Saturday, January 10, 2009

Welcome to Conference

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Welcome to Conference, by President Thomas S. Monson

After mentioning a few cultural events produced in conjunction with new temple dedications around the world, President Monson remarked, "I am an advocate for such events. They enable our youth to participate in something they truly find unforgettable. The friendships they form and the memories they make will be theirs forever."

I recall a few roadshows from my youth. With the swiss-cheese-like memory I have from my youth, I'm surprised I can recall so much from the small contributions I made as a young child. It turns out President Monson was right!

In addition to cultural events for youth, I participated in a play on the Prophet Joseph Smith about a year ago that I was reflecting on recently. As part of our recent family vacation to Houston, we visited the George Ranch Historical Park (link here). Here we enjoyed touring a bit of history where actors were in character from times that corresponded, remarkably, with events from early church history. I had fun meeting a Mr. Jones in 1830 on his stock ranch where he lit a fire with flint and steel and told us about how hard it is/was to make coffee from raw beans. While Texas (then Mexico) is quite far from Fayette, New York, where the church was organized in 1830, it was still fun to see how life on the frontier may have been for many early saints.

You can see Mr. Jones' tool and tanning sheds in the background of this picture.

This is where I admit to a huge failure. President Monson also charged for us to pray for the spreading of the joy of the gospel in many parts of the world. While I was at George Ranch talking to Mr. Jones (in 1830, remember), I wanted to talk to him about the organization of my church that happened that very year. However, I was afraid that because he was "in character," and at work, that my comments and discussion wouldn't be appropriate. (Note the key "I was afraid.") So, while I did openly discuss the time of the church's organization with my children minutes later in Mr. Jones' back yard, I didn't talk about it with Mr. Jones himself (I had an "in" with the coffee and the 1830 connection!). I don't think that my prayers to help spread the joy of the gospel will be very effective if I ignore opportunities that are placed right in my way.

President Monson's talk reminds me of the joy of church cultural arts, and the need to both live and share the gospel in concert with our prayers for the work to move forward.

Watch out, Mr. Jones, next time we visit the George Ranch, I've got an amazing story to tell you!

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