No- it's not Christmas (although that is pretty good) it's General Conference time. A time to listen to the inspiring words of our church leaders. A time to drink in the spirit by the bucket load. A time to feel ready to take on anything. For me, it couldn't be a better way to spend the last week preparing for my mission.
Before we get to the main event, I have to share something else that I learnt this weekend. Last year I was teaching a delightful, if challenging, year three class as my first year or teaching in a primary school. I truly loved the children, more so because they were entirely unique. Among them was a sweet girl who was a selective mute. We were all aware that she spoke at home, but not inside school. Of course, fresh faced newbie here was adamant and full of hope that I would be the one to bring her out of herself. My dazzling teaching and tender care would be sure to persuade her to open her mouth and speak to us.
Perhaps you have realised from my over confidence that this was not the case. When the year finished and I left the school, she had chosen to play the recorder with the class, but would not articulate a word. So, crest-fallen, I had failed and worried what her future would be like. How long could this continue and what effect would it have on her education?
Wouldn't I be overjoyed to hear that she was speaking in school? Surely! This is the person I had regularly dreamed holding conversation with. However, when her year 4 teacher kindly told me that this week she has been answering questions and even speaking a assembly, I couldn't deny my joy was tainted with envy. Why did this person get the credit of miraculously getting the pupil to speak? Had my year just been a waste? What had a missed? How had I failed?
Then, the former prophet Gordon B. Hinkley's words came ringing in my ears- 'you can get a lot done if you don’t care who gets the credit'. How wise that prophetic counsel is. No one will ever know what impact different people had on that little girl's school life and it doesn't really matter. Between us all we managed to make her feel comfortable enough to speak in school.
This is definitely a lesson I want to carry into the mission field. There's no point worrying about who is beside the investigator at the point of baptism, temple endowment or sealing. You couldn't possibly be at all of them and have been their first contact anyway. In this great Kingdom of God we are all working together to bring about his purposes and no credit deserves to be given. The credit is all God's anyway.
That experience was a great setting to Conference for me. I really appreciated the theme of hope that I felt from some of the earlier talks, particularly President Ucthdorf (more to come on that topic after I give my farewell speech next Sunday).
I absolutely loved Elder Maynes talk about the potter's wheel. I cold picture being one of the students so eager to try out moulding a bowl or plate on a potter's wheel. Knowing my own tendency towards inaccuracy I am sure I would have been among those who placed the clay in what looked like roughly the middle of the wheel and then started it spinning. Certainly I would have been outraged when, despite my best efforts, the clay just when flying in all directions. I can imagine Elder Mayne's patient response that it was far more important than I had initially seen to ensure the clay was centred exactly.
So it is with Jesus Christ, who should be the centre of our lives. It is no good to go one degree off centre in one direction or another. We need to follow him with exactness, for that it how we shall experience the joy of accomplishment.
I also found Elder Ballard's point that 'look for human weakness is easy' very poignant. He encouraged us to 'see God's hand working in those he has called'. This is quite a skill for me to develop, but the spirit testified that it was an important one. Not only does this apply to our ageing Prophet, or the three newly appointed apostles, but to our local leaders and even our teachers, home and visiting teachers or companions. For me, I know it will be vital that I look for 'God's hand' in the work that my fellow missionaries are performing if we want to get along well and work efficiently.
If you missed any of this, have another look at the wonderful talks here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2015/10?cid=HP_SU_10-4-2015_dPTH_fGC_xLIDyL1-C_&lang=eng
What were some of your highlights from General Conference? Feel free to share any in the comments.