Our family was excited for the Century of Honor program, but Lydia was especially looking forward to it. Having never been to a general conference or an event (that she remembers) in the conference center, Lydia anxiously awaited this night. She was so excited, and kept saying she just couldn't wait to see President Monson in person. We told her it was going to be really neat to see him, but it wasn't like we were going to be able to talk to him. She was still so excited and mentioned many times the week before that she was just so excited, she could hardly wait.
|Lydia in our first seats at the conference center. She was so excited you would of thought she was in Disneyland|
Every choir member received 2 tickets to the event, which worked out perfectly for the 4 of us in our family that were not in choir. Landon and Mason were seated on the far left side of the choir so we were hoping that our tickets would be on the right side of the audience so we would have a good view of our boys. We were excited when we picked up our tickets that we would be in the bottom section 2 (which is on the right side looking up to the left:). They seemed like perfect seats especially since the podium was placed directly in front of section 2. This would be the first event in the conference center where we would not have to watch the big screen to see the speakers, or the show.
The day of the performance the boys had to be there at 3pm. Which gave the 4 of us time to kill in Salt Lake. As it seems like decisions about our house are always lingering over us, it was a perfect opportunity to go and make a final decision about the stone for our house. Poor Lydia and Jacob are our tag alongs to all these places and lets just say they are not very exciting stores for kids. At least this place had popcorn and a puppy:)
After hemming and hawing over our final selection. We decided it was best to get some dinner at the Lion house, we can't resist those Lion House rolls. Upon entering the Lion house we ran into a well dress man that we recognized as a speaker in the recent General Conference. He waved and said hello to us and Zeke quickly recognized him as being the general authority that related his experience of being a football player. (a comparable that is unforgettable when you are a football fan like Zeke:) It was Elder Gifford Nielsen.
When we finished our meal we made the short walk over to the conference center and found our seats in our section towards the bottom. I thought they were great seats and was quite comfortable, but Lydia wanted to get as close as she could. I did not think there were enough seats for all four of us any closer, but in the section next to us there were many empty seats. So after testing out the seats and making sure we could still see the boys we moved down to the second row on the very far right. We had the row all to ourselves.
About the time we were moving seats we noticed Elder Russell M. Nelson walk in from the corner of the stage. I pointed him out to both Lydia and Jacob and said lets walk down the isle and see if we can say "hi" to him. Both of them were rather timid so I walked down in front and asked the usher if we could say hi to him. He said "no you can't get close to them". About then, Elder Nelson was passing by and I yelled out his name. He turned around and walked towards us reaching out his hands to greet us. He thanked us for saying hello and asked where we were from. At that moment I didn't quite know what to say. Where am I from? I still feel like I am from Washington, am going to live in Mapleton but currently living in Spanish Fork. So what do I say? I said Mapleton, but we recently moved from Washington. He said "Wonderful! and again thanked us for saying Hello" He moved on to find his seat and I exclaimed to Lydia and Jacob "You just shook the hand of an apostle!"
|Pres. Monson entering, Eyring, and Uchtdorf behind.|
About 5 minutes before 7pm security appeared to be getting in their places, and we could tell President Monson would becoming out shortly. Sure enough seconds later the man we know as the Prophet who we completely respect, love, honor, obey, sustain, pray for and are very grateful for entered the room. The audience rose as he was escorted by a security guard to his seat along with President Uchtdorf and President Eyring. I told Lydia if he looked over at us she could wave hi to him. As he walked by he looked over our way and Lydia waved and he smiled and waved back. It was a sweet moment and Lydia beamed!
Seeing the first presidency made me so happy, but I also began to shake. Out of respect and not wanting to look like the paparazzi, I did not want to use my big camera and instead only used my iphone for pictures. The combination of shaking hands and a touch screen phone camera do not produce very good pictures. But these pictures will be some of the most cherished and worst pictures I have ever taken.
|Elder Holland and Elder Christofferson|
After the amazing program was over, we had told Lydia and Jacob that they might get to wave to the
Prophet again. President Monson was sitting in the front row of the third section. We were in section 1. As he got up he greeted everyone along section 2 and it was taking some time. There was only a few people in section one so when he came to our section he pointed to Jacob and came right up to him.
He asked him if he was a future cub scout, in which Jacob replied "YES!"
Then he gave Jacob a high five.
He also shook Jacob's hand, and I snapped as many pictures as I could with very shaky hands.
Oh, how our family loves this man!
President Monson also asked Jacob if he was going to be a missionary. Jacob responded "YES" and said after his favorite primary song "I am a missionary now". It was very sweet.
Then he turned to Lydia and shook her hand too, along with Zeke and mine.
We told him we loved him and how grateful we were for him.
There is no one living on the earth that we would rather meet more! It was a surreal experience and one we will never forget!
In the row behind us was a small family. They had gone to the end of their row to greet the prophet too. When their little boy approached Pres. Monson, his parents were trying to get a picture. President Monson said let's let your parents get a picture and he undid the rope that was between the crowd and himself. He then motioned for Jacob to come over. He put his arm around him and gave him a squeeze and posed for a picture, and said
"Here I have too future scouts and missionaries."
We all agree Jacob hit the jack pot with meeting Pres. Monson. A high-five, hand shake and a hug!
After this I was pretty much a mess. I remember when I was about Lydia's age meeting the Prophet: President Benson. We could not shake his hand, but we did get to wave to him and say hello. I remember my mom crying and it being such an amazing experience to be it the presence of a living Prophet. It was a moment that our family cherished forever and I now two of my children we getting the same experience.
After President Monson moved along, here came President Henry B. Eyring. He greeted us too and was so kind and full of light. As Lydia and Jacob shook his hands I was attempting to take a picture. He said, "let's have your mom get a picture of all of us together." He posed with Lydia and Jacob and I pushed the camera button on my phone several times. President Eyring even said: "Am I doing alright Mom? " In which Zeke replied "you are doing great!" Feeling a little rushed I said I think I got it. Only to find out later that none of the times I pushed the button with my shaking fingers resulted in a picture:(
Next came Elder Uchtdorf. He was full of smiles and happy as always and he reached out to shake our hands. As I attempted to take a picture, his security guard asked me not to take any pictures. So out of respect I slipped my phone in my back pocket for the remainder of the night.
Then Elder Nelson came along. He remembered us from our visit before the performance. He said "Well hello again, wasn't that wonderful!"
We had thought we had seen all the apostles come in before the program, but we had not noticed Elder Hales and Elder Cook. All of the sudden they were both right in front of us.
We greeted them and they both said "Good to see you". Elder Hales was very frail and needed help walking out of the conference center. But despite his frailties he was so happy and cheerful. Both Zeke and I felt a special love and admiration for this man at that moment.
Then Elder Holland came next. He greeted Jacob first and commented on how he really liked his ruby shirt. It almost seemed funny to be greeting an apostle in street clothes, let alone have him make a comment about it. Then like many of the other apostles we shook their hands thanked them for his service and dedication and told him we loved him.
The funnest moment of this experience was: since we had just greeted Elder Hales and were somewhat surprised to see him, Zeke was still thinking about seeing Elder Hales
that he called Elder Holland.. ...Elder Hales.
I looked at him a little shocked and Elder Holland just smiled.
I think it will be something that Zeke never lives down:)
Then we were greeted by Elder Oaks and Elder Ballard.
At the end we were greeted by Elder Christofferson. He was very sweet and when he greeted Lydia he asked if I was her sister. (My favorite apostle now ;)
After everyone had gone, we stood there in a little bit of disbelief of what we had just experience. These were men with a special witness of Jesus Christ. They were men we listened to during general conference, we strive to follow their counsel and teaching. We love and sustain them!
Then I thought.... oh how I wish Landon and Mason would have been there with us.
When we met up with the boys after, Mason was excited to tell me that he had seen Elder Christofferson in person waiting for the elevator back stage. I asked him if he shook his hand and he said, "I kind of forgot I had a hand". As we shared our experience with them they were a little bummed about not being there with us, but in the end they were happy for our family and grateful for the experience they had being in such a wonderful production.