I have been waiting for this weekend since April. The 184th Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Over the years, I have come to love General Conference and wait as anxiously for its arrival as I do for Christmas (which, incidentally, is 83 days away). Church leaders have suggested that we come to the Conference with questions that we hope might be answered, to pray about these questions in the weeks leading up to Conference. For a long time, I’d never taken that seriously. And then I became a college student last spring.
When I registered for classes, I already knew what I wanted for my major – Linguistics – and my minor – Creative Writing. Languages fascinate me, and I’ve always loved writing, so what better combination? But I never knew what I was going to do with this degree. Yes, there are many options for a linguist. I could be a linguistic anthropologist. I could work for the government. I could do some sort of language restoration project… Who knows? So I came to Conference with a question: What do I do with this Linguistics degree?
Last October, I got my answer with the very first speaker.
Elder Robert D. Hales was the first speaker, and he spoke on General Conference and how it strengthens faith and testimony. “Oh, how we need general conference!” he said. “Through conferences our faith is fortified and our testimonies deepened. And when we are converted, we strengthen each other to stand strong amid the fiery darts of these last days.” Just before that, he said, “What is said is not as important as what we hear and what we feel. That is why we make an effort to experience conference in a setting where the still, small voice of the Spirit can be clearly heard, felt, and understood.” This is is definitely the truth. For the past few years, my siblings, mom and I have been blessed to watch General Conference over BYU-TV. While there might be some distractions or necessities that need to be done at the same time, the Spirit is still there, still able to speak to us. He spoke to me during Elder Hales’ talk, especially when he said:
In addition to inviting us to hold personal and family scripture study, Heavenly Father wants us to regularly study and apply what we have learned in conference. I testify that those who put their trust in the Lord and heed this counsel in faith will gain great strength to bless themselves and their families for generations to come.
Heavenly Father has provided the way. At this conference, 97 percent of the Church can hear these messages in their own language. Millions of members in 197 countries will watch this conference in 95 languages. In just two or three days the messages will appear on LDS.org in English, and within one week they will begin to be available in 52 languages. Now we receive the printed Church magazines within three weeks of the general conference. No longer do we have to wait months for the talks to arrive by mail. On a computer, phone, or other electronic device, we can read, listen to, watch, and share the teachings of the prophets. Anytime, anywhere, we can enlarge our knowledge, strengthen our faith and testimony, protect our families, and lead them safely home.
Only 52 languages? That’s a huge difference, I thought. I want to help make that number bigger.
The Spirit filled my whole being at the thought. This is what I can do with my degree in Linguistics. I can help God’s children all around the world be able to read the messages of General Conference in their own languages. I realize, of course, that some languages don’t have a written language, only an oral one (or signed). And I don’t know how I can accomplish this, except to continue working toward earning this degree. I know it will take time and effort. But with the Lord’s help, I can be an instrument in His hands to bring His word to more people around the world.
I would love to be able to thank Elder Hales for including those data in his message, and answering a college freshman’s prayer.
How have your prayers been answered as you’ve listened to General Conference?
Oh – and who do you hope to hear speak to us in their native language this weekend?