Friday, October 22, 2010

Politics, Politics, Politics

May I just say that I can't wait for the mid-term elections to be over. When November 2nd comes, I'll be celebrating. I am so sick and tired of all the campaign ads (negative as usual). Living in the DC area, you have to listen very carefully to what is being said in order to try to figure out the message. Details on the former governor of MD about what happened during the time he's been away from office (of course, the details don't tell you everything so one could assume all the negative items being thrown at him are true). The former governor doesn't respond to the accusations but has his own negative ads for the current governor (although not nearly as negative as his opponent). During the morning, between 7:00-8:00 a.m., you can see a constant barrage of ads on TV from both candidates. Then we see the ads from other areas of the country - just as bad and negative as you would suspect. Wouldn't it be nice to see a campaign that emphasizes the positive things a candidate has done and let the public decide for themselves?

And I will get political myself - as President Obama flies across the country to campaign for fellow Democrats who are in danger of losing their seats in the Congress, it seems that his message is that only Democrats are concerned about the nation in general. I'm quite sure that there are fellow Republicans and Independents who are concerned about the nation as well. These democratic candidates wouldn't need to be so concerned for their jobs if they had listened to their constituents and voted differently on certain key pieces of legislation. It seems to be that the country as a whole is sick and tired of what's happening and has decided to be more vocal about it. Although not an official political party - the Tea Party is making an impact across the land (and I don't believe this is a group of radical citizens who are voicing their opinions - it seems to me that they are average Americans who want their voices heard and are willing to congregate together to make those voices heard).

So, we only have 10 more days to listen to the negativism of the campaigns. I will take advantage of the opportunity to vote early (as we have that option in our state now). And I will look forward to November 3rd and the sounds of holiday music for the upcoming Christmas season (I'm sure the decorations are already in place at the malls and the music is already playing).

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Change is Constant

For the past several weeks, at the end of Sacrament meeting, a letter has been read a letter from the Stake Presidency referencing a four ward Sacrament meeting to be held on September 26th at the Stake Center (note to those who are not members of the LDS church - each congregation is called a ward, and many wards make up a Stake, which is similar to a diocese in the Catholic church). Our Stake has seven units (wards and branches) in it. So the fact that we weren't meeting as an entire stake led to lots of speculation on what was to occur.

The announcement also indicated that there would be a special choir performance and asked that anyone who would like to sing with the choir meet at 8:00 a.m. for a quick rehearsal before the meeting at 9:00 a.m. The hymn was "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" - a favorite of mine (but a different version than the one in the hymn book) and a hymn our own choir had sung several weeks before in our ward Sacrament meeting.

On Sunday, I drove to the Stake Center, which is about 25 minutes from my home. The day before we held a community health fair at work and after a very intense 12 hour day, I could barely walk that evening so I was amazed I was able to get up and out of bed early on Sunday morning. When I arrived at the Stake Center, I was so excited to see the number of people who showed up for the rehearsal. The choir was so large. We had a 40 minute practice and were asked to sit in the choir loft until after we sang, and they we were to sit in the congregation.

Although four wards don't have as many people as a normal stake conference would, the building was filled with Saints from different wards, and there were chairs set up in the overflow section to accommodate the number of people who came.

After the opening prayer, we stood up to sing. There was a special spirit present at that moment, and once we began singing, you could feel that spirit so strongly - I had goosebumps while I was singing. It was such a spiritual experience and when the hymn was finished, the stake president turned around, with a big smile on his face, and gave us a "thumbs up" sign. For the rest of the meeting, I noticed the hymns we sang all had a purpose for this kind of meeting. Once again, the Spirit was guiding the person who selected those hymns.

The anticipated announcement was made - one of the wards was being dissolved, and the majority of those members would be going to our ward (historical note - 19 years ago, the dissolved ward was created from our ward). Our ward boundaries were changed slightly, and several of our members would be attending one of two other wards. When the counselor asked for a vote - everyhand went up. A friend and I looked at the stake president and he looked like he was going to cry but he also had a look of relief on his face as well. The vote was unanimous.

Because of these boundary changes, there were changes in the Bishoprics as well. Our bishop was released after five years, but keeping it in the family, his father-in-law was called as the bishop for our ward (he previously was the bishop in the ward that was dissolved). Our bishop was asked to speak as was his mother-in-law. His dear mother-in-law has attended two Sacrament meetings for the last five years - she was in our ward helping her daughter with their four children, and then she stayed for Sacrament in the ward her husband was bishop in. I commented to her after the meeting that she would now have some free time as she wouldn't have to spend 7 hours in our building each Sunday. Our outgoing bishop gave an emotional talk, yet it hardly seems possible it was five years since he was called as our bishop. Another note - when he was called, he didn't attend our ward - he was in the ward that was just dissolved. As he was called to be our bishop, very few of us knew him, but we came to love him for all he did for us. How fun is it that now we are combined as one ward and will still be able to see him and his family each week?

We got a little treat that day - we only had a two hour Sacrament meeting and then church meetings were over for the day. We had a chance to speak with the friends from the dissolved ward to say "Welcome Back" - although we lost some very strong members who were saddened by the thought they will be going to another ward. I know we will keep in touch with them as they are part of our ward family, wherever they may be.

So, a lot of changes occurred but in the end, the church is still the church, the mission of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father continues and we will love getting to know our former ward members who now are home with us again. I'm sure there will be many leadership changes over the next few weeks and it will be interesting to see what joys that brings going forward. Don't you just love change?