Saturday, June 14, 2014

Wards & Callings

In our last ward (congregation), I was the Relief Society (women's organization) Secretary. It was a lot of work! But I will always remember what I learned from it.

I remember when we moved into that ward, I wanted to really get to know the sisters and throw myself into service. In my mind I thought we'd be adopting sometime in 2013, so I needed to do as much as I could as far as being involved at Church before that happened. Because then I'd have a brand new baby and I would be so wrapped up in that. I volunteered for anything and everything that needed to be done. I wanted to learn from the sisters. It wasn't long before I was called to be the Secretary. That's what I get for volunteering, ha ha. :)

There are much more demanding callings than that one, but it was my first in Relief Society and I learned so much. The vast majority of my callings before then have been in the Primary, teaching the children's Sunday School lessons. Those are pretty basic and I mostly followed the lesson manual and tried to make it fun. Not too bad. Being in RS was a lot more intimidating at first! Thank goodness the RS President was so amazing, organized, and insightful.

The Bishop and the RS President both emphasized that they saw our ward as a "training ward," because so many people move in and out and can only serve for a short amount of time, so they try to give responsibility to new sisters pretty quickly and teach them as much about the organization of the Church and leadership skills as possible before they move on. I was nervous about being with all the sisters when I've been around all the kids for so long, but I knew it's where I needed to be and where I would learn the most.

I remember sitting in the RS Presidency meetings kind of just taking it all in and feeling like such a newbie. I jumped right into the role and had to wing it until I knew what all I was responsible for. It needed some organizing, because there were so many responsibilities but I didn't get much training (the last sister to fill the role was called to be the Primary President and had to jump into that role quickly). I learned on the job and still felt like I was learning all the way up until the end.

It was definitely a "training ward" for me - they were right. I feel like I understand the purposes of the Relief Society so much better than I did before. I understand who is in charge of what and it's pretty awesome how smoothly the Church runs when everyone does their job (or even when they don't, someone always steps up and fills in where it's needed). I was surrounded by some pretty amazing women and it was the only ward I've ever shed a tear over when I left. They still invite me to ward activities, so I might double up on those and keep heading back to my old neighborhood every once in awhile, even though I really want to get involved in my new ward too. :)

I felt so supported through our two failed adoptions - one a year ago in July and one this past January. I made it through and I kept doing my job and it kept me sane (for the most part). The women were so kind to me and I felt like I was a part of something much bigger than myself. Thinking back, I should have reached out for help even more last year when I was grieving so hard, but you don't really think very clearly when you're grieving, obviously.

I was (partly) in charge of informing the RS President and the Compassionate Service Leader of each new pregnancy in the ward, and that was good for me. I rejoiced in the sisters' good news. Whenever I could, I tried to write down new baby blessings and give them to the sisters, because those don't usually get recorded. I learned some shorthand and scribbled quickly and probably missed out on the spirit of the blessing, ha ha. But I knew it would be worth something to the new moms to have that in writing. It taught me compassion and empathy and to have joy in others' happiness without a hint of bitterness.

The involvement in that ward is what helped me have a good frame of mind when our second adoption fell through. I knew that I had to serve Miss H in whatever way that I could. It was what I had been training to do. I couldn't see a need and then leave her stranded. My calling changed me and helped me focus on others in a way I hadn't really learned before. That's why I knew I had to send her something to help her get started with her new baby. It wasn't the time to be selfish and bitter and hateful. It was the perfect opportunity to serve, so I took it. And the people who also saw that and contributed just made it all such a wonderful experience.

Sometimes people don't serve others out of insecurity. I know I did! For many years I would hide in the back of Church and avoid people, hoping to be looked over when the Bishop is looking for someone for a particular calling or to give a talk. Now I have a confidence I didn't have before. I actually did get away with not having to give a talk, ha ha. But I'm starting to feel like it wouldn't kill me to get up in front of people in Sacrament meeting. It really wouldn't. Public speaking is not something I need to avoid for the rest of my life - the fear of it is something I need to get over. And you know what? I have a feeling that just because I said that, I'm gonna get a call from the Bishop. The Lord knows when and how we need to grow! Ha ha.

The last few weeks before we moved, I finished up some things I promised I would do and trained my replacement, trying to give her as detailed information as possible about all the responsibilities. She said she felt like a deer in headlights, ha ha. Yep, that's how I felt! But she's gonna do awesome. And now I can take what I've learned and apply it to my new ward. I told her to not hesitate to call me if she needed anything, but I know she's going to be great.

We met our new Bishop Sunday and he is AWESOME. Don't know what I think about the ward yet, ha ha. But the Bishop is awesome and he told us he's been praying for new families to move in. We said, "Well here we are! Put us to work!" He made a good connection with Zay and he even dropped by our BBQ later that day to try out Zay's cookin' - the man has skills on the grill and the Bishop agrees whole-heartedly! We'll miss our old ward, but we're where we're supposed to be right now and we'll see what good we can do here. Zay's excited (is excited the right word? more like "more willing than usual") to throw himself into service here.

We're in a good place, literally and figuratively. Learning and growing is never pain-free. I was super burned out trying to pack and move and train the new Secretary at the same time (while keeping up with hair clients and Kal's many many many demands - ha ha), but we get a bit of rest now while we're making the transition and adjusting to the new ward. So I'm reflecting and feeling a little free right now while I don't have a calling. :)

Our last ward is where Kal met his best friends. :) Look at that face he's making,  ha ha.

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