Today was also the day they started the chain-link fence project. All the first floor apartments have little yards with wooden fences around them, and for some reason they've decided to take them all out and switch them with the ever-so-attractive (note sarcasm) chain-link variety of fence, complete with barbed wire. We're pretty unhappy with this change as it is, and now the fencing team (ha ha ha...) has hit a water main, leaving us waterless. Fortunately, we were able to use the bathroom in the building's main office to wash our hands, but we're really hoping the plumber can fix everything soon. I'm also hoping they'll take the incident as a bad omen and give up on the chain-link thing, but they already took down all the fences on our side of the complex. Boo. Maybe we should take this as a sign that it's time to move to Burbank.
But for now, more conference reporting, with multiple cuts for multiple subjects!
After the opening discussion, it was time for Workshop 1: "Promises of the Atonement to Me." We're pretty sure a big part of this conference was getting the message through to the young single adults that going to church isn't just a habit or a social thing--we have a lot of important beliefs that actually apply to each and every one of us. So all of the workshops focused on "how does this part of the Gospel apply to me?" And since the center of our beliefs is the Atonement, that is what we focused on first.
Because there were so many people attending, there were four different areas we could go to for each workshop, and despite the color-coded lanyards, there weren't any assigments, so we could go wherever we wanted. I think this might have had something to do with various Institute teachers leading the various discussions, and wanting to let the people who really liked them go to those workshops. Institute is basically free college courses that teach about the Gospel, but we don't go to Institute (we're not sure if it's required for us, since we already graduated college (and we don't have a ride), but we're sure they wouldn't turn us away if we went), so we didn't have any attachments. We went to one of the outside tents because A)we weren't afraid of the not-as-hot-as-usual weather, and B)outside was closer to where the food would be. Lunch was going to be pizza, and we needed to make sure we got plenty because there was a strong possibility it would be the only meal we ate for the whole conference.
Unfortunately, I don't remember any of the names of the speakers. I think the one we heard from for this workshop was a Brother Abbott. He talked about how the Atonement is basically what fixes everything, and went into something he'd heard at... like a leadership meeting or something... from Sister Julie B. Beck, the general Relief Society president, where she talked about the theology of the family. Because of our own personal circumstances, I'm pretty sure I haven't made this very clear, but the LDS Church is really big on family. Like, huge. Sister Beck brought up three points: the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement. I wish I could remember the little blurb that went with each of them, but as it is, I'm going to have to paraphrase. The earth was created as a place for families. The Fall happened so that families could exist on earth (without the Fall, Adam and Eve would never have been able to procreate, so we see it as a good thing that happened). And the Atonement is what makes it so families can be together forever. It all sounded much cooler in Sister Beck's words, but it's basically something like that.
Brother Abbott went on to tell about how his father died in a car accident when he was very young, and that same accident nearly killed his mother, to the extent that the doctors told them not to buy only one funeral plot. But... I think it was one of the Apostles (definitely a general authority) who came to the hospital one day after getting a strong impression that he needed to be there to help somebody. Eventually he found their family and asked the grandfather if he could give the mother a blessing. Of course he said yes, and after the blessing, the mother woke up, and they told her what had happened to her husband. She recited the scripture from Job, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." After that, she lived a long life and didn't show a sign that any tragedy had ever happened, because she had faith in the Atonement and knew that she would be reunited with her husband. The Atonement takes those things that are broken and fixes them.
Of course, this is where I started crying, because our family was broken voluntarily, and the Lord's not going to force it back together. When I think about it, I get defiant, like, "Well, who wants to be with those people forever anyway?" But we're sure things will work out in the end. We just have no idea how, and right now it still hurts.
I was thinking about asking about divorce when it was time for the discussion, but Brother Abbott had discussion questions that didn't really give me the chance. That's fine though, because I don't like bringing attention to myself when I'm crying. If we keep talking to our bishop about getting ready for temple endowments, we'll have to go into it, because family is so important. One of the questions to get a temple recommend is "Do you have any problems with your family that might prevent you from being temple worthy?"
We only got through the first question, though, because we were going late. It was something about how have you noticed the transforming power of the Atonement making changes in your life? One girl got up and said she's the biggest fraidy-cat you've ever met, but she's not scared anymore, because she knows the Atonement will fix everything. He put her on the spot a little and pointed out how getting up to say that demonstrated her point, because she could have decided she was too afraid of tripping on the microphone cord and landing in somebody's lap and completely embarrassing herself. (He also excused himself from putting her on the spot by re-emphasizing that she's not afraid anymore, and she agreed.)
Because the workshop got out late, we ended up not getting to lunch as early as we had hoped, and there was quite a long line. We did get three slices of pizza each. They were small and thin, so it was more like getting one and a half pieces, but they also had sourdough crust, and just weren't that good in general, alas. But there were very good chocolate chip cookies.
After lunch, it was time for speed dating. (I did mention before that we're pretty sure part of the idea of this conference was to help the young single adults be less single.) This is one of the only places where the lanyard colors came into play. Everyone got in a circle with the rest of their color (except for the people who didn't play because they were lame or "engaged") with the girls on the inside and the boys on the outside, facing each other. Each couple would talk for three minutes, then the boys would rotate and we'd all talk to a new person. The slight problem with this method is that I'm very good at talking, so when a guy asks me about myself, I can easily fill up all three minutes without giving them a word. (Athena confesses to the same.) It probably didn't help that our job takes a bit of explanation, because that's what they always ask: "Where are you from? What do you do?" So while some guys may have thought we were interesting, we didn't get a chance to find out if many of them were interesting. Although there was one guy Athena talked to who had a friend who invented a computer program to speed up the stop-motion animation process. He introduced us to a friend of his later, saying he had promised to introduce her to the most interesting people he'd met and we were them, but we didn't see him after that. Might have had something to do with that feminine pronoun in the last sentence.
Incidentally, in the middle of the speed dating, I got "tapped out." There were more girls than guys in our circle, so some of the girls would wait one round in the center and then tap out another girl and take their place. The idea when going back into the circle (or I guess out into the perimeter) was to find a guy who was cute, but by the time you get to our age group, most of the cute guys have been married off, and you have to judge by personality instead (I like to have a good combination). So I didn't know where to go, but I was saved(?) by a mysterious gap where there was a guy but no girl. So I stayed there for a while until that same spot turned into a girl (me) without a guy, and then I noticed someone I really didn't want to talk to, so I decided to just hang out by Athena, since it was getting kind of close to the end anyway. That's how the stop-motion animation friend guy knew both of us.
Next it was time for Workshop 2: "The Watchman on the Tower: What Does Having a Prophet Today Mean to Me?" For those who don't know, the LDS Church believes in continued revelation, and that the Lord still chooses prophets to lead His people.
I don't have an inkling as to what our speaker's name was, but he was pretty cool. He was an orthopedic surgeon, and he told a story about one older woman who had gotten a hip transplant and was at the hospital for recovery, but at one point, she was completely convinced that he was trying to kill her, and that her IV was dripping explosives into her bloodstream. She later got over that and apologized profusely, but that was her reality at the time. He also showed pictures of celebrities like Britney Spears who didn't know how to find true happiness and ended up being miserable and psychotic. There was also one of an athlete who was really really really good and had a super promising career and then tried cocaine once. and he died.
And the point of all that was that in the Church, we have prophets giving us advice, and if we follow it, we won't end up like those people. To give an example with more obvious results, the prophets have told us not to do drugs, and by following them, we don't end up like that athlete.
The analogy in the title of the workshop refers to like a farm or a vineyard or something, where they would have a watchman on a tower, who can see when there's a thief or a wolf or something when they're still far off, and they can warn the people down below and give them time to prepare. It's a parable somewhere in the scriptures.
The speaker also put up on the screen a list of things like economic recessions, sports and recreational activities getting more violent and intense, higher taxes to pay for unnecessary things, decrease in family values (divorce, etc.). And after reading all of them, he said it wasn't (intentionally) a list of things going on today, but a list taken from The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, describing the situation leading, of course, to its fall. He said that all started about two hundred years after the rise, and the US is about two hundred years old, so...
But if we follow the prophets, we don't have to be afraid! One girl got up in the discussion and validated this point by using food storage as an example. The prophets have been telling us to keep a year's supply of food storage at all times (in case of an emergency) for decades now. The girl's father lost his job and was unemployed for nine months, and if they hadn't had that food storage, they would have been in real trouble.
There's a lot to remember for this convention! I think I'm going to have to regroup. So more on that later!
And we just remembered another interesting thing that happened today! While we were eating lunch, there was a knock at the door, so I had to put my sandwich down (one day we'll learn to use plates... maybe) to get it. But I was glad I did, because it was a box of comp copies from CMX! Now we finally have copies of I Hate You 7, Name of the Flower 1, and March on Earth 1! Yay! (We're not sure if we ever got 6 Hate...)
Today I'm thankful for getting to wash my hands, comp copies!, fun workshop speaker type people, plates, and pretty lanyard colors.