Friday we went back to BYU - this time in our matching hoodies and black shirts. Julie B. Beck, the general RS Pres. was the keynote speaker for the opening session. It was so amazing that I could have just gone home after her talk and been totally uplifted for the rest of the year. The topic that she was speaking about was STRENGTHEN THY STAKES: STANDING STRONG AND IMMOVABLE IN FAITH. She talked about how sometimes we complicate the gospel so much that we forget what the gospel is all about. She encouraged us to be accountable for what each of us promised we would do before we came to earth. I loved that she pulled out her scriptures and read from them - she wasn't just giving a prepared talk - she was teaching us the gospel.
Sister Beck told the women of the church to help each other to navigate the world and to build up strong defenses not only in our homes but in the schools our kids attend. Our ancestors did not go through all of those hardships crossing the plains so that we could be comfortable - we need to be out working and making a difference. She said that we need to make a choice between doing all of the busy work that we do every day or doing something bigger. I feel like my busy work makes a difference but I am totally motivated to be more of an influence in my kid's schools.
The next session we went to - the title was taken from the talk Sister Beck gave in last October conference - it was TURNING THE MTC INTO A REVIEW, NOT A REVELATION. Jeffrey N. Clayton, a former mission president was the first speaker - he was so great. He gave so many guides to help prepare our kids for missions and to make our homes a place where strong missionaries are formed. Then Mary Ellen Edmunds spoke. She is one of my personal heroes. She was the RS teacher when I was in the MTC. She was really the only female MTC leader that we had regular contact with - I'm sure there were others - but I have used so many things in my life that she taught us in the MTC. She had so many ideas like having a mini MTC in your home with teenagers; sing, pray, read scriptures and study the Preach My Gospel book together. She encouraged us to share our testimonies with our kids constantly - to let them know how we feel about the Book of Mormon, the prophet, the sacrament. There is work enough to do!
We went to a class on strengthening Family Home Evenings presented by Brother and Sister Lloyd Newell. He is the voice of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and just listening to him speak was wonderful. We were so tired at this point - I took lots of notes trying to stay awake. Hansen was falling asleep taking notes and we were giggling at her gibberish. We were also giggling while imagining Brother Newell's soothing voice asking for more toilet paper for the bathroom or ordering McDonalds at the drive through. It was a great class.
The main event was the closing session. Our good friend, Kelly B, saved us seats in the Marriott Center - on the 2nd row. We were to the left of the podium but we were so close. We intended to skip the session before the closing one but were afraid we would lose our seats so we sat through a class taught by Brother and Sister Osguthorpe about eternal marriage. They were adorable and I was glad we got to hear most of that.
The anticipation of the prophet arriving was so thick. All of the chatter turned to complete silence when President Monson walked in to the room and then everyone started singing We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet. The spirit was so strong, my throat clenched shut with emotion and the tears started flowing. My testimony that this is truly of prophet of God burned in my chest. I was so thankful to be there at that very moment with almost 20,000 women who all share the same faith, standards and values and to be sharing the same space as the prophet. He gave such great council to mothers and women and he oozed love for the members of the church. One of the things I loved about his talk was his statement that everyday is a special occasion. Don't save your good china for a special occasion that never comes! Use it! He counseled us to always say thank you and to keep our list of regrets short. He said that when you do something wrong - you can right it but when you miss out on something it is gone and you won't get it back.
President Monson encouraged us to have Patience, Faith, Fortitude and Humility. I am taking these four values and trying to weave them in to my life with new resolve. I have decided that the next four times I read the Book of Mormon - and I want to read it at least four times in the next 12 months - that I will read with these four character traits in mind. I will start right after girl's camp with patience. After President Monson was done speaking and had left the building - we were in no hurry to get out of there. We didn't really want it to be over. We stayed in our seats and wiped our tears and filled out our surveys - some of us wrote naughtier things than others! Then the most fabulous thing happened! A photographer came over and asked if he could take our picture. We asked him who he was shooting for and he said it is for next year's promotions so - if our picture is in the catalog next year - we will be setting up a table in the Marriott Center to autograph all of your copies!
Friday night we went and saw the movie Made of Honor with Hansen's sister who lives close by. We snuck Subway in and ate it during the movie. I thought the movie was cute but I think I was one of the only ones in our group who did. We got home late, stayed up late and then slept in really late on Saturday morning.
Saturday we went to see Pam's mom at her new place and then she went to lunch with us at Zupas. I lifted this picture from Hansen's blog - on the left is the group with Jill, Hansen's sister and on the right is the group with Pam's mom. After lunch we made two more mandatory Utah stops to Roberts and to the Deseret Book Outlet in South Jordan. I packed an extra bag just for the books and goodies that I knew I would buy at these two places and I filled it up! We made it to the airport in a mad dash but had plenty of time to get our flight. There were no real or imagined celebrities on board, but the month had changed so we did have new in-flight magazines which meant new puzzles to solve on the way home.
My wonderful children welcomed me home with a sign on the garage and a completely clean house! I am not kidding - it was spotless! Another year of Women's Conference gone too quickly but plans are already in the works for next year! We are pretty sure that if our picture is not in the catalog then the powers that be are going to ask us to make the funny video they show during the opening session about what not to do, or they are going to ask us to perform some special musical number or something. We have a couple of great tambourine players in our group. We came up with a plan to capitalize on the event and make some money next year selling real Diet Coke out of Hansen's van in the stadium parking lot.