Uniting families worldwide

Advances in technology help bring families together

Families scattered all over the world come together in Utah twice a year, thanks to modern developments in the media.

That's why the saying "what a small world" is becoming more relevant today, and every day we hear more and more incredible stories of the unifying miracle of technology.

In Salt Lake City, it is 10 a.m. on Saturday, the opening day of the 182nd Annual General Conference of the Church. At the same moment in one part of Australia it is Sunday near 2 a.m.; in Montreal, Canada, it is noon; in Bogota, Colombia, it is 11 in the morning. In Florida, it is noon, and a large family is awaiting the events that nurture and unite them as a family.

Jaime Chaparro's family gets together that day, regardless of distance or time, under the same culture, one belief and one purpose: to listen to their Church leaders and receive the same spiritual nourishment at the same time.

"This event brings us together and strengthens us as a family. No matter where we are, we know we will all be receiving the same encouragement, the same words of counsel and the same teachings. It is as if we were all under one roof," says Angela Chaparro, Brother Chaparro's wife.

Angela and Jaime Chaparro, who live in Murray, Utah, sit with a photo of them and their six children
Angela and Jaime Chaparro, who live in Murray, Utah, sit with a photo of them and their six children who are living all around the world. The Chaparro family is grateful for technology so they can watch general conference as a family, no mater where they are. | Photo by Brian Nicholson, Okespañol

Manuel Garcia, a resident of South Jordan, Utah, and a native of Bogota, Colombia, is grateful for the use of technological advances that the Church employs for the transmission of its conferences.

"It's a special feeling we experience at the time of the conference to know that my brothers, my sons and other relatives, who are thousands and thousands of miles (away), in other distant countries, can be listening to what I am listening (to), and they are receiving simultaneously the same instructions as I am."

Due to different occupations and life circumstances, the Garcia-Gonzalez family is sprinkled in various countries. Some of them are in Canada, others in Australia, a large majority in Colombia and others are on the East Coast of the United States.

However, every six months, as they listen to the Church leaders — either in a chapel, by satellite or at home via the Internet or television — they feel as if they are one.

"It's amazing how this event is made possible by the use of technology. Many times we hear a message that brings a very meaningful teaching for the family. Immediately, we all communicate and we begin to discuss and plan actions to take," added Brother Garcia. "This not only helps us to progress as a family, but also helps us feel we are not far apart."

Gospel in action

They are not the only ones who benefit from the technology used by the Church to reach its members every six months.

A couple of years ago, Antero Miguel Sanchez, a native of Peru who lives in Ogden, Utah, had an extraordinary experience. He reported that while listening to general conference, he realized the importance of family history work. Immediately, he gathered his sons and daughters together and shared with them his feelings of the importance of family history work. They all brought diaries, pictures, scrapbooks and family trees and put them together into one large family history file. Later, the Sanchez family enlisted the help of their extended family in Peru to work toward completing the family's work.

"When our family hears the same messages, no matter where they are, it is much easier to develop a project like the one I'm doing, because we all work together to achieve it," said Brother Sanchez, who proudly shares their experience and progress with their family history efforts.

Uniting members

Moises and Erika Ortiz arrived in Utah three years ago from Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico. Every six months when they have the opportunity to watch or listen to the conference, they feel close to their native town, where Brother Ortiz was president of the Real del Monte Hidalgo Branch. "We remember when we traveled either by bus — and some members of the branch by foot — to the meeting place, where we all together were able to listen to conference, and received the inspirational messages from our prophet and leaders," said Erika Ortiz. "We were so happy and amazed at the wonder of technology and what it can do."

Today the Ortiz family experiences the same feelings that they had before while watching the conference and remembers how much they love the members of their ward in Mexico and the sacrifices they made to watch and listen to Church leaders."We feel they are part of our family. Every conference, it is amazing to realize that those feelings which we had in the past remain within us and grow stronger every year as we get reunited through conference with the members of the branch in Mexico," added Sister Ortiz.

Technology has a great role in mediating distances and reuniting families across the world.

Church leaders work hard to provide an opportunity for all members around the world to hear the inspiring words of general conference. The Church does live satellite transmission in 93 languages, which showcases the work of hundreds of people for many years and the expansion and increased use of advanced technology.

About 800 people work together in the process of interpretation and translation of the conference addresses, including 600 who work in the Conference Center.

"The Church continues to explore and utilize new technology to enable the general conference to reach all people around the world," said Scott Trotter, spokesman for the Church.

In the beginning

General conference addresses were first interpreted in 1961 into four foreign languages: German, Dutch, Samoan and Spanish.

It was first beamed to Europe, South America, Central America and South Africa via Radio New York Worldwide in the early 1960s.

The transmission of conference continued to grow rapidly so that in 1972, 125 radio stations and 235 TV stations transmitted portions of each conference.

In 1980, portions of the conference were broadcast by satellite in French and Spanish.

"Fifty years ago, we were [in the basement] of the Tabernacle and are now essentially an event sent around the world," said Brad Lindsay, manager of interpretations of the Church. "It's a big change and with technology today, it is possible."

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