Anyway, we decided we weren't in a hurry on Night Head Genesis, so why not play video games? And so we did. Yay!
Now, back to the conference report!
Our friend's brother told us they'd pick us up at eight-thirty when he dropped us off after the dance, but our friend must have gotten tired of waiting for people to get ready again, because she showed up much much earlier. This time, we hadn't even attempted giving Mimsy her medicine yet, and so our friend got to help. Once Mimsy had been drugged, we headed over to our friend's house, then back to our apartment to pick up the badge that had been forgotten, then back to our friend's house and finally to the conference. They served breakfast on Sunday, so we were able to get some muffins before going into the chapel for Sacrament Meeting.
The sacrament itself was a pretty interesting experience, because there were so many people there, they had about four different tables of priesthood holders preparing it. They had a system worked out that made sure everyone got to partake in an efficient manner, and even after that, they had anyone that might have been missed stand up so they could take the sacrament, too. It was kinda neat.
After the ordinance, it was time for speakers. First, a lady spoke about the importance of the sacrament. We only remember bits and pieces of her talk, but she was really cute. She was a convert to the Church, and she categorized everyone as converts or "lifers." She also mentioned something about appropriate dress, pointing out that we don't wear flip-flops to Sacrament Meeting ("Maybe it's symbolic of a flip-flopping testimony?" she said.) She also talked about how sometimes converts and lifers would say, "I've just messed up along the way, and I really wish I could be baptized again," but "That's what the sacrament is for!" (You have to imagine it being said in a very cute way.) Basically, the importance of the sacrament is that it's a renewal of the covenants we made at baptism, and to remind us of Jesus and the Atonement and all that important stuff.
After she spoke, it was time for Elder Scott D. Whiting, Area Seventy, to speak. His talk seemed to cover a lot of stuff, and again, I think I only remember bits and pieces. I remember him telling about when he was on his mission... someone... I think it was his mission president... suggested that when he take the sacrament, he write a list of all the sins he committed during the past week that he needs to repent of, including any mission rules that he may have broken. I think the idea was some form of self-improvement. Basically, you can't repent of a sin and stop doing it if you don't acknowledge that you're doing it. So he put the plan into action! And he wrote down everything he'd done wrong that week. The next Sacrament Meeting, he did the same, expecting to see some progress, but when he compared the second list to the first, the second one was longer. He was devastated. Here he was trying to improve, only he was getting worse.
The third week, he tried it again, and lo and behold, the list was longer again. He was so distraught, he called his mission president and told him he might as well send him home right now--there was no hope for him. The mission president asked him to compare the lists again, and pointed out that the longer list didn't mean he was a more terrible sinner. It only meant that as he tried to improve, his perception got better, and he was able to see more ways to improve. I think the moral of the story is as you strive to live better, it becomes easier to see what needs changing in order to do so. Elder Whiting didn't recommend that everyone do this, though, because he didn't want all the local bishops and stake presidents to be swamped with distraught people.
The other thing I remember from his talk was him talking about one day he was doing some Church business in San Diego, and he was really excited to go to the temple there and do some temple work, because the temple where he lived was closed for rennovation, so he hadn't been in a long time. So when he had some free time, he drove to the temple, but the gate was closed. He thought maybe someone had forgotten to unlock it. But the security guard came out and said, "I'm terribly sorry, but the temple is closed for its annual cleaning." He had to work very hard to keep himself from strangling the guard before he very sadly turned around and drove away. But as he was driving, he got a prompting from the Spirit telling him that you don't have to be at the temple to get close to the Lord.
Athena remembers that as he was walking in to the meeting, he asked the Lord to let him know how much He loves all of the people attending the conference, and he was just overwhelmed with that feeling of love. He encouraged us all to ask the Lord if He loves us, because He will let us know. (It sounds kind of sappy saying it ourselves, but it sounded really good when Elder Whiting said it.)
After sacrament meeting the guys all left for Priesthood Meeting. They had to go outside because our Church is very chivalrous, but there were gigantic fans in the tents, so it probably wasn't so bad. According to the program, they had lessons on "Provident Living and Financial Management for the Latter-Day Saint Man," "The Priesthood Holders' Treatment of Women," and "Avoiding and Overcoming Pornography." We're really curious about that second one, but we haven't had a chance to ask any of the guys who were there about it yet.
In the meantime, we stayed inside the church building and had lessons on "Provident Living and Financial Management for the Latter-Day Saint Woman" and "Maintaining Virtue in a Modern World." The woman who spoke on provident living was really fun, and apparently she's not allowed to speak in her stake anymore, because she keeps taking up the high council men's time. She said when she repeated the title of her talk (to confirm after hearing it over the phone), her husband overheard it and laughed out loud. To illustrate why, she told about how she headed off to lds.org to get some information for her talk, but while the page was loading, and ad came up for a sale at Nordstrom's, with the cutest shoes she'd ever seen, at least that week. She was right about to click on the link to go buy those shoes when lds.org loaded and saved her from herself, just in the nick of time.
According to her talk, there are basically three things you need to remember as far as LDS financial management. First, all money belongs to the Lord--pay your tithing first. I... actually don't remember the other two for sure, but I think the second one was stay out of debt (this phrase is repeated over and over and over in the Church--stay out of debt, unless you need to buy a home or student loans or something, but pay them off ASAP), and the other one was about putting on the red light.
The speaker is a nurse who currently works at a forensics psychiatric facility, which is a fancy name for an asylum for the criminally insane. It made me think of Arkham. It's her job to come up with care plans for each of the inmates, which first involves evaluating their situation. The first item on the list is how dangerous are they, and then the second is their impulsivity--their ability (or lack thereof) to put on the brakes. And if an inmate can't put on the brakes, it creates a very dangerous situation, and they... I don't remember exactly. Something about "red light" something, where they have a team come in and hold them down or whatever it is they do to prevent the inmates from hurting people or themselves.
I think that's kind of an extreme example, but she went on to talk about how we need to remember to put the red light on when we see something we want but don't really need. That way it's much easier to live within your means. She also went on to say that she told her husband her analogy as she was merrily chatting away, excited to be on the way to go shopping in a mall in Pismo Beach. He latched on to this right away, and whenever she saw some cute shoes or something, he would be like, "Red light! Yellow light! Red light!" And it was not a fun trip shopping in Pismo Beach.
The only thing I really remember about the second talk was the story about when the speaker was a teenager in a family that didn't go to church but was Catholic. Her mom really liked to buy her things, and one day, it was revealed that she (the girl) would be going to the beach with some friends and needed a new swimming suit. The next day when she got home from school, her mom said, "I have a surprise for you!" and she went up to her room, excited to see the new suit her mom had bought her (this is where I noticed how strange it is to abbreviate "swim suit" to just "suit"). But the suit was a two piece, and she couldn't explain why, but she just wasn't comfortable with the idea of wearing a two piece bathing suit. Her mom was very surprised, because two piece suits were all the rage and very popular and all that, but she went and exchanged it for a nice modest one piece. And the girl went and had a great time with her friends, feeling very confident and comfortable in her one piece, despite not following the trend like all her friends were doing.
Athena remembers that it was pointed out that "virtue" comes from the Latin word "virtus" meaning "strength."
And of course we both remember that she gave out wristbands with the word "virtue" on them, to help us remember to stay virtuous and true to our standards.
Before lunch, they wanted to take a big picture of everybody in front of the temple. It was poorly organized and everyone was kind of annoyed because it was hot and lunch time. At one point, everyone was all together, waiting for the photographer to just take the picture already!, when he said, "Now I want you to stand boy girl boy girl." And everyone yelled at him, which was probably not a good thing, because we were all in front of the temple, where it was supposed to be calm, peaceful, and quiet. He then revealed he was just stalling while they waited for somebody to come over with the banner they had painted, they finally showed up, and we took the picture.
Lunch was a baked potato bar. We didn't see anyone come out of the food tent with, like, rolls or anything edible (joking), so we just had some cake, after eyeing it suspiciously because Athena knew! it was cream cheese filling between those layers. Seriously, what is this obsession with cheese?
It didn't take long for us to finish eating, so we headed back to the chapel to claim some nice cushiony seats for the fireside. I think the term "fireside" originated from the events usually taking place at someone's home, by a fireside, but in the LDS Church, what it means is a get together where we talk about the Gospel some more. We like to talk about the Gospel a lot♥
This time, the speakers at the fireside were Elder L. Tom Perry, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife, Sister Barbara Perry. They were introduced by Elder Clayton, who made sure to let us all know that Elder Perry assigned himself to be the speaker as soon as he heard we were having the event. They were all filmed live in Salt Lake City, and the fireside was broadcast to all seven branches of the YSA Conference all over the state.
Almost first thing, Elder Perry asked his wife to tell the story of the lady who painted the World Room in the Manti temple (in Utah). It was a really cool story, but I don't have the confidence to retell it myself. Even Elder Perry asked his wife to do it! You'll just have to take our word for it that it was awesome. And then Elder Perry told three stories about the construction of the Manti temple that can be applied to our every day lives.
The first story involved the head stonemason on the temple. He was inspecting all the stones as they built the temple with them, and he found one with a crack in it. He called to the mason who was in charge of that area and pointed it out. He said, "It's on the inside where no one will see it. No one will know." And the head stonemason said, "You'll know, I'll know, and the Lord will know. Fix it." I can claim that the moral is self-explanatory, but the truth is, we don't remember exactly what Elder Perry said, so I don't want to misquote. But it's true that you feel better about yourself when you fix your mistakes, even when nobody knew they were there, right? And the Lord always knows.
The second story involves the group who had been assigned to build the roof. They were shipbuilders from... somewhere Norse? and they only knew how to build ships, so they didn't really know how to build roofs. But then they realized, "Hey, why don't we just build a ship upside-down?" Ships are made to be sturdy and waterproof, so they built a really great sturdy roof. The moral of that story is that if you learn important, basic principles (like what's in the scriptures), you can apply them to anything.
The third story was about the head stonemason again. He woke up one night after having a terrible dream in which some scaffolding around the temple collapsed, and a lot of workers were hurt. He immediately went out to the temple and inspected the scaffolding, and in one place, he found that a rope hadn't been fastened as securely as it should have been. He fixed the problem and went to sleep, thus avoiding danger for everyone involved. The moral of the story is that we can get help from the Spirit like that.
And that pretty much covers what we remember from the conference. After that, we took our time getting out of the church, picking up some extra pink lanyards as we went, and came home, where we watched Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and got inspired for this week's Manga Life column.
Incidentally, if anybody's interested in temples, there's a website with information on all of them around the world right here!
Today I'm thankful for being almost out of medicine for Mimsy (though we might end up getting more tomorrow), getting a work order from TokyoPop, finally getting to deposit some money in our account yesterday, really cool stories about temples, and having cinnamon donuts.