Sunday, December 26, 2010
A weekend to end all weekends
First of all, I wanted to wish everyone a Merry (late) Christmas! This has certainly been a great one for me so far, especially considering it was my first one at home since before my mission. I'd have to say that the two Christmases I spent in the mission field were unique and remarkable experiences. Nothing can compare with them, and likewise there is nothing that compares with Christmas at home. I received several new books, including Pres. Monson's biography and an NBA Coaches Playbook, which should help me a great deal in my future coaching aspirations. I also pretty much quadrupled the number of Oregon Duck's apparel that I own, meaning that I can now probably where a different shirt practically every day for a month! OK, so maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. Also had another excellent Christmas dinner prepared by Mom; all I can is that roast was WAY good! A definite highlight of the day, which came as a great surprise, was being called by Shawntae Stone and her kids, a remarkable family that I had the privilege of teaching and baptizing while in Cincinnati. We talked for well over an hour, and I found out that they have not missed a Sunday since they joined the Church and remain active and involved in many ways! I was also called by another Cincinnati investigator named Michelle Baker, who called to wish me a Merry Christmas and tell me that she was doing well and going through rehab so she can get baptized! Elder Kirk and are worked for countless hours with these beloved individuals and families, and it was a tremendous blessing to hear how well they are doing. Isn't the gospel just great?! Today was a very busy Sunday! I had the opportunity of speaking with my Dad, who is on our stake high council, in 3 different wards! I've obviously never spoken that many times in one day, but I enjoy speaking and it was a very spiritual experience each time. We both spoke on the subject of agency and choosing to follow the example of the Savior. We received many handshakes and compliments from the congregations afterwards, and I spoke with many individuals who were familiar either with elders who served in my mission, the areas in Ohio and Kentucky, or were directly related to members that I knew. One of them introduced himself as Bro. Fish, who was related to the Bang Family that started the Church in Cincinnati! He is also the first cousin of Ralph Blackwelder, who's family lives in Cincinnati and is very well known and whom I spent lots of quality time with. I know all those names pretty well, especially considering I own a book that details the history of the Church in the Cincinnati area. Small world, isn't it? The capstone to the day was spending the evening with the Heaton family, members of our ward who we have a great friendship with. Bro. Heaton was my YM President when we moved into the ward, and he likes to invite returned missionaries over to share their experiences, and that's exactly what we did. It was an awesome experience and certainly had me longing for my mission BIG TIME. There's just not enough good things I can say about what my mission has done for me, and I won't attempt to summarize them here. Boy, after a weekend like this, I have so much to be reminded of and grateful for! What a wonderful thing the Church is!!