This is an excerpt from my journal when I first met the Elders, great times!!
First time I ever picked up the phone and had the pleasure of speaking with Elder Yerkes, I had a sense of impending happiness. I was nervous on the phone when talking to him, why…I don’t know. I guess because with preconceived notions myself, I had no idea what the LDS Church really was or stood for. I had some friends back in high school that were Mormon, they were really good people. So I went along with my business as usual. I had to organize the dates, rental amount, and lease contract.
After numerous phone calls, situating whom would be living there, and the next steps, it was move in day. Next thing I knew, I had these two young men walk through my office doors. Now, these were not the first two I had originally met, one was the same, and the other much different. I was confused, and frustrated with a work issue and the situation of unknowing how to handle this contract. My “job” worries distracted me really from the look in their eyes.
Now, the one was the same. He had made some joke about year book HAGS which I didn’t find amusing at that moment in time. Little did I know that soon we would be looking back and laughing about it. His name is Elder Wallis, and he is an amazing impressionist, swimmer, and has the coolest calm demeanor ever, great smile, and you just can’t help smiling when he is around.
The other one, Elder Robinson, whoa, had the stare down. I think I came off poorly, because before I even introduced myself I pointed out the obvious which he wasn’t the same person,(originally another Elder was supposed to move in) and I even think I had a little snippy attitude. I also had no idea, that his stoic expression would be used in my testimony in front of an entire ward. He is blunt, non-expressive when serious, and has the most amazing piercing eyes, that look right into your soul.
The ice chipped away once we did the apartment inspection. I was out of my stuffy office environment, and I think they felt a little relieved because they were almost done having to deal with me, lol. I think I do, or can, scare people off in my life. Not intentionally, but the cautiousness I have is from the many years of tribulations. I realized that they weren’t uptight bible salesman, just some down to earth guys. We exchanged a few laughs, then told them if they needed anything to let me know…the truth was I needed them, just didn’t know it yet.
A week or two passed, gosh, the time has flown. It’s always like the weekends, you never want the good times to end, and when it is over, it was too short. Like the summer days as a kid, trying to squeeze out the last of the sunlight. They frequented the office, looking for packages, or a quick chat. Always so polite, their shirts crisp, ties always straight, and their name tags…The day they came in and we talked about their bikes and going for a bike ride…was the start of the connection.
Soon enough, they were in my office again, now that the main layer of ice was broken, and a comfortable line of communication was set, I was offered the, “Would you like to learn more” line. I think I paused, for a second or two, then, I said yes. I was thinking in my head, why not? There was definitely nothing to lose. What was interesting though was I felt like I had known them forever already. My hesitation was more of an impatient, “Well it’s about darn time!” I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, I was pressed to find out more, not by them, but by a voice that had filled my head and made my heart skip a beat. I still wonder what was going through their heads when I accepted their proposal.
So, we met in my office that very Saturday, April 27th, to discuss the gospel. I learned on that day about the Plan of Salvation. My son was running amok, my daughter sitting in quiet thought. The Elders were very patient with my children, and kind, and spoke to them as people. That gained bonus points, and instant respect from me. I would say that on most days, my kids are kids, but they can have their moments, and both of the Elders, just laughed, or would have a wise crack to get back at them.
We discussed a lot that day, and they even answered a lot of my deeper questions that I could never ask in a typical church environment that I was used to growing up in. They called them the “deep doctrine” questions. I remember feeling this weight lifted from me. Almost like an unveiling. I finally had light where there had been darkness. My spirit felt renewed. I was so eager and I just wanted to talk to them all night about the teachings and discoveries. I hung on their every word. We were asked to church that next day, and we went.
What a joyous occasion it was. I was filled with the feeling of the Holy Spirit. Everything about the environment I could feel was right. I was supposed to be here…why did it take me so long? Was I so blinded by my worldly affairs, that I had lost this much fulfillment from being there? I racked my brain for hours over this. What had I turned into? What type of example had I been setting for my kids? I knew the answers of course to these questions, but facing them and recognizing how far I really had fallen, was so hard and humbling. I wept silently, chocking back sobs and sniffles.
The next following of days, I was asked for more time with them to continue their teachings with me and my children. Plan of salvation, Baptism, Words of Wisdom, Chastity, Tithing…so many new names to remember, and terms and rules…Never was I once frustrated with the Elders, I asked questions, and they always had an answer for me. I was more frustrated with myself because these simple fundamentals that they were trying to teach me made so much sense. Why was it frustrating then? Because I KNEW this, in my heart..it was like riding a bike, only I fell off long ago, and never was brave enough to get back on.
I was able to meet some amazing members of the church and attend gatherings I wouldn’t have otherwise. The wholesomeness that the Elders had uncovered in our lives was such a precious gift. One that is priceless, and unable to match. They were always ready and willing to hear me out, bring over a Brother from the church to continue our teachings. One meeting in particular did really make an impact on me. During the Word of Wisdom lesson, Elder Robinson asked for my commitment to refrain from drinking coffee. Yikes..I have been drinking coffee for the last 20 years of my life! I loved the taste, the smell, the warmth, everything about it. However, when he asked this of me, and I had Elder Wallis, and the visiting Brother sitting on my couch staring at me, I knew in that moment, it was now or never.
So many thoughts crowded me in that moment. I am not sure how long of a moment did actually pass, but it flashed before me. I knew what this meant. They were only verbally asking me of a commitment to refrain from one of my vices..however, I had many more. I enjoyed a beer now and then, a glass of wine. Hard liquor was a thing of my past, disgusting feeling from any of that if too much was ingested. I had abused drugs in my much earlier years in life. Tea, smoking…I had done it all, I had LIKED it all..at one point. So, as I pondered all of this, I found my voice and said yes, which Elder Robinson retorted with his “sweet” comment. Elder Wallis just lit up with his grin that is contagious. The next question was serious “go time”. They asked for the coffee maker itself. OK, now we are serious, it’s real, this is happening. My faith in the church is stronger than any addiction I have, and so yes, I let them pack up my coffee maker and haul it off with them.
Now, we will back up a bit. They had asked Rylan and me to attend dinner with them at Garcia’s. We sat down, and ordered our drinks. I was sitting across from Elder Robinson, and I got a funny expression when I ordered my ice tea. We ate and laughed and shared stories. Rylan had some interesting questions that night for us. Very lengthy, but it actually helped us to all get to know each other better. We discussed things we liked, disliked, valued, and some hard stuff too. Of course our lesson came into play as well, and we talked about the scripture that was asked of me to read.
So jumping back ahead..it came to me as to why I received that funny look. We can’t drink tea..well..herbal tea is fine, but anything with green or black tea in it a no-no. I chuckle every time now about it. They were very polite, didn’t say a word, and didn’t jump ahead on their rapport building with me. I do believe their patience with me paid off. Maybe it was just their faith…yea..