General Conference brings students to the Sea of Galilee

Dozens of Jerusalem Center students watch general conference right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Sara Van Wagenen
Dozens of Jerusalem Center students watch General Conference right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
(Photo by Sara Van Wagenen)

Some Latter-day Saints believe Church leaders ask personally directed questions in General Conference.

“Can you imagine the scene of the 11 Apostles on the mountain near Galilee when the risen Lord came to them?” Elder Neil L. Andersen asked in the April 2013 General Conference.

At least 80 people listening to Elder Andersen speak didn’t even have to try and imagine — they were there.

Students at the Jerusalem Center have gone to that scene every April and October to watch General Conference. LDS branch leaders replace the Church broadcast center with the outdoor serenity on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, hooking up a screen, projector and computer to stream the broadcast live via WiFi.

“When we were in Galilee, we could just walk there,” said Sara Van Wagenen, who experienced Conference in Galilee in April. “It was super chill and super exciting. Everyone was taking notes in the dark using their phones as flashlights.”

Students at the Jerusalem Center lived in small houses close to the shore where they watched Conference. Because of a nine-hour time-zone difference, students watched Conference in the evening in the light of the seaside sunset.

“Even on a Saturday night, our first priority was to watch Conference,” Van Wagenen said, adding that students typically watch movies and play games on weekend evenings.

Spencer Ngatuvai, a senior who is studying public relations, said the General Conference experience in Galilee was much more than a pretty night on lawn chairs and blankets.

“You gain a greater appreciation for what Jesus went through,” Ngatuvai said of viewing Conference where Christ had performed miracles. “It’s an amazing experience.”

Elder Andersen said he imagined Jesus saying to his apostle Andrew, “Come and see not only where I live, but how I live.”

Van Wagenen and Ngatuvai said they felt as though they accepted the invitation.

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