Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Welcome to Conference

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Welcome to Conference, by Thomas S. Monson
President, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Monson began the conference by disclosing a regret he's reminded of each time he hears the choir sing. This regret is made more poignant because it comes via a memory of his mother's voice:

I love all the acclaim that has been given you, all the degrees you have obtained, and all the work you have done. My only regret is that you did not stay with the piano.

Let's all agree that this regret was probably offered as a bit of humor—albeit true—which, coincidentally, I share. After sharing what his mother said, his next words were, "Thanks Mother. I wish I had."

Luckily, I'm married to an amazing woman who plays the piano beautifully! Not only that, but she's teaching our children to play the piano, too! I hope that they will look back on their childhood without the regret that President Monson and I share.

In his welcome to conference, President Monson gave brief accounts of temple-building progress (three recently dedicated, two announced), but rocked the audience with the announcement of lower age minimums for full-time missionary service. The change was from 19 to 18 for males, and from 21 to 19 for females. I imagine that homes around the world were filled with excited parents realigning their plans for their children, just as was the case in our home!

Immediately after the announcement was made, the camera cut to audience reaction and captured the shock and surprise of the audience. Note particularly the fellow highlighted in yellow, below.

I can go on a mission when?!

Speculation persists of how this change will affect Utah schools in the near future as the stream of missionaries experiences a brief hiccup—which some think may affect enrollment rates at BYU and other schools (I personally think that other qualified students will simply enroll)—but I try to think of the potential impact on missionary work as this change draws attention to mission preparation, and may even increase the number of missionaries that serve (even beyond the initial hiccup)!

Admittedly, this missionary-age announcement distracted our family briefly from what was being said, but the record shows that President Monson gave the following charge:

Now, my brothers and sisters, may we listen attentively to the messages which will be presented during the next two days, that we may feel the Spirit of the Lord and gain the knowledge He would desire for us.

I put on my "listening ears" and was touched by many things in this conference—I'll even write many of them down in this blog! If you want the analytical result of frequency of words that I usually include in my general conference application series, you're in luck; here it is! This is a word cloud (from wordle) of the top 100 words in the conference.

Does anything stand out to you?

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