Oh my.

I’m writing this on the night of Wednesday, April 26th, though you won’t be reading it until Sunday the 30th of I handled this postdating thing properly. I’ve never tried it before, so we’ll see. I want to post this now, but the information is confidential until the official announcement, so I’m covering my butt and still striking while the iron is hot. Beware, mixed metaphors!

A bit of background: I’ve been the Sunday School President (a short list of a few of the position’s responsibilities is in the link) in my ward for 3 years now (ever since I moved in), and have spent most of that time as the Agent SS president too (IE the point man for cordination of the combined youth sunday school for the 3 wards that meet in our building). I think I”ve magnified my calling and served well. I could have served better, but that’s pretty much always how we feel in retrospect. I actually had some very exciting stuff I was preparing to implement that I don’t know if will ever happen now, such as that entirely new class I am writing a course plan and lesson outlines for (what I want to use as a manual already exists, thankfully). I’ve never known a SS president that introduced a homespun class before, but my bishop was interested in seeing this particular proposal once it’s done. I hope I can still find the time to make that happen, but I don’t know if I will in light of my new responsibilities.

I’ll ramble a bit, giving a brief history of my service in the Church, or rather a laundry list of the callings I’ve held since adulthood (other than being a Home Teacher, which is assumed for all active priesthood hlders like myself). When I was 18, I was called to be a stake missionary, in preparation for my full-time mission. I was also a YSA (young single adult) rep for my ward at the time. The stake mission was really valuable and did a lot to prepare me for my own mission… which was my next calling. 2 years as a full-time missionary in Massachusetts (including training and leadership duties) later, I was back in SoCal, going to college.

I spent the entire time from there until my wedding serving in the Elders Quorum Presidency, initially as Secretary, then 2nd Counselor, then 1st Counselor. While doing that, I had several more responsibilities: I taught the YSA Gospel Doctrine class in Sunday School, served as the treasurer and then ICC rep for my college’s LDSSA (eventually chairpoerson of the school’s entire ICC, but that’s not a church calling). Noting that I had served in every part of my quorum’s presidency other than president (except a brief period where I was acting, but not official, president), I decided that getting married would be better than getting roped into an even bigger calling (sure Hal, claim that’s why you did it), married my lovely K, and moved to another ward.

In this ward, they lost little time calling me to be the SS President, requiring me to go almost two years without either counselors or secretary (IE just my teaching staff and I keeping the whole thing running), then finally called a secretary for me, and later still got my two awesome counselors to me. I’ve been  a Family History Consultant for about a year now too.

So I’ve previously had callings in most of the auxiliaries/quorums/etc that men can serve in on a ward level. The only ones I haven’t include the Primary (though I’ve substitute taught the primary kids and even conducted primary meetings on a substitute basis, I’ve never had a calling in there, and being male, I’m not elegible to be a member of their presidency), the Young Men (see below) and the High Priests Group (I’m not yet a High Priest, so I’m obviously not elegible). The Bishopric isn’t an auxiliary, but as if it needs to be said, I haven’t been called to a bishopric either, thank the Lord (else I’d already be a High Priest).

For more than the past month, I’ve been very antsy about my calling, and had very frequent premonitions and even dreams that a release is imminent. I love my calling, and I didn’t want to be released, but I sensed that it was coming. That’s interesting for reasons that will be mentioned later. Also, I have been equally antsy about the Young Men‘s organization, because its president has been in the process of moving out for a while (and is now out). I hoped that these two feelings were not connected, but I knew that they were.

On Sunday, my wife and I spoke in sacrament meeting (IE gave the sermons in the main church meeting), and part of my opening comments were about the love I have for working with the young people of our ward(s) in the Sunday School, then I went on to my main topic. Almost K’s whole talk was about the need for parents to step up and be there for their kids in religious and personal matters. This came back to haunt both of us today, appropriately enough.

Which brings us to tonight. I was at home with my wife, reading my email when my cellphone rang. Innocent enough, I thought. It was Bishop Martorell. Not so innocent. He wanted to know if K was planning to go to her YW (Young Women’s – she’s been the YW Secretary ever since she was 18) meeting tonight (she was), and asked me to accompany her so that she and I could have a quick meeting with him in his office. Far less innocent still. By the time that I hung up, K was already doing the point-and-laugh. Esteban (the bishop) didn’t tell me what it was about, but it was all too obvious to me: I was going to be released from my current presidency and moved over to be the new YM President. I didn’t directly say as much to K. I didn’t need to… she had surmised the same and was joyfully teasing me about it.

So in we went and sat down in front of Esteban’s desk. He asked if we knew why we were there (we did, mostly), and began talking to us about  the changes that are coming down the pipe for the youth programs in our ward. He extended a release to me, as anticipated… and then surprised us by releasing K from her calling as well. The instant that happened, I knew what was coming next: he called her to be YW President. She was shocked, but I’ve long felt that she’d be the next president in the YW. I didn’t expect it so soon, but I did expect it. Anyhow, he then called me to be YM President. I told him about my premonitions and he found that most remarkable, since he hadn’t been planning on changing the Sunday School even as recently as 2 weeks ago. He asked me whether I will accept this calling and I indicated that I know that the calling isn’t coming from him, but the Lord, so as far as I’m concerned there’s no question. Yes, I accepted. kristen asked the bishop for 5 minutes to go to another room and discuss her calling with me, but told the bishop to assume for the moment that upon our return, her answer would be yes.

We went into the darkened chapel and sat together in the back pew, talking about our misgivings and positive feelings both. She was taking it much tougher than i was, since she is very close to Aida, the president she’s worked under for 5 years now, and she is concerned also because a number of the kids’ parents (Adams ward folks though, not ones in our ward) have by name criticised her for being called into the YW so soon after graduating from it herself. Never mind that it was 6 years ago, she’s hardly a kid anymore and that the stake leadership regularly states that she is the not only the best YW secretary in the stake, but is the nerve center for at least half of it herself.. also never mind that one doesn’t choose one’s own calling, it is assigned by the Bishop or Stake President by inspiration. Anyhow, back from tangentland. We discussed quietly for a while, some tears flowed and we said a lengthy prayer together asking for wisdom, strength, comfort and all that important stuff that we’ll need in our new callings to be able to help the kids grow, and we prayed for the teenagers that are our charges now. Then we went back to the bishop and K accepted.

By the time you read this, we will have been presented to the body of the three wards in our building for a sustaining vote, then set apart by the laying on of hands to fill our new callings.

I’m not going to go into the complicated feelings I’m going through right now, but suffice to say that they’re strong.

As for my new calling, I’ll grow into it. The only calling I’ve ever gotten that I genuinely felt qualified for at the time it was issued to me was the one I just got released from. That’s the way the Lord seems to work: we don’t get callings because we’ll be good at them. We get them because He wants us to become good at them, and to accomplish much in spite of our own weaknesses and failings.. and beause we’re the right person at the time, objectively qualified or not. Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.

There are a number of things I want to get going right away. Thankfully, I got to meet with my new counselors and secretary (the same men served in various capacities under the previous president too, so they have the experience) afterwards and line up a few things, plus I knew the gist of the YM situation anyhow from my time in Ward Council meetings every Sunday. We discussed the direction the scouting program is going, plus I want to get our boys working on their Duty to God program too since it’s really important but has been neglected.

It really helps that I already consider one of my new counselors and my secretary to be friends. We’re excited about working together. Kristen knows all of the members of her presidency really well too (in fact, other than the outright release of Aida and Stephanie being switched from a teaching position to be the new secretary, it’s the same ladies as before). One thing that we are happy about is that my secretary and one of my counselors are married to the corresponding members of K’s presidency. Talk about convenient for coordinating joint activity and scheduling presidency meetings. Anyway, it’s gonna be a lot of work even with that, especially since K and I both have demanding callings (my previous one was very important, but didn’t demand a lot of time outside of Sunday).

Which reminds me of a little rhyme:
 “Once there was a little lamb
that grew to be a sheep.
It went and joined the Mormon Church
then died from lack of sleep.”

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