Conference weekend is the best Church of the year. We stay in our pajamas and watch Church on TV. That was my favorite aspect as a kid. And now I actually look forward to hearing the messages of our Prophet and other Church leaders. In preparation, I pray about specific concerns I have and ask that I'll receive inspiration while listening. I'm always touched, inspired and filled with the knowledge that my Heavenly Father knows me and loves me.
A theme that resonated with me was "Pray to See People as our Heavenly Father and Savior See Them." I was very good about that for a while in college and it made a big difference in helping me understand and love others. I've been thinking about it a lot lately -- especially on behalf of my kids. Sometimes I have such high expectations, I forget to appreciate who they are and that it takes time to grow up. It was interesting that while I'd been thinking about it a lot lately, that it was also a common theme in conference.
|Instead of listening to Elder Holland's talk, watching lax. But I think that's exactly what he meant. And look how beautiful.|
They arrived at 11:00 p.m. while the mission reunion was in full swing and were happy to make themselves at home. (Who doesn't love arriving after a long trip and having a full Cafe Rio buffet ready and waiting?!)
Through a small miracle, one of my friends was able to get conference tickets for them (thanks, Jenny!) for Saturday's first session. They were gone the whole day, attending all three sessions downtown and had a day full of mini miracles and their emotions were pretty tender as they realized how many blessings they kept receiving.
We had so much fun getting to know them, feeling like they were family from the moment we met them and hearing their conversion stories.
On Sunday morning we all watched conference together and then they had to leave for their long drive back to New Mexico. Before they left, I asked that they share their conversion stories with our family.
Here's the short version:
Dakota grew up Catholic but stopped going to church as he got older. He always had high standards but often felt like the only one in the world who kept the law of chastity and didn't party. In college, he was tutoring a young boy who asked what church he went to. Not knowing what to say, but also not wanting to admit he hadn't gone to church in a while, he gave the name of the church he attended as a youth. Coincidentally, it was the same church the boy went to. Feeling somewhat guilty, Dakota started attending church again.
Not too much time later, while on an internship at MIT, his friend invited him to the LDS church. He declined a few times, but finally agreed. He said the minute he stepped into the church, he felt the spirit. Previously, he had tried to start praying, but wasn't sure how, and that day in Gospel Essentials Sunday School, they were taught how to pray. He started receiving answers to all of his questions. But most of all, he felt like he'd found a place where he belonged. Where people had his same standards and were happy to include him.
His parents were very supportive of him getting baptized. His strict Catholic grandmother had good experiences with the Mormons while growing up near the Mexican colonies, so she also supported him. While he was at our home, he got the news that his sister and mother had also chosen to get baptized.
After moving from New Jersey to Wisconsin, Dominick felt alone. His family was very close, but he struggled to fit in at school. He played football and made a close connection with the team, but that season he got injured and had to quit football and ended up feeling like he'd lost the one thing he loved to do and also didn't have any close friends. He struggled through high school with drugs and drinking.
In college, he got to play football again and decided to follow a career in athletic training. At the same time, he was still doing drugs.
He got a job in New Mexico, and about that time felt inspired to start reading the Bible. He also felt prompted that his life was going in the wrong direction. He started reading the Gospels. At the same time, he started training Chris and they became good friends right away. He spent a lot of time at their home and they invited them to Church but he declined. But after a while, he said yes. He started reading the Book of Mormon and loved it. He realized there is a Father in Heaven who loves him. My favorite quote was he can't wait to get baptized so he can have his "traveling companion." He got baptized on Friday.
The special thing to me about these stories is how Heavenly Father connected with these young men. Before they even knew anything about the Church, they were prompted to start getting in touch with their spirituality by going to the church they grew up in or reading the Bible.
In our family prayers we pray, "that the missionaries will be led to people who are ready to hear the Gospel." It was wonderful to meet these young men and see that there really are people being prepared by the Spirit to hear the message of the Gospel -- that Heavenly Father lives and answers our prayers. He wants us to be happy, to find joy and will bring us peace and comfort in hard times and direct us when we don't know which way to go and will inspire us with guidance in all areas of our lives.
For Family Night we went to dinner at Zupas and then the movie The Martian. (At Sugarhouse in the comfy LaZboy seats!) Such a great movie! (Book is even better, though.)
Dan and I got the boys off to school and then we flew to Washington D.C. so I could meet with the designer and architects and Dan had a presentation to clients.
The hurricane didn't make it to DC and we had beautiful weather in Georgetown. Dan left to dinner meetings and I enjoyed me-time walking around the city shopping and getting dinner at Luke's Lobster (or something like that). Also, no line at Georgetown Cupcakes in the Fall!
I found the First Home in Georgetown and public garden where I could sit and call Courtney. There was a creepy animal sound in the bushes which turned out to be a rat, but fortunately didn't bother me until we were almost done talking.
|Look, Courtney!! (Not: Look! Courtney! No. I don't think that girl is you. Look, Courtney! The store with the bracelets!)|
Dan's meetings weren't until later but I left first thing to my meetings. Miriam and I sat in the conference room all day choosing light fixtures, tile and patterns, cabinet colors and countertops. We had a quick field trip to H.T. Weavers hardware store to take a look at doorknobs. (So close to H.D. Weaver!) By 5:00, we were both exhausted.
When I got back to the hotel I tried to tell Dan all about our decisions, but I simply could not retell it. Too much info. He dragged me out to a yummy Italian dinner and it was nice to get out and get rejuvenated. We walked around Georgetown a bit after dinner and it was there we made our exciting plan to move there. Do you think the kids would agree? (No. They did not. Plan thwarted.)
Meanwhile back at home my mom was staying with the kids. She's so fun and full of energy and loves to listen to what the kids are interested in. She had come to town to help a friend after surgery, so the timing worked out perfect!
Early flight home. Utterly exhausted. After arriving home, my mom and I studied the house plans and talked about all the details. Then she accompanied to pick up from school, drive to piano lessons, pick up the other carpool and pick up from piano lessons which is an hour and a half venture. So it was nice to have company.
That night was Marty's orchestra concert. Chris and Nick are learning a two-line version of Shepherd's Hey on the saxophone and Marty's orchestra played a 10 minute symphony version. And the "Beef, What's for Dinner" theme song.
|Third row from the left, 2nd one in.|
PT conferences for Nick today so he didn't have school. He got rave reviews from his teacher (doing especially well in math. No surprise there.)
That afternoon, we headed up to the Spruces for a Webelos campout. I had organized it and volunteered Dan to be in charge. The boys each attended with their dads -- I just went up to reserve the site early. Good thing we did -- the place was packed that night. Last day of the season.
That night while Nick and Dan slept in a tent, my mom and I sat in my bed and watched "Call the Midwife." She loved it, which I knew she would.
Lacrosse games for everyone. It's a great time of year -- not too hot and not too cold. The mountain colors are beginning to fade, but the weather is wonderful and it's a perfect way to enjoy being outside on a Saturday.
|Chris: black long johns, yellow shoes, gray helmet.|
|Nick: left of goal. #33|
That night we took the boys and their friends and my mom to dinner at CPK. Everyone was happy. Back at home, the boys watched Dodgers baseball and my mom and I watched more Call The Midwife. Then her friend got discharged from the hospital so it was time for her to go where she was needed most. But I've loved spending time with her.
Tonight we watched Paper Planes. About an international paper airplane contest. It was sweet and uplifting and everyone loved chilling.
|Last week I bought this. Thanks Papa.|