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'Reaching across the continents'

Assembled "as believers in this, the cause of Christ," Latter-day Saints came by the thousands to Temple Square in Salt Lake City for the 166th Semiannual General Conference Saturday, Oct. 5, and Sunday, Oct. 6.

Meeting under favorable circumstances with unseasonably warm autumn temperatures rising to the mid-80s F, the conference gathering filled the Tabernacle, and overflow crowds gathered in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building across the street to the east. Hundreds more listened from the grounds of Temple Square.President Gordon B.Hinckley observed that this conference had received unprecedented coverage, "reaching across the continents and the oceans to people far and wide."

President Hinckley welcomed the conference assembly Saturday morning, noting, "You have gathered to be encouraged, to be inspired, to be lifted and directed as members of the Church."

He informed the congregation that he and the other General Authorities had "prayed in our closets for inspiration and direction," that they might be prompted "to say those words which will build faith and testimony and which will become answered prayers for those who will hear."

President Hinckley invited the conference-goers to "listen . . . by the power of the Spirit," promising them that as they did so they would be uplifted, their resolution to do what is right would be stronger, and they would find solutions to their problems and needs.

As the conference concluded Sunday afternoon, President Hinckley expressed gratitude for "the mercies of the Lord," and the hope that the people would long remember what they had heard. "I hope that each of us may have been touched in a personal way by something that was said, and that as a result of that, there will be a turnabout in any unseemly attitude or action," he said.

President Hinckley and his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor, and President James E. Faust, second counselor, took turns conducting the five sessions of conference - two general sessions each on Saturday and Sunday, and the general priesthood session Saturday evening.

During the conference, 22 General Authorities and two general officers of the Church delivered a total of 29 speeches. President Hinckley spoke four times and each counselor spoke twice. Included were addresses on themes of the Atonement, the gift of the Holy Ghost, the priesthood, marriage and family, the role of women in the home and Church, missionary work, personal worthiness, and cultivating righteous desires.

Conference addresses were translated simultaneously for each of the following languages: Bulgarian, Cambodian, Cantonese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Haitian-Creole, Hmong, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Navajo, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog, Tahitian, Thai, Tongan and Vietnamese.

Hugh Allred was among the 220 volunteer ushers who served on Temple Square during the conference. "It was wonderful to watch the expressions on the faces of the people as they were moved by the Spirit," he said after the closing session Sunday afternoon. "They were anxious to get inside the Tabernacle. They came from all over the world and were grateful to be here."

Lizandra Albuquerque and Romanna Remor, young women from southern Brazil who are students at BYU, enjoyed being on Temple Square where they admired thousands of flowers in full bloom.

"This is the second general conference that I have attended," Lizandra said. "How can I explain how wonderful it was? It was a great opportunity to be here, to learn from the fountain - the source - to see the prophet and his counselors, the General Authorities, and all these people."

Romanna said, "I just wish my family could be here with me. Everything I saw and heard, I kept saying, `I wish they could be here.' Everything reminded me of my family."

She added: "Coming to conference reminds me of what really matters in life. This makes you forget everything else. Sometimes I've been distracted by so many other things, but conference has reminded me of what is really, really important. What I heard at conference will help me set my goals."

Mario Organista, a native of Mexico who moved to Utah six months ago from California with his wife, Teresa, and their three children, said, "The most beautiful thing about conference is to hear the prophets of the Lord. It brings me happiness."

He said that as he attended conference he "reflected about the beautiful things we have in life" and was reminded of the responsibilities he has as a husband and father, and as a priesthood bearer.

Each of these people, and thousands of others, demonstrated that President Hinckley's hope had been fufilled, for they were "touched in a personal way by something that was said."


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

"Our testimony . . . will be strengthened, our faith will be deepened as we participate together in this great and sacred convocation." =- President Gordon B. Hinckley Opening session of conference