Sunday, December 30, 2012

Oh boy!

I am writing this post on Tuesday, December 18. I will not publish it until sometime later. I am feeling so full...overwhelmed and yet full.

On Saturday afternoon (Dec. 15), we got a phone call reminding us that we were scheduled for tithing settlement the next day. Then the executive secretary said, "Also, the Bishop would like to meet with you and your husband tomorrow morning at 11:30." I checked with Alfredo, said okay, and hung up. And my stomach dropped. For a split second, I thought maybe they would ask us to attend the Spanish ward to provide support there. And then it hit me...I was going to be called as Relief Society President. For the rest of the day, I tried to think of other possibilities. But I knew. I told Alfredo my suspicions. I got a stomach ache (which may have been caused by worry or by overeating at Alfredo's company dinner at Rodizio Grill :)
...or maybe by a combination of the two.)

For a year now, I have felt like I couldn't take on one more thing. Between working full time, having 3 children, and having my children take music lessons, complete homework and reading (in 2 languages), and practice their music, I am busy. I am often exhausted. I would like to work on a master's degree, but don't feel I have the time. I would love to have my kids dance or play a sport, but I don't have the time. My plate feels full.

Sunday morning, we headed to the Bishop's office. He had us come in and turned to Alfredo to ask if he would support me in the calling they were about to extend to me. Alfredo laughed (no joking! He totally laughed!) and then said yes. Then the Bishop turned to me and extended the call to be the new Relief Society President. I found myself nodding my head and almost mouthing the words as he said them. He explained a little about what it would entail and what some of my challenges would be, and he said that they had prayed about it and he knew that I was the one the Lord wanted. I am sure, too. I feel overwhelmed and grateful and scared, but I know that this is what I am supposed to do. I know that somehow the Lord will help me to meet the needs of the sisters in my ward, and I know that He will fill my heart with love for each of them. I know that He will guide me to pick counselors that will support me and that will serve alongside me. I know that somehow, He will magnify me so that I can handle it all and still be the kind of parent and teacher that I need to be and want to be. (Or at least as close as I can get... I make plenty of mistakes as both a parent and a teacher.)

While I listened to conference this past October, I was struck over and over with how important it is to serve others. I try to sign up to take meals or to do other small things when I can. But I also know that I sometimes use my busyness as an excuse to not do more. In November, I gave myself a challenge to try to find someone to serve each day. I didn't do something every day, but much more often that I would have previously. It felt good...even though the services I rendered were very small. And I have prayed repeatedly for opportunities to serve and to have the Spirit with me so I will notice when others have a need. I guess my prayers are being answered. I'm going to have lots of opportunities to serve! (As people sometimes say, you should be careful what you pray for!)

I have literally fallen to my knees to pray several times over the past few days. My emotions are close to the surface and in some ways it will actually be a relief to be sustained...because it will no longer be a secret and I will start to learn what this really entails.

I have taught Primary for four years now (and I was in Young Women's for 2 years before that...so six years since I've been to Relief Society with 2 or 3 exceptions), and I have taught the Sunbeams for two years. I love them! Quite often, these darling Sunbeams come to sit by me during Sacrament Meeting. They all vie for a chance to sit on my lap during Sharing Time. I love them. This past Sunday, they had the nursery class (that will soon be Sunbeams) come in for Singing Time. It is a big group and they are darling. I was told the previous Sunday that I would still be teaching Sunbeams and that I'd have a coteacher to help me. Two other Primary teachers leaned forward and said, "So those are the ones you will be teaching next year." I nodded, and then tears sprang into my eyes. I won't have the chance to teach them. I won't be sitting in front of my current Sunbeams and have the chance to see them and hug them and ask them about school. I got more emotional than I would have expected. I hugged my Sunbeams a little tighter and gave thanks for the chance I've had to serve them.

I am grateful that I will have the chance to bless others' lives. While I enjoyed being in the Relief Society Presidency six years ago, I honestly feel more comfortable with children than with adults. I feel nervous that my shyness may sometimes be interpreted as being a lack of caring. I feel excited for the opportunities it will bring...and nervous for how well I will handle them. I would love to be involved in strengthening the ward, and I know it will strengthen my own faith and testimony.

I feel both grateful and humbled that my Heavenly Father feels I am capable of this.
I know without His help, I am not. Since Alfredo is only somewhat active, I sometimes feel that I am less faithful. I know in my head that is not true, but I can't always convince my heart that I measure up to others who attend the temple with their spouses and who have family scripture study and family home evening and pray as a family and a couple. I honestly try to have weekly family home evening and daily scripture study and prayer with my children, but there is a part of me that longs to have more support in these endeavors and to have him participate. He is a wonderful husband in so many ways, and he has always, always supported me in my church service. I just wish that his faith was stronger and I could share this part of myself with him more. And sometimes, it does make me feel that I am less worthy of blessings or something. Not to mention the fact that I am far from perfect. I lose my temper. I get distracted by good things and don't always do the most important things. I can be proud and selfish. That's a lot more personal than I usually share. And I want to emphasize how great Alfredo is in so many ways. He is one of the hardest workers I know. He is funny. He is smart. He is more organized than just about anyone I know. He always encourages me to go after any dreams or pursuits I am interested in.
I love him. He is a good man even if he isn't fully active right now. And I am trying to be better each day.

So I will do my best. I will rely on the Lord and pray for His help. And I will learn as much as I can and study as much as I can. I may not get to read as much as I would like and I may have to drop a few small things, but the sacrifice will be worth it. I have been reading/listening to President Monson's biography and the sacrifices I am making are nothing compared to his and his family's. He was called as an apostle at my age. He is such an inspiration. I will try to follow his example and will pray for the Savior's love for those I serve.

I am humbled and excited and scared and I have felt my Savior's love on so many occasions this week. I am grateful that this call came during the Christmas season, because even though it has been so busy (and stressful) this has really helped me to feel more love and gratitude for my Savior. I know He lives. I know that He loves me. I know that He atoned for my sins and that He is there to succor me. I also know that He loves the sisters in the ward and wants them to receive the blessings available from living the gospel. So while I adore my Sunbeams and could easily have spent many years happily teaching them and feel sad that I won't have that chance, I also feel so grateful for this new call.

**Edited to add (Sunday Dec. 23): On Friday, I was at Carin's house and she said how happy she was that I would be Jane's teacher. I smiled and said I was happy too, but I felt so dishonest saying that. I would have loved to be Jane's teacher. Today, Tatiana stopped me in the halls to ask if I would be teaching the Sunbeams again and I smiled and said yes (again feeling terrible to not be honest). She was so happy. I am very happy about this calling, but I am sad to not teach those sweet Sunbeams and will feel better once I know that they have found a teacher for the Sunbeams and I have been sustained.

**Edited to add (Sunday Dec. 30): My counselors and I were sustained and set apart today. I have shed quite a few tears...tears of joy, sadness, gratitude, love, and I am not even sure what else. I got so many hugs and congratulations and got to teach my Sunbeams one last time. They would have been moving on to Sister Delamare next week anyway, so it really felt like great timing. I am humbled and grateful that my counselors accepted and feel grateful for the service that they will be providing. I am thankful for the Bishopric and grateful to have this chance to serve. Today we sang "I Stand All Amazed" as our sacrament hymn. It touched me deeply, particularly the second verse:

I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine;
That He should extend His great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.
(Hymn 293)

He came to rescue me, my children, my husband, and all of the sisters in my ward and their families. I am sometimes rebellious and proud and it truly does amaze me and fill me with love and gratitude that He loves me that much. I have learned a lot in the past two weeks already, and I am so thankful for the ways I am already being taught. I am so blessed, and I hope that I can serve to the best of my ability.

We also sang "Each Life that Touches Ours for Good" today. I love it. My life has been blessed in countless ways by Christlike friends.

Hymn 293:
1. Each life that touches ours for good
Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord;
Thou sendest blessings from above
Thru words and deeds of those who love.

2. What greater gift dost thou bestow,
What greater goodness can we know
Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways
Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.