We went to Stake Conference in Green Bay this weekend. And, because Green Bay is a 4 hour drive from my house, making our jaunt to Stake Conference a mere eight hours of total driving time, that makes me just exactly like the pioneers.
To be honest, I had a pretty bad attitude about the whole thing. Going to Stake Conference meant giving up my entire weekend. It meant being stuck in the car with three children for lots of hours. It meant staying overnight with members we've never even met before. It meant budgeting money for gas and food that could have been used for other things. It meant trying to figure out what to do with children while Joel and I attended the adult session. It meant socializing with people I did not know.
It also meant doing what the Lord has asked me to do, getting up off my duff, sucking it up and going. It meant sacrificing.
In the end, though, I'm very glad I went. Isn't that always how it is? You leave your creature comforts behind and "overcome inertia," as a counselor in the Stake Presidency put it, and you experience something wonderful that you would not have experienced if you had done what you thought you really wanted to do. Had you not sacrificed a little. (Or a lot, as the case may be.)
I had opportunity to both serve (I was asked to fill in for a musical number who had fallen ill exactly 3 minutes before the meeting started) and be served. My vessel was filled to overflowing as I listened to amazing counsel from our Stake Presidency, collaborated with others serving in the Young Women and felt the love my Heavenly Father has for me.
Most of all, I was just astounded at the faith and the dedication of the members in my stake. We were not the only ones who drove 4 hours in order to attend, after all. Others came 2 and 3 hours, and some only 45 minutes. Still, 45 minutes is quite the sacrifice when I compare it to the 5 minute drive I have been used to all of my life.
Not only did they come, but they were thrilled to be there. I know this because of the way they sang.
They sang loud. With gusto.
I opened my mouth to sing in the adult meeting on Saturday night, and was surprised to find that I couldn't hear myself amidst the fortissimo sounds on all sides of me. This is not normal in my world. In fact, in my last ward, I often felt like I was the only person singing, because everyone sang so quietly. (I am not able to sing very quietly, and besides, I don't like to!) But this time, I could sing at my very loudest and not worry about that. It was wonderful to hear everyone around me praising the Lord through song. I almost can't even describe what it felt like to be there, and I don't know the last time I've been in a congregation that sang quite like that. Maybe I never have.
I'm not really sure why I'm writing this, except to say that I really think I have taken for granted the easiness of being LDS while living in Utah or in Arizona. It's not hard to go to Stake Conference when it's across the street or a few blocks away. It's not hard to NOT go to Stake Conference where you probably won't be missed. It's easy to forget the sacrifices that were made for us to be able to worship the way we believe. It's easy to forget why we sing.
I'm not saying you've forgotten, but if you have, please do me a favor next Sunday.
Sing loud. Sing praises to God. Remember why you're there. Be happy to be there.
Be a pioneer.