The April 2018 general conference was unforgettable. Not only did the stars align so that Easter, conference, and April Fools all landed on the same day, we participated in a solemn assembly, sustained a new prophet and two new apostles, and received a few jaw-dropping surprises.
No one captured the emotions of this weekend better than Elder Holland when he proclaimed, "To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, the most memorable moments in life are those in which we feel the rush of revelation. President Nelson, I don’t know how many more 'rushes' we can handle this weekend. Some of us have weak hearts. But as I think about it, you can take care of that too. What a prophet!"
As general conference approaches once again, we wanted to take a look back on the moments from April's conference no one saw coming.
In the Sunday afternoon session of general conference, when most of us were winding down and prepping for Easter family dinners, President Russell M. Nelson dropped one of the biggest announcements of the entire weekend:
"We have made the decision to retire home teaching and visiting teaching as we have known them. Instead, we will implement a newer, holier approach to caring for and ministering to others. We will refer to these efforts simply as 'ministering.'"
After hearing the words "retire home teaching and visiting teaching," Latter-day Saints across the world did a double take and held their breath waiting for the "April Fools," but it never came. And thank goodness. Ministering has brought miracles and an added measure of divine love for all those who have striven to accept this "newer, holier approach."
In addition to ushering in minstering in place of home and visiting teaching, President Nelson announced during the Saturday priesthood session that the high priests group and the elders quorum would be combined into one, epic elders quorum. Six months later, I think we can all agree we have a lot to learn from each other.
3. Two new, historic apostles.
During the sacred moments of the solemn assembly, members perked up as two unfamiliar names were read during the sustaining of the Quorum of the Twelve. Not only did Church members have the chance to sustain our new prophet, we had the opportunity to sustain our two new apostles as well: Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares.
And both represented historic firsts for the Church: Elder Gong is the first apostle of Chinese ancestry while Elder Soares is the first apostle from Brazil to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve.
4. Seven temples being announced to gasps and cheers.
Just about when we thought we were done with this weekend of upheavals and surprises, President Nelson couldn't help but throw in one more shock. But this announcement included added intrigue and mystery with the "major city yet to be determined in Russia" that will soon host a temple.
Murmurs filled the conference center as President Nelson listed off the seven locations (Salta, Argentina; Bengaluru, India; Managua Nicaragua; Cagayan de Oro, Philippines; Layton, Utah; Richmond, Virginia; and a major city yet to be determined in Russia), and even he couldn't keep a straight face when gasps echoed all around after he announced a temple in Layton, Utah.
5. Elder Gong surprising us with a little lullaby.
Already shell-shocked and in awe of our two new apostles, it was an unexpected delight when Elder Gong approached the pulpit for the very first time as an apostle of the Lord and began singing a lullaby.
6. President Nelson's delivering multiple mic drops heard round the world.
While all of these announcements, inspired changes, magnificent leaders, and humbling messages continally blew our minds last conference weekend, what seemed the most mind-boggling to me was how vivacious, how composed, and how at ease a 93-year-old President Nelson looked as the leader of an organization charged with the task of taking the gospel to the entire world and saving God's children on both sides of the veil. Not only was he calm, he was energetic and delivered his messages and announcements with sensitivity and a flair of showmanship that made every moment engaging. He laughed, cried, taught, directed, and through it all he enjoyed himself. It wasn't until later that I realized what I witnessed that weekend was the Savior's grace and God's prophetic mantle falling on a man who has spent his entire life in the service of the Lord. That, and a prophet's wonderful sense of humor.