There´s something really great to be said about General Conference. When I was little, I always thought that Conference was a "day-off" from Church, or the day that we watched Church on TV. I never really understood the importance of sitting down and paying attention to the words of the prophets and apostles. I think it all changed when I made a change in my group of friends. When I started hanging out more with all my friends, we all made a bigger effort to go to Priesthood session together and we also used to compare the notes we would take during the other sessions. I even remember when my "addiction" to General Conference got so bad that the guys from the baseball team planned a Home-run Derby at the ball park on the Saturday of Conference and I only joined them after the first session and I left just before the second was about to start. I don´t know what happened inside of me that made me start to like to hear these talks so much, but I am pretty sure that it all started when I heard a talk from President Hinckley. I don´t remember what he talked about, I don´t remember exactly which Priesthood Session he spoke in, but when he was talking I felt as if it were just him and me talking one-on-one. From that day on, I have made it a goal to always go into Conference weekend with a few questions to be answered. I always have something that I am looking for, even if I don´t know exactly what I am looking for specifically. And I am always answered.
This testimony that I gained about General Conference helped me out a lot this week in the work. Here in my area, we have over 40 recent-converts active and loving the Church. None of these converts had ever seen General Conference before and we had been talking so much about the prophet Thomas S. Monson that I think they were starting to doubt that this man actually existed! lol We visited every single one of these converts to invite them to go to Conference. My companion and I challenged each and every one of them to do exactly what helped me gain a testimony; go with a question in your heart that you want to be answered. Although not all of these converts were able to make the long journey to the stake center (because here in Brazil Conference doesn´t pass on channel 5), the ones that made the trip were extremely blessed. I´d like to tell you all the story about a woman named Ila (ee-la). We baptized her and her two kids. Her kids became extremely active very quickly, but she has been a little slower. When she was baptized, she was a very active member of another church, but she felt that she needed to keep her family together so she was baptized as well. Ever since her baptism, she has only received criticism from her co-workers, family members, and friends. Many people tell her that she is in the Devil´s church and that she needed to think twice about going again. She openly shares her concerns with us and we have always been trying to help her, but nothing ever seemed to take away her doubts about the Church. We took advantage of the opportunity to use General Conference to help her out. I thought that if President Monson isn´t able to help then I don´t know who else to call! We told her that if she went to Conference that she would receive an answer to her questions and she would feel that this really is the True Church. She accepted the challenge and went. At times I would look over at her on the other bench with her kids, and she was absolutely fixed on the screen! Then came Elder D. Todd Christopherson´s talk about the true doctrine of the Christ and of the Church. He said that the doctrine of the Church is this: That Christ lived, died, was buried, rose again, and ascended to heaven, and that through faith in Him, repentance of our sins, baptism by immersion, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end we will all be saved! The Church teaches nothing more than this! Then President Monson got up and gave a wonderful talk about having a firm foundation in Christ. When I spoke with her after the Conference, she told me, "I loved it. It was exactly what I was needing. I can´t wait for October to watch it again!" At that moment, I saw how our recent-convert had gained a testimony just as I had gained a testimony seven years ago.
I know that this Church is true. I know that President Monson is God´s prophet here on the Earth. No one can tell me otherwise because His Spirit has already engraved it on my heart. So many great mysteries from God are hidden inside these great talks from the prophets. I know that I will be set to face the next six months of my life because of the information I gained this last weekend. I´m in my last full month as a full-time missionary and I have to give my last sprint now as I go out. I love you all and I hope you all have a great week!