Sunday, July 29, 2012

An Amazing Experience - Still Pinching Myself!

I spent a memorable weekend in Safford Arizona speaking at an LDS women’s conference and was so blessed to be able to share the stage with some amazing LDS artists, songwriters (for Grammy award winning artists), and bands. The Inspire My Life conference was meant for me to contribute my talents to inspire the crowd but in reality the conference inspired me!

Ron Saltmarsh and Katherine Nelson warming up
I experienced in a way I never have before the power of music. Everyone can connect through music and come together. Music breaks barriers, moves souls and invites the spirit. I was so touched by the wonderful performances, words spoken and amazing people I got to spend hours with in the green room. It was an experience I will never forget!

Gilla Valley, Arizona temple
Safford is a small town in Arizona that completely stands out from the rest of the county. I drove for three hours through hot desert on an old highway and for miles all I saw was cactus, trailer homes, garbage on the side of the highway, and several memorial sites along the side of the road where people had been killed. It was a little depressing. Then after 3 hours the highway curved and there were beautiful mountains that appeared out of nowhere. Green fields and churches lined the road. Then suddenly out of the blue I see a temple! I had no idea there was a temple in that neck of the woods. It was a wonderful surprise! The Gilla Valley temple was so beautiful. It felt like home away from home. 

Safford Center for the Arts

The streets were clean and the people outside seemed very happy. After checking in to my hotel, I went to get a bite to eat. I picked a small Mexican restaurant surrounded by palm trees decked with Christmas lights. It was Luau month and there was Hawaiian décor all throughout the Mexican restaurant. When I opened the door I heard “Hi Sister Jones!” The restaurant was owned by a well loved LDS family. They sparkled with radiance of the Savior and bright smiles. Everyone knew everyone and they were so loving towards one another. It felt so comforting especially being alone on a trip, in an unfamiliar town at night.  I felt safe.

The food was so delicious and the place was packed. I had never experienced such great customer service and hospitality as I had that night. I looked up and saw a poster on the wall with my book on it. It was an advertisement for the event I would be speaking at. These people didn’t make the connection regardless of who I was or why  was there, they treated me like family. 

The next day after the conference, I went out into the lobby to sign books and to my surprise was met with open arms and tear filled eyes of several women I had never before met.  They shared with me their different stories about how my message had inspired them and again it felt like family. It was so inspiring to connect with these humble and faithful women. To hear about their struggles and to give them hope. There was nothing quite like it and I didn’t want the day to end.

Dinner backstage
Later that night after spending all day backstage I decided to blend in with the crowd and enjoy the concert put on by the Nashville Tribute Band. The entire town must have been there and we were clapping our hands and stomping our feet. The music brought us all together and we shared our love for pioneers, missionary work, the prophet and the gospel entirely. The members of the band were from Nashville and Utah - some converts and some members all their lives. No matter our backgrounds, status or length of membership in the church – the artists, band, myself and the people of Safford were all united in the gospel that night through the music. It was so touching and inspiring.

The band members whom I had never met until that day treated me like family. We laughed, some cried, and we shared special memories about our lives and families. There was prayer, there was lots of humor and jokes – it was as real as real can get.

Me and Katherine Nelson AKA actress playing Emma Smith
As we said our goodbyes and parted after the show, I was inspired in a way I have never been inspired before. I’m going to start a new project that I am so happy about and it never would have crossed my mind had I not been a part of all this. I came home to my family a better mom and a better wife and we have all been blessed.

Michael McLean, me and William Joseph

I’ll update you later as my project unfolds but in the meantime know this - God is wonderful and the gospel it true and sweet! People that we meet in our everyday lives are sometimes no different than the angels in heaven. God uses them to protect us, comfort us and bless us in ways we could never imagine. If you want to feel God’s love – look around it’s not hard to find.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ – amen.

Here is a link where you can learn more about the conference and the bands/artists. You'll be blown away at their portfolios and talent!

1 comment:

Tiffanie said...

That looks like such a great experience Lindsey! So happy for you!