Sunday, March 11, 2007


I really don't even know where to begin on this great and wonderful day.

I know I will say this 100 more times, but I can't figure out why our family has been so lucky to have this awesome experience of serving. We have learned so much already. A few things we noticed from today, which are small blessings:
  1. I want to keep my car clean at all times because we give people rides from time to time and I don't want them seeing my cheerio-french fry infested car.
  2. We are not as intimidated by this part of the city any more and feel so much more comfortable (not as scared)
  3. The second Sunday the congregation stays after to have dinner together. It is teaching me to try to learn how to cook for many people as cheap as possible. (any tips would be appreciated)
  4. We rent a small townhome. that was a bit humbling for me to move into after years of thinking we would have been in a house by now. Everytime I come home on Sunday I feel like I live in a mansion and could not be more grateful.
We made great time downtown today and came in 10 minutes early. I put my 25 Las Cruces Burritos in the small oven which is in a closet in the church's basement. We made holiday cupcakes again, which seem to a big hit with the kids. They love the little toothpick topper. ( I am on the hunt for Easter ones, so if anyone sees any let me know) I made yellow cupcakes with white cake mix in the middle dyed green and the kids loved it. I found these great storage containers at Sams for transporting.

Our chapel is packed every Sunday and they have folding chairs lining the isles and into the hallway almost to the front door you walk in. I wonder if because we are so physically close and packed in if that is why there is just such a feeling of unity vs. bigger chapels where each family can fit in their own row.

A woman sang a musical number that was incredible. It is a song I have heard a million times and if I was in any other ward, probably would have said to myself, "enough already, this song is so 10 years ago" but hearing it today was like I had never heard it. I think it was because seeing the congregation hear it for their first time was beautiful. The words touched so many and our Kleenex boxes were emptied.
some of the words from the song
Making His home with the lowly,
spending His days with the poor
Bringing hope to their hearts,
giving Man a new start with His cure
A teenage boy spoke who had just been baptized in the church. He comes every Sunday like most of the youth without his parents and is just amazing. He started is talk with, "What's Up?" not the usual Good Afternoon as you could tell he was really nervous. He ended his talk with saying, "Everything is so new to me but I know it will never get old, seeing all ya'll every Sunday feels as good as the first time"

The next speaker was our Missionary Couple. The wife spoke first, she is in her mid 60's from a small town in Idaho. They have been here 23 months and this was their last Sunday. She got up, could not even speak because she was so emotional and then started her talk with , "What's Up?", just like her new friend. Hearing her incredible journey of not knowing how to drive in a big city and being timid and scared to being strong and brave was wonderful. Her and her husband give many rides and help many people especially the youth. They have carried a lot of the weight of the ward on their shoulders. She said, "Many of you have said that you don't know what you will do with out us here, but the truth is we don't know what we are going to do without all of you"

The tradition in our ward when anyone moves out is that after Sacrament Meeting they come to the front and we all sing one verse of "God be with us until we meet again". Talk about emotional. It was just wonderful.

My favorite part of Sunday is immediately following Sacrament meeting those visiting stand and introduce themselves. I counted 24 visitors. Many will say, "if I could just bottle the feeling I have here I would take it home with me"

Primary was great but has so many challenges. So many. It will be interesting learning how to help these children the best way possible. Last Sunday I did sharing time and I kept thinking this 20 minutes of me teaching the children is likely the only 20 minutes they will have like this all week. And I assume that any primary across the country has at least one child that may fit that as well. So, I kept thinking what will I say when I have their attention. I realized it is not what I say, what I bring, what they color, but how they feel. If I can help them feel the spirit and feel peace, they will want to come back. When they are teenagers and they feel this way again, they will remember feeling that as a child. This has been good for me who is one that has been worried about themes and handouts to now be worrying about the meat of the message instead of the packaging.

We stayed for our true feast after to eat with everyone. It is so great to look forward to this every month. The girls in Annie Kate's class were sitting together, I still have not met any of their parents and think they all come together as just girls. They were all sitting on our row in Sacrament meeting by themselves, but as still as they could be. Our family is speaking next Sunday and Annie Kate was going to sing a musical number. She had told the girls at the table and they all asked if they could sing too. So me and these girls ran upstairs to the chapel to practice a song. (keep in mind I have NO musical skills what-so-ever) I told them the song was, "I love to see the Temple" none of them knew the song so I asked them what they wanted to sing, they all wanted to sing "Dearest Children God is Near You" They all know all three verses.
I was a sight I am sure trying to teach the girls to sing, when this is something I would never do now or did at their age. They are all so excited for next Sunday.

After church we took one of the Young Men home. When we do this it is so fun to always see Annie Kate making conversation in the very back of our car.

We went to our friends house, from the ward to share in the blessing of their baby. They live in a very cool row house with a magical garden for a back yard. They must have had 50 people there from every walk of life and religion. It was such a magical experience. We felt fortunate to be included.

Annie Kate and her favorite buddies stayed out front most of the time and helped people find parking spots for their cars. She felt so grown up being with the older kids instead of running in the garden with the little ones.

The couple is the ones who had us over for breakfast last month. He grew up near Jeff and they had figured they played each other in H.S. tennis in Washington. Andy put himself through college/law school by being a baker. He made about 10 loaves of bread for the event and had different butter, jams and spreads to put on them.the "cup of soup" (minuature Soupie) we gave to the baby with monogram and blessing date

We had to grab our bread and run because I had a Stake/Regional Primary Meeting at the Stake Center by the Temple as was already late.

The girls were getting quite tired as it was now 7:00 pm (we left the house a little before noon) this was Sally Jane covered in Spaghetti sauce, nutella, strawberries, jam and honey in her leprechaun St. Patrick's dress getting in the car to go home.

My Stake Primary Meeting was great and I had to share a few ideas so I don't forget them. (Andrea I thought of you the whole time) The theme was finding the lost sheep. The back drop for the room was photos they had taken of the children in the stake. There was about 60 they had blown up to 8 1/2 x 11" and mounted on black foam board. It was really great because it reminded us the whole time why we were really there.The other idea was making invitations for the fall Primary Program to send to some families in the ward who may not know about the program, or for the children who may not come as often.

Each ward/unit was given a "SOS" bag. Save our Substitutes. It is a bag to keep in the closet to had a last minute substitute for a primary class. It has crayons, a children's hymn book, a manual, paper, photos from the Gospel Art Kit. I thought this was a brilliant idea and something I think we will use often.

The Sheep theme was carried out the whole night.

Jeff had dropped me off to the meeting and I got to ride home with girls from my ward that we live in. It was fun to catch up with them and the ongoings. I felt like I had to hold back my emotion when they asked how I felt about our experience downtown. I could have talked about it the whole way home. It was a 9 hour day of pure feasting from beginning to end. I was exhausted and could barely keep my eyes open as I got in bed.

Just when I thought I was too tired to do anything else, my phone rang. My dear friend from New Orleans called me. She is in her 60's and has had so many trials in her life. My Christmas card was returned as she has not moved back since Katrina. She told me her entire Katrina story about being stuck in her house for 4 days trying to flag down helicopters and seeing floating bodies in the water. She has very poor health and lives in a very humble home. It broke my heart to hear of her trials but felt blessed to be talking to her. Her spirits were so high. The last time I saw her Annie Kate was 18 months old (she is now 8) It made me kind of sad because I had a hard time remembering that sweet ladies face. I have sent her a Christmas card every year and never knew if she even got them. She talked to me of how she has loved seeing my girls and watch them grow. She said she had wished my moving card had shown the front of our faces. It made me giggle and now I know who needs some good mail this week and see some photos of my girls.
I had a hard time keeping my eyes open the whole time we were talking, but after all that I had been given today I felt I needed to stay awake and give something back.

I may have to change my blog name to "Life is too good" because right now if feels like it is.


Elizabeth said...

I am so glad you share these experiences with all of us. It is all amazing.
I love that we sing to those leaving our ward here in Hawaii. It is a beautiful Hawaiian song that makes me cry every time. People bring leis for people leaving and at the end of the song put the lei on them. I feel so incredibly sad when there is no lei for somebody. Usually because people didn't realize it was their last Sunday. I made candy leis I can keep in my car just in case.
About the food for lots of people thats cheap. Rice and beans are always good. Cheap and filling.
I think it is so wonderful that you have jumped right in and obviously been blessed with your willingness to serve.

melanie said...

Really, first to comment? Double WOOHOO!!

What an amazing Sunday. You are blessed but at the same time there is no way you could count the blessings you give back. I love how willing you are to serve others, even when the timing is not perfect for you. Beautiful words Kristi, thanks for sharing!

I love some of the Primary ideas you shared. I am taking them with me to my new calling too!

melanie said...

dang she beat me while I was typing! Ok so woohoo second to comment! hehe

Kelly said...

Oh, Kristi, I loved this post so much. You can really feel your tender emotions coming through your words. Thanks for sharing this experience with all of us. I'm sure most of us will never have an opportunity like that in our lifetimes, and it's so humbling and tender to read of your experiences. I am sure one of the reasons your family was given this calling is because of your love for these people and your enthusiasm for this experience. Like most things I see on your blog, you are making the most of your experience and I really admire that.

And, as a side note -- how cute is the name "cup of soup"? You really should market that! I love it!

Sarah said...

I usually lurk on your blog – I enjoy your posts so much! However, I have especially loved all of your posts about your family’s experiences in your new ward. I would love to be given a similar calling someday.

I am always so touched by how your Annie Kate seems to be a little wise beyond her years and so spiritually in touch – she sounds like such a neat kid! I’m sure the experiences she’s having in her new ward are having an enormous positive impact on her and the memories of the time she is spending in your new ward will stay with her always.

Bless those little girls in Annie Kate's class, and all the other children in that ward, who come to church without their parents. They certainly set a wonderful example for all of us with their passion for and dedication to learning more about Jesus Christ and His gospel. How fun that you will have several little girls singing next Sunday along with your Annie Kate. What a perfect song for them to sing! I’m sure there will be few dry eyes in the chapel.

Thank you for sharing your experiences on your blog and for letting your realness (is that a word?) shine through in your posts.

pam said...

It has truely been a blessing for me to be a member of an inner city ward. What a difference. How blessed I feel and how needed I feel. I loved working with the youth. In truth I have loved all of my callings and the blessings that came from them. It was always interesting to take the kids home and be the only white face in the neighborhood, but I KNEW that all would be well when I was doing my Father's bidding. I'm so excited that your family has this wonderful experience, it will be such a tremendous blessing in not only your life but in the lives of your children. Thank you for sharing your stories. Your thought about your NOLA friend touches my heart and makes my throat scratchy. You thoughtfulness, love and kindness touch and teach many people. I'm glad to be one of them.

Crystalyn said...

what a great sunday! your experiences in your ward remind me some of my experiences growing up in South America. there is a feeling in those places that is palpable and hard to put into words. you are lucky to have them and they are lucky to have you. thanks for sharing.

Kristy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristy said...

You are having such wonderful experiences. Ones that will touch your heart and stay with you forever. This reminds me of Amy M. and Crystalyn's posts yesterday about how when we serve others our lives are enriched the most

Amanda said...

I can totally feel the spirit just reading your post. I love hearing about your experiences in the downtown ward. I bet you do feel truly blessed, in a lot of different ways! Thanks for sharing! said...

WOW! this is an amazing post! You really inspire me to be positive in so many ways!
Thank you!!!

stacys said...

Thanks for the inspiration. So many things to think about in this post. Good stuff.

Julie P said...

You don't know how badly I want to go to church with you!!!

carlo said...

so glad that you are so blessed in so many ways, kristi. you give so much of yourself. it is wonderful to hear your stories...

thank you for sharing.

e. loved her post card from caroline. thanks so much!!

Melinda said...

ALright, that has got to be one of the best posts I have read in a while. Thank you soo much for sharing that. I was close to tears the whole time I read it. I can't beleive so many children come by themselves to church. Those girls gave me goosebumps that they wanted to sing Dearest Children. I wish you could tape it and put it on your blog. What a sight and sound that will be.

We are soo blessed! My children are so blessed. I am so glad you share you experiences with this ward. Everytime I am finished reading I can't help but say we are so blessed.

I love the primary ideas. I love that people can still some up with new and brilliant things to make the cause better.

I will keep my eyes open for the toppers for Easter.

Thank you for the darling St. Pattys day card. SO cute and the kids loved to look at it. They thought I was really cool to get it in the mail.

Lauralee said...

such a sweet post.. it made me cry to read it! I remember singing that song in the mtc whenever it was someones' last night.. and in mylast ward the RS sang it to me... oh such emotion!
What incredible, memorable experiences you are having.. your family is blessed to be there!
Perspective is so much! I totally get you about the renting a townhouse.. and how it absolutely doestn' matter.. and how blessed we are to have what we do!
love the pictures.. thanks so much for sharing!

Price Cream Parlor said...

What an amazing post! I love that you take the time to journal these tender thoughts and feelings that you have - and that we are able to share in your experience through reading them. THANK YOU!
I love how you feel the spirit and look for the positive in things. What a cute comment for that sister to make "what's up!" - so sweet and a great tribute to a wonderful ward - great mix of people. What I loved about our missionary experience while living in Florida is what these kids taught me!
Thanks for sharing and causing me to reflect on my own experiences.

Jill said...

When you first told me about the opportunity to go to this downtown ward I felt hesitant for you because I knew it would be so much more challenging than going to the ward that's close to your house. But each time you post about it I feel humbled and thankful that there are people like your family who embrace these opportunities to serve.

I can totally relate to the part where you were talking about Sharing Time and it being the only 20 minutes of gospel teaching those kids might get that whole week. That just hurts my heart, but I know that the Lord knows the needs of those children and will help carry them through their lives with the help of great leaders like you.

Liz said...

Wow Kristi! Your family is truly blessing and being blessed by this calling. I loved reading about it all. The wall of children's photos reminded me of our Bishop in CA. He had one too with all the youth included. It is a great reminder. I love the SOS bag, great idea! Thanks for sharing all of this with us!

amy m said...

What a true blessing this is in your life right now. Sounds like another amazing Sunday for your family. I think it is such a beautiful thing the service you are giving and how you are able to teach your children in such a powerful way.

deidra zoe said...

My sister pointed me to your blog. I can't believe the first post I would read would hit me so hard. My husband was the YM president in the Capitol Hill ward when we started dating. I only got to go to church with him for a month before my internship ended and I moved. But, oh, how I love that ward. (I'm tearing up at work just thinking about it.) The love, the friendship and the amazing Spirit. You can't find wards like that in Utah. One of the sisters referred to her visiting teachers as her "Visitin' sistas." To keep that spirit alive, I like to refer to mine the same way! My husband sometimes has to stifle the urge to say, "Good morning!" back to the speaker in our Utah ward!

What an amazing opportunity!

Jenny Dahl said...

Sad to say but its been a long time since I've had a day like this. Mostly because I don't let myself. Rather than taking time to be in the right place at the right time, I'm too busy rushing home to strip off my itchy panty hose! I appriciate the reminder of the blessing that can come when you spend Sundays as they were meant to be spent.

Tasha said...

What a feast indeed! I get goosebumps when I think of your family going to that wardhouse. What a life changing experience for you, but especially for the girls. There aren't better people in the world to be doing what you are doing.

Ben and Laura said...

What a great post Kristi. I feel many of the same feelings as I serve the YW in the Bronx. Such a blessing in my life. And so much I can learn from them.

Kelly A. said...

I love reading about your experiences in your new ward. We lived in an inner city branch in West Philadelphia during grad school. You bring back fond memories.