Sunday, October 4, 2015

General Conference in Germany

First, let me describe the logistics of watching General Conference in Germany.  On Sunday, we went to Church in our English speaking ward.  It was announced that this week was General Conference, but there was no mention of times and locations where it could be viewed.  Since we are 8 hours ahead of Salt Lake, there was reasonable doubt if it would be shown and when, live or delayed.  We assumed that something would be available or we could watch by internet.

As the end of the week approached, missionary couples that we thought could give us some direction were out of the office, our boss was new to Frankfurt and did not know either.  So we thought we would wait and see.  Saturday was a holiday in Germany which made things more different still.

We had learned earlier in the week, while trying to watch Elder Scott's funeral live, that live event streaming was not allowed in Germany.  So on our Saturday afternoon, at 6:00 pm, we tried to watch conference on the internet, with the expected result, that live video streaming was not available.

However, we decided to try watching on, which seemed to work, but with inconsistent results during Elder Uchtdorf's opening address.  I looked out the window and saw a few cars near the Church, so I left in my jeans to check the Church out.  When I got there, I could see that conference was showing in the chapel, so I ran home and Debbie and I got changed and headed to the Church.  As we walked to the Church, I finally remembered that we were in Germany and the conference that would be shown in the chapel would likely be in German.  However, we continued to the Church.  When we got there, we confirmed that the conference in the chapel was in German, but we did hear President Uchtdorf speaking in English in the Cultural hall.  So, we entered the cultural hall to see conference being projected onto the stage in English, but no one attending.  We got two chairs out and Debbie and I watched conference alone with a big screen presentation.

During the congregational sing in the middle of the session, I went to the hall and saw that there was another room full of young missionaries with some investigators watching also in English.  Well, we finished our private viewing in the Cultural hall until the end of the first session, which ended at 8:00 pm, our time.  Afterwards we found a member of the stake presidency who told us that there would not be a showing of the next session live, since it was so late, only on Sunday afternoon for those who were interested.

However, he did note that he was able to watch the conference on his lap top on the Mormon Channel, using a VPN connection.   That stands for Virtual Private Network and it is software that is available on my Church laptop and it links directly into the Church network.  With that new knowledge, we returned home and watched the Saturday afternoon session from our home at 10:00 pm until midnight.  As such, we were able to see live the calling of the three new apostles as well as enjoying all of the talks from our leaders.

We chose to go to bed before the Priesthood session which began at 2:00 am our time.  When we awoke, we watched the Priesthood session during our Sunday morning from, without it being live.  Using the same tools, we were able to watch the Sunday sessions at our 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm and participate live in the remainder of General Conference.

Thank goodness for technology, we were able to feel the same spirit of conference right from our apartment.  This was the first time that Debbie and I have ever watched General Conference without children or grandchildren with us.  It was quite enjoyable.

Different situation, same great spirit and revelation.  We are so thankful for General Conference, to hear the words from our living apostles and prophets, there is nothing that compares to this outpouring to he spirit.

Some of the themes that we felt strongly were as follows:

  • The calling of the 3 new apostles, their wonderful testimonies on Sunday and the amazing tribute that was given to them and to the apostles that had passed on since last conference.
  • Incredible tribute to the women of the world, certainly in their role as mothers (Elder Holland) and as wives (President Nelson)
  • A strong theme to caution us against the tools of the devil, especially the worldly criticism of Joseph Smith and the history of the Church.  Nothing new in the world's criticism, but so much more available to confuse members due to the strong internet presence.  I loved the words of Elder Neil Anderson, "Faith not by chance, but by choice" and his request to"give Brother Joseph a break", especially after looking at the totality of his life and his work.
  • Loved the talks by our dear Prophet.  In the Priesthood Session he clearly taught us the simple counsel to "Keep the Commandments".  On Sunday morning he taught us to be the light of the world.  He taught diligently, even though he was clearly struggling physically by the end of his talk.  We sure do love our prophet.
  • Wonderful tributes and lessons of our Savior by President Eyring and Elder Costa and so many others.
  • Strong messages about the deterioration of our times, including the enlarging of the great and spacious building.  Certainly we need to listen to our leaders, we are blessed to have living apostles and prophets to guide us.
With all of the wonderful counsel, perhaps one of the most meaningful to me was from Elder Larry Lawrence in the first session, where he counseled us pray to our Heavenly Father and ask "What is keeping me from progressing? or What lack I yet?"  He gave excellent examples of answers that we might receive.   Debbie and I have both applied this counsel and received some very specific counsel from our Heavenly Father, different for each of us, but very personal.  I recommend that we all do this and we will receive revelation that is especially for us!

As Debbie and I have shared our thoughts from these personal revelations, our love for each other is magnified.  What a joy it is to be married to a righteous spouse who loves the Lord and tries each day to be a better person.  She constantly helps me to want to be better and gives me encouragement as we go through life and certainly while we serve together as missionaries.

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