Hope you don't mind me typing up here. Just trying to get some stuff down on "paper" that I have in my brain. We are having Stake Conference this weekend with a General Authority, Elder Snow, visiting. What he did last night was so amazing. First, he had the Stake President invite a few people to come up and bear their testimonies (Ju, Megan was one of those and her testimony was really touching). Then they turned all the time over to Elder Snow and he opened up a Q&A. Fascinating! One of the great questions, in my opinion, was by a new member who had some concerns and confusion about things like the word of wisdom. She gave the example of drinking Coke - some people say no, some people say sure. Elder Snow gave a long-ish answer on the difference between Doctrine, Principles, and Policy and how the Lord allows us to govern ourselves. He said that the underlying guideline is to determine the principle behind the policy. Tithing is another principle that has a lot of gray areas in regards to the doing - pay on gross, net, what's considered increase, etc. The areas are left gray on purpose.
Another interesting question came from a relatively new member, too. She said that her grandchildren wanted to know why we fold our arms to pray because it makes us look angry. Elder Snow said that as far as he knows, there isn't a reason we fold our arms. His wife contributed by saying that it keeps children from hitting each other during the prayers. :-) Elder Snow continued by talking about Lehi's Vision and how when the people reached the Tree of Life they fell down to partake of the fruit (as opposed to what we would do to, say, reach up and pick a piece of fruit from a tree). He said that he imagines that when he meets the Savior he's not going to fold his arms. He's going to kneel and probably use his hands to feel the nail prints in the Savior's feet. Josh and I talked later about how uncomfortable it always seems to feel for members of the Church to pray with other denominations who like to hold hands. I don't know about you guys, but when I was younger I felt really strange doing that. I'm sure it was because I was taught that folding arms and bowing head was the correct way to pray. So something I got from this is to maybe explain to my children that bowing our head is a way of showing humility, but while folding our arms is a traditional way to pray, it is by no means the only way to pray.
Finally, he has been serving in Africa for the past four years. My father-in-law asked some question regarding the growth of the Church in Africa and any difficulties in training new priesthood leadership. Elder Snow talked about how different the African Culture is. We come from a very structured and regimented society. We have to-do lists, calendars, schedules, meetings, etc. Training the Africans in this Church culture is sometimes challenging. But, he said, they don't have to train them in how to minister. He said that their ability to love and to minister comes naturally to them. They don't need a list to remember to visit teach. He said that there is much we can learn from their ability to love as the Savior loves. In addition to this question, he shared a little story about an experience he had with Elder Bednar. They were at a Relief Society meeting and the sister speaking was talking about fasting and what it means. The speaker told the sisters, "and remember, sisters, it's not fasting unless you have food in the house". What a telling statement.
There were other questions but I have to go get ready for Church. I'm looking forward to more talks today.
Interesting (to me) side-note. At one point during the conference Josh contributed a reference to a Parley P. Pratt quote that Elder Snow quoted. Elder Snow said, "thanks Bishop". I thought it was sweet that he remembered Josh from the priesthood meeting earlier in the day. Josh told me later in the car that he never met Elder Snow during the day - at least not in any way that would mark him as Bishop. Just found it interesting that Elder Snow seems to have an amazing ability to get and hold information (he also had memorized quite a few of our stake statistics which he shared with us over the course of the meeting).