Thursday, June 12, 2014

Our Heroes

We all know the African proverb that says, "It takes a village to raise a child."  I have felt the power of this truth deeper than ever before ever since my husband has had to travel so much over these past several months.  Abe has always traveled a lot and worked late hours throughout our entire marriage, but his current schedule is by far the most he's ever traveled.  We miss him a lot…

Amidst his travels, we have been blessed by many wonderful people.  I particularly want to honor 4 of our heroes today...

My Visiting Teacher

A visiting teacher is a woman who has been assigned to another woman within our congregation to help in time of need- offering spiritual, physical, or emotional support.  The hope is that every woman has the opportunity to be visit taught and also to be a visiting teacher to a few other women within the congregation.

About a week before Mother's Day, my dear, sweet visiting teacher sat me down and presented a huge bag full of really nice things to pamper myself.  I know I took too long opening each and every lipstick, lotion, and cream, but there were amazing things in there that I never even knew existed!  I was in awe that she had taken the time to make sure I felt appreciated and pampered while my husband was away.  My emotions got the best of me many times even after the gift opening was over.  I felt truly loved.

This same visiting teacher prepares activities for the young girls between ages 8-11 a couple times a month.  My little 6-year old, Mariah, saw the older girls doing wonderful crafts while she was waiting for my older boys to finish scouts.  I had just been feeling sad earlier that day that I hadn't had/made time to do more crafts with her.

I never spoke that concern out loud, but my dear, visiting teacher invited my little Mariah into her room to participate with the older girls.  I peeked into the room, and Mariah's little face was just beaming with joy.  That simple act of love and kindness made my dear friend the hero of the home.  She has become so special to us that even my 4-year old daughter, Juliana, named her favorite stuffed animal after her. :-)

Mariah has carefully displayed this special folder of art work on her dresser by her bed, so she can admire it on a daily basis.

This woman not only acted on the promptings she felt as a visiting teacher but also as a teacher to young girls.  She went above and beyond.  I thanked her for including my daughter, and she simply stated her great love for little Mariah.  She became our hero because of love...

Our Home Teacher

A home teacher is called to care for and watch over a couple different families in their congregation.  We've had home teachers whom we never even knew they existed… and then we've had home teachers who have truly magnified their callings… such as the one we have now.

Last week I showed a friend of mine the following pictures of Jackson doing our late night family dance party…

Jackson's only DJ experience is jamming at our family dance parties, but he takes it seriously.  He sets up the speakers and makes a play list.  He even gets his DJ seat decked out with special blankets. :-)

A couple of days later, my friend's husband, who is our home teacher and also a DJ on the side, called me to invite Jackson on a DJ job.  We were so excited!!  I kept reminding Jackson to play it cool!!!  :-) 

I'm sure it wasn't easy for our home teacher to take a child with him on a DJ trip… let alone somebody else's child!!  He has 4 children of his own!  As helpful and kind as Jackson is, it takes extra work and energy to instruct a 12-year old the ways of the business.  It's soooo much easier to just do your job without having to train a young kid along the way!

As I expressed my gratitude to him, he reminded me that he was our home teacher… doing his duty.  What a blessing and inspiration his fulfillment of his calling is to our family!  What a life-changing moment for Jackson… he was given a chance at the real deal!!

Young Mens Leaders

Last weekend, two young men leaders planned an amazing trip to NASA Space Museum!  None of us had ever been there, but we've been wanting to go for quite some time… especially for Jackson's sake.  These two leaders took out almost their entire day to plan this amazing trip for the young men ages 12-18 of our church.

(His leaders didn't know this, but Jackson has loved space since a little child.  In fact, we took him to an evening show of the planetarium at BYU with a bunch of college students when he was only 8-years old, and he raised his hand and answered almost every question about the constellations.)  

When the young men returned from their excursion to NASA, I couldn't believe it.  Only two boys had shown up for the activity.  I felt badly for the leaders, and I hoped they understood how much we appreciated their sacrifices.  I hoped they understood how much Jackson loved that trip.  Jackson and I thanked them over and over again, but it didn't seem like enough.  

As I drove home, I pondered a bit more about these two leaders.  As I thanked God for their sacrifices, I began to cry as I realized that the two boys who did go to the activity had fathers who were gone for long periods of time for their work.  The other young man's father had just left for 3 months!  

The Spirit spoke very strongly to my heart that these leaders were playing very important roles in shaping these two young men while their fathers are away.  I cried as I later thanked them again for magnifying their callings and their duties to the young men's program.  I told Abe about the impression I received about their influence while he's away.  He too felt great gratitude for such righteous priesthood holders serving our young, impressionable priesthood holder of a mere 12 years. 

Our Surfing Hero

Last week I wrote about how Hank from "Hank's Circle of Love" gave the children money when he saw them running, but I didn't write about why my children were extra motivated to spend the money on a surf board.

About 2 weeks ago, my children were watching a video about a surfer who chose to go to seminary instead of his surf team.  Because of his righteous choices, things fell into place, and he was able to compete.  He won the Junior National Championships.  My children love the gospel of Jesus Christ, and they love watching surfers.  In their minds, this young man, named Sean Kimball, was as cool as they come. 

(Click on the link below if you want to watch the story that inspired my young boys.  It's definitely worth the watch!)

My boys have watched the above video more times than I even know.  In fact, they watched it again today.  They have gone surfing almost every day since they received the surf board.  They're super motivated to finish their daily chores, so they can get to the beach.  They're passionate about it!  On Monday night, I posted these two pictures of Tyson and Jordan surfing, and I briefly explained on my Facebook post that there was a young man who inspired them because of his choice to follow God even before his passion of surfing.

I didn't mention anything about his religion; but on Tuesday afternoon, a new friend of mine from when I traveled to Utah for my HEFY training in April asked if I was referring to the teenager who chose seminary over surfing.  I said it was the same story!

She said he was her zone leader on her mission!! I couldn't believe it!  Would I actually have the opportunity to thank my kids' hero for his positive, righteous influence on my children?!?!  How WONDERFUL that would be!!

My friend connected us, and I sent him a Facebook message.  I thanked him and asked him if my children could possibly send him a thank you card for being such a GREAT inspiration in their lives.  I sent the message feeling a bit nervous and very hopeful for a response.

I took the kids to the beach; and when we returned, I quickly checked my Facebook messages.  I squealed to all the kids:  "Come down here!  Quick!  Get out of the shower! Look who just messaged you!!"  Oh you should have heard their excitement!  Their eyes were huge!  Their mouths were dropped wide open!!  We were all squealing, and I was fighting the tears.  Their hero had written them a personal message!!  They just kept exclaiming, "I can't believe it!!!"

This amazing man, who is now a return missionary and pursuing professional opportunities as a surfer, understood that God has placed him in a position of influence.  He not only took the time to answer my Facebook message, but he also "Friended" me on Facebook and commented on the boys' surfing picture.  They were ecstatic that their righteous, surfing hero had complimented them on their very own surfing picture.

… and the BEST PART… he offered to Skype with my kids this Saturday morning!!

I believe in miracles.  I believe there are no coincidences.  I believe God is speaking to the hearts and souls of all of us to be a righteous influence on others' lives, and the miracles come when we are willing  listen… to act… to fulfill our callings… to fulfill our duties… to be heroes...

We have felt miraculous love, miraculous support, and miraculous, life-altering moments because God spoke to others' hearts, and they listened.  Those are the true heroes… those who listen to God's message and act on it.

I thank God for sending so many heroes our way to strengthen us and remind us that HE is ALWAYS watching out for the details of our lives.  God is so good to us all… HE is our greatest hero.

Over the next few days, I look forward to writing about three more heroes:  my father-in-law, my father, and my husband.