Conference Moment: “Like Christmas Day”

  By Jason Swenson, Church News staff writer

  • 23 April 2013

Thousands of members and visitors fill the seats of the Conference Center on Temple Square to listen to the 183rd Annual General Conference.  Photo by Cody Bell, ©IRI

“General conference always felt like Christmas Day.” —Daniel Melendez

As he sat in one of the terrace seats of the Conference Center, surrounded by thousands of fellow members, Daniel Melendez felt a bit like Alma reuniting with the sons of Mosiah following a period of focused, yet sometimes lonesome, missionary work. His spirits soared to be in the company of so many like-minded folks, all gathered together under one roof to listen to the shepherding word of prophets and apostles.

Just two weeks earlier, Daniel had been serving—in Alma-like fashion—as a missionary in the Argentina Cordoba Mission. After completing his mission late last month, he returned to his home in Fullerton, California. He decided to drive to Salt Lake City to attend the 183rd Annual General Conference. Daniel is a lifelong Church member but had never attended general conference in person.

“I’ve just finished my mission, and I thought there was no better way for me to receive revelation on what the Lord would have me do with the rest of my life than to be at general conference, so I decided to come,” he said.

While many of the messages of the recent general conference centered on missionary preparation, Daniel was anxious to hear counsel on what a young man should do after fulfilling an honorable mission. His prayers, he said, were answered in full. “President Henry B. Erying’s talk in the priesthood session reminded me that missionary work was not limited to the 65,000 full-time missionaries. Every member can be a missionary every day.”

He said he is also looking to his future and the important decisions he will make.  “I really enjoyed the emphasis that many of the speakers placed on the importance of the family. One day I want to have a Christ-centered family.”

Daniel developed a deep love for general conference while laboring in Argentina. He would challenge his investigators to clear their calendars on conference weekend so they could view live broadcasts of each session. “General conference always felt like Christmas Day.”