OK Everyone, time is short today!
First news: Transfers have come. I am staying in Capitol Hill South with Elder Hayden, and we are receiving a 3rd Elder named Elder Montoya from Arizona. It should be a fun transfer. Threesomes are fun because you can go in to a single female's home without having to get a member of the ward with you. Go go and teach teach! Nothing can stop us now!
The second item is amazing. I have had an INCREDIBLE opportunity and experience this week. With limited time I will attempt to retell the story as it unfolded to me.
Last Wednesday, as we were leaving the library of congress (Which means right after I wrote you last) I received a phone call from the Assistants. They asked me if I would sing a musical number at a Leadership Meeting that coming Saturday. There was NO leadership meeting planned, and this is last minute, so obviously something weird is going on. I was told I would be singing with Elder Anderson, and accompanied by Elder Ellsworth (An Elder of legendary piano abilities) who are in a companionship up north in College Park. I was told that to accomodate our preparations, our entire district of 4 elders would drop whatever we were doing Friday night, metro up to PG Plaza metro station where they would leave me with the College Park elders for the night. We would prepare our musical number and sing it Saturday Morning. This is weird. It is last minute and messes up everybody's schedule, but it is by order of the Assistants. We will obey!
I was left with Elders Anderson and Ellsworth, they have NO idea what's going on, they found out, along with everyone else, on Wednesday just like me that the meeting even existed! We put together a nice and spiritual version of "Praise to the Man" making heavy use of Elder Ellsworth's incredble ability to compose on the spot. We go home, I sleep on the floor, the next morning we get up and head to the Visitor's Center, not quite sure what to expect.
I should note that to add to the weirdness, the Visitor's Center is currently closed for recarpeting, and Leadership meeting is always the Saturday AFTER transfers, so the new leadership can be there! On top of which I am not leadership, so me being there at all is just weird!
We go in to find that all of the DC South Mission's leadership are also there (We are the DC North Mission). This is a big meeting. What is going on? We warm up in a side room and take our seats.
Then they enter. First the DC South mission President. Then the DC North Mission President. Then the Visitor's Center's Senior Couple. And then (PLEASE cue a drum roll in your minds!) Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, member of The Quorum of the Twelve and a Special Witness, an Apostle of the Lord.
You should all know that Elder Holland is my FAVORITE Apostle. I admire the man SO much. I am OBSESSED with some of his Missionary Addresses.
I am NOT leadership. I am the ONLY one in this room, who is going to hear Elder Holland speak today, who is not leadership. I am only there, because I get to sing in front of Elder Holland!
First our mission presidend took the podium, and informed us that Elder Holland wanted to shake our hands. Make a line row by row. He shook each of our hands, asked us where we were from, and welcomed us to the meeting.
We sang an opening Hymn. Had an opening prayer, and then it was time for our Musical Number. Elder Holland was sitting about two feet away from where we stood at the podium. And we sang "Praise to the Man". Every singing lesson I've ever taken. What little practice I have been dilligent enough to put in to my God-Given talent, was worth it for this moment.
I did not see it, but Elder Anderson informed me, and several other Elders told me it was true, that during our song Elder Holland's eyes teared up. That's incredible to me.
Not only did I get to sing in front of my favorite apostle, but then I got to stick around and hear him address us. He used no microphone. He paced back and forth in front of us and taught us. I was in the front row. It was a small group of maybe 70 Elders he addressed, ALL of them leadership, bearing that weighty responsibility, except for one. One ridiculously blessed, lucky duck who got to be at this meeting because God gave him a smackling of vocal talent.
Members of the church understand how amazing this is to me. Non-members should know that to me being in a room with Elder Holland is more special, more incredible to me, than being in a room with every US President who has ever lived.
I don't know what words more to use to describe this experience. So I think I will leave it at that.
I am (obviously) doing very well. I am healthy. My companion(s now!) are wonderful. The work is good. The people are amazing. I love you all. Please take care of yourselves. Remember that this life is temporary. As the world falls back on posessions and greed, let us fall back on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead of selfishness, let us fall back on selflessness. Instead of taking, let us fall back on giving. And knowing, deep in our hearts, with the utmost faith, that the Lord will repay! In this life or the next I testify that EVERY trial we suffer in this life WILL be made up in the next, through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
I love you all. Till next week.
-Elder Ted E. Bear