Mormons from around the world gather in Salt Lake City for semi-annual General Conference

Posted at 10:35 PM, Oct 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-02 00:41:00-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints get together twice each year to teach and give guidance to members of the faith during General Conference.

"Let us turn more towards forgiveness , kindness and love," said Robert D. Hales, a member of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who spoke at Saturday's conference.

Thousands gather in Salt Lake City to attend the conference in person, while millions more watch from all over the world.

"So we kind of grew up kind of watching conference over the Internet, or, you know, in Korea," said Hayoung Lee, a church member who attended Saturday's sessions.

Those able to attend in person Saturday were grateful for the experience.

"We loved it! We're from Washington state," said Mrs. Kraus, a church member who attended.

"I drove 12 hours from Sacramento," said Chloe Baca, another attendee.

Scott Stephens of North Dakota also made the trip.

"We come from an area that doesn't have a lot of church members, and so to be in a place that has more church members than we have basically in our entire state is amazing," Stephens said.

And, for some people, making the journey to the Utah was a long time in the making.

For Mr. And Mrs. Abreu, who traveled from the Dominican Republic, that journey took 28 years. They met up with a missionary who served in their country and who is helping them get around.

“Its really different when you're watching it in these third-world countries, but it's just so special to be here in person, to see how everything goes; he says there's a totally different spirit about when you're here present,” said Caden Christensen, a friend of the Abreus who was helping translate.

For many, the highlight was being in the same room as LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, even if he didn’t speak during the early sessions Saturday.

“And as he sat there he would lean over and talk to his counselors, and then as he got up and left he would wave to everyone and smile and point out to people,” Stephens said.

“Even though he didn't speak, we all know that he has the mantle of the Lord with him, and the spirit was there,” said Christensen, translating for Mr. Abreu.

While President Monson didn't speak in the first two sessions of General Conference, he did speak in the Priesthood Session Saturday night. It is expected that he will be giving some closing remarks at the conclusion of the conference Sunday.