” I couldn’t help but feel the warmth of the Spirit embrace me and testify that this man was truly a prophet of my loving Heavenly Father. In the years that have passed, I have enjoyed President Monson’s heartfelt anecdotes, his cheery smile, and his messages of fellowship. I am indescribably grateful for the example he gives and his dedication to the Lord.
I think it’s remarkable how an individual talk or excerpt can be given to an audience of millions of Church members and investigators, yet can have such an intense impact on an individual heart and mind. The speakers for conference prepare messages that will be broadcast to thousands of Church buildings and homes. Their words are translated into more than 70 languages and published in multiple forms of media. Yet the Spirit carries the message to an individual’s heart in such a personal and unique manner.
For this past session of general conference, we asked Pathway students to share some of their personal experiences and impressions from the weekend’s remarks. My sincere hope is that these shared messages can inspire, encourage, and motivate you individually to share your own experience with those around you.
Many talks were directed on how we can magnify our Church callings and responsibilities.
“My favorite talk was in the priesthood session because I confirmed the importance of my responsibility as a home teacher. I could remember my family assignment and the Spirit touched my heart. I planned in my mind what I can do to help them come back to the Church,” said Mario H. Carmen of Mexico.
These shared messages are meant for us to act and improve.
“One of my favorite talks from this past general conference was given by Elder Kevin S. Hamilton. It was entitled ‘Continually Holding Fast.’ I was so touched by the story he told about his father when he was a child. His grandparents decided to take a drive in the country instead of attending sacrament meeting. This small decision led to their family going down a different path. Elder Hamilton talked about some decisions being ‘good,’ but there may be another choice that is ‘better.’ I felt the spirit so strongly while listening to Elder Hamilton speak. Today we are all so busy and in such a hurry. Sometimes we make decisions that may seem ‘good’ at the time. I know that I will think twice and be sure that there is not a ‘better’ choice, or even a ‘best’ choice. This talk really touched me,” said Angela Bawden Giles of Corona, California.
Jake Baures of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, shared, “I got to go see conference live for the first time. The Spirit and feeling of goodwill was so strong there. My favorite talk was given by Timothy Dyches in the Saturday afternoon session. I was there to see it, and when he started talking heavily about faith, it hit me just what I needed to do. It was revealed that I need to ask myself, ‘Do I have the faith to accomplish this?’ It is something that I will have to ponder and figure out.”
The theme of trials is frequently addressed in conference.
“I was really drawn to the talk by Richard J. Maynes on Sunday morning. I was especially touched by the Spirit when he said that there would be many earthly challenges that will not be overcome until after this mortal life. The Lord has designed each of our lives specifically for us. Sometimes He cannot take everything away, because that is not His will for us. In order for us to endure these trials, we need to draw close unto Him. Elder Maynes referenced 2 Nephi 31:20 by sharing, ‘We must press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, [and then] behold, thus saith the Father: [We] shall have eternal life.’ This talk was a comfort to me, reminding me that Christ has atoned for the trials I face, and for the physical ones that I cannot overcome in this life. I hope others had the chance to feel the Spirit during this talk,” said Amanda Petersen of Mesa, Arizona.
Carley Neumann of Minneapolis, Minnesota, shared, “Elder Holland’s talk about mental disorders touched me the most. I know a lot of people who have them. It was good to hear that we do not necessarily need to fix them or that person, but we can assist those people to live their life to the fullest.”
Some Pathway students found that course material and personal conference preparation went hand-in-hand.
“All the readings and papers prior to conference weekend were wonderful. All the study in this course added greatly to my understanding and enjoyment of it,” said Katalin McKee of Johannesburg, South Africa.
“I found the words spoken by Elder Hales so profound. I recognized some of his comments in our own learning model when he shared about preparing for his conference talk. He stated, ‘Over the weeks and months, often through sleepless nights, we wait upon the Lord through fasting and prayer, studying and pondering to learn the message he wants us to give,’” said Dennis Franklin of Lancaster, California.
After listening to and studying the words of these men, their personal patterns and qualities start to emerge.
“I love hearing from all the speakers, I look forward to getting to know the General Authorities, Apostles, and the Prophet. I love how we can see their personalities in their talks. I love that when President Monson gives his talks, he lets us know what and how he is feeling. I love that he adds his fun 'quirks' as well because it makes me laugh. My kids love it too! He seems like such a kind and loving man. President Eyring's talk touched my spirit, when he conveys without a doubt that he knows and feels so much. His tender emotions touched my heart. Elder Bednar seems like such a gentle soul. You can feel his genuine love for the gospel. From my teenage years up until this day, I know that when President Packer addresses us, he will tackle the hard stuff. He won't mince words, and he says what we all need to hear. Elder Holland, all I can say is wow! These last few conferences, he has left me in such awe. The topic he chose to speak about is close to my heart. Elder Ballard has always had a place in my heart. When I was a child, my parents joined the Church and we lived in Barrie, Ontario, where Elder Ballard was the mission president. When he was released, we went down to Salt Lake City and he sealed my family together forever, so I always look forward to hearing him speak,” shares Kimberly Schneider of Lethbridge, Alberta.
We thank all who participated and were overwhelmed with the response we received. We encourage you to share your experiences with others and hope that you continue to progress and develop in all that you strive to accomplish. We echo the love and encouragement voiced by our beloved prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and look forward to your remarks from next April’s general conference.