At the conclusion of the historic October 2012 LDS General Conference weekend, I’m pretty overwhelmed trying to summarize the event & the messages, let alone try to capture all the feelings, impressions, soul-searching moments and emotions attached!
Here is my one-word summary: “Wow!”
OK. Here’s a few more thoughts:
1. THE. BEST. CONFERENCE. EVER!
Over the past 5 years I keep pronouncing the latest General Conference as “The Greatest!”.
Perhaps this is due to my reserved seat inside the Conference Center over this same time period? Or, perhaps it’s because of my “blogger brain” being immersed in post-prompt heaven? Or, perhaps it is simply because I’m napping much less and listening much more. [all true]
But, since I am not the ONLY one in my circle of family and friends making “The Best Ever” observation this time around I must conclude:
The October 2012 LDS General Conference will always be considered memorable and historic!
It has definitely been a life changing (millions-of-lives, actually) two days!!
This Cool Time-lapse Conference video is by “Deseret Digital”
2. WAIT…WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!
MISSION AGE LOWERED
Just 10 minutes into the Conference, President Thomas S. Monson stood at the pulpit to make a historic pronouncement. The age of eligibility for missionary service for young men will now be lowered from age 19 to age 18 in all countries, (this elicited an excited gasp from the audience in the Conference Center). Not to be out-done, the age of eligibility for the young women is now lowered from the long-established age of 21 to only 19! (this garnered an even BIGGER, and possibly MORE excited gasp from the audience).
Wow! I definitely didn’t see that coming. Did you?
This announcement has instantly changed millions of lives in millions of ways. There are the obvious group of youth directly effected – the thousands of youth suddenly finding themselves “eligible” to leave home and serve right now.
Then there are the families, parents, loved-ones, friends, bishops, current and future mission presidents, current and future missionaries in the field, the investigators currently learning about the church or waiting to learn, and the millions of people who have not met a Mormon missionary yet but who WILL because so many more missionaries will be arriving in their area soon. I can’t help thinking of all the church office workers who will be frantically processing quadruple as much paperwork, the increased need for Missionary Training Center rooms, the extra travel planning and coordination….and that’s just the millions being effected right here and now. We can scarcely imagine the countless millions who are not even born yet! Overly Dramatic? I don’t think so. Historic? You better believe it!
For young men, this announcement primarily means preparing to leave for a mission 1 year earlier than normal – i.e. directly after High School graduation. It might mean forgoing a scholarship offer or sacrificing sports pursuits. It definitely means postponing the start of college, trade school or employment for at least the 2 years following High School.
But, as much as things might change for a young man, the biggest window of opportunity for change just opened for all our young women!
I personally served a full-time mission at the age of 21. I did so because I had always wanted to serve a mission. I built my entire life plan around preparing for my mission when I turned age 21. But, I was in a minority. The common (misguided) perception was that only the girls who “couldn’t manage to get married” went on missions. At that time, it was culturally viewed as the ultimate “fall back plan” for young women in the church. [Don't even get me started on how angry that used to make me!] Thankfully, that perception has faded a lot over the past 20+ years. However, having to wait until age 21 to serve a mission [something that I had planned from the age of five] was difficult, to say the least. There was the logistics of timing my schooling + work + finances + study abroad and travel experiences. Not to mention my social life. It seemed like I had to continually defend my goal to more than one member of the church / bishop / relative / young man. I turned down multiple marriage proposals, although I always invited them to “wait for me”. There were no honest “takers” until I met my husband-to-be, exactly ten days before I entered the MTC! [And yes ladies, he really did wait for me = #TrueLove.]
My arguments twenty-five years ago are the same as they are now:
1. Women of any age are generally more mature emotionally, physically, and spiritually than men. They are fully capable to handle the rigors and requirements of missionary life.
2. Women are not required nor expected to serve an LDS Mission – they CHOOSE to serve (arguably making the very BEST kind of missionaries).
3. Just like men, women need, and deserve to experience the unique life-changing growth, cultural immersion, and spiritual conversion that can only come from serving a full-time LDS mission.
Saturday’s announcement felt like the heavens parted and sang out loud and clear to all LDS Young Women something like this:
“Daughters, you are important, powerful ambassadors in my Kingdom! You Are Needed and Wanted in my Army! I don’t expect you to get married and be painting the nursery before you’ve reached your 21st Birthday! In fact, I would very much prefer that you did not, because I have an important work for you to do first!”
[Thank you, Lord! My inner Mormon feminist just did a joyful *fist pump* and ten back-flips]
The LDS website slowed down after the Saturday session of Conference. I would like to think it was not only due to the thousands of people watching General Conference feeds online, but also as a result of thousands of our youth jumping online to find out more about LDS Missionary Service! and googling “How To Apply To Be An LDS Missionary“.
SIDE NOTE: If they did, they would have learned to Start the Missionary Recommendation Process means Creating an online LDS Account (heads up, you will need your Membership Record Number). That’s as far as you can go until meeting with your Bishop face-to-face to discuss worthiness, eligibility, and availability. If everything is a thumbs up, the bishop enables online electronic mission papers access.
♪♫ Oh Youth of the Noble Birthright, Carry On! Carry On! Carry On! ♪♫
In case you missed it, Tucson Arizona and Arequipa Peru are getting new temples! The big missionary shocker pretty much stole all of their thunder. (Sorry folks)
Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone in Tucson, so I can’t share anything personal about their excitement, although I’m sure they’re all doing a happy dance! I’ve also never been to Tucson. I know the scenery is quite beautiful – including a desert valley with large cactus, surrounded by beautiful mountains. Tucson is the second largest city in Arizona, next to Phoenix. It has a rich history of inhabitants tracing back to American Indians, Mexicans, early American settlers, etc. (yes, I googled that).
My sister-in-law is from Lima, Peru. She and her family are thrilled to hear about another temple slated for their country!
Arequipa is the second largest industrialized city in Peru. It is located at the far southern tip of the country, and is the gateway to Machu Picchu - the lost city of the Incas. This beautiful ancient area of the world has suffered in the past from some tragic violence and at times, mob-rule, due to terrorists hiding in their hills. Many innocent people have suffered loss and hardships. But now comes the dawning of a brighter day! A beautiful House of The Lord will be built in their land! This announcement heralds an era of hope and peace. Broken hearts will find heavenly healing. Broken families will be united again through eternal covenants. Broken lives will be repaired. And new generations will be raised in the protective shadow of the temple blessings.
NEW YOUTH CURRICULUM:
Entitled “COME FOLLOW ME“, the updated Youth curriculum includes a new website, new videos, and new lesson planning tools for youth and their leaders. This program is designed with the goal in mind to help prepare our youth to recognize and teach by the Holy Spirit. It directly impacts their preparation to leave home at a younger age to serve full-time missions throughout the world.
“The curriculum initially will be available online in 23 languages, beginning in January 2013, and will replace the existing manuals.” – official First Presidency letter
3. EVEN THE MUSIC WAS HISTORIC
As far as I know, there have only been two recorded instances in General Conference history when a singer performed a solo. The first solo occurred in 2009 when a Brazilian mormon soprano named Liriel Domiciano was invited by Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley to perform “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” with the Tabernacle Choir during a Sunday Conference session. The second solo moment in General Conference history happened on Sunday morning Oct. 7, 2012 when Tabernacle Choir baritone Shane Warby performed a little-known LDS hymn entitled “Does The Journey Seem Long?” This was a special request by President Boyd K. Packer. The new arrangement by Mack Wilberg was written just for this Conference. Another historic tidbit? The poem of this hymn is by former LDS prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, whom Pres. Packer referred to as “a dear friend”.
4. BEING A MORMON IS [REALLY] COOL!
LDS General Conference is a time to remind us of WHAT we believe, HOW to live what we believe, and WHY believing it and living it is really, [really] cool.
I love being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It brings so much joy, peace and purpose to life. I loved participating in this week’s General Conference of the church through music, spoken word, and listening with my heart. If you haven’t already, you should definitely GO Watch it Here!
Here’s some “Cool Conference Quotes” surfacing as memes:
Ok, that last one was NOT a conference quote…but it’s funny!
5. PROPHETIC ADVICE
When it was all said and done, our list of self-improvement and personal resolutions had grown too long for our notepads, a loving, living prophet of God offered perhaps the very best words of wisdom of the day to sum it all up…Don’t Worry. Be Happy! This is a lovely clip:
Related articles on WP
- LDS General Conference wraps up with messages of hope (ksl.com)
- 10 Practical Ways To Prepare For An LDS Mission (About.com)
- LDS General Conference Wrap-up (abc4.com)
- LDS Church announces historic changes to missionary age requirements (ksl.com)
- Mormons lower age for missionaries, setting off changes for parents, women, schools – Articles (religionnews.com)
- (Re)Conceptualizing our Gendered Missionary Image (bycommonconsent.com)
- Mormon Sister Missionaries: Progress with an Asterisk – Blog: Flunking Sainthood (religionnews.com)
- A New Option (missionarymums.wordpress.com)