Sister is my Name, Churchwork is my Game
January 25, 2015
We live across the hall from four young sister missionaries. They are sharing one apartment with one teensy bathroom. Brings back memories on Paloma, right Girls? Six of you upstairs. Anyway, in one darling set is a quiet, shy, slender new sister from Utah. She arrived here this month. The other night we heard a gutwrenching scream and scuffling in their apartment. My elder told me to check on them. I pounded on the door. It was only Sister Jex huddled in a blanket because this same quiet, shy, slender new Sister Powell scared her. I told new Sister Powell that she reminds me so much of my granddaughter, Mattie. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree. "My name's Maddie, too!" So, see, I have made another friend in Missouri.
Now, I make new files for all new missionaries. I make three pictures of them for our mission boards. I type several lists for the president and office with all missionaries coming and going. I love to study a missionary's before-mission photo and make up stories about their lives when I see where they are coming to us from.I feel like I know them when they get off the plane. BUT the minute they step off that plane, I forget their first name. Sister or Elder is their name and Churchwork is their game.
There is other Church "lingo" out here. Ever notice that Mormons tend to speak in secret code? Mutual... Relief Society... year's supply....steak center - aka stake center. Girls, you know my story that your dad lived by the steak house in Flagstaff when I met him in college. Tricia and I drove by The Steak House looking for his house one day. There was only a motel and a tire store by it. Come to find out, those Flagstaff Saints called their stake center building the stakehouse. That was news to me.
Missouri Independence Mission has codewords for jobs for Senior Missionaries. Here are some of them:
FM - Physical Facilities Management workers do tons of landscaping, maintaining of buildings, and cut birdnests from trees. See the birdnest below. Delivered to me by the FM Workers. Man, they work hard.
WASS - Women's Auxiliary Support Sisters. Kind of sounds like a singing group. It is not. Senior Single Sisters who beat the bushes looking for less active church sisters. Bread makers. Soup Kitchen Workers. The list of their jobs goes on and on. Man, they work hard.
VC - Visitor Center Couples who serve and support all the young Sisters who serve in our mission's two Visitor Centers. I envy them somewhat because their P-Day is always on the young sisters' P-Day so they get to hang around quite a bit with the younger crowd. P-Day is another codeword meaning Preparation Day. A Get Your Wash Done, Clean Your Apartment Day. Then, take a field trip somewhere if there is time. Man, they work hard.
MLS - Member Leadership Support couples are stationed in a ward or branch to do ANYTHING asked of them. They have to be creative finding ways to get in doors of the less active or nonmembers. Man, they work hard.
AP - Assistants to the President. Typically consists of two bright, go-getter elders who are capable of running a Fortune 500 company or even the United States government. We have two that we have learned to love and laugh with. We went with them today to the All Souls Unitarian Church in downtown Kansas City and listened as they gave a presentation to the youth group on what our church believes. Now, mind you, the Unitarians are more of a Feel Good Club, as far as I could see. Anything goes. The Bible may be used at Christmas when they talk about a Jesus being born. One week's service may begin with prayer. Next week, meditation. All are welcome. Anything goes. Two weeks ago, the congregation held their first Same-Sex Union Ceremony after Kansa City declared it's legality. Their Youth Leader told us she considers herself an Agnostic, Humanist. The one thing they all have in common is the rule to be nice and do good to all men. I do like that, Today, questions were fired at our young elders. Answers were given using The Family Proclamation, The Restoration of Jesus Christ pamphlet, and scripture. Man, they work hard.
This is just the tip of the iceburg. I'm still wondering if it's a zone or district conference I am scheduling. Who can get on IMOS, who cannot. The list goes on and on. But, I do know this - For now, Sister is my name and churchwork is my game. Pray for me.
To be or Not to be....Do you know why you never leave a door half-way open? Because someone will inevitably run into it. We must commit. Open or closed? Halfway doors can be dangerous. Do you know why you will generally spit out luke-warm water when you drink it, expecting it to be cold? Because it doesn't taste or feel good in your mouth. In the scriptures, the Lord says if we are halfway committed like lukewarm water, he will spew us out of his mouth.
Yesterday my senior companion and I went on a field trip. We drove first to Richmond, MO, about a 25 minute drive WestNorthWest from Independence. We had heard that there was a cementary there that had some memorable people buried there. We found a small Mormon Cemetary with a large monument in the Northwest corner that was erected in 1911 by the church to commemorate the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon (see picture below). It is erected over the grave of Oliver Cowdry, an early church member, apostle, member of the First Presidency of the Church, excommunicated member and rebaptised member. He had some rough times. But even when he was out of the church he never recanted his testimony of seeing the Gold Plates. He did not go west with the Saints as his health was bad and he died sometime later. Several yards to the south is the gravesite of David Whitmer. Who also was an early church member, apostle, member of the First Presidency, excommunicated member and who never rejoined the church. But he too, never recanted his testimony of seeing the Gold Plates. Mary Whitmer even saw the plates. There are several members of the Whitmer family buried there. All early church members, all either quit or were excommunicated. As far as I know, they all stayed in Missouri and did not go west.
The trouble seemed to start over money, pride, persecution or succession of leadership in the church. Or maybe a little of all of the above. It must have been a huge burden to carry when nobody believed you.
It is easy to judge them in 2015. It is easy to decide that they just couldn't stay the course. They must have been weak. After doing a little study, I will reserve any judgement and let the Lord handle it. I am not sure I would have done any better under the threat of death and persecution. But it sure makes you think about whether "to be or not to be...." that is the question.
Speaking of staying the course, we drove on to Gallitin and Jamesport (4 miles south of Adam-ondi-Amen.) Amish country. The Amish still drive horse and buggy (see pictures below.) There are big signs on the highway to "share the road" with them. They have stayed pretty much the way they were when the started the church many years ago. They have not changed with the times. They have stayed the course, maybe a little too much so. They don't use electricity, or cars or trucks, no phones, no large mirrors, no buttons ( very plain clothes with pins in place of buttons.) For some reason, they can use propane, which seems a bit odd, but they seem to be very good people even if a little odd.
Getting back to the trip, we also think we were at least close to the Haun's Mill site. It is not marked anymore and difficult to find. We also stopped at an Amish store and a Junk Store, just for fun. Sister Seaman had a good time as she bought a bird cage and other junk.
Well, the bottom line is stay the course no matter what. Lukewarm won't work. You must decide " to be."
|Elbert's Big and Tall in Gallitin- Who knew?|
|Three Witness' Monument|