Thanks to a challenge from Carleen Tanner, we put much greater effort into our preparation for General Conference this year. For those of you who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, General Conference happens twice a year, in April and October, and is the primary forum where the prophet, apostles, and other district leaders speak to the entire congregation of the church (really to the whole world, the broadcasts are public) regarding what the Lord wants us to be doing. Sounds great, right? The downside is that these proceedings last for 8-10 hours…
Small children, fairly mono-tone speeches on doctrinal topics, speckled with singing of hymns accompanied by pipe-organ music, for 8-10 hours…
Not so great. This is a photo of our efforts last April, as you can see there are toys strewn everywhere and varying levels of concentration from all members of the family.
This time around we put considerable more effort into preparing for Conference. I went grocery shopping, all alone, to stock up on candy and junk food to use as brain-power and bribery and successfully secreted away my stash until the big reveal on Saturday morning. We also clipped photos of the General Authorities from the Ensign and framed or posted them in high-traffic areas of our home.
Okay, so Miss Becca looks absolutely miserable, but it wasn’t from the Conference preparation! She was in the midst of cutting four teeth, a high fever, and nasty cold at the time of this photo. She really did enjoy looking at the pictures.
Once we had the pictures up, we went through each Prophet/Apostle individually and learned about their lives, families, work interests, and church service. We selected one phrase to describe each one and wrote it on the whiteboard.
Then as each one stepped up to the pulpit, we were able to say “Oh! That’s Elder Gong, he and his wife like to paint murals with children wherever they visit!” This tiny tidbit of information really helped us relate to the speakers and pay more attention to their words. Henley was especially excited to see the speakers she recognized–we only studied the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, perhaps next time we’ll add in the auxiliary leaders and seventies as well.
As you can also see, we had considerably fewer toys out, cluttering our floor. I printed pages for the girls to color or take notes and cleared the white board for coloring. Other than that and food, we kept the living room fairly free of distractions.
I am truly amazed at how restful, uplifting, and inspiring General Conference was for me and for my family. Our preparation was truly minimal, and required only small changes to our day-to-day schedule, but it yielded wondrous results. I am grateful for the challenge from Sister Tanner to increase my preparation to receive the words of the Lord through his Prophet. I will continue to improve my efforts to learn and grow and create meaningful, fun, uplifting, and bonding family experiences through church programs. Sometimes I get caught in the rut of feeling burdened by Church and the responsibilities it places on me and my family; however, if I can change my mindset and view the responsibilities as opportunities to create new traditions and have fun, then everyone enjoys the experience and learns more from it.
Pringles are not my favorite chip, but even I can’t deny they are very fun to eat!