Saturday, September 5, 2015

Went to church last Sunday, as I do every Sunday, though I didn't want to.  5th Sundays usually end up with all of us crammed into a room that's too small and I feel claustrophobic... plus sometimes the lessons are lacking, to say the least.  The gospel is perfect, but the church/people aren't so perfect.  Heavenly Father must get so frustrated with us.  So I went, but I had a back up plan.  Pat could take me home after Sacrament Meeting.

Whenever I'm having a bad Sunday, it usually is solved by just getting to church.  It's Satan after all who doesn't want me there and will do everything possible to make getting there a bad experience.  But once I'm there I see people who lift me up, as well as others who need mePeople don't say when they need help or a listening ear, but you can tell.  This is one important reason we meet together oft.  The sacrament is the most important reason.  The talks and lessons may work out, but sometimes not.  Sometimes they are life-changing. Sometimes you're there for those other reasons; to encourage and support.

A friend, Roger, in my pathway class shared his story of reactivation in the church and it was really emotional to hear.  He is a really handsome middle-aged man with salt and pepper hair, the best smile, and cutest dimples. His mother had been through something like 13 marriages/divorces and he lost his father at a young age and a brother.  Now, as a grown (middle-aged) man, he was doing some shopping in Costco, when across the store he saw an old friend.  The store and everyone in it seemed to be dull and hazy, except for this friend who was bright and clear to him, though across the store.  The friend saw him, and they came together and began catching up on the recent years and he said he didn't know why, but he began telling this guy about his pain, his trials, and his worries; not a thing he would normally do.

The guy he saw in Costco is someone who I have the privilege of working with in the Stake Presidency (President Tom).  At the time he was a bishop, and after they had talked a while in Costco, he asked Roger to come visit him in his office on a certain day.  Thankful, Roger agreed to continue the discussion then.

Then the day came for them to meet and as Roger parked his car outside the church building, he had a horrible feeling come over him.  He sat there a while wanting to leave but eventually forced himself to get out of the car.  As he approached the door, he felt worse and worse and heard a voice say, "Don't go in." 

He opened the door.  As he pushed through the entrance, the spirit covered him from head to foot and he knew he was home.  He had never had such an experience like that in his life.  He was overcome with emotion.  He was clearly supposed to be there and Satan was trying to prevent his returning.

He began learning the gospel again, though he was a member, because he hadn't been since he was about 11 years old.  He worked through the hard things life had dealt him and now he is so happy.  He never stops smiling and his presence is a gift to everyone around him.  He makes everyone feel loved and shares his testimony every chance he gets.  President Tom was in our pathway class with us, and in this random group of adults from all over Albuquerque who decided to do pathway, Roger wasn't the only one who at some point during the year shared a story of how President Tom helped them come to the gospel (or come back to the gospel) and become reborn and whole again. It was pretty neat.

Last week, Pat ran into a friend who was a recent convert and then left the church abruptly.  He wanted nothing to do with any of us suddenly, so we gave him his space.  But when Pat ran into him last week, the friend said he's drinking a lot now and is having a lot of hard times at work and in life.  He said, when I look back to the happiest time in my life it was when I was always at church with you guys serving and such.  Pat really loves him, and we hope he finds his way back.  We all love him and miss him.

So, back to my story, I ended up staying the whole three hours at church just like any normal Sunday, and can't say how thankful I am that I did.  In the third hour we watched some videos of the apostles training church leaders from all over the world.  I loved seeing the diverse audience. Having taken the pathway class, I have studied each apostle and their remarkable lives and I just cry for joy when I hear them speak.  They are amazing.  They all happened to be talking about how important the Sabbath is and giving back Sacrament Meeting to the Savior.

Elder cook mentioned the Savior's final days and how profoundly significant the last supper was where he taught them of the sacrament and it's meaning.  How he taught the sacrament as one of the first things after appearing to the people in the Book of Mormon, and the significance of taking His name upon us.  Everyone who takes the sacrament is covenanting to take upon ourselves His name, saying, "I will handle my share of what I am called to do."

Elder Holland said our preparation for the Sabbath and the sacrament should start long before we enter the doors of the church.  The sacrament, he said, is a very personal ordinance, and it is the only one we do over and over again for ourselves.  

As I listened to these talks and felt the spirit so strongly, a prayer that I had been asking for so long, was finally answered.  I always knew it would be, but it's interesting how it seems to happen when I'm in the right place doing the right thing.  I had such a deep appreciation for the pathway program settle in on me also, and what it taught me, and for all the people I got to meet with for this last year, and I felt finally the clear direction I need to go from here.  Praise the Lord almighty.

Added bonus: a great cookie recipe I invented all on my own.  These are amazing!  Also, don't eat cookies.  They're really bad for you.

Karisa's Black and White Chocolate Chip Cookies 
Cream together:
3/4 c. butter
2/3 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. sugar

Add and mix:
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs

Add and mix halfway:
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Add last and mix in:
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. white chocolate chips

Bake 350 degrees until lightly browned.  May need a little more flour if dough is too stick.  Remember, I make these at almost 7000 feet altitude!

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