Sunday, June 2, 2013

To the Elders

This morning, at the assisted living center, where we have been assigned to a one-year mission to provide a sacrament service for the residents there, we had another spiritual experience. Some of the residents are lucid and some are not. Some are in and out of reality. I am always impressed that they can sing the hymns with such gusto, remembering the words, when we have to go from person to person helping them to find the page. A few can find the hymn number on their own but most cannot.

Norma Sherwood is 103-years-old. She has outlived her two daughters and two husbands. Her son-in-law is in terrible health. Her grandkids are good to come and visit from time to time but she really has no one left to care for her. We usually have our pianist choose the hymns for the service, simply because, that way, they will be able to play well. This morning, a young mother in our ward, Rachel Olsen, selected, as the closing hymn, "Nearer My God to Thee." Norma leads the music each Sunday. She sits up front in the room and she does a wonderful job. One nurse tried to tell her that she didn't need to do more than a simple form of leading but Norma would have none of it. She was trained to do it right and she was going to do it right. At any rate, she asked the pianist to wait a minute before beginning to play. She said she wanted to talk about the music for a minute. 

She then told us all of the night the Titanic sunk. The people who were left on board, after the life boats had all been used, knew they were going to die. "They knew that in a few minutes they would all drown, that they were going to die." It would do no good to throw themselves into the ocean because the tow of the sinking ship would draw them under. So they stayed on board on the deck. "Some of them hugged one another. Then they all sang, 'Nearer My God to Thee.' They knew that they were going to die but they sang."  She got a bit teary-eyed telling of that. "When I heard about that, I just cried. I still cry every time I think about those people who knew they were going to die and who sang a hymn."

We then sang the hymn. I had a hard time singing because she had painted such a vivid picture for us all. In fact, while she spoke all of the residents listened and paid attention to all she said. 

Colleen Bender and her husband Russ Bender, who was one of the bishops I served under when I was Relief Society President, were there to assist. Russ was in charge of conducting. Colleen gave the poem from conference that Elder Boyd Packer gave. "In 1992, having served nine years as an Assistant to the Twelve and 22 years as a member of the Twelve, I reached the age of 68. I felt impressed to start what I called an 'Unfinished Composition.'" he said. The residents really enjoyed the poem and laughed in all the right spots. I was impressed.

Colleen, like me, found that she had very tender feelings for the people who are there. These are people in our community who have worked with both Colleen and I in many church callings and in community service over the years. One was a nurse at the hospital, another the county treasurer, another was a county commissioner. One cut my hair many, many years ago. Each one of them is living at the home were they can be assisted with medications and meals. They have formed something of a family and like to be together. It doesn't matter that some do not remember the name of their friend. They take hands and they just enjoy being together.

I was so impressed with the graduations we attended for Dane, last week, and Kyle, on Thursday. I talked about Dane's graduation last week. Kyle was in the symphonic band and in the acappella choir. So he played the opening music in the band and then walked to the other side of the stage to sing. Kyle did well and was in the top 10 percent of his class. the speakers at both events were quite good. Last year, the school board member who spoke at Kyle's school had droned on and on. The speaker this year must have decided that he could win the next election more easily if he gave a short address and got on with it.

Dane's class was about 100 and Kyle's was about 500. Just marching that many people across the stage and saying something about them while the are introduced takes enough time so that no one wants to listen to a school board member go on and on about the greatness of the educational system in Utah. Both graduations were held at UVU. Dane's in the grand ballroom and Kyle's in the basketball arena.

 Erin, Donovin and Caydin will be with us for a week. They will be coming tomorrow. David and Bree are going to serve and best man and matron of honor for two of their friends who are getting married. Julie is bringing her kids over on Wednesday for Stephanie to celebrate her birthday. Siovhan's and Michael's are all within a few days of each. 

This morning, at stake general priesthood meeting, they introduced 14 young men who had just graduated from high school and who have received their mission calls. They then had them all sing a hymn. Gramps said it was a wonderful experience.

Well, we love our missionary grandson. (Well we do have two and will soon have three.) You know that we pray for you and that I keep your name on the temple prayer roll. Both Gramps and I are so proud of the great work that you are doing. We are thankful for the many tender mercies that our Father in Heaven is showing to you (and to your cousin). We are so thankful for you.

Special to Michael: We hope that your birthday card arrived on time and in good shape. We hope that the birthday is one of the best ever.

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