Speaking of General Conference, Elder Holland promised, [quote_center]”If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you.”[/quote_center] What a miraculous promise as millions of honest seekers of truth approach General Conference with their own questions, concerns and circumstances and each receives his own personal answer through words, thoughts and feelings.
These ten vignettes portray specific answers to questions received by myself and others as we have discovered this powerful truth through our own experiences.
1. How Do you Grow Potatoes?
It was the Sunday before General Conference, and I was sitting in class with my fellow Beehives as our teacher challenged each of us to think of a question we wanted answered during General Conference and to listen carefully for the answer the following week.
As a silly twelve year old, I tried to think of the most random question I could: “I want to know how potatoes are grown.” Everyone laughed and we moved on with the lesson.
The incident forgotten, I sat to watch Conference with my family the next weekend. Elder Holland was speaking near the end of the first session. My thoughts were drifting a bit when suddenly, I gasped as I heard him say, “‘We’re just old potato farmers,’ John said…”
He proceeded to explain Elder and Sister Hess’ missionary service in Belarus, giving specific details of the methods of planting potatoes and the skills the Hess’ used to increase the potato harvest eleven fold.
I couldn’t believe it. I never expected the Lord to answer my silly question. I was just trying to make a joke. But his message was clear: He will answer every question. I can trust Him.
I am certainly not advocating random, silly questions, but this experience reminded me during every subsequent General Conference that if I seriously approach the Lord with sincere questions, He will answer me through words or feelings every time.
2. Change of Plans
Twelve years after the potato experience, my husband and I had been married for six months. He was beginning his second year of Medical School and I had just started my first year teaching high school. Money was tight and, although we wanted to start our family soon, we felt I needed to teach for at least two years to save enough money to get through medical school.
But as Conference approached, I felt unsettled. I told my husband, “I think we need to pray again about when to have children.” So we did.
We had tickets to attend General Conference the following day and we went hoping for an answer to our prayer. Halfway through the Saturday afternoon session, Elder Andersen spoke, sharing a story of Elder James Mason of the Seventy.
As a young medical student his wife was working to put him through school and thus they were postponing children, echoing many of our own thoughts. However, Spencer W. Kimball promised, “With the help of the Lord, you can have your family and still become a doctor. Where is your faith?”
There was no denying this message was for us. And so we trusted and obeyed, and nine months later our daughter was born.
During my pregnancy I found two additional tutoring jobs and just before our daughter’s birth I was offered a part-time teaching position at an online school. Our finances were taken care of beyond what they would have been with our original plan. As promised, we could have a family and pursue a career.
3. Can Eating Habits Affect My Spiritual Health?
A woman from Sandy, Utah says she had long wondered if there is a doctrinal connection between bad eating habits and our spiritual well being. Although she did not recognize the answer while watching Conference, her daughter-in-law later pointed her to Elder Jorg Klebingot’s talk .
While studying this talk in depth, she came to point 2: Take responsibility for your own physical well-being and read, “Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance… If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it!…
“Therefore, please use good judgment in what and especially how much you eat, and regularly give your body the exercise it needs and deserves…Spiritual confidence increases when your spirit, with the help of the Savior, is truly in charge of your natural man or woman.”
Her earnest study brought the clear answer she sought and she knew she needed to cut down on sweets and eat more healthily to improve her spiritual health.
4. It’s Time to Serve Again
Richard and LeAnne Whitacker served three missions together in a period of six years. They had returned from the last of these 5 months before April 2007 Conference and were excited for a period to rest and get reacquainted with their grandchildren.
While studying the Conference talks in the May 2007 Ensign, Elder Bednar’s talk brought the message to LeAnne, “It’s time to go again.”
She didn’t say anything to her husband, but within minutes he asked her to listen as he read a line from President Eyring:
“Complacency can affect even the seasoned adult. The better and the longer you serve, the more likely that the tempter can place this lie in your mind: ‘You have earned a rest.’ … The temptation will be to believe that you will return to serve again, someday.”
Richard also knew it was time to serve again, and the Whitackers soon left on their fourth mission.
5. You’re Doing Just Fine
Several years ago, Becky Kelly was a new mother who wanted the answers of her future. She felt stressed about how many children she and her husband should have and wanted to know if they were fully obeying the command to “multiply and replenish the earth.”
During General Conference, President Monson made a passing comment about his three children and suddenly peace poured over Becky with the message “The prophet only has three children. You’re doing just fine.”
In recounting this experience she explains, “I don’t say “only” as an insult or a general comparison, just in this instance that word fit what I needed.”
She realized obedience to the commandment to multiply and replenish does not mean having at least 5 or 7 or 12 children; it means being willing to provide physical bodies for the specific children God wants to send to each home, and raising them in partnership with Him.
6. Don’t Marry That Man
In a BYU-I devotional, Sister Wendy Watson shared her story. As a 24 year old college student, she was engaged to be married to who she thought was the man of her dreams. However, just before Conference things started to change in their relationship and she went into Conference with a serious question: “Should I marry this man?”
It seemed that every single talk was on marriage, although upon reviewing the session years later she realized not a single talk was about marriage. Nonetheless, through the spirit the clear answer came.
She immediately called her fiance and broke off the engagement, even though many people told her she’d made a mistake. Twenty-eight years later she learned this man had divorced and left the Church as a result of his lifestyle choices.
Though still single when giving this address, she was so happy to have followed the answer she received. Four years later, thirty-two years after her broken engagement, Wendy Watson married Elder Russell M. Nelson.
7. Unexpected Peace
Adele’s husband had one year left in a rigorous and prestigious training program. He would then begin his career and bring his young family with him. Adele felt anxious and stressed about the uncertain future.
Her Bishop invited her to join his family for Conference with several inactive families from the ward. Adele felt frazzled as she tried to fellowship, keep her five children behaved and enjoy the delicious food the Bishop’s wife prepared all while trying to get something out of Conference.
She was barely listening to the speaker, when suddenly she just felt a calm that she described as “a calm breeze through my mind that said, ‘There will be a day this year that your husband will come home and tell you he received a position where he is training.'”
Her sincere, albeit chaotic, efforts to participate in General Conference brought the peace she sought.
Through the next several months as her husband applied and interviewed for jobs around the country, she held on to the assurance that things would work out right where they were. She did not prepare the house to sell. She continued her children’s schooling and activities. And when anxious moments arose, she chose to hold on to the peace.
Last week, her husband received the contract for his new position.
8. Were There Any Mormons on the Titanic?
Amber Richardson is part of the team behind Women of Faith, an independent film that premiered in 2014 highlighting the lives of faithful LDS women. In the midst of this project, Amber was preparing for General Conference and a strange question popped into her mind, “I wonder if any were Mormons on the Titanic.”
She laughed at the odd question, and enjoyed General Conference with no thought of the Titanic. Until, in the last session Elder Cook said, “In a few months, it will be 100 years since the tragic sinking of the Titanic ocean liner.”
He told of several missionaries and other LDS members who almost took passage on the Titanic, and the one sole member who did: Irene Corbett.
And thus began Amber’s miraculous journey into the little known life of Irene, a wife, mother and teacher from Provo, Utah who was coming home from London after training as a nurse.
Irene’s story was chosen as one depicted in the film and Amber describes her as “a dear friend”.
9. A New Career Path
The Lord redirected Lorren Lemmons’ life through two difference Conferences.
In April 2010 she attended the Sunday morning session at the Conference Center. She was preparing to apply for pharmacy school that summer, but during the session the Spirit whispered a clear message to her heart: “Do not go to pharmacy school. Become a nurse.”
She says, “It was difficult to sacrifice my career goals on what seemed to the outside world just a momentary whim, but I went home and immediately changed all my classes so I could get into nursing school the following year.”
She completed her nursing degree and moved with her husband to Los Angeles for his graduate program, 8 months pregnant with their first baby. In the midst of applying for nursing jobs to put her husband through school, she watched the broadcast of Women’s Session of Conference.
She had been having doubts about her plan because she felt like she would want to stay home with her baby. But as Sister Reeves spoke of her young daughter’s death and the suffering she endured as she pleaded for her daughter’s life, and lost her, a very strong impression came to Lorren: “You have to work as a nurse to help families like hers. You have to take care of these children.”
Lorren was hired in a bone marrow transplant pediatrics unit.
She says, “Both being a nurse and working full time have been extremely challenging for me… but I know that we have been greatly blessed by this job — we have stayed completely out of debt in graduate school, and I am still able to spend more days at home than at work even though I work full time because of the way nursing works.
“I have also had many spiritual experiences that were necessary for my own development that I wouldn’t have had without working as a nurse. It is definitely not a path I would have come to on my own so the promptings I received in those two general conference meetings have changed my life.”
10. Confirmed Testimony of the Prophet
Like most members of the Church, my mother Christina Foote was deeply saddened at the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley, the prophet with whom she had raised her children and come to deeply love. Although she wanted to love and follow the new prophet, she felt that no one could replace President Hinckley.
So, she prayed that she would receive confirmation during General Conference that President Thomas S. Monson really is the man God chose as his prophet right now.
As President Monson spoke throughout the Conference, the confirmation came. She was filled with a love for this man and an absolute assurance that he is God’s prophet and she can trust him.
Answers to Questions Conclusion
As Elder Hales declared, [quote_center]”I promise that if you will listen, you will feel the Spirit well up within you. The Lord will tell you what He wants you to do with your life. In conferences we can receive the word of the Lord meant just for us.”[/quote_center]
What questions has God answered for you through General Conference?