We'll Sing and We'll Shout! | Overstuffed Overstuffed

Monday, September 21, 2009

We'll Sing and We'll Shout!

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.

Yes.

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.

35 comments :

  1. You are a great person. I just don't realize how easy I have it living in the heart of Utah, surrounded by a million members and churches.

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  2. Hooray for loud singing. I will. I really will. Never mind that lately I can't seem to find the key, I'll sing loud. I am so curious- who did you stay with? There are only 2 wards in GB and I've heard a bit about some of the members, and wonder if a name is familiar. It's pretty cool that you were able to stay with a member, getting a hotel would probably have made it a bust for me.

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  3. I grew up having to drive long distances to church, further for stake conference. Our closet temple was 12 hours away. You went because you WANTED to :)

    Seminary for me was almost an hour drive each way. And it was EARLY morning. I did one semester of seminary in arizona and it was crazy. It was part of your school classes. It was a very different experience.

    You are right, in the end we are always glad (and blessed) because we went. . . and sacrificed.

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  4. AWESOME post!! And I sing loud every Sunday. I don't care what people think--my voice is pertty good and so I sing out my praises to the Lord. And like you--a lot of the time I feel like I am the only one singing. But that's o.k.

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  5. I can honestly say this is one of your best posts! YOur Love of the Lord comes through loud and clear and your understanding of the diffcult sacrifices made for us by the early pioneers to worship in this faith is clear. I am so grateful for your honesty and discovery of the blessings that always come when we are obedient and those blessings linger for a long time! I can feel of your enthusiasm of what a wonderful weekend being edified and uplifted, it will caryy you for quite some time. Love you my blessed daughter!

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  6. Oh yeah, I sing every word of every song. It is a major part of my worship!

    Good for you putting in all of that effort. You know, in an ironic way it can be easier to attend meetings like Stake Conf when you have to plan and work hard to get there. When it is down the street we are late and more rushed and less prepared in a deeper way.

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  7. Good job on jumping in at the last minute for the musical number! I always dread that happening.

    I had a similar singing experience when we moved from UT to NC. When the ward sang the opening song to the first meeting we attended, I cried. It was so beautiful!

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  8. At large gatherings like that, I always feel overwhelmed by the powerful sound when the first hymn starts... something so "Zion" about everyone singing like that together, as a team of amateur disciples trying our best.

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  9. Okay, next stake conference I won't whine about the sacrifice of time--and the 5-minute WALK.

    Sometimes we really do take these things for granted!

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  10. Beautiful! And I'll bet you'll look forward to going for years to come. I find it sad when people chose not to sing in our regular Sunday meetings. Our normal worship services are so devoid of the pomp and circumstance and traditions that other religions participate in that I feel that our only true opportunities to actually WORSHIP God on Sunday is to be reverent during the sacrament, and to Sing to our Heart's content in happiness and gratitude. Thank you for such a lovely post.

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  11. HAHA! I sing to the best of my abilities on Sundays and my best is terrible but I sing!
    In the back of my mind I always remember hearing you singing very pretty! A couple of Sundays our son William would pick up his Hymn Book look back at you and just start making some horrible noise. Spencer and I would hope and pray you did not notice William! I guess in his mind he was singing pretty!

    I think it would be wonderful to go to such an inspiring conference. The last conference I went to the audio went out and we all sat there in silence for 2 hours!

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  12. Wow-I've never had to travel more than 4 minutes there! I promise to sing loudly next Sunday:)

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  13. I love the thought of singing out loud with love and praise for my Heavenly Father. The problem.....I am so tone deaf and as you said no one in our ward sings really loud so I would really hate for someone to hear me. So I sing really really loud in my heart and pray that the ward will let me continue singing in the meetings. I wish I had half the voice that you do.

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  14. I love hearing about your adventures! I know that would sure feel like a sacrifice to me to. Reading this today just made me think of something I fell like I need to share. Someone recently told me that we grow the most when we are out of our own comfort zones. Thus they had a challenge from someone up in the church to try and get out of our comfort zones at least once a week if not daily. I know scary...but something to think on!
    Thanks for sharing your life!

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  15. Wow. WOW.
    That is a kick in the butt to me. I was grumbling because of the Women's session this weekend, and I would have to give up a few hours of my time. I guess Heavenly Father must really want me to be there, because one of my friends mentioned getting a few women together to go out for dinner afterwards. A little more motivation. As though a wonderful, uplifting meeting would not be enough! And NO MORE whining from me will be heard!
    :~D

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  16. I notice the loud-ness of singing more in the adult session myself, mostly because it's the "stalwarts" that are there.
    You are making me feel better about my 1/2 an hour journey to stake conference. :)
    I would imagine your entire session only involves "stalwarts"... being that it is a sacrifice.

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  17. LOVE this post!!

    Although it may be a struggle to go to a new place. You are able to learn and grow so much. I am jealous!! Really I am. I know when change is around us we become better people.

    I know it is hard to embrace change but you are doing a fabulous job.

    Keep it up and thanks for sharing with us!

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  18. You really do take for granted living near lots of members of the church and having a church house on every corner. Brody is the only Mormon in his school. There are so many great people we've met though, it hasn't been too hard. On the other hand, we are so different in many ways I feel like such an outsider sometimes. We've already had to turn down 2 Sunday birthday parties and I have to admit it was hard.

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  19. Wow. I was so aggravated at having to go to stake conference with a two-year-old. Really I should have been thinking about how lucky I was to be there at all. Thanks for the perspective.

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  20. I love singing with an enthusiastic congregation too. I can carry a tune, but not much more, and being in a group of people singing out allows me to sing as energetically as my heart feels, even if my voice is only mediocre. I always think of the line from the hymn, "Jesus listening can hear the songs I cannot sing." I wish more people weren't afraid to sing out.

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  21. For the years that we lived in Puerto Rico, we drove 45 minutes to an un-airconditioned building to sit through 2 hours of a meeting in a language our children didn't understand.

    Plenty of our gringo friends just took the weekend off. It was tempting.

    But since that time, let me tell you, my kids have never complained about stake conference. It is so much easier now than it was then: Climate controlled, english speaking - the works!

    You have taught your kids a great lesson in obedience and sacrifice, Lara. Keep it up. It pays incomprehensible dividends.

    (And as you know, I'm right there singing at the top of my voice with you! So testify, sister!)

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  22. Hi Lara. We had a great stake conference yesterday, too. Elder Robert D. Hales was presiding, and about half of the people there go to stay and shake his hand afterwards, including me. I've never been so close to an apostle, it is an experience I'll always remember. You know, when we moved to Utah, I was in culture shock for a few months or more. I'd always been around LDS people, but here in Utah, it seems most members forget the blessing that the Gospel is to their lives. It is everything to me! I hope I never forget that. --A. Briggs

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  23. What a neat experience! I went to stake conference when I was in Paris, and it took about 1 1/2 hours to get there, and the singing was in French, but I could still feel the spirit and it was amazing.

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  24. Good post for me to hear. I am confessing that a week ago was our stake conference. It was a broadcast and I was feeling very grumbly because we were in the back surrounded by noisy kids, and someone in authority opened the door to the foyer so it was hard for me to see the screen over the bright glare from the side. I 'murmured' in my head, and kept telling myself not to. I was in a better frame of mind by half way through, but still, this week I needed blessings for my family so much that I've felt guilty about my conference bad attitude.

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  25. I'm an hour and a half away from my stake center, and I thought that was far! Thank you for this post. I've certainly had the "it's really just too hard to this" mentality about things before. I love it when it pays off in the end and we feel so much better about ourselves for having made the sacrifice.

    Lovely words, Lara. :)

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  26. OH, I love this post! We just had out primary program and kept reminding the kids to sing with GUSTO! Because they did, the spirit was so strong and I looked out at the audience and wondered why their parents don't sing like that...

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  27. I love this post! I love living here where my family is but there is something so much more fullfilling about living out in the 'mission field'. I'm glad you made the sacrifice to attend Stake Conference. It's 5 minutes away for me and I NEVER go- I always think of that Sunday as a sort of 'get out of jail free' card. No way I'm sitting through that with the kids. That's just one of many reasons we're B-list Mormons .

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  28. Yay! (Whoa, that is a long drive.)

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  29. I must say I liked my few visits to the Baptist church for this very reason.

    But I am still Mormon.

    8 hours for Stake Conference. And I was complaining that I had to go to the other building due to overflow for a broadcast.

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  30. I love singing...I just hate the sound of my voice. So I sing it loud in my own way and hope God hears it all the same.

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  31. I'm with you, I LOVE to sing loud. It feels honest to me. I love the music and the feeling on oneness with the congregation as we all sing together to worship our Heavenly Father. I remember being in a stake confrence once like yours, I couldn't hear myself sing, so I sang even louder, and still couldn't. The power of the music was over whelming and brought tears to my eyes. I'm so excited for our upcoming confrence, my first here in Ohio... I hope they like to sing here too!

    BTW, to answer your question, we moved in about 4 months ago, so I've had a little time to unpack now. I am teaching preschool! We are starting this Monday with 5 students (a friend and I are teaching together). Wish us luck!

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