Every six months, as general conference comes near, I have always felt a sense of excitement. When I was a child, the excitement was due to the fact I didn´t have to wear Sunday clothes and I was able to sleep on the couch and eat food while watching conference. As I entered adolescence, I was excited for the opportunity to take some notes and earn heaping amounts of extra credit in seminary. As I continued to grow, the desire to receive modern revelation became the foundation of my excitement. With President Russel M Nelson as the president of the Church, I have looked forward, anticipating what new changes he had to share. He did not disappoint.
The preparation for general conference is interesting in the life of a missionary. A lot of our work is inviting people to come and see the Church of Jesus Christ, trying to do all we can to bring them there. It was a bit of a hastle in the Tijuca area, for the stake center is a little far from us. The Tijuca area isn´t particularly wide, but it is very, very long. And so, for some members, the distance to church is a pain. For others, it is a piece of cake. When meetings are held in the stake center, it´s reversed, giving the other members a break. Seems fair for all, however, the area far from the Tijuca building is the richer area, meaning many have cars. Thus, when it comes time for a meeting in the stake center, many are discouraged, especially investigators who have not yet discovered how wonderful the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints truly is. Nonetheless, we try try try! *For any curious, the Tijuca address is 1281 Conde de Bonfim and the Andaraí (stake center) address is 301 Rua Maxwell.*
Elder Leite and I made an excellent friend with one of our investigators, who sadly we probably will never see again. His family lives in our area, but he only comes at times to work on the house here, he himself living out of our area. His house, atop an isolated cliff on Chácara do Céu (Village of the Sky), is a small paradise. I don´t know if an address even exists, but coordinates of Google Maps are: -22.935776, -43.251085 The view right on their porch is breathtaking, making it always worth it to hike the seemingly infinite stairs. Also, the house has much cliff property, whereon this family planted all sorts of plants and fruits. Our friend showed us his gardens, explaining to us how he could never ask anything of God, only being capable of thanking Him for all his blessings. We talked with him for 3 hours, a little about the gospel, but mostly just being genuine friends. His family is progressing much, and maybe we´ll see many baptisms here to come.
Before we finally parted, as we stood soaking in the mountain breeze and appreciating the setting sun, he gave us some of the fruit of his garden, and two small purple peppers. He warned us that they were hot. I didn´t believe him, for many Brazilians don´t know what spicy is. I should have believed him. When we returned to the apartment at the end of the day, meeting with the other companionship in our area, I offered them the other pepper, challenging them to eat it. One of them is Mexican... He told me it was one of the hottest peppers he ate. Good news: We´re all still alive.
For those who are wondering, yes, I was able to watch general conference live, and yes, in English. There´s a large handful of people in our stake who are learning or who speak English, and so in the high council room in the stake center we watched in English.
My testimony of personal revelation, modern prophets, and of the Savior Jesus Christ have grown ever the larger this weekend. Yet more changes in Church policy, and a large amount of temples announced, even the refurnishing of the Salt Lake Temple announced... One thing was clear in my mind in the midst of all these announcements: the great day of the Lord is nearing. As with all things in our loving Father´s plan, He prepares us line upon line, precept upon precept. This reinforced focus on home-centered worship has a clear purpose for me - to raise up a generation of soldiers prepared to work in the Lord´s army as part of the gathering of scattered Israel. I am excited to, in the coming years, begin my family with these principles, and to thrust in my sickle that my harvest may be great.
Personal revelation differs from person to person; as we all hear the words of the prophets, the Holy Spirit will whisper different things to the ear of all who listen intently. To some, the message may have been about ministering. To others, the promises of repentance and change. To me, the focus was that much more is expected of us than as in times past. As President Nelson said last conference, the time is coming that it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. His focus on the reality and the importance of receiving personal revelation has not diminished. Look unto him as an example. He is clearly receiving revelation - just look at all the changes and announcements in just a year! Now we are to follow suit. Do all you can to attune yourselves to the whispers of the Spirit. Get rid of useless static that is only distracting from the beautiful voice that is trying to reach you. You will have all you need in life as you let him in.