Last Saturday GingerSnap and I put this beautiful arrangement of flowers together for our Thanksgiving table. Curly Cook picked the flowers out for me while we were at the Cenada that morning with Paul. (The Cenada is a large farmer’s market for the local fruit & veggie trucks, restaurants and locals who want fresh produce.)
Our table looks AMAZING and definitely put a special feeling of gratitude into our home that day. It was a busy weekend for our family. With only one car and several places to go, we really had to do some juggling to make it all work out.
It was Stake Conference weekend, something our Stake had been anticipating for 6 months because it was finally time to split our Stake into two. President Ochoa, the President of the Central American Area, was coming to interview all potential candidates for the new Belen Stake Presidency.
Paul was chosen as one of MANY candidates to come in for an interview. His interview was at 9:56 a.m. At 1:00 we then had a baptism in our ward, as well as the oldest 3 needed to be at Stake Choir practice at the Heredia Stake Center. So Curly Cook and Paul were taken to the church by a friend (thanks Nevin) for the baptism and I drove the other 3 to the Stake Center.
The traffic was terrible and the only thing I could think to get me through it was that with a new Stake, our Stake Center would be our ward building. I no longer need to drive up to Heredia to take anyone to anything. That helped calm me down a bit, until I realized El Gringo is only a third of the way through his Mission Prep classes that are each Sunday at 5. ARGH. We so need our family car back from the mechanic.
I drove to our ward house just in time to find out that the baptism had been cancelled. So we headed home to to finish decorating the outside of our home for the holidays. Than it was time to go pick up the kiddos, bring them home, make them dinner and then I needed to drive back up to the Stake Center for the adult session of Stake Conference. (Paul had already left with a friend – thanks Mathiew!)
Paul had me pick up one of the sweet new converts in our ward (Maria and her baby daughter Krisbell) on my way to the meeting. I was about half way there when Paul called me. He asked how far out I was? I told him I was just going under the freeway (which means half way). He said, “Well, I need you to get here as fast as possible. President Venegas (Heredia’s Stake President) just came up and said that President Ochoa needs to see me and my wife as soon as possible.”
My heart started to pound. I honestly didn’t want this to happen but I was already concerned that it probably would. Paul was being called to something, which meant he would no longer be our Bishop. I told him I would get there as quickly as I could but I had a baby in the car. He said, “Okay, be safe.” and hung up.
I tried not to think about what was about to happen. I stayed focused on driving and focused on my breathing. I didn’t want to think about what my life would look like starting Monday, I just wanted to stay in THIS moment and enjoy THIS moment, driving a sweet sister from my ward to our Stake adult meeting.
I arrived about 6 minutes before the meeting was to begin. I was rushed into the room where Paul was already talking with President Ochoa and Elder Chaverri. The Spirit in the room was sweet and calming, the opposite of rushed and worried, feelings I had felt only moments before. We talked and then the calling was issued. 1st Counselor in the Stake Presidency. Although I wanted Paul to stay as Bishop, the calling felt right. I had to turn my heart over to the Lord in that moment, for it was time for the meeting to start and we were already late.
We quickly walked to the chapel and opened the doors to the back of the room, so we could try to slip in. But because the meeting was late, EVERYONE turned to see if it was President Ochoa walking in but instead they saw us. How obvious it felt to be walking in at that moment but Paul and I tried to shrug it off. We quickly slipped into the back with some of our ward members and into some empty seats.
Paul and I tried to listen to the meeting but it was difficult. So many thoughts rushed through our heads. The Sierra’s daughter, Sofia, kept toddling over to us, wanting to sit on “Obispo’s” lap. I wanted to freeze this moment and not let this moment end. What would this little girl think tomorrow when she hears that he is no longer her Bishop? What will change? What will stay the same? What will our own children think?
After driving Maria and her husband Rosbin home, Paul and I took a deep breath. We had all night to get through still and our kids were waiting at home for us. It was going to be a long night. Our friend Spencer stopped by for a crockpot. He had the responsibility to serve lunch the next day to the new Stake Presidency and the visiting authorities and needed an extra crockpot to make soup. I offered to help with dessert and whipped up the BEST pan of Texas Sheet Cake I have ever made (and I have made A TON of it in Costa Rica).
Before Paul and I went to bed, I asked if Paul should call his parents. President Ochoa had said that family could attend his setting apart and since we don’t have any family close by, I felt he could at least tell his parents the new news. It took several tries to reach them, but we finally did (thank heavens Utah is an hour behind us).
Paul’s parents were surprised but overjoyed. That helped me a lot. The did comment on how short he was Bishop but on how much good he can do for the new Stake. I wanted to cry. I realized that I still wanted him to be Bishop. All I could think was, “But . . . WE NEED HIM MORE!” Thankfully, as I listened to his parents continue, I heard in their voices that it doesn’t really matter what we want, it matters what the Lord needs of Paul.
Paul and I finally got to bed and spent the next hour reminiscing over the past 7 months. Paul had tears in his eyes as he shared how much he was going to miss serving the ward. He was so very hopeful for some members of our ward and wished that he could somehow still be a part of helping them with their progression. He also had a tender, heavy heart for those he had longed to have a chance to work with soon. He was overwhelmed with emotion but at peace. So was I.
The next morning was a burst of activity. The kids had no idea what was coming but were anxious about the Stake Choir performance. They had put in TONS of hours practicing and this was their big day! In all of their excitement, I realized how perfectly orchestrated this had all been. Had our children not been in the Stake Choir, it would have been odd to just show up at the Stake Center because our ward was participating via satellite from our ward building. I knew that sitting at the church from 8 – 2 would NOT be best for me, or Curly Cook, so Paul asked if Spencer would pick up him and the 3 oldest and take them to the church. Spencer is an angel and said “Of course.”
I had planned to relax, maybe take a bath, but things changed quickly. I was asked to take someone to the Stake Choir practice the kids were rushing off to, because she had woken up late. I tried to hurry and get ready but as I rushed Curly Cook along, she had a melt down. I realized that “I” was going to have one too if I didn’t stop and stick to my previous plans. So I had to humbly apologize to the sweet sister and tell her I could not come to her rescue. That was hard for me. I felt like I had made a mess of her day but if I didn’t pull it together, it would make a mess of my day, as well as Curly Cook’s, and I NEEDED Curly Cook to make it through the long day ahead of her, a day she had NO IDEA she would be having.
So I put Curly Cook in the hot bath and let her soak. I decided to do an easy hairstyle on myself and then I gave into Curly Cook and let her wear the outfit she really wanted to wear. We got ready and drove to the Stake Center, 20 minutes away. I decided to wear my nicest dress, since most of my clothing needs to be replaced, so I looked very dressed up for the occasion. Instead of worrying what people speculated, I just ignored the looks and comments on how “nice” I looked and sat down with my husband on the front row.
The 3 oldest looked GREAT! I was so proud of them! Among the sea of brown faces were my 3 white faced, red/blonde haired children. How they amazed me. Living in a foreign country. Learning a unique form of Spanish, all while being homeschooled. They are INCREDIBLE!
The meeting began. The entire Temple Presidency was in attendance, as well as the Costa Rica West Mission President and Stake Patriarch. It dawned on Paul that our new Stake will need a Patriarch. There is so much to do when a new Stake is created.
Curly Cook wanted to get her “supplies” out and get busy but I felt she should probably wait a few more minutes. She couldn’t understand why. The choir performed their first number, “I’m Trying to be Like Jesus,” beautifully. Joy Boy looked at me and pointed out that someone was crying. That is how he knows that he did a good job singing. Bless his sweet heart.
After the opening prayer, the changes began. First we had to announce the changes in the Heredia Stake. As they made the new changes, Paul told me not to raise my hand to sustain them. What?!? THAT WAS SO AWKWARD!!!!! I felt President Ochoa looking at me. I looked up and saw that he WAS looking at me. I felt like I was doing something wrong because EVERYONE AROUND ME was raising their hands. Eeeeck. But I trusted Paul and kept my hand down.
After they released one of the members of the Stake Presidency and sustained a new one, it was time for the new Belen Stake to be announced. My heart was pounding. All I could think about was my children and our ward. What would they think? Will they be okay?
It went FAST! They called President Azofefa, of the Costa Rica West Mission Presidency, to be the Stake President. Then they said Paul’s name. There was an “shocked awe” sound that came over the audience as Paul stood. (Maybe they weren’t expecting him to be called?) I looked at my kids. Poor Joy Boy, his face was all confused. Why was his Dad standing? I looked at GingerSnap. She just looked at her Dad, not really showing what she thought. And then I looked at El Gringo, he just smiled but he too was in shock. (Again, this was perfectly orchestrated. How else could I have seen my children’s faces unless they were in the choir?)
After they announced that the newly released member of the Heredia Stake Presidency was the 2nd Counselor, they asked all 3 men to come and sit on the stand. Paul stepped away from Curly Cook and she looked at me, “Where is Daddy going?” I told her that he was going to sit on the stand. She asked, “Why?” I said, “Because, he is now in the Stake Presidency.” Her face crumpled up and she said, “So Daddy isn’t our Bishop any more?” I got tears in my eyes and said, “No sweetheart, he won’t be our Bishop anymore.”
She turned and watched her Dad take a seat to the left of the Stake President. I could feel her breath out a sigh, but then as all children do, she asked if she could get her things out and start to play. I said sure. I needed a minute anyway to process all this change.
I felt eyes on me. I looked up and saw Joy Boy was mouthing something to me. I watched closely and saw him ask, “Is Dad in the Stake Presidency?” I nodded my head yes. He scrunched up his face and shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t know quite what to think. I looked over to GingerSnap. She shrugged her shoulders as well. El Gringo was watching the men on the stand.
I realize that in THIS moment the majority of the people here are either excited or bored or have no idea how these changes may affect them or they may not even care at all what was happening. But for our little family . . . THIS WAS A BIG CHANGE!
The last 7 months have literally been the GREATEST BLESSING. If I had $10 dollars every time I was asked if Paul being Bishop was a burden, I probably could bribe my mechanic to fix my car faster and have it back by now. Each time I was asked that question, I could HONESTLY say “NO!” Paul being the Bishop was one of the most sacred, tender blessings we have ever been given as a family, so much so, it felt as sacred as our time with Kayleigh.
I can’t help but well up with tears as I ponder the time we had with Paul being Bishop. I never had one terrible night with the kids, while Paul was out serving. EVERY SINGLE Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night Paul was gone from 6 – 9 p.m. Some nights started earlier and some nights ended later but no matter what, Paul was not home and was out serving instead.
Then there were the baptisms, weddings (2 while Paul was Bishop), and last week’s baby blessing of Rosbin’s daughter. WOW! Then there were the new converts getting their first baptismal temple recommends and youth receiving their first baptismal temple recommends. There were Bishopric Temple Night’s, Ward Temple Nights and Youth Temple Nights.
There was the HUGE Stake Activity up at the park where Paul and I took the Primary on a walk to a river. There was the arrival of the Sierra family of Honduras who just moved here from Utah. They stayed in our house a few days, allowing us the opportunity to become friends and fall in love with their little girl (them too!). Then the translation equipment came and translating into English was began. Sweet Sister Harlan enjoyed it too.
Then there was the Ward BBQ, and the Youth BBQ, and the High Priest/Elder’s Quorum BBQ. Splits with the Elders, opportunities to serve ward members and prayers that were answered. Watching our tiny congregation fluctuate in attendance was most difficult for me. The start of church was painful to watch, seeing so few in attendance, but once we started to sing with faith that more would, they always did. There was baby holding, hand shaking, back patting and tears that were dried. There was peppermint candy to be eaten in the Bishop’s office and “Who gets to sit in the Bishop’s chair?”
My heart aches that THESE DAYS are now going to come to an end. It is like losing Kayleigh again. When you have something SO SPECIAL, that makes you feel like you are “flying with SuperMan,” it is so very hard to let it go. I am truly grateful that today is the beginning of the week, so I have time to process my feelings before I attend church on Sunday.
This Sunday Paul will not be with our ward. Paul needs to join the Stake Presidency as they visit a new ward that was taken from another Stake (Alajuela). My heart will mend, but I pray that the memories will not fade. I need to give my heart to the Lord and let Him hold it.
The last song that the Stake Choir sang was “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” I couldn’t help but let the tears flow as they sang this beautiful song in Spanish. I know the words well; I have had to sing this song to myself MANY TIMES over the past 34 months since moving to Costa Rica. In those 34 months, Paul has been away from our family on church assignments for 27 of them. THAT is the selfish reason I want Paul to stay Bishop of my ward; I will miss being near him at church.
So I pray that the Lord will honor my request . . .
“Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”
This pain is so similar to when Paul was called into the Big Cottonwood 10th Ward’s Bishopric. Paul had just graduated from Grad School and I was filled with hopes and dreams of our family moving to Costa Rica, especially since we had a HUGE trip (5 weeks in Costa Rica) coming up that July (2012).
But when he was called to be in the Bishopric, I was confused. I was disappointed. I was hurt.
This wasn’t MY PLAN! This can’t be true. I just sacrificed Paul for 2 years of Grad School PLUS all the travel he does with work (one year he traveled 30 of the 52 weeks). How could the Lord KEEP US in Utah still. Weren’t we “supposed” to move to Costa Rica? Isn’t that why we are taking this HUGE trip in July?
As I wrestled with the Lord over His Plan for our family, I received 2 visitors.
The first visitor was my NEW sweet Bishop. Bishop Bishop was his name. Yes, his name is Boyd Bishop and everyone had been waiting a long time for him to be Bishop so they could call him, “Bishop Bishop.” He knocked on my door, in the middle of the day, and he had a homemade Banana Cream Pie in his hands. I didn’t welcome him in, since I was the only one at home, but looked at him in surprise.
I quickly assumed the pie was for Paul, since he was his new counselor, and explained that Paul wasn’t home right now (I think he might have even been out of town). But Bishop Bishop said, “No Sister, this pie is for YOU! I am SO SORRY Wendi. I had NO IDEA that Paul traveled as much as he did and I also didn’t know he just barely finished Grad School. I want you to know that I truly fasted and prayed to know whom the Lord wanted to serve and I honestly feel that the Lord chose your husband.”
I will never forget his sincerity and gentleness in THIS MOMENT. He was earnestly trying to help me feel the Love of the Lord but I thought it was unnecessary for him to be doing this. I KNEW who called Paul to this calling, and it wasn’t Bishop Bishop. I knew it was the Lord and he was who I was wrestling with. No pie was going to change my heart, it needed to change with the Lord.
Sadly, I thanked the Bishop, tried to assure him I was NOT mad at him and that it would be alright, and shut the door. (Boy was I blind!)
Now, looking back on that day, that moment, HOW DID MY BISHOP KNOW THAT I WAS WRESTLING WITH THE LORD???????? Because, he was my Bishop! Bishops CAN KNOW these things!
(Boy are the tears flowing right now!)
The second visitor was my Relief Society President, Vivian Schaar. I already adored this woman and felt that she was meant to be “MY” Relief Society President but I had no idea just how true that feeling was.
The same week the Bishop delivered the pie, I had received another knock at my door. It was Vivian and she had with her the MOST AMAZING floral arrangement I had ever seen. (Much like the one in the above picture – look, the lily bloomed last night). I was a bit shocked and perplexed, honestly wondering who had died because it was far from my birthday to receive such a gift. She asked if she could come in for a moment and I let her in.
She held the flowers as if they held some special secret inside of them. She looked sympathetically into my eyes and said, “These are for you Wendi. Many give the men all the attention for their new callings, not stopping to think of the wonderful woman who stands by his side, supporting him, loving him, encouraging him and helping him to become the man he is today. These flowers are for you Wendi because you are now joining a VERY elite group of women. These flowers are for you and I hope they will comfort you. I love you Wendi.”
At that time, I really didn’t think Paul’s calling was THAT big of a deal. What is a Bishopric counselor anyway? How is that any different from an Executive Secretary, Elder’s Quorum President, or Scout Master? It can’t be THAT MUCH time away from home? Can it?
Even though I didn’t know back then the IMPACT these 2 visitors would have in my life, I do NOW! I GET what they were both trying to say to me. I now get WHY they were so sincere, so genuine and filled with so much love and compassion. Sacrifice is HARD! So hard sometimes, it breaks your heart.
Paul has now received 2 “heavy” callings since we moved to Costa Rica. High Councilor and now 1st Counselor in the Stake Presidency. (I wonder what the differentiation between “ilor” and “elor” mean?) Although any calling in the church can be time consuming and demanding in their own ways, these 2 callings have been heavy because they take Paul away from my sweet family on Sunday and that leaves a big hole in my heart. I almost feel ashamed to admit all this out loud, but why should I be ashamed to admit that I ENJOY having my husband’s company? I love him and I enjoy being with him. So I will miss him and that is not something to be ashamed of.
Because I feel this way, I now understand WHY Vivian brought me flowers and WHY Bishop Bishop brought me the pie. They were being ministering angels, reaching out to one who was aching inside, confused and torn, not knowing where to find solace. These 2 visitors (my Bishop and Relief Society President) were actually preparing me to TRUST IN THE LORD. Even though I don’t yet understand all that is going on. Even though I am SO TIRED of going to church alone, especially after tasting what it is like to have Paul be with me at church, they are reaching out to me now – encouraging me not to give up on hope and faith in what is to come.
I am truly happy for Paul. He is happy and THAT is a blessing. I know he doesn’t quite understand why my emotions are the way that they are right now, but that is the uniqueness of life. Each person has their own unique experiences, so each person should be handled delicately.
My heart is hopeful because I DO BELIEVE that Paul was called through proper authority. I also believe that Paul has much to offer a brand new Stake. I also have faith that a new, wonderful Bishop will be called to our little ward and that our ward has the potential to pull together and grow into a mighty ward again.
I’m grateful for the blessings our family is receiving to learn so much about the organization of the church and how it flows through the Spirit of Revelation. Just this morning, Paul’s cousin (one of my dearest friends) sent this conference talk to me. I look forward to listening to it and feel it fits perfectly with what I am sharing today.
I do trust that the Lord KNOWS what is best for my family. He knows WHY our car is broken still. He knows WHY we need to sell our house right now. He also knows WHO will buy it. He knows our financial situation, as well as what Paul should do for his career. He knows our future. He KNOWS EVERYTHING that is best for our family.
I only have hopes, dreams, and my aspirations. As long as I keep tuning them to the will of the Lord, I will make my way through, just as I have done all my life.
In closing, I would like to share these closing words with Paul.
Thank you Paul for being you. Since the day I met you, you have been a man of valor. The one reason that made me want to marry you was for your testimony of Heavenly Father. You KNEW that you are a Son of God. You knew that Heavenly Father had a plan for you and that was ALL that mattered. Knowing this about you made me feel safe and made me feel happy because I too believed those principles. I am grateful that Heavenly Father brought us together at such a young age, because we have been able to experience a FULL life. I never knew that moving to Costa Rica would bless me as much as it has, so thank you! Thank you for sharing your desire to live outside the United States WITH our children and for helping me prepare for this very moment in our lives. I am proud of the man you are and look forward to watching you still add more depth to your character. I will miss seeing you at church, hugging little ones, shaking hands and loving the ward as if they were part of our own little family. I will miss seeing you care so deeply for so many, as if each one was one of your children and you were searching for them, wanting to know if they were okay. I will especially miss sharing our home as the Bishop’s Family. Those were precious moments that I hope never to forget. Thank you for being the man you are, that you could even hold a precious calling such as this. I love you Paul. I support you. I honor the man you strive to become and pray that you will feel the love we have for you, for the man that you are now. Thank you for your example of faith, trust and obedience to the Lord. I love you. Wendi
Thanks for listening,