Woman from Colombia Realizes Long-Held Dream of Attending Conference
Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
“By the end of that session I was more motivated than ever and my testimony had never felt so strong.” —Miriam Luz Sanclemente
Miriam Luz Sanclemente joined the Church as a child more than 40 years ago. She has frequently watched general conference at her local meetinghouse in Cali, Colombia. She enjoys the warmth and spirit that seem to travel seamlessly from Church headquarters to her own hometown chapel in South America.
For Sister Sanclemente, watching general conference has long been like celebrating Christmas. In Yuletide fashion, she spends conference with loved ones and friends who talk of Christ, sing praises to His name, and celebrate the life of the Savior.
Since the day of her baptism decades ago, Sister Sanclemente has desired to attend a live session of general conference. She has saved her travel money and prayed for the day when she could raise her hand high to sustain in person President Thomas S. Monson and his fellow General Authorities.
But travel visas from Colombia to the United States have been hard to acquire in recent decades. Undeterred, she has faithfully watched general conference every six months, via satellite, and looked forward to the day when she would take her own seat inside the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.
Happy news arrived several months ago. Sister Sanclemente’s travel visa request had finally been approved. She packed her bags and, for the first time, flew to Utah. Days later she entered the Conference Center for the Saturday morning session of the Church’s 185th Annual General Conference.
“The Spirit was so edifying; I was so attentive to everything being taught by the speakers,” she said. “By the end of that session I was more motivated than ever and my testimony had never felt so strong.”
One highlight of the morning was standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands of fellow members as the President of the Church entered the building and took his seat. Sister Sanclemente felt her heart leap at that moment. She knew that Thomas S. Monson was the Lord’s living prophet.
She would watch subsequent sessions of the April 4 and 5 general conference inside the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, where the talks were presented in Spanish.
“General conference changed my life,” she said. “It will make a difference in how I treat others. It has helped me overcome hard feelings. General conference will make me a better person.”
She is to return to Cali later in April. She hopes to one day return to Church headquarters for another general conference. But if she cannot, she said, the sacred event will forever remain an important part of her life.