Sunday, January 17, 2010

One Year Ago This Very Day

This very day one year ago, into Sunday School class bursts Paticia (not her real name) seeking her friend, Frances. Reason: just seconds before, Patricia's boyfriend had hung up on her saying, "if you're in church again, forget it!"

Instant choice to be made. We have not seen Patricia since.

Then last night Sister O'Dell and I witnessed a variation of the same drama. Different setting; different lines; different cast; but same, same old theme, "is it worth it?" Or, "is this really the Lord's true church?" Or, "is Eternal Life really worth all this sacrifice and effort?" The event: a young single adult activity consisting of hetereo-personalities. The intent was homogeneuity, hoping that all present were enjoying themselves equally. Some were; all tried.

Which brings to mind a song as old as the hills (older, even, than me): "If a body meet a body coming through the rye; if a body kiss a body, need a body cry." It all boils down to this: WE ARE LONELY--each of us. The feeling is at times desperate. And yet prudence dictates we cannot kiss everybody coming through the rye. As Elder Marion D. Hanks used to say, "Each of us is saying 'speak to me; listen to me; confirm to me that I am alive, that I matter....'" (or expanding that, "court me; marry me; make me a parent; give me a home, a family.")

Youth activities--imperfect substitutes.

Returning to that vexing question "is it worth it?," my mind reverts to the December, 1833 letter written by W.W. Phelps to the prophet Joseph Smith. After seven months of vicious whippings, murderings, rapings, horse and cattle stealings, and house burnings, and derision, in early winter while huddled beneath bed blankets serving as "shelter" from snow and freezing rain, many, many Latter-day Saints remained faithful and true. They were, in the words of Brother Phelps, "as immovable as the everlasting hills." Others, having less vision, had by then lost sight of the faith and had fallen behind. Boiled down, it takes grit not only to become a Saint, but also to remain one--lots and LOTS of "guts" and determination.

So last night while watching our beloved "children" socializing while wearing happy faces, I sensed some might be tempted to entertain that same question, "is it worth it?"

Knowing that no one merely falls into Eternal Life, I shout, "It is worth it! It is, it is, IT IS!"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

One Year Ago Right This Minute

Just as I write, it is 5 o'clock p.m., January 6, 2010. Exactly one year ago at this precise same time of day, Elder and Sister O'Dell parked in the parking lot of East Lansing, Michigan's Stoddard Student Living Center. Momentous moment!

What a fine year it has been! Not that our eighteen months wasn't good that we spent in Muncie, Indiana, but in many ways this second experience has eclipsed any other chapter of our marriage.

Originally, we signed up for a one-year-long mission. Then sometime last summer we "shipped over" (that is, extended our mission) somewhat cautiously. But the months following have brought confirmation upon confirmation that we did the right thing.

So here we are, exactly one year hence, very, very happy, with four months left before returning home.

Yet in the sagacious words of Sister O'Dell--"I'm glad it's not one year ago!"