Wednesday, October 9, 2019

13 Verbs from This Weekend (A General Conference Recap)

Typically, weekends at the Evans household are mostly me grumbling about soccer (Saturdays) and trying to herd everyone into the car while 3 people choose that moment to tell me their church shoes are lost and/or don't fit (Sunday,) but this weekend was different!

Some things we did this weekend included:

...watching General Conference. Twice a year, the leaders of my church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) hold a worldwide broadcast for all the members and any interested friends or curious gawkers. General Conference is kind of like a collection of religious TED talks, given in five 2-hour sessions. That's right, we watched TV for 10 hours. Don't judge.

...coloring. About a week ago we bought a new filing cabinet, and using the Kondo thank-and-release method, got rid of the ugly one we got off Craigslist for free 10 years ago. While transferring our papers, I came across a stack of adult coloring pages and there couldn't have been anything more perfect for occupying the kids while they listened to Conference.

Even the 5-year-old was really into it.

... noticing a few specific themes. General Conference speakers aren't assigned topics, but since they prepare their talks prayerfully and have made it their business to know what's going on in the church and the world, you can usually pick out a few common threads. 

Keeping Christ at the center of our lives was one of them. Our prophet President Nelson was quoted more than once as saying, "The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives." (Here is an excellent talk on that.)  

...completely forgetting my 11-year-old's soccer game. We remembered my younger daughter's game because it was first thing in the morning, but my 11-year-old's game was during a session of Conference and we just plain forgot about it. Oh, well. I have no regrets.

...eating lots of snacks. Every 6 months without fail, several people ask, "ARE YOU DOING THE CONFERENCE SNACKS???" Even people who aren't members of my church seem to be heavily invested in this tradition.

So yes, we did the snacks.

We printed out pictures of the prophet and apostles of our church ahead of time. The kids attached each one to a snack and when that person spoke at General Conference, we got to eat his snack.

As per tradition, the kids put Elder Quentin L. Cook on the package of cookies.

My kids love Elder Cookies most of all.

They kicked their wordplay up a notch this year by also putting Elder Rasband on the raspberry pastries.

Ba-dum ching!

The kids love this tradition, and I'm only slightly concerned that they seem to remember which apostle had which snack far longer than the content of their message.

...counting calories. My already-tiny 5-year-old lost weight over the summer, and after investigating food allergies we decided to keep track of his daily calorie intake and discovered he just wasn't eating enough. So now I'm following him around, measuring all his food and calculating the calories of everything he eats all day. Let's just say that all the snacks made for a good calorie weekend.

...being judged. Our house painters showed up when we were watching the Conference sessions on Saturday. They could see us through the windows and undoubtedly noticed we were sitting around the TV eating junk food for 4 hours, and I can imagine they made some assumptions about us. (I was just glad they didn't come back on Sunday to see us doing the same thing.)

...summarizing.  One talk began with a story about some boys who mistook a skunk for a kitty, and then explained how this is similar to the way the devil might want us to believe dangerous things are harmless. When the 7-year-old asked what Elder Stevenson was talking about, the 5-year-old (who was engrossed in his coloring and didn't appear to be listening) immediately answered "Skunks!"

Everyone also summarized each talk on a piece of paper and put it in a baggie along with the speaker's picture, so we can talk about it later. Such as during the next Family Home Evening when we've forgotten to plan anything... not that that's ever happened.

Little Ziploc-sized packets of inspiration, right here.

...resolving to do better. One of the things I love about Conference is that I always come away with increased motivation to improve and a better perspective on the challenges I like to whine about.

Something that hit home for me this time was the importance of priorities and being fully committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you also struggle with this, or if you just really love long Lord of the Rings analogies, you've got to read this talk from Elder Uchtdorf

...debating going to urgent care. My 3-year-old took all the cushions off the sofa and then hit his face on it. Even though it was upholstered, somehow he gave himself a nasty cut above his upper lip. We debated whether it would need to be stitched or glued shut, but in the end decided it would heal fine on its own. 

When I remarked to my son that he might have a scar and not be able to grow a nice-looking mustache when he grew up, he yelled indignantly "I'm not gonna be a mustache when I grow up!"

...loving the humanity of our prophet. For some people, the idea of having a prophet at the head of your church  like a modern-day Moses  is just weird. And foreign. And maybe calls to mind images of a stern Charlton Heston. But for me, having a prophet is something very warm and personal. 

As President Nelson looked out at everyone gathered in the Conference Center he said "I'd like to claim every one of you as part of my family." And then he went "off script" (it's not in the official transcript but it is in the video) and joked, "So if you're looking for an extra grandpa, give me a call." And I bet people will. He's that kind of a guy.

...inventing a new word. During one talk, our video froze but the audio kept going. One of the kids commented that Elder Eyring talking without moving his mouth looked like he was doing ventriloquism. Only she couldn't remember the word "ventriloquism," so she called it "muppetry." That one still makes me laugh.

...missing almost all of Elder Cook's talk because the kids were having an animated discussion about cookies (Elder Cook's snack, you remember.) Phillip and I were particularly irritated because this was the announcement of some procedural changes to the church's youth program, which affects both of our callings so we kind of wanted to hear it! I also missed most of the last session when the little kids were getting stir-crazy and started whacking everyone with train tracks. There's a limit to what even a boatload of Conference Snacks can do.

As good as this past weekend was, though, the best (and hardest) part is afterward, when I can evaluate the inspiration I've gotten and try to put it into practice. 

To be honest, I lost steam after the last Conference and didn't act on half of the things I felt compelled to do, which I guess is why we need General Conference every six months. Or at least I do. 

If you watched General Conference, what were some memorable moments for you? If not, what's a question you have about how General Conference works?

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Jenny in WV said...

I didn't watch but I saw a few quotes from the Conference on Twitter. It seems like there were some good takeaways.

Do you have regular meals too during Conference weekends or just snacks?

Jenny Evans said...

Jenny: We do have regular meals (well, on Sunday we kind of didn't but at least we try.) The snacks aren't huge portions. A whole bag of chips doesn't go far when you have to split it among 8 people so it looks like more food than it really is.

jen said...

If you need more coloring pages for the kids, my bestie makes them:

And yes, there are some of us heathens who love to see what snack ideas you pick for the various speakers every year because you're getting your kids to usually sit still for hours at a time, and the snack idea is super creative.

Tracy said...

Did you change the color of your house?

Jenny Evans said...

Tracy: we did! Sort of. Before, the color was what we called "booger yellow." It was a weird yellow-greenish. Our new house color looks like we kept all the green but somehow just removed the yellow. We love it.