Our very outstanding and spiritually uplifting conference sessions have become history, but the messages have left some deep impressions on my mind. Even though you may have been able to enjoy at least some of the meetings, I'd like to comment on some thoughts that have changed me or affected my thinking.
One of the last speakers mentioned the significance of partaking of the sacrament. He told that as a deacon he had been forewarned that one older brother would probably be asleep when the sacrament tray came to him. That gentleman was awake when the deacon arrived with the bread, but seemed to be asleep when the water was passed to him. Then the deacon noticed that tears were running down the man's cheeks. Suddenly the deacon realized that this elder brother was thinking of the suffering of our Savior and was appreciative of that atonement. This story reminded me about hearing of Pres. David O. McKay taking the bread and holding it in his hand for a minute while tears ran down his cheeks. Being able to focus on the significance of the emblems helps us to get full benefit from the sacrament. I usually can control my thoughts, but I still need to improve.
Probably the highlight of the conference was the announcement about lowering the age requirements for both young men and women. Seeing how excited my grandson Danny was to hear that news really warmed my heart. He was at once figuring that he would be on his mission before his brother Jeremy was released from his mission to the Philippines. I have noticed that some of the young men in our ward look particularly mature--and act mature as they prepare the sacrament table each Sunday. What great missionaries will make as they enter the service sooner than expected!
I'm going to change from conference topics to a very practical consideration--it might even help you in giving practical advice to some new converts. My eternal companion, a returned missionary, came from a family that was active, but not really committed. Jean was the only one of the four siblings to get married in the temple. Her only brother married a fine young lady who later joined the Church and became very active--she confided that she loved to come to our home because we could talk about the gospel. However, the two sisters married men who were determined to never join the church. We had good rapport with those men, but they resisted my efforts to have them invite the missionaries into their homes. One sister and her husband are deceased. I obtained permission from their two sons to do their dad's temple work. My other sister-in-law, an Idahoan, has had to put her husband in a care center because he has developed Alzheimer's disease. I just got off the phone from visiting with her. She is finally ready to visit with her bishop about going to the temple. That's the good news, but the sad news is that she has had a less-than-ideal marital experience, often receiving ridicule during these 61 years of living with her non-member husband. And her three daughters have distanced themselves from the Church--one has even joined another church, and of course all the grandchildren have never had any interest in the Church. My sister-in-law has been re-activated in recent years, but whenever we discuss the matter, she expresses regrets over her unwise choices in life. I must feel good about her current thinking. Some of my children want to be with her when she goes through the Twin Falls Temple.
I'm so glad my wife was a returned missionary. Our home has always had a wonderful influence, thanks to her rmissionary influence. I miss her, but I am comforted to remember that we made eternal covenants in the House of the Lord. I hope that my personal experiences may help you give appropriate advice somewhere along your missionary pathway. The Lord's way is always the right way.