Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Best Ice Cream
Sunday I have ever had

It has now been one month since our congregation's primary program. I told myself that if I didn't get this typed up before a month was over I would never do it. I have 1 hour and 3 minutes before a month is over.

That Sunday was by far the best Sunday I have had during our almost one year (i can't believe it) in serving downtown. We now take two cars as Jeff has lots of meetings and helps pick the young men up to go to church. Is it amazing that almost all of them come without their parents - amazing boys. So I had to take this photo of me an the girls leaving out of the garage. I have started wearing a little makeup now that my marathon training tan is long gone and I am pasty white again.
For some reason driving alone with the girls is always tricky. I think it is because we always get so geared up to get ready for church then we race, race to get in the car to then sit there for an hour. We pretty much have to pack lunch for the girls to eat during the drive as the hour before we leave is packing everything up and getting ready, no time to feed them. It is so crazy that we pack food for them to eat to go to church and then for the ride home because it is around 5:30 by the time we leave.

This day was not only our primary program but also our munch and mingle and i was in charge of sharing time (Sunday school group lesson for ages 3-12) for the primary children. It took me 20 minutes to pack our car. We brought 3 pies, 4 dozen rolls and a large pan of stuffing.
My sharing time included ice cream which was a little tricky to pack up and keep frozen for two hours but it worked. We only have street parking to our church building so finding parking, getting the girls out and bringing all the food was an experience.

Our primary program is where the children ages 3-12 do the entire large congregations meeting by giving talks and singing songs that they had been working on all year. I had written the program and then handed it over a month before to one of the DARLING girls that was here with husband who was doing a Washington D.C. internship through BYU. Nicole - is she not so darling!

We asked her to execute the program and she did an amazing job. The week before the program two children who were not members of our church had come with their neighbor and wanted to come the next week and be part of their program. Nicole just was all over that by giving them parts and helping them feel so welcome. The two children came back and were in the program. I wish their parents could have seen them they would have been so proud.
Caroline actually read her part. Nicole had promised her if she did she would bring her two pink pieces of candy. I can't believe Nicole remembered and after the program handed her two pieces of laffy taffy. Annie Kate did a good job reading her part. I honestly had never gone over with it at home. She wrote the entire talk herself and I kind of felt bad that I didn't help her memorize it but you do what you can do.
The miracle of the program was regarding a little 10 year old boy. He comes every once in awhile and comes with his aunt. He has many challenges in his life. I had actually not written him a part thinking that he probably would not be there that day. But the primary president reminded me to include every child on the roll as if they were going to be there. Nicole had send each child their part in the mail encouraging them to go over it during the next few weeks. This boy came for the program. Due to a series of errors, which were all my bad, we ended up doing the entire program and forgot to have him come up during the program. I was in the back of the chapel and signaled to Nicole that we had left him out during the closing song. Being the super girl that she was she guided him to the microphone after the program to say his part. He walked up to the microphone and out of his pocket he pulled out his part that had been sent to him in the mail. The paper was torn, dirty and as soft as fabric. And in a voice that was sweet and tender he said his part, "John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I seriously had alligator tears just streaming down my face. It was the perfect ending! And the fact that he ended it could not have been any better. I was overcome with emotion. I felt a new kind of heart burn that I had never felt before, a good kind of heart burn. I know it was the spirit telling me what all of these kids said was true.
After it was over all of us primary leaders were rushing in the crowd of the congregation to see and hug each other. It seemed like we had witnessed a miracle seeing this program come together!

then for sharing time. Another friend who also is named Nicole gave me the BEST sharing time ever. It was perfect to do after the program and a way to celebrate the kids hard work. I set up a table with a big bowl and tons of condiments, ketchup, mustard, colored sprinkles, mayonnaise, syrup, chocolate, taco sauce, you name it - it was on the table. I wore my darling apron given to me by Sheri K.
I told the kids we were going to make an ice cream sundae to share. They about jumped out of their skin they were so excited. So I pulled out of my cooler a half gallon of ice cream and scooped into the bowl vanilla ice cream. I asked the kids what we should put in it. We put in the usually ice cream topping and mixed it up. I explained to them how great Sundae's are and they are something special that we don't have every day, just like a Sunday! We talked about what makes Sunday's special and how we don't want to do anything to ruin a Sunday. In our church we are taught to keep in a special and sacred day. We talked about doing things that you would do any other day start to take away what makes Sunday so special. It was then I compared some of these things to the ketchup, mustard and taco sauce and started pouring them in the perfect bowl of ice cream. I acted like it would make the Sundae (Sunday) better and they should just try it. They were so cute and just screaming that I had ruined the Sundae. Some of the kids even said, it is ok I will still eat it. We talked about how even just adding a little bit of taco sauce ruined the Sundae. I used the example that Ketchup is not bad, it just tastes bad on a Sundae. There is nothing wrong with doing things during the week but on Sunday's it ruins the day. It was a great object lesson and I think really stuck with them. I then pulled out of the cooler the prepackage ice cream in little cups for the kids to have and put their own toppings on. It was just awesome and huge thanks to my friend Nicole for the idea! This would be a great object lesson for the youth too.
While they were eating their ice cream I had given a gift to the music leader of the program. I handed her over 20 sheets of paper where members of the congregation during the program had written what touched them about the kids songs and talks. (great idea from my friend Laura G.) It was touching to have her read these out loud to the kids.
Then if this was not enough, this was our big Sunday to try to figure out what some of the kids needed for Christmas. Many of these kids are in very tough situations, it is heartbreaking for me. I feel like want to do so much more than I can do. So while they were still eating we did a little survey and told the kids we were pretending to be private investigators, kind of like a game. Each teacher was matched up with a child and had a list of questions. Their favorite color, breakfast cereal, games they like to play etc. In between the fun questions were the questions about what they need or want. I just have to give a summary of some of their answers it is so touching every time I read them.

My favorite story in the scriptures:
Joseph Smith praying and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ coming, The Good Samaritan, The Brother of Jared, David and Goliath, Lehi's dream, When Jesus walked on water, Samson, When Jesus got baptized, King Benjamin talking about baptism.

My favorite thing about coming to church:
primary, see my friends and being with people. sharing time. talk about God primary. learning and reading scriptures new things we learn, new people we meet. friends and munch and mingle. the prayer, God and the ice cream. primary - all of it! , to learn about God. my primary class.

What do you need?
Shirts, underwear,
Gas dirt bike and clothes,
socks and a winter dress,
boxing gloves and a bag,
money and clothes,
haircut, video games, clothes and shoes,
clothes and a house,
to be baptized,
to be close to God,
a brother (this was by my daughter Annie Kate - yikes)

If you could give your mom, dad, grandma anything for Christmas this year what would you give them?
a new car, my Grandma a house - hers burnt down.
new truck and a new house and my sister a puppy.
a car
my mom a pocket knife and a trip to France
a day off, money and a ticket to Disney World
a house (mansion)
a basketball stadium
a big fat t.v. and money
my mom jewelry and a leather jacket, love and a card
love and money for my grandma for brand new glasses
my mom a necklace and my dad a watch
my mom jewelery and necklace and a pierced earrings.
my mom a back massager

Then it was time for the ward Thanksgiving Dinner after church. It could have been one of the best Thanksgiving dinners I have ever had. I was one of the last to go through the line and most of mine was cold but I had just felt so great about the day anything would have tasted great.
During the dinner Annie Kate interviewed one of the most amazing young men at church. He is a senior in High School and his family moved her from Africa. Annie Kate was doing a school project and had to interview someone who moved to this country. She loved doing her project with him. His family really has an amazing story and are awesome people.

We left the building at about 6:00 pm and took three great kids home who had just moved near our church and came to their first Sunday by themselves. They have so little. I was almost embarrassed having them come in my car with the two TV screens. One boys kept saying, "you have a t.v. in your car!" It was interesting when they got in the back seat and saw Annie Kate's little handheld Nintendo. The little girl said that is what she wanted for Christmas and Annie Kate said, "you should just ask Santa, I didn't even ask for it and he gave it to me last year"
I have spent many hours (my Pink Christmas project looks like minutes to the hours I have spent on this and is many of the reasons my blogging is few and far between) in the last month working on figuring the needs of the primary and matching them up with generous friends and families in the area who are helping them out. Annie Kate has heard me on the phone every day talking about needs and gifts and such. One day she said to me, "I don't understand why don't these families just ask Santa for what they need, I am sure he will bring it to them, especially because they need it so much. I didn't even need a Nintendo DS and he brought it to me last year" I have been at a loss for words the few times she has brought this up.
I have become consumed with Christmas for our church congregation. It has become my every thought. It has changed my whole outlook on Christmas this year. A month ago a blogger who reads my blog emailed me and asked for a list of needs for a family in our church. She and her husband this very night are hosting a party in California and on the invitations were the needs of this family. The guests are bringing the items to the party and then they will ship it to me to deliver to them for Christmas. I still can't believe it as I type this story. It is just amazing to me. I have never met this girl but hope someday I do. She has asked to remain anonymous even though I want to shout her name off the rooftops. If you read this, a million thank yous!

We got home on this Sunday by 7:00 pm. It was one of our long days. Jeff didn't get home until 10:00 pm and had left at 10:00 am. That night we both talked about how amazing this experience has been. Our hearts have been softened to the art of service.

This Sunday was the best. It had all the toppings and I ate every last bite!


Jethro said...

What a great object lesson. You guys are amazing.

Barb said...

I'm so glad you met your deadline to do this post! The ending to your primary presentation could not have been more beautiful.
I want to say more, but I'm having a hard time capturing my own thoughts. I want to, need to, do more.

Lindsay said...

I am so glad that you took the time to write this post. It made me cry when I read about the end to your program. I just felt so touched by your experience. Someday I want to be like your friend, who recognized a need before being asked. Definitely something I need to work on.

Elizabeth said...

I just cried during your retelling of the primary program. I can't imagine actually experiencing it. I am so glad you shared.

kristi said...

to jethro, barb,lindsay and elizabeth. thank you so much for saying so, i am always so hesitant to type all of this up, but then just think how can i not share all these experiences.

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Kristi--I'm soooo glad you took the time to share this. Every. last. bit. of. it. Thank you.

Thanks, too, for the object lesson. That is PERFECT.

pjmesser said...

Such an inspiring post! I am so glad you took the time to document this amazing day. thanks for sharing.

Anna said...

Kristi, this is so amazing! It is such a touching and inspiring story. Thank you for sharing it.

Lauralee said...

oh that is so sweet, that last scripture read at the program.. I am glad that he got to do it.. I bet it is something he will remember for a long time.. I love primary programs.. but moments like that one.. WOW-

so nice about the cal in cali.. having the party, and sending you what that family needs.. so sweet.. what incredible experiences you guys get to have.. like another mission.. really that has got to be priceless for your little girls and makes me a little envious, but thinking.. what can I do here to let us have similar experiences...

I don't know how to answer the AK questions, about just ask santa.. that is a tough one!

hope today was a good one at your downtown branch!

Liz said...

Kristi, I am in awe at all you do and share with us from your experience in DC. I love that ice cream idea, just fabulous!

I am amazed that AK still believes in Santa!! You and Jeff are doing a fab job on that part. Lindsey doesn't believe at all!!

I hope you are able to fulfill all of those needs!

Tip Junkie said...

That is such an amazing object lesson! I've been inspired by your post.

Anonymous said...

Love your story about the little boy saying the scripture at the end of the mneeting...It was probably supposed to be that way! Thanks for sharing....

Shauna said...

Thank you for taking time to post this experience! I love hearing about your experiences at the Ward you are serving in. It keeps my perspective centered and mindful of years ago when our family served in a very similar capacity amongst the Migrant farm workers in FL. Those are still some of the best service experiences and memories for our entire family.

Every ounce of energy you spend arranging Christmas, working on Primary, and serving in any capcity in this ward will not be wasted.

Love that object lesson! I have had kids ask to eat the ice cream with the ketchup, also. It is so effective!

Kelly said...

There is so much in this post, I don't even know where to start! I so love your posts about your ward. They are always so tender and really touch me. I'm so glad you took the time to write this all, because I'm sure it will touch everyone who reads it. It puts so much into perspective.

So, I remember when you guys got called to go to this new ward, it was going to be for one year. Is that still the plan, or are you extending? I can't imagine that you're ready to leave (except maybe the travel).

Cristin said...

I'm sure those children will always remember your object lesson!

...Those primary presentations are always the best (the best sacrament meeting each year in my opinion) great that you could be a part of it!

Melinda said...

What an amazing recap of everthing. How special to be able to witness such an amazing program.

It breaks my heart to hear of so many kids in need. It just isn't fair. I don't know what I would say if my kids asked the same questions as Annie Kate.

You will be so happy you typed this out so that you can always looks back and read about a great day.

Traci said...

So good to hear about your program. We just did ours today, and I think I can now breath again and maybe all the zits on my face will fade too! Grateful to have it over with, but it was so nice to hear the comments from others. Some saying it was the best they had seen and heard.
I am in the mission field as are you with struggles and all. It always comes together and works at after all!
Loved the object lesson too. Those are always fun to do.
Love to hear about what you are doing to help those in your ward too, it's amazing. Great to learn the true meaning of service!

Isaura said...

what a great post and truly touching story of the little boy who came to church to read his part.

Rachel said...

I feel uplifted and edified from reading this post! Your ward, although challenging, sounds like such a great blessing! I know YOUR FAMILY is playing a big part in blessing that ward. The primary program sounds lovely and the sharing time idea is brilliant! Thank you for such an inspiring post!

Amy said...

I, too, am glad you met your deadline for this post. The primary program touched me, and I'm so glad you shared the details about the ice cream sharing time - such a genius idea to get a message across that they won't forget!

Michelle A. said...

The family who emailed you and wanted to help a family in your ward- wow, what a special thing to do. What a touching experience for you - I hope your time isn't coming to an end soon - you sound like you are really helping those families, not only at church, but in their personal expereinces. Take care!

Holly said...

I read your post this morning and your experience has been in my mind all day. You and your family are making such an impact on not only the children in the ward, but also valuable life lessons for your daughters. I need my heart to be softened by more service I'm sure. Thank you again for sharing with us.

Anonymous said...

Hello I just entered before I have to leave to the airport, it's been very nice to meet you, if you want here is the site I told you about where I type some stuff and make good money (I work from home): here it is

melanie said...

What a touching post Kristi. I'm so you shared this Sunday with us. What a blessing to be at that program.

The Christmas lists are very humbling. I hope you know every bit of what you do for their Christmas (large or small) is an answer to their prayers.

Love the object lesson too. No doubt I'm using it!

Jan said...

I am the Primary president in my ward here in Austin, and I loved reading about your experiences with the children and the spirit. Thank you for taking the time to post this and for all you are doing for those precious little ones in your area. I know how happy Heavenly Father is with all that is being done through you and your ward. Thank you from all of us!

Rebecca said...

Wow. What a great post. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I never would have thought that blogging could make my heart or my testimoney grow. Thank you.

michelle said...

What a shame it would have been if you had missed your deadline on this one, Kristi! I know I sound like a broken record, but -- amazing. Words cannot express. I just cannot believe all that your family is contributing to this ward, what a difference you all are making. And all that you receive in return, such a huge blessing! I am in awe of your willingness to do so much. And your friend in CA... so inspiring.

p.s. You look gorgeous in that car self-portrait!

crystal said...

Kristi - Your church service humbles me. You're such an amazing woman.

LJ said...

You have been working so hard, and your efforts (as you well know) will be SO worth it. You rock!

Amanda :-) said...

Well done on getting all that down on 'cyber paper', Kristi. I wish you had the time to devote an entire blog to your time at your ward, but we can all only pack so much into 24 hours, can't we? *sigh*

I read this entire post on my mobile phone, sitting in the car outside school, Isla asleep in the carseat, waiting for Erin to come out - it was blissful! Hahaha!

Jill said...

I think it's wonderful that you take the time to write up all your thoughts about your great Sundays (and sundaes) and share these experiences with us. You will be so glad you documented all of this for yourself, but also as evidence of many miracles and blessings for your daughters as well.

We all have very cushy lives, so it's hard to remember that so many people don't. Reading this makes me want to reach out.