Email (after first full week in SLC)
Red text are comments added by Mom to add clarity.
Can you believe it’s been a week? It’s flown by so quickly. The work here never ceases. We’ve had a lot of lost records of people who were born outside of the United States of America. These records tend to be very difficult because most of the time, they have no phone number, no prior address, 2 last names but they only go by one of them, and their previous wards/stakes have been discontinued.
I’ve been reading in the book of Alma this week. A few days ago, I read of the repentance and conversion of Alma in chapter 36 where he preaches to his son Helaman.
I attended the organ recital of Clay Christiansen last Saturday before I going grocery shopping. The talents of the Church are limitless. Utah is home to a grocery store called Harmons. They have solved a common issue among many major metropolitan areas, including Appleton, the lack of a grocery store in a downtown area. Their prices are reasonable and it’s really nice that I only have to catch one bus in either direction to shop there rather than playing the transfer game or carrying groceries half a mile or more.
This past Sunday in Elder’s Quorum, we had a lesson from the Joseph Fielding Smith manual about the importance of bringing up children in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Something that I really enjoyed from the lesson was that parents are to train their children the values of the Church. What I take from that is that parents are not supposed to just teach the correct principles, but also to be righteous examples and show their children how to live correct principles.
I met Tabernacle Organist Richard Elliott on Sunday after church. From my experiences, all of the Tabernacle Organists are so humble and diligent in the work of the Lord. One thing that makes being here feeling like home is when Brother Elliott plays in sacrament meeting, on the last verse he improvises the harmonies. I’ve been known to do that from time to time. After sacrament meeting ended, he improvised upon the last hymn in a toccata-like setting.
After Church, Karl (his roommate) invited me to meet his family. Some of his siblings (and their families) were in town and they had a brief reunion. I know families can be together forever.
I really enjoyed Thursday’s devotional with the fellow Church-Service Missionaries. The Sister who gave the devotional based her thoughts on the parables of the ten virgins from St. Matthew, Chapter 25:1-13. She likened things we do in this life such as attending church, praying, reading the scriptures, attending the temple, and fulfilling our callings to filling our lamps with oil so that we can see when the Savior comes again and that when He comes, He can see us there.
On Thursday evening, I met with the President of the Tabernacle Choir, Ron Jarrett and the Choir stage manager, Alex Morris. There is nothing set in stone yet for serving on the Choir stage crew, but I’m confident something can be worked out. The biggest hurdle right now would be getting to and from Temple Square on Sunday mornings as the bus service doesn’t start until 9:30 or so. On Thursdays, I’d already be on the Square at call time for the crew, and the last bus leaves in direction of home at 10:25, so that’s not an issue. I’m going to try out Karl’s bike this weekend and might use that to get to Temple Square on Sunday mornings. I used Google maps to get a riding route, Google has a feature that picks the best biking route based on the amount of hills and the least steep hills. Right as we were finishing up our conversation in a room back stage, Mack Wilberg walked in. (Composer, arranger, conductor, choral clinician and the current music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.) I got to meet him although I thought I died and met Heavenly Father himself just because I know how awesome of a composer Brother Wilberg is. It was also nice to hear the Choir sing in person again. Besides last week, it had been over a year since hearing them in person, before that 6 years prior, and before that, never.
Muenster day, all Church employees/volunteers were treated to a free lunch in the Brigham Young Park just east of the Church Office Building. Because of a lack of devotionals on Fridays, I decided to go to yesterday’s organ recital. A friend who I met on YouTube and is a superb musician, computer engineer, and builds digital organs as a hobby was the organist. His name is Rob Stefanussen. He gave a great recital, one which appealed to a younger audience. He opened the recital with “How Firm a Foundation,” of chorus “of course” (an alternate word choice he picked up from his beloved high school choir teacher – Dr. Kevin Meidl) he played “Come, Come, Ye Saints” (a tradition for the Tabernacle Organ recitals),” and closed the recital by performing his own transcription of “Let It Go,” the hit song from the popular Disney movie, “Frozen.” I also attended the Temple. It is a great blessing in my life to walk past that divine building every day on my walk to the Office.
I went to the noon organ recital today. I was going to take a tour of the Conference Center after the recital, but before I knew it I started getting trained to become a Conference Center tour guide. I’ll know more about that next week as well. As I hit send on my email, I’m shopping at Harmon’s for groceries.