I want you to know that I love being a missionary. There are things I've learned, seen, felt, and heard that have changed me forever. I've met so many wonderful people and I've been able to feel Heavenly Father's love for them. I can imagine nothing greater than being a missionary of the Lord.
Our Heavenly Father loves us. He sent His Son to suffer and die and live again all for us so that we may return to Him. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. We have a living prophet today who receives living revelation for our time. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and was written for US. As we live according to the gospel, we will be comforted in our afflictions here and one day receive a fulness of joy in the kingdom of heaven. I know this with every fiber of my being, to use a common phrase.
President Howard W. Hunter said:
"Conference time is a season of spiritual revival when knowledge and testimony are increased and solidified that God lives and blesses those who are faithful. It is a time when an understanding that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, is burned into the hearts of those who have the determination to serve him and keep his commandments. Conference is the time when our leaders give us inspired direction in the conduct of our lives—a time when souls are stirred and resolutions are made to be better husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, more obedient sons and daughters, better friends and neighbors...
"We know that our Father in Heaven loves us and is concerned about our spiritual and temporal welfare. We know that His Son, Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother, has provided a way for us to return to the presence of God; that there is a divine purpose for our being here on earth; that we have a work to do which is an important part of his plan. In addition, we know many details of that plan and have received specific direction about our responsibilities...
"We who are met here today claim a special, unique knowledge of the Savior’s gospel. Most striking of all, to those who first become acquainted with us, is our declaration to the world that we are guided by a living prophet of God—one who communicates with, is inspired by, and receives revelation from the Lord...
"We have found, and know, that the only way to gain spiritual knowledge is to approach our Father in Heaven through the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ. When we do this, and if we are spiritually prepared, we see things our eyes have not previously seen, and we hear things we may not have previously heard—“the things which God hath prepared,” using Paul’s words. (1 Cor. 2:9.) These things we receive through the Spirit.
We believe, and testify to the world, that communication with our Father in Heaven and direction from the Lord are available today. We testify that God speaks to man as he did in the days of the Savior and in Old Testament times. We would say to the world: “Listen to and weigh the words of this conference; consider the direction and counsel that come from those who speak. Then, after prayerful pondering, that sweet warm conviction that comes from the Holy Spirit will testify to you of its truthfulness."
We have a promise from a prophet of God that if we will go to conference spiritually prepared to receive revelation, we will receive it... and more! You will receive answers to questions, comfort, and a witness of prophetic callings.
President Boyd K. Packer cautioned:
"In a few days there opens another general conference of the Church. The servants of the Lord will counsel us. You may listen with anxious ears and hearts, or you may turn that counsel aside. … What you shall gain will depend not so much upon their preparation of the messages as upon your preparation for them.”
We can prepare for General Conference by praying in faith for guidance, coming with the questions of our soul, setting aside time to really listen to the sessions, and committing to follow the counsel we receive from the pulpit and from the Spirit.
I echo the words of Elder Paul V. Johnson:
"Decide now to make general conference a priority in your life. Decide to listen carefully and follow the teachings that are given. Listen to or read the talks more than once to better understand and follow the counsel. By doing these things, the gates of hell will not prevail against you, the powers of darkness will be dispersed from before you, and the heavens will shake for your good."
I have tried and tested this challenge in my own life. This weekend we will listen to a Prophet's voice and receive guidance and counsel from on high. How wonderful is the gospel?!
May we all prepare ourselves to receive the revelation Heavenly Father is just waiting to pour upon us!