(Disclaimer, for some reason, I am unable to post pictures. I will sit down and work this problem out this week)
What a crazy couple of weeks! Everything has been perfect, and so much has happened. Whereas I once wrote mainly on soldiers moving in their companies and regiments, now it seems that entire corps are being placed in the front, and heading into the fight. In other words, great things of importance are happening.
(And I still haven’t lost my ability to muddy the situation with metaphors.)
As Mom already announced I was called to be the Elders Quorum President a few weeks ago. Initially, my first thought was “No, not me!” I had other plans, and they did not involve staying at the Crestwood. In fact, I had already arranged to live with some friends in another complex, and was going to submit my application for a semester-long study abroad in Jerusalem the very next day. I asked the Bishop for one week to think about it, but upon leaving his office and going to Sacrament Meeting, it was apparent within minutes what I needed to do.
It was a very personal experience, and I won’t share everything, but my faith and testimony were both increased greatly by this experience, and I will share a couple thoughts. First, I reflected back on Pres. Monson’s story of being called to the Bishopric. He was the same age, 22, and went to talk with Harold B. Lee of the Quorum of the 12. Elder Lee told him to reject his officer’s commission in the Navy, (that Pres. Monson had diligently worked for, and given that war in Korea appeared immenent, it appeared much better to serve as an officer, than to wait and be called up as enlisted ensign.) Pres. Monson did not want to, but listened, and admits that his life changed dramatically because of that situation. Of course, this was with 60 years of hindsight. What will I think 60 years from now?
Second, I remembered how just a week before, inspired by Elder Klebingat’s visit, I had prayed to the Lord, asking how I could serve better, and asking for opportunities to do so. The last few months I had at many times been frustrated by the apparent lack of challenges. My life seemed so easy. Remembering this, could I then turn down the chance I had been praying for?
As I sat in the Sacrament meeting, not paying attention to the announcements, I flipped open the scriptures, hoping to see some rationale to still leave. Randomly opening to 1st Corinthians 1, I read the chapter. Nearly every verse testified what I needed to do. Two especially were significant, verse 17, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel…” I had reflected previously on how I could continue my missionary efforts, and this was the obvious answer. I did not need to baptize new converts, but to strengthen those already of the fold. The other part that quite literally pierced me was 1:25-27.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.
Our plans are foolishness compared to the plan of God. As soon as Sacrament ended, I told the Bishop I was in. I had wanted to go to Jerusalem to come closer to my Savior, but surely this calling would do that as well.
In the weeks that have followed, I am so grateful and humble for this opportunity. It has been a great experience, and one in which I have already learned so much. This last year, two people committed suicide in the apartment. complex and another died apparently of natural causes in his sleep. It says in John 18:9,
Of them which thou gavest me I have lost none.
That has become our Presidency’s mantra, and we are working hard to make sure we know and welcome everyone.
School is finishing this week, I have three finals left. So far, the others have passed by with ease. I have struggled somewhat in my Portuguese class, as there are so many busy work assignments. Perhaps busy work isn’t the best term as I understand practice is necessary to master a new topic, nevertheless, they really do seem quite unnecessary and not that helpful. I was happy to take the Challenge Exam, offered to returned missionaries to receive up to 16 credits for the mission language. I took that one week ago, and knowing that my Portuguese is definitely not the best, I finished the test in 25 minutes and earned 12 credits of A’s, and 4 of A-.
I played the organ today in church. My mind was somewhat preoccupied with other things, so I went up and played fire. Every hymn (but the sacrament of course) was played with a bunch of stops, including a mixture, and the dust was falling from the rafters. It was confident with no mistakes (finally!).
Since I last wrote my dating has consisted entirely of going out with Lydia. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her and we have our next one planned for tomorrow. On our first date, she recommended the author Wendell Berry, and I have been devouring his writing since then. I likewise, highly recommend his work, whether in poetry, essays, or novels.
I’ve managed to golf every week. Last time out was with Tanner. According to him, I played “inspired.” Nearly every shot was hit purely, and still not doing the math to account for the thinner Utah air, I airmailed a couple greens. On the penultimate hole, there was someone in front of us way out in the distance. I thought I’d just hit it, and to my amazement the ball sailed way over his head! (and just to the right). On this par-5 measuring 490 yards, my drive went right down the middle of the fairway, 370 yards. It was crushed, and exhilarating and guaranteed I’ll need to play and try to improve on this round in the near future. I feel my swing is back, to my best pre-mission levels. Of course, my second, a 60 degree wedge went too far, and after a pitch onto the green, it was two putts, and a par. Oh well. I did birdie the other par-5 though, with another great drive and a second shot to just off the right side of the green. (Ok, I desist, that’s enough golf for one letter.)
I loved having the Orton’s and Hutchins’ over for games and desserts. Its always great to spend some time with them. Nora continues to grow, and her smile cracks me up. Tanmarie continue to help me, and are very generous with transportation and time. I had dinner with them tonight, together with some of Annemarie’s siblings.
First, my newspaper endeavor is going well. My friend Robert and I spent a few days in Indianapolis to learn some tricks of the trade. That weekend was the Master’s, the wedding of a friend, and a dinner with Terryl Givens. Nevertheless, I went. So we’re serious about this. Right now, we are thinking of calling it “Journal of the American Mind” or JAM for short.
I continue to work on visiting all of the Utah temples. This week I checked off the Ogden Temple. It was a ward temple trip, and we went up on Thursday evening. It was truly a remarkable night, in which I went without many questions and left knowing more about what the future held for me than before.