General Conference Preparation

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Wasn’t the Relief Society General Broadcast great?  I know different people learn different things, but this is the message I got (summarized in a few, brief sentences):  Simplify.  You can’t do or be everything.  Seek personal revelation and get inspiration and guidance from your local leaders.  Live the doctrines you believe, and be valiant in obedience and in your testimony of the Savior.  Pray for opportunities to serve and seek the gift of charity; you will influence your family and others in important ways.

So next week, it will be General Conference.  Man, do I love that time of year.  I have gained a strong testimony of the timeliness, truthfulness, and tenderness of the talks that are given at General Conference.  I know our Heavenly Father speaks to us through modern prophets and apostles.  They remind me what I know to be true and give me insight about things I can do just a little better, specifically things that apply to my life and my family’s needs.  And I always get more out of General Conference when I prepare for it.

This is an invitation to anyone who wants to join me in a week of preparation.  This is my goal:

  1. Pray everyday that my mind and heart will be prepared for any specific message that the Lord wants me to know.
  2. Read my scriptures and/or recent conference talks every day to keep me in the habit of inviting and recognizing the Spirit.
  3. Think about questions I would like answers to, topics I find myself struggling with, and write them down. Include them specifically in my prayers as I do #1.

On a larger scale, I cannot even hear anything at conference or concentrate if I don’t make specific plans to occupy and engage my children during those two days.  Earlier this year (my one claim to fame), I actually had an article published in the Ensign about how to prepare children for involvement in General Conference.  I’m no expert, but I can testify that around here my children love General Conference, and they’re as excited for this weekend as I am.  Here’s a repeat of some of those ideas (I called us family X here):

Participating in conference can be challenging for families with small children. When Matt and Stephanie X had three children under the age of four, they decided to watch general conference via satellite from their own home. Sister X knew that in order to view, hear, and enjoy the talks peacefully, she would need to make “substantial preparation.”

Like the [other mentioned] families, the Xs talk about the importance of general conference ahead of time. “We pray individually and with our children that our hearts will be prepared for the messages of conference,” Sister X explains. “We try to convey that we are excited about general conference weekend and that we look forward to it.”

Sister X knows that it can be difficult for children to sit quietly through conference, but she and her husband have found age-appropriate activities that engage their children in conference.

• They remove the center spread with photos of General Authorities from the most recent conference edition of the Ensign and hang it near the television. Each time a new speaker appears on the screen, the children study the poster and try to find the speaker’s picture. They are rewarded with a sticker to place on the poster or in a notebook of their own. “They quickly learn to identify the First Presidency and others by name,” says Sister X.

• The Xs set out a bowl of small treats for each session. Next to the bowl, they place objects that represent key words for that session. Each time the children hear one of those words spoken from the pulpit, they can help themselves to one treat. Sister X notes: “It’s surprising to see how much young children can and do listen. Their enthusiasm is priceless as you hear them say, ‘Mommy, he said temples!’”

• For the sessions that fall during typical mealtimes, the Xs prepare a picnic basket and lay out a blanket in front of the television. Brother and Sister X tell their children that they are like the families in the Book of Mormon who sat on the ground and listened to their prophet, King Benjamin, teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. “We thank our children for allowing us to listen and praise them for their reverence and attentiveness. We bear testimony throughout the day of the things we have heard and felt and reiterate our love for living prophets and apostles.”

• Brother and Sister X make sure they spend time with their children before and after sessions. They let them have active or outdoor play “to get out all their wiggles.”

Sister X says that these things not only help her children participate, but they also help her and her husband to be able to watch and learn from all the sessions of general conference. “There is a great sense of spiritual safety as we gather our family around the Lord’s messengers,” she says. “The Spirit is present in our home, and it is truly a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that “‘all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children’” (3 Nephi 22:13).

And here is a great link to a General Conference Packet or Workbook that your children can use during conference:

Oct 2009 General Conference Activity packet – from LDSResources.net

It has activities for different levels of readers and non-readers.  My boys love coloring the ties of each of the speakers, and they do the bingo for every session.  It’s a .pdf file that’s 20 pages long and easy to print and use.  It’s worth the printer ink.

I’d love to see in the comments 1) What do you do to prepare for General Conference or to get the most out of it?, and/or 2) What was one of your favorite thoughts from the Relief Society Broadcast?

Have a great week.  Next Sunday, we’ll start the General Conference Book Club again, with the first week just sharing our overall favorite bytes and take-away messages.