When I was younger, the word "conference" to me meant that there was no church...it was a free day! Then as I started getting active in youth programs and such, I realized that it only meant that for my family. Apparently everyone else went to church on conference Sundays as well as regular Sundays. The first time I ever attended General Conference I was 16 years old. Back in those days (yes, the "olden times" of the early 90's) we had to dress in Sunday dress and go to the Stake Center to watch it. I was so proud that my sister and I actually went to the Sunday morning session and was telling one of my leaders as much when they smiled and asked me if we were going to stay for the afternoon session too. What? You mean there's more than just Sunday morning? Yes, there's even two sessions on Saturday too. Oooooohhhh! Light bulb! That's why people refer to it as conference weekend. The next conference, I went to all four sessions. (I felt a great need back then to be the perfect Mormon so I could get into BYU...both of which never happened but that's another story...let's just say I was really naive.)
I owe a great deal to my youth leaders who took me under thier wing and had the patience to teach me (a girl who had been going to church basically her whole life) about the gospel, of which I knew very little about. My favorite youth leaders were the Jarrard's who gave me countless rides to church, activities, and yes, my very first General Conference. The Jarrard's loved General Conference and used to say that the counsel we received were our marching orders for the next six months. They probably still say that. "Okay, we've got our marching orders for the next six months. Let's get to work!"
Now, there have been times when I have attended all four sessions, and there have been times when I have listened to one talk the whole of conference weekend, but the older I get and the more I grow in the gospel, the more I look forward to General Conference. I really get excited about it. (And it doesn't hurt that I can watch it in my own home in my pajamas either...I'm just sayin'.) I love to hear the familiar melodic voices of our prophets and apostles. I love to see their familiar faces. I love it when they look right into the camera and speak directly to me. And most of all, I love the counsel and encouragement they give us. My two favorites from this conference were Pres. Uchtdorf and Pres. Monson.
So, my challenge to you (and to myself) is whether or not you listened to all four sessions or you didn't hear any of it at all, take 15-20 minutes of your time this week, get on the church's website, pick a talk, and listen to it.