Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Elder Call Responds to Father's Release; Missionary Work Moves Forward

24 August 2009

Hi Dad,

It is sad that you have been released, but you have done an excellent job and helped many, many people as bishop in the Beloit Ward. It would be bittersweet. What do you think your next calling will be? I suppose that by next p-day you will know who the new bishopric will be. Please let me know.

It sounds like it was a very spirit-filled day yesterday for our ward. That is really good. Many people in our ward love you and appreciate all that you have done for them. I am sure that you must be physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained. Being Bishop is hard work and it will be a big load taken from you.

I am happy for you though.

President Stewart is a very good man. I am grateful that he was my young men's president.

We had a baptism on Saturday! It was for "Three" his real name is Heakchun (pronounced Hitchin') Song. He is in the Singles Branch here. It was really cool. He need to get baptized at 8:00 in the morning so he could go to work and Elder Weatherston and I had to be at the church by 6:00 to start filling the font. So we had to get up at 5:40 AM! That seems so early. But it was all worth it for his baptism. Speaking of getting up early, Mary Ann is in High School today! She starts seminary soon! That is just weird.

We were also asked to speak in the Singles Branch yesterday. That was pretty good. I have spoken about 5 times so far in sacrament meeting on the mission. And we are speaking again this Sunday in a different ward. The people in Idaho love the missionaries. All day long we get people honking and waving at us as they drive by. It is kind of funny. Kids, especially, like to run to their windows and front doors and say "Hi missionaries!" or "Look! It’s the missionaries!" It is very nice of them. But I must admit all the honking and waving does get quite annoying.

Transfers are this Wednesday and we found out last night what was happening. Elder Weatherston and I are staying together here in Ammon West. This is his second to last transfer.

Things in our area are really picking up. Last week we taught 13 lessons! That is amazing. Our district leader and his companion, in the Ammon Foothills, have only taught a few LARCs this transfer. A LARC is a Less-Active/Recent-Convert.

We met a cool guy by the name of Ray Murdock yesterday, but I think I will write a letter home about him.

Good luck and thanks for everything you have done as bishop.

Elder Call

Elder Call's Dad to be Released as Bishop

First, an email I sent to Elder Call. . .

24 August 2009

Good morning, Elder Call.

Yesterday in Sacrament meeting President Stewart concluded the meeting with the announcement that next Sunday we will be sustaining a new bishopric for the Beloit Ward.

Mom and I had met with President Evans a week ago, when he extended the release to me. It is a bittersweet time. I will greatly miss the opportunity to serve the Lord and to be an instrument in His hands in helping ward members and others come unto Him. It has been a glorious opportunity and I know that in all likelihood it will never come to me again. For these reasons it is so difficult and makes me so sad to be released.

On the other hand, it is time to move on and to grow through other means. What those means are, we do not yet know. But we trust the Lord will provide us the opportunity to serve in some capacity that will help me become a better person and that will bless our family.

Yesterday's Sacrament meeting was very spiritual. Following the sacrament, we had a musical number by some sisters in our ward. Erin Grush, Deb Wright, and Cammy Patton (I don't think you know the Patton family) sang "Abide with Me," accompanied by Terisha Foster. They did a superb job and truly brought the Holy Ghost into the service. We then invited Karrie Stewart, Jon Stevens, and Ken Davis to share their testimonies. The Spirit had whispered to me to invite them to share their testimonies, and they each did such a wonderful job. I then had Brother Webb, who was conducting, invite Lindsey Ealy, Valerie Smith, Paul Crave, and Adam Foster to share their testimonies. It was amazing. The Spirit was so strong, and many tears were shed, both by those sharing their testimonies and by those who were edified by their words.

We then stood and sang the Parley P. Pratt hymn "Come, O Thou King of Kings." I love that hymn. It is a pleading for the Second Coming and expresses so beautifully my own desires for the renewal of the earth through cleansing.

I then spoke. I had prepared some remarks around the theme that the Holy Ghost knows all things. But when I stood, I felt to go a different direction and share first my thoughts about another Parley P. Pratt hymn, "The Morning Breaks." Another favorite of mine. Isn't Parley wonderful? When I had left for bishopric meeting early that Sunday morning, I had the wonderful experience of again seeing the sun as it was just over the horizon. This hymn of course came to mind, and I sang it over and over again on my way in to the church. During my talk, I reminded each of us that "the dawning of a brighter day" can come to us EVERY day. . .that each day we begin with a humble prayer on our knees can be the dawning of a brighter day. . .that each day we forgive someone can the dawning of a brighter day in our lives. . .that each day we strive to serve others can be the dawning of a brighter day for our mortal experience.

Then I felt impressed to share a brief version of my experience as a missionary in Hong Kong when I knew my family back home in Philadelphia was in trouble and yet I felt so helpless to come to their aid. I shared how that evening as I cried myself to sleep, I felt arms around me, holding me and comforting me. And I shared that in the morning, I felt the dawning of a brighter day in my life, for I knew the Lord was with my family back home.

After sharing my testimony, I closed and President Stewart spoke for about 10 minutes. He was very kind and generous in his words about my service--more generous than I deserve. He reminisced a bit about some of his and his family's interaction with me and with our family, and then announced that next week a new bishopric will be sustained. He asked ward members to pray for three things: 1) express gratitude for the current bishopric and their service; 2) pray for the new bishop and the new bishopric; and 3) pray that we will be able to accept and to sustain the new bishop. It was a wonderful talk and the Spirit testified to me that President Stewart is called of God.

Following the meeting and the block of meetings, I had a few interviews, including one with our Young Women president, Sister Stewart, and our Relief Society President, Sister Burningham. What wonderfully uplifting meetings each of these interviews were. I felt the Spirit in the room with these and all the other interviews I had that day.

Then, at night, we had our final youth fireside at our house. It was wonderful. We opened with "Now Let Us Rejoice." I then shared with the youth the teachings about the Holy Ghost found in 2 Nephi 33:1. I told them that tonight we were going to put that teaching to the test.

I then invited anyone who felt impressed to share their testimony to do so. Melissa Wright spoke up first and offered a powerful and touching testimony. Jon Stevens was next--what a wonderful testimony he shared. Next, the Timmin's grandson Ben shared a very sweet testimony about how he had come to know of Heavenly Father's reality and love for him.

Megan Wright then sang "Adam-ondi-Ahman" a capella. . .it was beautiful! And it brought back a rush of memories for many of us who had been on the Missouri trip.

I then shared my memories of the past five years and some things I hope the youth will remember. I had compiled the list earlier in the day after praying for guidance. It was very special to me, and I believe it was special to most of the youth as well. I cried. So did a number of the youth and adult leaders. We all laughed, as well, as we remembered some of the funny things that have occurred. I expressed my love for the youth and then reminded them that throughout their lives, their bishop will always be someone who loves them and wants the best for them. . .someone they can trust and to whom they can go for help. I encouraged those facing challenges and difficulties in their lives to go to the new bishop immediately and open up to him.

Finally, I offered the closing prayer. It was amazing, Bob. The Spirit was so strong. It moved upon me to pronounce blessings upon our youth. I don't remember very many of the blessings, because they weren't my desires, but the Lords. But I do remember that the Spirit testified boldly and plainly that the words were of God, for as I was praying, many youth and adults were crying. It was truly a joyous experience, and I hope the memory of it will dwell with me so I may savor it for years to come.

It has been an emotional 10 days, and I'm sure this Sunday, when the new bishop is sustained, I will be emotionally drained. But the work goes on. The Lord calls us and the Lord releases us. And we build upon the foundations of those who have gone before us.

We love you and are so very proud of you. The Laurel class is delighted with the puzzle you sent them, but they have yet to all get together to see what you have written to them. You are an example to us all, and we pray for you daily.


Six Months Out. . .er, 18 Months Left. . .uhm. . .No, It's. . . .

17 August 2009

Hi Dad,

Thanks for your email. Things are going pretty good here. I wrote a letter this morning detailing a couple of the cool events that have happened this past week.

Tomorrow I will have been out 6 months! Isn't that crazy? It hardly seems like it at all. Well, I could say that I have 18 months left, but really that isn't quite true. I entered the MTC on 18 February 2009 and my Ministerial Certificate expires the 22 February 2011. So Tomorrow will be the "I've been out 6 months" mark and Saturday will be the "I have 18 months left" day. But, I guess I might not even go home on the 22, that is just when the certificate expires.

Speaking of tomorrow, it is going to be a busy day. We have district meeting and 5 other appointments set up! That is a great day for our area. Last week we taught 11 lessons. That is more than any other week that Elder Weatherston has been in the area. The week before we had only 1. But that was unusual and a bad week. I think generally this area has been getting about 6-8 lessons a week for the last couple of months.

It is kind of funny to tell people where I am from because of four responses that I get quite frequently:

1. Almost EVERYBODY says "Oh, IlliNOISE". Even after I tell them "Northern Illinois." (And they’re not trying to be funny, they just don't know.)

2. "Oh, I've been to Virginia." (or New York, Massachusettes, Connecticut, etc.) Maybe they don't worry about geography too much in the public schools of Idaho.

3. "IlliNOISE! They kicked us out already! What are you doing there? (Or “Did you get left behind?") It was funny the first couple of times.

4. "Oh, Coool. IlliNOISE." (As if they really are interested in that tidbit of eternally insignificant information.) A typical response from a member who wants to make me feel loved and special, yet knows nothing about the place and is floundering for something to engage me in conversation with. It's the thought that counts. No, really, it is.

So I thought I might try to recreate the typical introductory conversation (which we go through several times a day) that takes place between a member and a companionship:

Member (while shaking your hands): "Hi Elder...(pause while they read your nametag)...Call!" "And Elder.......... Weatherston!" (Weatherston or weatherSTONE or weatherSPOON, seriously.)

Elder Call/Weatherston: "Hi, how are you?" (It is a dangerous thing to ask for a name right off the bat, because you never know if you have met them before.)

Member: "Good. How are you? Whereyafrom?"

Elder Weatherston: "Texas."

Member: "Oh really!? What part?"

Elder Weatherston: "Corpus Christi."

Member: "I've been to Texas, but never Corpus Christi. Been to El Paso and to Houston."

Elder Weatherston: "Well, you've probably been through Corpus Christi too."

Member: "I bet you don't mind the heat then do you?"

Elder Weatherston: "No. I actually kind of like it."

Member: "And Elder Call, where are you from?" (notice more enounciated, because their excitement in meeting the missionaries is wearing off by the time they get to the second elder.)

Elder Call: "Northern Illinois."

Member: "Oh Coool."

Elder Call: "Yep."

Member: "I bet you’re used to the heat/cold then." (I would say it is about 50/50. Some think that Illinois is a ice chest and others a humidifier. When really the temperatures are pretty comparable except for the humidity.)

Member: "What town in IlliNOISE?"

Elder Call: "Have you ever heard of Rockford?"

Member: "Heard of it, not sure where it’s at."

Elder Call: "I'm about an hour and a half from Chicago."

Member: "How close are you to Nauvoo?"

Elder Call: "About 3 and 1/2 hours."

Member. "Cool, well it was good meeting you."

Elders: "You too."

Never knew their name. Never knew anything about them. Generally on their way somewhere. Generally never really talk to them again. Sometimes we're asked about the work. They are happy it is going good.

Well, apparently the place is about to close. So I have got to go.

Elder Call

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Elder Weatherston Invited to Confirm Convert

3 August 2009

Hi Dad,

Ya, our p-day changed. It is now on Monday. I figured that you wouldn't find out until after it changed.

It sounds like the Wheeler Reunion was lots of fun. About how many people showed up? And if it is possible would you mind emailing a copy of the group picture? I have some pictures that I should probably send to you in the next few weeks.

It is pretty crazy that Grandpa was at Aunt Marjorie's! Elder Weatherston and I walk past her house when we want to go to a part of our area. It is kind of weird because one of our wards isn't even touching our stake. So we have to go through Aunt Marjorie's stake to get to one of our wards. We don't get up that way a whole lot, but we should stop by sometime to say hi.

That is weird to think that Mary Ann will be in high school and starting seminary. That was five or six years ago for me! Is Bro. Burningham still the teacher?

There was a man in one of Elder Weatherston's old areas who was finally able to baptized! Elder Weatherston got a phone call asking him to give a talk and to confirm him. So on Saturday we went to his baptism. It was really cool. There were 3-4 companionships there that this man all invited because an elder in each helped teach him. He then took us all out to lunch, which was a ton of fun. He seems very solid and appears to have a very strong testimony. His wife and daughter are also converts.

I think that is about it this week.


Elder Call

Elders Call, Weatherston, Recruit Grandpa for Help

27 July 2009

Hi Dad,

Well I don't remember if I told you, but our p-day got switched to Mondays.

You have probably been at the Wheeler Reunion since I last emailed you. How did that go? Were there a lot of people there? What did you guys do?

We had our Zone Conference on Thursday. It was pretty good, it was our first one with President Colton. He did it a little differently than President Sommers did, but I liked it. He gave us an assignment from Preach My Gospel. We were all given blue copies of the Book of Mormon. We are supposed to read it and as we do mark, in four different colors, every reference to Jesus Christ, his words, his attributes, and doctrines and principles. Then we are to total each page up for the different categories. I started it this week and it is amazing to see how many times Christ is referenced, a lot more than you would suspect.

Zone Conference was in Rexburg this transfer. We had a ride up, but couldn't find anybody to get help us get back down. Elder Weatherston has a grandfather and a few uncles that live in Rexburg, but they were all busy. So I told Elder Weatherston that I knew that some of my family would be in the area and they might be able to help. I decided that I would look up Aunt Marjorie's phone number and see if she had Grandpa's cell. I found her number in the phone book and called late Wednesday night. I asked if it was the Cleverley's. She said, "yes." I asked if it was Marjorie. She said it was. I told her who I was and asked if she had Grandpa's number. She said she could do one better than that and that he was sitting on her couch! Then she asked if I wanted his cell or if I wanted to talk to him.

So Grandpa said that he could bring us back down from Rexburg. It was very kind of him and I am grateful that he was able to. It was pretty fun seeing him and grandma.

Good luck with work and everything.

Elder Call