Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

General Conference from New Orleans: Greetings from the New Orleans First Branch

General Conference for me began with a window view of the Voodoo Mart on Canal Street in New Orleans. I stepped out of my lengthy Saturday meetings (a planning meeting for a chemical engineering organization, AIChE) in the J.W. Marriott Hotel to a little corner near a window, where I was able to catch the last talk of the afternoon session on the Internet.

To my delight, another Latter-day Saint in the meeting had a car and offered to give me a ride to the Priesthood Session that evening. We weren't sure if the New Orleans First Branch in town would have the broadcast, but we gave it a try. As we pulled up to the building, the gates to the parking lot were locked, and we were about to leave and try the more distant stake center. Just as we started to drive away, two missionaries showed up and assured us that this was the right place. Thanks to the Mormon missionaries, the gates of New Orleans did not prevail against us, and we were able to enter into a little bit of paradise with the fine people of the branch.

The Priesthood session was one of the best ever. I was touched by the steady emphasis on service and on reaching out to others. As we begin an era of serious economic trouble, this message of compassion and love seems wonderfully timed. And who better to lead us in this area than President Monson? Personally, I am intimidated and almost overwhelmed by his personal example. This man's life is characterized by reaching out to individuals, remembering widows, staying in touch with many dozens of people across the years to love and bless them, listening to the promptings of the spirit day after day, engaging in quiet acts of service and self-sacrifice - it's amazing. Thank goodness he didn't have a blog all these years!

After the conference, a professor from Tulane University in the Branch Presidency here kindly invited us to attend tomorrow and participate in their traditional potluck luncheon after the morning session. Not only is this a wonderfully friendly and diverse branch, but they have incredible food. I was especially impressed by the jambalaya and the large quantities of perfectly seasoned crawfish (a young man kindly revealed his secret techniques of crawfish eating). The bread pudding was terrific also, with the bourbon that the recipe called for replaced with a custom cherry puree. Delicious.

My friend and I felt needed at the Priesthood session because we were able to help get the audio working for the broadcast. There was no audio as the session was about to begin and the Elders were struggling with the system. I found a sheet with a tech support number and had a cell phone, so I called and soon reached someone. When they suggested we should reboot the system (unplug and then restore power), I though I was getting the standard tech support run-around, but it actually worked. The sound came on just seconds before the opening hymn. I noticed after that just how much more meaningful a conference broadcast is with the sound on.

Hey, wasn't President Monson great again in the afternoon session? What a divine sense of humor this man has! And what love he has for his wife!

Greetings from New Orleans!

Here's the New Orleans First Branch building, which I suggest you attend.




Here's the Voodoo Mart, which I suggest you avoid.

10 comments:

Roxy said...

Jeff, your so funny!

My BEST friend is currently serving his mission in the Baton Rouge area and it makes me happy whenever I'm reminded of that.

Thanks!

jayleenb said...

Sure wish the antis around here would watch Conference.

I can't wait to watch it all a second time. The talks were SO wonderful. And being able to tune in anytime I want via the internet is just such a BLESSING. I can even pause it to take notes or just ponder something specific for a moment.

Ryan said...

the gates of New Orleans did not prevail against me

That made me laugh!

Sure wish the antis around here would watch Conference.

They know better than to do something that risky. Wasn't it just this afternoon that President Uchtdorf talked about his aunt who stormed over to the missionaries to give them a "well-deserved" tongue-lashing, and how that turned out?

Remember in Alma 19 where Aaron teaches the old Lamanite King, and the mob that assembles when it looks like the king is dead? The servant Abish tries to diffuse the situation by waking the monarchs:

31 And [the king], immediately, seeing the contention among his people, went forth and began to rebuke them, and to teach them the words which he had heard from the mouth of Ammon; and as many as heard his words believed, and were converted unto the Lord.
32 But there were many among them who would not hear his words; therefore they went their way.

GB said...

They can't read the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart nor listen to conference with an open mind.

John 12:38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

Joseph Antley said...

I hope you enjoyed visiting New Orleans. I live in northern Louisiana so I take no responsibility for what goes on down there. ;)

Tracy Keeney said...

Funny, Jeff!!

You were blessed by one of the many benefits of the church.
Istantaneous friends no matter where you go!

On a trip to Utah a couple years ago, we stopped in Sidney Nebraska on a Saturday to stay the night.
We looked up the local ward in the phone book and attended their services in the morning, introduced ourselves during Gospel Doctrine and RS/EQ. We received 4 gracious invitations to lunch. "Let us feed you before you head back out on the road."

And yes-- conference was amazing!
You know what made it especially wonderful? 4 kids sitting quietly in the pew, at least paying SOME attention through 4 sessions of conference. (Enter the MoTab breaking into the Hallelujah Chorus...)

Dan and Wendy said...

One of the themes I really enjoyed from Conference was the small and little noticed miracles that happen each day, i.e. examples that President Uchtdorf gave of President Monson going and visiting just one person to see how that one person was doing.

As always, conference filled me with a sense of rejuvenation and a desire to go and do some good, even if that good is just aimed at one person at a time.

Sherry said...

When I first saw the title of your blog, my heart begain to pitter-patter, but then I saw New Orleans First Branch. I thought I was going to get news from my old ward, which also serves as the Stake. The ward name was changed from the Pontchartrain Ward to the Jefferson Ward after Hurricane Katrina because so many wards and branches had to be combined for lack of people. The sad part is that just two months earlier, we had a major jubilee celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Stake. In fact, I was one of the first people baptized in the new building, in July 1965, when I was 13 years old. So next time you're in New Orleans, go to the Stake and tell everyone hello for me!

aaron said...

Great Post! I was also touched by Bishop Burton's talk on humanitarian efforts of the Church...really touched. It is a great blessing to be a part of this organization.

I wrote a post on my blog about the Humanitarian Stats of the Church after the Priesthood session if you want to check it out.

http://www.graceforgrace.com

jglanfield said...

Jeff,

Thank you for your comments about the Branch, formerly named the "Uptown Branch". I served in that branch back in 1998 - and what a wonderful place it was to serve. The building you were in was just in the beginning phases when I left my mission (by the way, I have a copy of the blueprints to that building).

I'm so jealous that you had some tasty crawdads. I miss those so much!

Cheers.

Joel