Before we get to the actual meeting, the big reaction I am seeing on Facebook, and on the Church websites is on the announcement this morning that the Church is reducing the age of missionaries by one year for males and females. Men can now serve at the age of 18, once they have graduated HS. Women can serve at 19. It was also announced that there would be new missions, and they would spend more time in the field, and less time at the MTC. The missionary numbers have been ever increasing, now above 58,000. This move will pave the way for even more missionaries to enter the field. Some people go to college, the military, or work, with the intention of serving once they are eligible, but through the process of life, they don’t make it. Now that they are going right after high school, more will serve. As a Young Mens leader, this will have an impact on me, as preparing the boys for their mission will be an even more immediate need. Aside from the First Presidency and the Twelve, no one knew this announcement was coming. Mission Presidents will be receiving a new batch of missionaries. Come this spring, when high schools get out, there will be some consequences, as many go straight to their mission, rather than College or work. They expect it to have impact at the local colleges. Athletes will be more likely to go on their mission before starting college, so there won’t be an interruption in the middle of their athletic careers. One reporter asked if there was going to be an all-female class at BYU next year.
Session 2 is now live. President Uchtdorf is conducting, and we have a choir of Young Men and Young Women singing for us. Following a few nice numbers, we move on to the sustaining of Church officers.
Whenever someone is called to a new position, they are always sustained by the congregation. It means that we agree to their position, and agree to support them in what they do. I’ve never seen a sustaining that wasn’t unanimous, but it does happen. Anyone with an objection is given a chance to voice their opinion. At our local conferences, we also sustain the General Authorities. At General Conference, they announce any changes, and read off a list of the General Authorities for our sustaining vote. When someone is released from a calling, we raise our hand to thank them for their service.
L. Tom Perry- An Apostle, is the first to speak. He talks of his recent 90th birthday. He comments on the sanctity of marriage, and the importance of the family. He talks about his service in WWII, and how he missed his mother during that time. He speaks of God’s commandments to Adam and Eve. Mormon’s don’t believe in “Till death do us part” we believe marriages are for time and all eternity. Suggestions for how to have stronger families; Pray to Heavenly Father for guidance. Have family home evenings and time together. Use the Church support network. Share your testimonies with your children. Have simple family rules and traditions. He gives other suggestions for how to have a strong family.
M. Russell Ballard is next. The Apostle begins with a story about honey. Video’s of bee’s are shown, and this makes me itchy. The contribution of one bee is miniscule. However, a hive of tens of thousands working together can do great things. He made reference to the podium being made from President Hinckley walnut tree. I feel like I saw a General Conference drinking game (!!!) this past week that says I should be drinking right now because that got brought up. Either way, the analogy is if we all, 14 million Saints, help just one person, the total service would be immense. To become like the dedicated bee’s we should Attend our meetings, fill our church callings, and do good things for the rest of the week. We must be truly converted to the gospel. He says don’t be a fanatic, we should act on what we say we believe. In our morning prayer, ask Heavenly Father to recognize an opportunity to serve one of his children. Heavenly Father answers other people’s prayers through us.
Larry Echo Hawk, a Seventy, starts off with a story from his days in the Marines. His drill instructor had berated all his fellow soldiers upon their entrance into the Corp. The instructor found his Book of Mormon, and rather than berating him for it, he moved on to berating all the other recruits. He’s still not sure why he was spared the wrath and language all the other recruits got, but he’s glad he was able to confirm that he was a member of the Church, and believed in the Book of Mormon. He shares his experiences being converted to the Church. He goes on to describe the Book of Mormon, and how the Lamanites would go on to live on the American continents. Larry Hawk is a descendant of Native Americans himself. He asks everyone to read the Book of Mormon, especially other Native Americans.
Robert C Gay of the Seventy. He shares a story of how he lied about his age to get a cheaper ticket at the movies. Does a small lie like that matter? Satan tries to get us to commit small sins first, and to have us justify them. This can lead to bigger sins, and unworthiness. We are asked to give up all of our sins. We should be humble, and do things the Lords way. This doesn’t just mean not doing bad things, but we need to actively do good things as well. We need to look for those in need.
Scott D. Whiting of the Seventy He starts off by talking about the Temple. And how they took a tour of it, looking for any small physical flaws. At first he thought the flaws were too minor to deal with. Upon his second tour of the Temple, he realized all the mistakes were even smaller than he originally thought, yet they were all fixed before the Temple opened. The buildings are sacred, it is the house of the Lord, and we honor our Lord and Savior with each Temple built. As we seek to be worthy of entering the Temple, no internal defect is too small to be corrected.
Apostle Neil L Anderson- Anderson is the junior Apostle. He has been on the Quorum for 3 and a half years now. He is talking about trials of faith. It is important to keep the commandments, and to work hard to regain it. Going to Church helps protect and build faith. Behaviors previously viewed as immoral, are now seen as acceptable by society. Procreation is only for a man and woman who are married to each other. We should not comdemn others, but not sin ourselves. He tells the story of one member who was experiencing same sex attraction, but wanted to live worthily. He knew the challenge could be overcome. There are lies about the church online. Church leaders are imperfect. They do make mistakes. Finding our true Doctrine is easy, but accepting that it can be taught by imperfect people can be harder. Faith always involves trials. God will be with us.
Apostle Dallin H Oaks is the concluding speaker. We should act for the well being of children. Children need adults to advocate for them. We also need to have children. The American birth rate is declining. Abortion denys a life. There are infertile couples who would love to adopt. Many other children die young based on diseases that can be stopped. Psychological abuse is also unacceptable. He talks about neglected children. This talk is really hitting me hard, as my family is considering foster parenting. Families used to be about raising children, but too many parents think its just for their own happiness. 50% of divorces involved parents with minor children. Research shows that children raised by two parents do better than those just raised by one. 41% of all births are out of wedlock, and these children are at a significant disadvantage. The effects of gay marriage on kids is still to be fully studied. Regardless of belief, we must all do what is right for the children.
One last song by the choir, a closing prayer. And the session is closed. There’s one more session tonight, but you can only watch it from the Church, and it’s Priesthood only. So I’ll be off to our dinner in a little bit, and will report back later tonight or tomorrow morning.