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BYU–Hawaii students away from home during general conference fondly remember family traditions like pancakes, luaus and gatherings

Laura Hinze smiles wearing a white shirt and colorful orange and blue dress holding up a plate with a crepe with chocolate syrup with a white wall behind her.

Due to the time zone difference between Laie and Salt Lake City, Utah, Laura Hinze, a marine biology major from the Seattle, Wash., area, said she usually watches general conference in her pajamas.

“I just roll out of bed and plop down in front of the TV.” However, back in Seattle with her family, she would be sure to wear her favorite pair of pajamas for morning sessions: a chicken onesie.

“I would wake up in normal pajamas and then change into my chicken onesie,” she said.

Hinze said her conference routine focuses majorly on the kind of breakfast she and her family ate together to ring in the morning sessions. “I usually wake up early to make a nice pancake breakfast,” Hinze said.

“I invite people over to participate. … I make crêpes to make it special for the first session on Saturday.” She went on to describe how she curls up under a blanket with her pancakes and her notebook.

Students may be far from their families, but the common thread of watching general conference together with friends and loved ones is something they always have access to, students said, even if they’re only eating pancakes with their roommates.

“I don’t actually take notes. I just jot down the talks that stood out to me so I can read them later,” Hinze explained. “I ain’t about to take notes. I do that too much as a student.”

She uses symbols such as stars or hearts to connect the talks she wrote down with the questions she had been pondering in the week coming up to conference, she said. “It’s totally arbitrary and makes no sense to anyone but me, but that’s how I do it.”

Debra Neemia, a sophomore social work major from Samoa, sees general conference weekend as an occasion to celebrate. Her whole family would go to their stake center to watch general conference with their ward, she explained. Because Samoa is over the international date line and is a day ahead of the U.S. mainland, saints in Samoa watch general conference the following week, she said, instead of watching it live.

Afterwards, Neemia’s family has a huge feast with a pig roast, ulu, taro, bananas and “all the works.” Neemia described it as a typical celebratory luau. With the whole extended family participating, it’s a celebration of both family togetherness and a chance to hear the words of modern-day prophets.

Ho Yin Yeung, a sophomore from Hong Kong majoring in hotel and tourism management, takes a more studious approach to general conference. “I write down some questions … I have in my heart that I’m seeking answers [for] from general conference,” he said. Everyone in Yeung’s family does this, he said, but they’re personal questions, so they don’t discuss them together.

Like in Samoa, saints in Hong Kong watch general conference on a time delay due to the international date line. Yeung also described going to the local stake center to watch the broadcast with fellow Church members. He said he treasures this because he’s able to ponder and pray for answers with his large ward and stake families. The feeling of togetherness extends out to a whole community.