A week of firsts. Eating my first persimmon. First time buying a massage. Going on my first date in 43 days. First time moisturizing my feet. Of course, that one involved inadvertently spilling a 16 oz bottle of balsamic salad dressing that I had just about finished making, when I went to grab some spices, and knocked a can of soup down, which hit the dressing, which soaked my feet. Pros: The rosemary and garlic hadn’t been added. Cons: That leaves me vulnerable to vampires. And the honey was in it, and I definitely was worried about leaving my feet uncovered, thinking a rat would go for my toes in the middle of the night. A week of firsts, but some things never change.
Tuesday was the much-ballyhooed service auction that the service committee in the ward organized. Members signed up to donate some act of service (I think the end result was a list of about 35 items) and then we bid canned goods to purchase the items. I donated a banana cream pie that Bishop Miner won. I also enthusiastically brought 38 cans, ready to be a “high roller.” I had a great time, trying to purposefully push prices higher, and being completely at ease, appreciating the spirit of the event. Bonus was winning a few treats including a massage from Chariton. The activity was a blast, and the spirit of service was definitely felt. The food is going to a local food bank, and the ward has already become closer as we are serving each other more.
After a quick meeting on Wednesday, our presidency split-up to visit all the elders without temple recommends. Previously, only about 30-40% of people we tried to visit would be home. We witnessed a miracle, as every single person Dillon and I went to was home and free for a quick visit, and the two Jacob’s were able to contact every single one they were going to as well. Something that I’ve been constantly repeating is the idea that the difference between a friend and a minister (as the new ministering program makes it easy to focus SOLELY on friendship) is that a minister, while still being a friend, will INVITE that person to come closer to Christ. We were bold in our invitations this night, and finished feeling satisfied and at peace with what transpired. We were accompanied in our efforts by unseen hands as we talked about the importance of genealogical and temple work.
We started Hegel’s “Philosophy of World History” this week in book club. He has some interesting ideas, and while I find myself agreeing with more than I anticipated, it’s easy to see how his thoughts have led to many of the problems in the world today, his philosophy justifying and promoting these problems. Based on his writing, one assumes he would oppose many of the developments today, but he didn’t see the natural end of his philosophy being carried out and logically furthered. It is important to be on the straight and narrow, and not off by just a degree or two, as over time those two degrees leads to huge misses and dangerous effects.
Friday night was Tanner’s surprise 27th birthday. We met at Matt and Joanna’s place at 7:30, a group of 20 adults struggling to maintain silence for 15 minutes until he came up. Annemarie kept the night’s events a surprise from him, and he walked upstairs from their basement apartment expecting to go on a date, with his coat on and keys in hand. And he infamously said, after knocking on the door before entering the Pace’s house, “We’re coming up, I’m naked!” Of course, this was just a joke, but it has now been importantly recorded for posterity. I stayed for a few fun games and then took Porter and Cooper home.
Saturday, per custom, I took the LSAT from 9-12:30. The real test is now in two weeks.
After, I went and picked up Melissa for our date at 1:30. We went to Wal-Mart and met Robert and Hailey for our Iron Chef date challenge. Melissa and I reached into the bag holding the options, and picked out “Entree” and “Italian.” The idea being, we had $10 to purchase food to then make an italian entree. Robert and Hailey got “dessert” and “hispanic.” Shortly after coming back from mission, Melissa discovered that she is now gluten intolerant, but we found some gluten-free noodles and made chicken alfredo, with some veggies on the side. It was good. But nothing special. Robert and Hailey whooped us. They made churros (also using gluten-free flour) and then made a cream cheese sauce and added frozen raspberries. The combo was insane, and we all wanted more and more. The date was a lot of fun, and even though it lasted longer than anticipated, from 1:30-4, we all enjoyed it.
I then was able to go to the City Center temple. BYU football was playing Liberty University at Lavell Edwards Stadium right then, so it was unusually quiet, and the perfect place to be.
Sunday morning while Caroline and I were meeting with the Bishop, the power abruptly went out. We were left in the darkness, and suprisingly iron curtains lowered and cordoned off the main staircase. We had to go around the whole building to find another stairwell and make our exit. Not knowing what in the world was going on, our first thought was that this was an active shooter situation. Thankfully, it was nothing. A main line had been hit, so the entire part of campus we were on and part of the neighboring street lost power. That was at 9:30, and so the stake cancelled everyone’s EQ and RS classes, leaving only Sacrament meeting. It was still a spiritual feast, and both speakers, Sandra S. and Lauren M., bore powerful witness of God’s plan for each and every one of us.
The power returned right before we started sacrament meeting at 1:15, and after we were able to have our munch and mingle. It was then off to the annual Stake Priesthood meeting. The EQ presidencies in the stake met with the stake president from 4-5 in a counsel, and then the general session was 5-6:15. Pres. Curtis was the only speaker, and he made it a more informal discussion of some recent points from Pres. Oaks GA leadership session before conference in April. The main takeaway for me was the necessity we have to defend truth, and to love God first, and our neighbor second. It is easy nowadays to switch these two great commandments and instead honor and fear man more than God.
I read this in a compilation of Harold B. Lee’s teachings this week:
“Your test of greatness, whether you be youth or whether you be adult, is not be measured by the question about your wealth, how much you are worth financially speaking, or how much knowledge you have gained in the world, or what great talents you have, but your measure of greatness or just mediocrity, or less than that, may be measured by your answer to one simple question, “What do you like?” Do you like pornographic pictures rather than pictures of great art? Do you like to go to vulgar shows rather than The Sound of Music? Do you love the sensuous music rather than to hear great symphonies or the work of the masters? You answer to yourselves and then see what your youth like and you will have the answer to their souls, for music indeed is the language of the soul, whether it be uplifting or otherwise. It is the index to where we are today.”
I’ve understood the influence music has on me personally for some time, but never comprehended the extent to which it matters until reading this. Moroni 7:12: “All things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually. But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God. Wherefore , take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.”
I know that as we seek after all things, especially musical pieces that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy,” we will have the Holy Spirit in our lives and will be filled with more peace and have virtuous thoughts, allowing us to stand with confidence before the throne of God.