I always look forward to General Conference. I especially look forward to participating with my family from the comforts of our own home (thank you BYUTV!). Yet there's also the realization that it ends all too quickly! So today, as I look forward to Conference, I thought it would also be nice to look back. Here are a few of my favorite personal General Conference memories:
Singing in the Priesthood Session inside the Tabernacle my freshman year in college. It was Mac Wilberg's last year at BYU. We sang his arrangement of "The Spirit of God like a fire is burning", with all the key changes. I felt like angels were going to lift me through the roof and take me straight to heaven.
Sitting in a chapel in Duran, Ecuador with my missionary companion, Elder De Leon, from Guatemala. President Hinckley announced The Perpetual Education Fund and I was overcome with joy at the realization that this blessing would directly impact Elder De Leon when he returned home.
I was in Las Vegas as one of the "best men" at the wedding of a friend of mine (not LDS). My flight back to Salt Lake took place during the Sunday morning session of General Conference. I was hoping we'd land in time to at least hear President Hinckley's concluding remarks. After grabbing my luggage, I ran to my car and turned on the radio. Elder Eyring was just finishing his talk. President Hinckley was next.
I drove downtown and circled around and around Temple Square with the radio on, listening to a prophets voice speak about The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith: "We declare without equivocation that God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared in person to the boy Joseph Smith. When I was interviewed by Mike Wallace on the 60 Minutes program, he asked me if I actually believed that. I replied, "Yes, sir. That's the miracle of it." That is the way I feel about it. Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens."
I accompanied my wonderful grandmother to every single general session inside the Conference Center. She had flown in from Oregon and was determined to be at each session in person. She's now 94.
Singing in a combined BYU Choir in the Conference Center. We'd been practicing a well known version of "If You Could Hie To Kolob". Right before Conference the First Presidency requested we sing an older version with an entirely different tune. It grew on me. That session Elder Eyring gave a talk entitled "A Child and a Disciple". He ended with a witness that will always be special to me: "I testify that Jesus is the Christ, that He is my Savior and yours and the Savior of all the people you will ever meet."
Sitting in the Conference Center with my dad, brothers, and future brothers-in-law; hearing Elder Maxwell testify: "God has known you individually, brethren, for a long, long time (see D&C 93:23). He has loved you for a long, long time. He not only knows the names of all the stars (see Ps. 147:4; Isa. 40:26); He knows your names and all your heartaches and your joys! By the way, you have never seen an immortal star; they finally expire. But seated by you tonight are immortal individuals—imperfect but who are, nevertheless, 'trying to be like Jesus'!"
The next morning I sat inside the Conference Center with my future wife--having just been engaged the night before. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang "For The Beauty of The Earth", and when they sang the line "For the joy of human love" I wondered if that line was meant for that very moment. I was sitting next to the woman I was going to spend eternity with, and I couldn't have been filled with more light, joy, and love.
That session Julie Beck gave a talk entitled "A 'Mother Heart'". My wife truly has a mother heart. Liriel Domiciano had been invited to sing a rare solo with the Tabernacle Choir and it was truly magnificent--"I Know That My Redeemer Lives". That's my testimony too, and it goes right to the bone.