There's a whole lot I need to write about! I'll start with the University trip from last week:
It went very well! It was definitely much easier this time around. We were able to understand what people were actually saying this time! More or less, lol! But it was still lots of fun. Nothing too different from last time, but that's ok! It gives me more time to write about other things.
Last Sunday, I watched all the Sessions of General Conference (Mom, explain what General Conference is, my cruise friends are gonna keep up with the blog now :) ) and boy did I take notes!
What is General Conference?
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide gather twice yearly for what they call “general conference.” This is in addition to their weekly worship services each Sunday.
General conferences are conducted each April and October and comprise five two-hour meetings held over two days. The April meetings are called annual conferences and those in October, semiannual.
The sessions on Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon are open to everyone, while a session on Saturday evening is for Latter-day Saint men and young men who hold the priesthood.
Latter-day Saints travel from all over the world to attend general conferences, which originate in the 21,000-seat Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Since the vast majority of the Church’s 15 million members are unable to attend general conference in person, the meetings are broadcast via satellite to over 7,400 church buildings in 102 countries. Members can also watch conference on television through Salt Lake City-based station KSL or BYU-TV. In addition, the Church streams the meetings live on the LDS.org website and on the Mormon Channel.
During the conference, Church leaders speak on a variety of spiritual topics. They address Latter-day Saints as well as government, faith and community representatives and other conference guests. Speakers include the worldwide leader of the Church, President Thomas S. Monson, and his counselors in the First Presidency, the governing body of the Church. Talks are also given by the members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and other leaders.
General conference talks vary in length from about 5 to 20 minutes. Topics are not assigned; each speaker chooses his or her own subject matter. Talks usually cover basic gospel principles or address significant issues of the day, with speakers encouraging individuals and families in their efforts to follow Jesus Christ.
Today, the conferences are simultaneously interpreted into 92 languages ranging from Albanian to Yapese to serve a large and growing international membership. American Sign Language interpretation and closed captioning are also available.
I know most everyone at home says that their favorite was one of the 12 apostle’s talks, or one of the First Presidency's talks, and I agree that they were fantastic! But this year, my favorite talk was by a member of the Seventy, Elder Edward Dube, entitled Look Ahead and Believe.
|Elder Edward Dube of the Seventy from Zimbabwe|
Right off the bat he had my attention because he said something that I decided to make my motto for my whole mission. He said that his mother taught him when he was a boy, "Don't look back on what you have done; look at what you still have to do." I really take that little quote very personally. I'm going to be working and studying non-stop for the next two years of my life. And I have lots of work to do! It may make me sound very cold right now, but in this moment, thinking about home and all the fun I had with my video games and my friends will make me homesick and distract me. If I can keep myself focused on the things I have ahead of me, which is A LOT, I'll be 1-year and 11months into my mission before I know it!
Another thing, my MTC (Missionary Training Center) President showed us a devotional given by Elder David A. Bednar, about the Character of Christ. I now understand why Elder Bednar is Elder Froude 1's (my brother) favorite apostle. OH. MY. GOODNESS!!! It was so rich with doctrine and teaching that I actually had to stop taking notes so I could soak it all in! In the church, we are always taught to try to be like Jesus. Elder Bednar taught us exactly how to be like Jesus in this devotional. He also said something that makes me shiver just thinking about it because it is so profound! He said, "A testimony is simply what you know to be true. Conversion is being true to what you know." Wow! My brother always told me since he left for his mission that the first person I should convert is myself. Now I know what he means. Don't get me wrong; having a testimony in the church is fantastic! It's a great thing! Unfortunately, it is pretty common for return missionaries to fall away from the church soon after coming home, and Elder Bednar explained why. He said that it was because even though the missionary had a wonderful experience, all they had gained out of it was a testimony, and a testimony was not enough. We have to be truly converted to the gospel, and being converted to the gospel is how we can be like Jesus. Wow, I just preached! Just a practice ;) My point is, what I learned was really special to me and I wanted to splurge a bit because it was so awesome!
As for what's new with me, I'm getting much better in
Spanish. We did a challenge to speak at least 95% Spanish for the whole week
ending tomorrow! It really helped! Not to sound prideful, but I think our
district is progressing much faster in the language than the other districts O:
Also, tomorrow, the CCM is sending out my batch of missionaries to go out into
"'el campo", the country, to go on real splits with full-time missionaries
for the day!! Already??? I'm really excited for that! :D I'll be sure to write
all about it next week when I get back. Anyway,
I don't have much time left so I have to make this next bit fast. Thank you for all the love and support you
and Dad give me; it's really comforting to me. ^_^
|Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles|
Until next Thursday! I love you!
|Santiago Dominican Republic Temple. I've gone every week since I got here! It's beautiful inside and out!|
|With Elder Villeta|
|Creepy faces with Elder Neely|
|Elder Farnsworth gives the best hugs!|
|With Hermana Winger and Hermana Despain|