A Very Long Five Minutes

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By: T F Stern | Self-Educated American

Today we got to enjoy the Sunday Session of the Conroe Stake Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as it was broadcast via the internet from the Creighton Stake Center Building to the Madisonville Chapel.  When we arrived, about twenty minutes prior to the actual start time, Brother Simpson had all the equipment set up and had his laptop computer set up to receive the transmission so everyone in our chapel could enjoy the Primary Children’s Choir singing prelude music.

While it may appear to be a simple task; turning on the computer and aiming the projector on the wall to present the image, there is nothing simple about it.  The folks at the Creighton end were responsible for establishing the transmission feed which was sent up to Salt Lake City, it having been assigned a specific URL which could then be sent out over the internet and received by anyone who knows what that URL is.

Everything was working as designed, that is right up until it was time for Conference to actually start.  That’s when the screen went blank and the sound quit.  I observed as Brother Simpson got up rather hurriedly from his seat, went to the front of the chapel and checked on the equipment.

I should mention that at one time I had the calling of Stake Clerk/IT Specialist for the Houston North Stake.  One of my jobs was to make sure internet connections during conference were established and working.  Invariably, if there was going to be a problem, those issues would present themselves at the very moment when conference began in earnest.  All your training and skills would be put to the test as you tried to figure out what had gone wrong.

I found myself watching Brother Simpson as the clock ticked; one minute after the hour and I knew President Goodman, a punctual individual, was standing at the podium at the Creighton Building kicking off the Sunday Morning Session.  There was nothing happening, at least nothing good.  Brother Simpson was checking the screen on his laptop to make sure his connection was set properly, that the URL was the one assigned for this particular transmission, that his equipment was hooked up.

Two minutes had gone by and Brother Simpson was going over everything one more time, starting from the beginning as if he’d just turned on his laptop.  It’s a fair bet his blood pressure had kicked into a higher gear and that he’d swallowed a couple of times to clear his own throat.

Three minutes had gone by and by now President Goodman was introducing everyone on the stand, beginning with the assigned visiting member of the Seventy, Elder Jose Teixeira (image courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), President and Sister Childs from the Houston Temple and so on…

Four minutes had passed and it looked like Brother Simpson was wiping away beads of sweat from his brow.  Nothing yet, the images that he was looking at on his laptop were also being presented by the projector on the wall for everyone to see.  I said a silent prayer for Brother Simpson, that all his skills be brought into play, that he not die from heart failure while trying to bring about the Sunday Session of Stake Conference.

Five minutes; well, closer to four and a half…the speaker system rendered the sound of success as we were both hearing and seeing the Chorister’s image directing everyone to join in with the opening hymn which was already in progress.  We would be able to enjoy Stake Conference; but more importantly, Brother Simpson would be able to start breathing once more.  That is a very long five minutes to be responsible for.

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