I was released from my calling today as the Executive Secretary. This job, which I've been doing for almost 5 years, had become second-nature to me -- it was just something I did and something that I was. For years, I haven't really thought much of it. I've just enjoyed being with the great people at the church weekly, helping the Bishop, visiting with people in the hallway, setting up interviews, calling people, and participating in Bishopric Meetings, PECs, and Ward Councils. I was always in the know about things around the ward, and I loved it immensely.
Lately, though, I've been feeling keenly aware of how much I really just want to be home on Sunday with my family. It kind of crept up on me, I think, and was probably prompted by the switchover with the new Bishopric. I love the new Bishop dearly -- I consider him a good friend -- and his counselors are wonderful men, too. So it wasn't as if I wasn't happy with the society I was in. I was just feeling ... antsy, I guess.
Even so, I was prepared to stay in that calling for the long haul. I fully anticipated staying there for years to come, helping the new Bishopric get their footing, and serving them as best I could.
So it was last week that the Bishop handed me a list of people who he wanted to visit with. I recognized all the names on the list as people who we had discussed relative to some callings that need to be filled, but at the bottom of the list the names of my wife and I were included. This surprised me, as I figured that she was going to stay in her calling for a while and we hadn't spoken recently about making any changes with her. But I was absolutely sure that I wasn't going anywhere.
I went about my business of arranging the interviews and helped to shuttle people in and out of the Bishop's office all that day. Come that evening, the Bishop and one of his counselors came to our house to visit with my wife and I (it just worked out that way, not that it was a special trip ...), and the conversation started pleasantly enough with them praising my wife for her services in her calling. But just when I thought they were going to tell her they have something new for her to do, the Bishop said they wanted to keep her in that calling and looked forward to her continued service.
I was stunned. The realization hit me like a ton of bricks that they weren't there to visit with her, but to visit with me! And when they told me what they wanted to do, I was inwardly laughing. My wife later commented that I didn't start jumping on the couch for joy, which surprised her, but I was honestly trying to listen to what they were saying and to understand exactly what they were asking of me. The new calling will be something that suits me well, and I am excited for it. They called me to ... well, I can't say until next week.
Today, as my last day as the Executive Secretary, it went pretty much like any other, but I could tell that things were different. I met with the High Councilor for our ward and he gave me the official release before church meetings started this morning. All day, I was somewhat dazed to realize that I was going through the meetings and talking with people and setting up interviews and doing all the stuff that has become so natural to me for, possibly, the very last time in my Earthly life. One "adventure", if you want to call it that, was coming to an end, with another just about to begin.
Sacrament meeting came and I was released from the pulpit. A good friend of mine from behind me leaned forward when they asked for the gratitudinal raising of the hand and whispered, "If I don't raise my hand, can they still release you?" I smiled, and appreciated the warmth of his question. Throughout the day, several people came up to me and told me how grateful they were for my service. One woman whom I home teach told me that she sees the Executive Secretary position as one where unsung heroes shine, and I was moved. Throughout the day, many people gave simple and quiet expressions of gratitude for my service, and I felt honored to have been able to serve. Later that day, another good friend brought his family with him to drop off some cookies to thank me for my services, and I felt truly and deeply loved and appreciated (cookies have that affect on me).
After church, I spent a few hours with my replacement, going through the binder that had been my constant church companion for these many years, showing him what was in there and how I managed all the various and varied tasks that were my responsibility. He nodded a lot and seemed a little overwhelmed, but he seems competent enough (he's new in the ward, so I don't know him well) and I am just going to let him find his own way. I'll be around for questions, but I have new things to worry about now.
But it was really weird. I went home from church about 4 pm, which is early for me, and spent the afternoon and evening with my family. It was wonderful. I literally wrestled with the kids (something we never do), and played games, and read the newspaper, and listened to good music, and just talked; and I was happy.
I am grateful for all the blessings that came into my family because of those years in that calling, and I am definitely better for it. While I will miss that wonderful calling that I had made my own for so long, my new one awaits. This church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is such an amazing thing. It takes ordinary people -- okay, and space nerds like me -- and gives them opportunities to serve in ways that are unexpected, undeserved, and unanticipated, and lifts them up as they do their best to lift others. Only the True Gospel can accomplish that. Let there be no doubt, for I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, and I know it to be true.
Now, I desperately need some training for my new calling ...
This past weekend, I took Thursday off of work with the intent to go camping with my family. As it was, we decided not to go due to a major heatwave smothering Southern California. It cost us $50 to cancel, but the last thing we wanted to do was to go sit at a campground in the dust, with no decent shade, and attempt to not get dehydrated.
Even so, I still took Thursday off (Friday was my regular day off from work) and we enjoyed a 4 day (okay, 3 day, but I'll get to that) weekend together as a family. Pretty much we goofed off. Seriously, that's what we did. Thursday, the day I took as a vacation day, I pretty much hung around the house with the kids, playing on the Wii, building stuff with Legos, and puttering around the garage.
Speaking of the garage, I finally got the kayak hung and it is really weird and somewhat discomforting seeing it hanging above the hoods of our cars in the garage. I keep telling myself that my engineering and my knots are sound, and that there's nothing to be concerned about, but ...
That day was an awfully hot day. About mid-afternoon we discovered that one of our air conditions -- the one we have for the ground floor -- was not working. Happily the one from upstairs was content to crank away all day, and kept the ground floor at a reasonable 85 degrees. This made things more comfortable, and after a few phone calls to friends looking for references to a good air conditioning guy, we were able to get in touch with a fellow who was willing to show up at 9 pm that night!
We were delighted. First, with the worst heat wave of the year upon us, we didn't expect to actually get him to our house that day, and second, when he did show up, he actually had the right part to get our air conditioner working again in about 20 minutes! 350 bucks poorer (we burned out the air conditioner's capacitor, which was swollen from abuse), but feeling much cooler, we sent him on his way with an earnest promise to call him in a month to service both of our 6-year-old-and-never-once-serviced air conditioners.
That night we let the two older kids stay up late and watch Star Wars Episode 2, which they hadn't seen, and they really enjoyed it. Then, to make up for not going camping, we let them sleep in the family room. We pulled out the really lumpy and miserably uncomfortable sofa bed, and my oldest son crashed there without complaint while my daughter crashed on the adjacent couch. Oh, to be kids again.
Friday morning, I mowed the lawn just after 8 am, and it was already in the 90s. Clearly it was going to be another hot day, but our air conditioners were working!
That afternoon we went over to a place called Sky City, which is a business where they have large inflatable slides and play areas where people can hold birthday parties. Apparently they charge half price for general admission on Fridays, so we spent $5 each for our three children to go there and goof off for two and a half hours. They were so sweaty and gross when they were done, but they had a great time and were downright exhausted.
The next day, Saturday, we woke up and headed out the door to go to Chuck-E-Cheeses. Still a favorite place with all three of our children, they had 32 leftover tokens each and had a great time burning through them. My oldest burned most of them playing racing games, my daughter was all about earning tickets, and my youngest just kind of meandered and did everything else. My wife and I? We sat and read books. It was awesome.
After we got home from there, we packed up our stuff and headed out for the beach. We went over to Ventura, where finding a parking spot was a major challenge. We ended up sitting at the end of one block waiting for somebody to leave. We had a lunch with us, so everybody got out of the car and ate while we waited about 20 minutes for somebody to show up and move their car.
Finally getting parked, we ran into some friends from our ward, and, together, we found a decent spot of sand to plant our families. We had a very nice visit with them -- they're a very nice family with three kids of their own that are each respectively, slightly younger than my own. After getting the kids slathered with sunscreen, taking a hike to the super-gross bathroom, and sending them off to play, my wife and I sat down and finally had some time to quietly talk with our friends and do a little more reading.
About this time, my wife started sun-screening herself. As we would find out later, it was way too little way too late. She is torched, and she absolutely hates getting sunburned because her burns typically fade to a tan, which lasts forever (okay, about a year -- which is a crazy-long-time for a tan). This sounds like a good thing, but when she has a very white swimsuit line, it bothers her immensely. So, not only is she suffering the pain from the sunburn, she also has an ignominious tan line that she will be unable to erase for a long, long time.
Come Sunday morning (five or six layers of aloe vera later for my wife), I woke up and did my "usual" Sunday thing. My wife now attends Ward Council with me, so when she showed up at 9 am, she told me that our oldest son wasn't feeling well, and that she intended to bring the kids for sacrament meeting and then go home to be with him. This turned out to be an inspired move, because after she arrived home after sacrament meeting just after lunch time, he threw up all over the family room carpet. Messy, messy.
Our theory? He picked up a nasty stomach virus at Sky City. A natural thing, but we immediately went into quarantine mode; after all, it is summertime and the last thing we need is our other two children to get sick. He spent the day moaning and dry-heaving into a bowl while planted on the couch while my wife spent the day telling the other kids to stay away from him and disinfecting the house. She even had him sleep on an air mattress on the floor of his bedroom instead of his bed so he wouldn't have trouble getting to the bathroom if he needed it.
I, on the other hand, spent nearly the entire day doing church stuff. 7:30 am Bishopric Meeting, 9:00 am Ward Council, 11:00 am Church Services, home from 2:20-2:50 for a quick bite to eat, 3:00 pm interviews, home at 6 for another quick bite to eat (thanks, wife, for the great dinner!), and then off to home teaching from 7 'til 9 pm. It was a long day, but I got a lot of stuff done. And got another calling ... which I'll write about in a few weeks ...
Busy weekend, but very nice. I feel mellow, and don't really want to be at work now ... summer vacations are wasted on schoolkids.
Last night I was running on the treadmill and watching the newer version of South Pacific, with Glenn Close and Harry Connick, Jr. (which my wife and I like better than the 1958 version, by the way), and there is this little song in it called "Dites-moi". For some reason, I really love this song. Perhaps it's because I find it's simplicity charming, or perhaps it's because I took 5 years of French when I was in school and I still retain a minimal capacity to understand it. Either way, I enjoy the song quite a bit.
So this morning I'm in the shower and this song is going through my head, but I couldn't remember some of the words. Once I got online, I went to go look up the lyrics, and was stunned to find a translation that goes like this:
Tell me why The sky Is filled with music Tell me why We fly On clouds above Can it be That we Can fly to music Just because Just because We're in love
I was appalled, astonished, and slightly enraged. This particular translation is absolutely, completely, and wholeheartedly false, and loses the entire intent and beauty of the song. To wit, the actual words are as follows:
Dites-moi Pourquoi La vie est belle Dites-moi Pourquoi La vie est gai Dites-moi Pourquoi, Chere Mad'moiselle, Est-ce que Parce que Vous m'aimez?
This actually translates, line by line, to the following:
Tell me Why Life is beautiful Tell me Why Life is happy Tell me Why, Dear young lady, Is it Because You love me?
I can hear it gently in my head as I type, and I love it. As for that other translation, well, you can keep it. I'll keep singing it in French.
So I stumbled upon this website called FunnyTranslator.com, which promises to totally mess up anything you put in there. It tells you to "Write funny, original, non offensive stuff" and then press a button after which it will translate your words back and forth from English to a bunch of other languages.
I gave it a whirl just to see what was up. "Why me?" became "Why?" on my first attempt. Not so inspiring, but I tried again.
"To be or not to be" ends up as, simply, "Yes or no."
So, I decided to go for gold and put in "I am a doodoo head."
"I am the president of the hunt."
So, the next time you see a bunch of guys in the woods with guns, you can honestly call him a "doodoo head" and mean it with no offense ... ;)
I'm a space nerd, a family man, a middle of right-wing conservative, a church-goer, an enthusiastic guy, and a sufferer of occasional lower back pain. I'm fairly young with three wonderful children. Life is great, but far too short for all the things I want to do!