Countdown to conference: 10 ways to prepare

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General conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is held at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. (Photo courtesy of Mormon Newsroom)

Believe it or not, general conference is just around the corner. And if it seems to you like it came faster than usual this year, you’re right — it falls on March 31 and April 1, which are the earliest possible dates for the conference that is always held during the first weekend of April.

With this earlier timeline, it’s not too soon to start preparing for general conference. Here are 10 ideas to help you and your family do so.

1. Participate in a scripture reading challenge.

Though living apostles, prophets and other Church leaders give messages that are inspiring and uplifting, the Holy Ghost is the real teacher during general conference. Therefore, we must have the Spirit with us when we listen. Prepare in this essential way by taking on a scripture reading challenge, perhaps by increasing the amount of time you spend in the Book of Mormon each day or by taking time to study the scriptures in more depth. You might also consider going to the temple or participating in more family history work to invite the Spirit into your life.

2. Review goals from last conference.

Remember how inspired you were last October? Pull out your study journal and read the goals you set back then. Review the ideas you wrote down and remember your favorite talks. As you do, ask yourself what questions you still need answered, and write them down to consider during this coming conference.

3. Create a countdown with the little kids.

If you have children in your family, feed off their natural joy and anticipation. Create a “Conference Countdown” paper chain or make a list of activities your family can do every day until conference begins. As your children look forward to general conference, they will ask questions that can help you know how to teach them about living prophets.

4. Listen to all the talks from October 2017.

If you’re in the habit of listening to audiobooks, scriptures or podcasts, try switching to general conference talks for a couple weeks. If you’re up for a challenge, start at the beginning of last October’s general conference and listen to all 12 hours of talks and music. You can even use this handy schedule (you’ll need to catch up a little).

5. Make a list of questions.

In this recent video on LDS.org, then-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf encouraged church members to come to general conference with questions. Watch the video with your family and invite everyone to write down a few questions of their own.

6. Plan a general conference gathering.

Listening to living apostles and prophets should be a joyful experience. You might consider planning a gathering for lunch or dinner between conference sessions, then invite friends and family to stay and listen to the session afterward. If that doesn’t work out, maybe start a family tradition of a certain breakfast on Sunday morning or a trip to the park after the Saturday afternoon session. These events can become traditions that children look forward to every six months.

7. Help children and teenagers learn who the apostles are.

The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will gain two new members at this general conference. It’s the perfect time to teach children and teenagers about the current members and their backgrounds. Understanding more about the speakers and what their interests are will bring more meaning to their messages as children and youth listen.

8. Review the promised blessings of general conference.

Especially for lifelong members of the Church, the semiannual conference can become routine. It might be helpful to review the promised blessings of heeding the counsel of living prophets. Here are a few that are suggested on LDS.org:

9. Print activities for kids.

Eight hours of general conference is a lot for little kids, but it’s important for children to at least try to listen to bits of it. To help children stay engaged, you can print coloring and activity pages for kids off LDS.org. Or, if your kids are more interested in coloring books, 95 cents is a great price for scripture-themed coloring books from Church Distribution (available online and at Deseret Book stores).

10. Celebrate “Conference Eve.”

If you have little kids, everything can be a reason to celebrate. Why not help them get excited to hear from the prophets by having a family sleepover? Maybe you could read Mosiah 2:6 and “pitch a tent” toward your television screen and sleep in it on Friday night. Maybe you can set out all the activities your kids will have during general conference or set up a comfortable viewing spot for each member of the family to use the next day. Whatever you do, it can be fun to make a tradition out of Friday night preparations.

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Breanna Olaveson worked in the magazine industry before taking her writing from full-time to nap time with the birth of her first daughter. Her work has appeared in the Ensign, Liahona and New Era magazines, as well as Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley BusinessQ, Utah Valley Bride and the Provo Daily Herald. She lives in Utah county with her husband and three children. She blogs at www.breannaolaveson.com.

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