Thursday, October 9, 2014
By Susan Knight (Sorry, I had to paste into HTML view and it doesn't translate very well) Now that I live in Utah, I enjoy watching General Conference from the comfort of my sofa, welcoming the Spirit of Conference into my home. Back East, when I first joined the church, thirty-plus years ago, I had to drive over an hour to the stake center to “listen” to conference as it was piped in over the speakers. Eventually, satellite transmission with pictures arrived and we all could “watch” the general authorities and partake of their spirits. We could see what they looked like and distinguish the differences in their personalities. In 1990, after almost ten years of meeting in a small, white building that used to belong to a Baptist congregation, my new ward building was built. A satellite dish came as part of the package. We could finally travel to our ward, just fifteen minutes away, to enjoy General Conference, though the satellite dish hardly ever worked right. Many times we sat without transmission of the picture and only heard sketchy voices coming from the static-filled television. As the years went on, and satellites worked better, attending General Conference became a ward family affair as we all stayed to chat and visit between sessions, or went out to eat together on Saturdays—it was too far away to go home and come back for most members. We brown bagged it on Sundays, because we couldn’t go to a local fast food eatery on the Sabbath. I remember packing peanut butter and jelly or bologna sandwiches for my young family, making sure to pack extra for someone who may have forgotten, or chose to stay for the next session instead of go home. Soon, on Sundays, a potluck dinner come about. My children fondly remember these times of camaraderie during Conference. Back then they played with their church friends, whom they only saw on Sundays or weekends, due to the vast geography of our ward, which spanned seven school districts at one time. Last year, while all four of my children lived in Utah, they waxed poetic about the good old days of Conference—as I relished being able to stay home and watch it on television. Though my children long for the past, I love Conference in Utah. I confess, I don’t dress up as some people do. I stay comfortable in jeans and, dare I say, even pajamas for the first session. I can work in my garden in between sessions, or even go to the grocery store, or take a drive up the canyon and back. I feel blessed living here among the saints. It’s a new phase in my life, but one I thoroughly enjoy. Though there is not so much a “ward family” feel, because people live near their families, there are many perks not had in the East. I don’t have to drive fifteen or twenty minutes to my ward building—it’s only two blocks away. One can walk to church—and the stake center. There are five ward buildings within a five block radius of where I live—that I know of—and two of those are stake centers. There are four temples in my county. Salt Lake City is a fifteen-minute drive from my home. One day I will grab a ticket from the bishop and go to a Conference session in person. Over thirty years ago, I never thought that could be on my bucket list. It is now.