This weekend was stake conference. That basically means our schedule for going to church gets altered. This tends to cause us minor problems every six months (that's how often we have stake conference), because it makes our transportation situation a little weird. Sometimes, if we're smart, we think to ask a week ahead of time, when we're talking to people at church anyway, for a ride. This time, we weren't smart. In fact, we even went to that art hop thing with our Relief Society president, and we totally forgot to ask her for a ride while we were there. And much as we hate making phone calls, we hate calling people for rides to church even more. It's hard to explain.
So yesterday morning, as I was lying in bed not wanting to get up just yet, I was kind of hoping there would be a little miracle, like Mom wanting to go shopping or something, and us automatically getting a ride to the Saturday night session anyway. (It's happened before, so why not, right?) But I decided I need to stop being a baby and relying on other people to call me, so I went ahead and called the person who normally drives us to church, asked if she was going to the Saturday session of stake conference, and lo and behold, we got a ride. Just like that.
As it turned out, it was a very good thing we did make that phone call, because not a minute after we sat down in the chapel, our former home teacher walked by. He saw us, stopped, and said, "I've been meaning to call you. I'm going to Disneyland on Tuesday--wanna come?" That's probably about the only question we'll ever answer immediately in the affirmative. Okay, maybe not the only one, but we do tend to be very hesitant and indecisive. But not about Disneyland. Anyway, the point is, it was yet another example to us of how choosing to do the right thing, even though it's hard and you don't want to, brings rewards.
It was especially funny to me, because I'm sure there must have been times in the past when I thought about how it would be nice if we could get a trip to Disneyland out of something. And now it's actually happened!
I guess that didn't really take a whole lot of recap to understand, but without the recap, it seems much more random than it really is. And while it's funnier that way, I always feel the need to explain things, so here goes. Our former home teacher was also the guy who drove us to and from LAX when we went to Japan. On the way back, Disneyland was just about all we could talk about, and I think annual passports got brought up, and he said if we got annual passports, since he already had one, he would make sure we got down to Disneyland to actually use them.
Of course, we got the annual passes back in July and this is only the second time he's offered to drive, and the last time we ended up being super busy and not being able to go and it all fell through. So I'm not entirely convinced we'll be going this time (though still planning on it!), but even if we don't it was an awesome church meeting (and surprisingly comical), and we're very glad we went.
First one of the members of the stake presidency gave a really good talk on forgiveness, which started out with an analogy about picking at scabs. At first I was like, "I really don't need that imagery, thanks." But when I thought about it, I realized it really was a good analogy, since not forgiving tends to get ugly.
Next, another member of the stake presidency got up and started talking about his experience with the general authority who was visiting to speak at our conference. He said the stake presidency had a meeting with him that morning, and since he was the last one there, he ended up sitting next to the GA, which was pretty intimidating. But then as they talked, the general authority kept hitting him. Like someone would make a point, and the GA would be like, "How about that, Brother Clason?" and punch him in the shoulder. Apparently it went on for a while and at some point the GA was challenging him to an arm wrestle, and in his talk he said, "I never wanted to hit a general authority before, but..." and I missed the rest of what he said because everybody was laughing.
Then he finally started on his talk, which was also very good. He told about how he had gone out in the morning before breakfast and was sitting on the porch, enjoying everything and feeling the Spirit, and then he heard a woodpecker pecking at his house (he imitated the woodpecker by pecking at the podium with his finger). Apparently he and his wife have a vendetta against woodpeckers, so that didn't make him very happy. He searched everywhere for the woodpecker so he could get rid of it, but it kept moving around. Eventually, he realized that he had been enjoying his nice morning until he let this minor thing that wasn't really hurting anybody totally spoil his mood. Then he decided to ignore it and he went back to enjoying his morning. He advised all the rest of us not to let the woodpeckers in life bother us.
There were more really good talks, and then the general authority got up to speak. He started telling this story about a woman who had been smoking for twenty years and wanted to quit, and she noticed that her boss doesn't smoke, so she asked him if he had anything that could help. He said, "I certainly do," and gave her a Book of Mormon. She took it home, and the next day, apparently she hadn't gotten any sleep, and she went to her boss and said, "I read a hundred and seventy pages of your book, and it doesn't say a thing about smoking." And he said, "Read on." (The general authority chose that opportunity to imitate President Hinckley, from whom he'd heard the story. He did a lot of impressions.) Basically the same thing happened for a couple of days, and he kept telling her to read on and finish the book. Finally, she finished the book, and she knocks on his door, and...
At this point, the GA looked at the podium, which he had been knocking on to imitate her knocking on the door, and said, "Why are there holes in this podium?" At that point, just about the entire congregation cracked up, including his German wife, who he said would give him a Talking To later for disrupting the meeting. It was pretty funny, but I wished people would stop laughing so I could hear the rest of the story.
And that's the story I wanted to tell about the general authority who visited, but for the sake of anybody reading who wanted to know the end of that story, here's what happened. She finished the book, and at the end it has a promise that if you read the book and pray about it, the Lord will let you know that it's true. So she prayed about it, and felt a warm feeling starting at the top of her head and filling her whole body. She went and got a good night's sleep, and the next morning, for the first time in twenty years, she woke up without feeling the need for a cigarette.
There were a lot of talks about the importance and power of the Book of Mormon, so we feel like we should add our feelings to that, too. When we were very young, we were paranoid about Everything. If the clouds looked funny, we were afraid it was going to be the end of the world and we were going to die. I think that's part of why we started reading the Book of Mormon every day when we were about eleven-ish. We've both read it through several times, and it just has a lot of really good stuff in it. It's hard to explain why, but we know that it's true, and we've learned a lot from it. And we're not nearly as paranoid about everything anymore. Unfortunately, any eloquence I may have tends to get lost when I'm trying to explain how I feel about stuff like this, so I think I'll just leave it at that. But it's a good read, and we definitely recommend it!
The general authority finished his talk by saying he wanted to bear his testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith, then he walked over to the piano. To be honest, we both kind of groaned inwardly, thinking, "Oh no, he's gonna sing." I can't really explain why, but for some reason it bothers us when speakers start singing from the pulpit in the middle of their talk. But that's not what he did! He started playing a beautiful piano solo of "Joseph Smith's First Prayer," which was exceedingly awesome. Then he came back to the podium and repeated the advice he got from his teenage son: if anyone wants to know if God really visited Joseph Smith in the grove, just ask God; He was there.
Today I'm thankful for getting to go to Disneyland as a reward, awesome stake conferences, the Book of Mormon, pumpkin peanut butter cups from Palmer's (jack-o-lantern shaped; not actually pumpkin flavored, but yummy), and pie analogies ("You always throw the pie right in their face; feed it to them one slice at a time.").