Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Last Sunday

There are few moments in life, in my life at least, when one specific day brings to pass the flooding of emotion more than ever before. It was my last Sunday, for the next two years, at the ward I’d come to love. It was my last Sunday with the men and women who’d been at my side from the very beginning. It was my last Sunday behind the pulpit of familiar eyes… and I couldn’t have asked for a better one.

The previous night, my five closest friends drove from their various districts to spend on final eve together as a group; Surietha from Pretoria, Ben from Johannesburg, Sunette from Bedfordvies, and both Warren and Priscilla from Weltevreden Park. Though, Warren did drive from Sandton that day.

We conversed, played a game they spent hours rigging and ate dinner ‘til midnight. It was at that point Surietha said, “Don’t you still have a speech to write?”

I did. I was final speaker in sacrament meeting that… yea, that morning. I had been procrastinating, trying to find the perfect words for nearly two weeks, and now I had only nine hours left to write, learn, and uphold my commitment to not have cue cards (much less have the talk written before me). I was stressed.

It wasn’t until 01:30 that I had my spark, found my opening, and began typing; praying every second until that moment. Practicing, typing, and searching the scriptures. This continued until I’d finally finished at around 05:00. Now I had another problem, learning it before sacrament meeting in four hours and looking refreshed enough to give a talk.

At 05:37, I closed my eyes and went to sleep, having to wake up, get up, shower and dress to be at Church by 08:15. This included my five other friends getting ready as well as my mon, sister and step day. We did it—

Or so I thought. We got into the car and Surietha said, “Your eyes are red.”

Now this was actually a bad combination of eyeliner and not sleeping. Yes, I wore eyeliner, as cosplay for a date I went on Saturday afternoon. We dressed up as our own unique characters; she had scars for an extended smile while I had bloody tears running down my face. Little did I know, pharmacy grade eyeliner does not come off with just water and face wash.

So Surietha spent the car ride applying additional powder and some other make up to hide the look of death. That, and Sunette had given me a henna tattoo on my neck that previous night. Yes, I did ask for it.

So it wasn’t a good start. Kim and Andrew Willoughby both noticed my eyes (which were cleared up as much as possible). Elder Broadhead, Sister Farquharson, and Eleanor noticed the henna tattoo (which was also mistaken for a hikkie). But I was ready; as ready as can be.

I sat facing the congregation, with all five of my friends seated at the back (all five of my friends, at Church, together), Dylan and his girlfriend keeping them company, and Shan and Kev on the far right corner.

We started with sacrament, continued with Elder Broadhead as first speaker (it was his last Sunday as well). Three minutes is how long he spoke for. Three minutes. And he even mentioned my name. Now, I was even more nervous.

Jennifer Cox was the second speaker, and she gave a beautiful talk on the young women principles and being a witness of Christ at all times and in all places. Things were going well, until she too mentioned my name. She spoke about my Facebook posts (she actually read them?!) and how I was the only member in my family, that I was an example unto others.
Now, I was even more nervous.

We all rose to ring the intermediate hymn, I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go. Tears filled my eyes and emotion filled my hear. I felt the Spirit strongly and I couldn’t hold back. It hit me. Every word in that song was me speaking to the Lord. It was an overwhelming sense of emotion knowing that was where I needed to be.

After which, I jumped the gun and went straight to giving my talk. Being touched immediately by the Spirit, saying things I had not even prepared. That, my dear brothers and sisters was the most difficult talk I had ever given. Yet the words came out, clearly, eloquently, and without hindrance. I knew the Spirit was working and I could see the eyes of the congregation peer my way.

I closed and moved back to my seat, tears pushing even harder. I would miss them. I would miss them all.

The Sunday continued with Gospel Principles or, in other words, Jonothan’s class. Elder Wegrowski started the lesson and chose to make the introduction What is your name? And what is your favourite thing about Jono? just because everyone in that room knew who I was.

We learnt of the restoration, had inspirational analogies and good questions. I later learnt that every class had a common theme, even though the topics were all chosen by individuals. The spirit was at work that Sunday, teaching us all to rely on Heavenly Father, to ask Him, and to be witnesses of Him wherever we may be.

We moved on to Priesthood where Kevin gave his phone to Warren so that he could read through the lesson as we were busy. Kev and I, mostly Kev, made interesting comments regarding specific verses and topics.

It was then time to follow my day with Eleanor’s day. Sharing a my farewell with her baptism is only something I’d have over and over again. Elder Broadhead lent me his baptismal clothes so we could start off with photos.

Unfortunately, we were supposed to have Washington baptised as well, Elder Wegrowski was supposed to baptise him, but he didn’t show. The missionaries even went to his house to look for him, but he wasn’t there.
That was the one sad thing that happened that day, but we couldn’t let it have a damper on Eleanor’s day.

We went out to take some photos and then gathered together in the chapel to conduct the service. Brother Youngman was the conductor, and the service went on without a hitch; except for me needing to repeat the words in the font as I had made a mistake regarding tense.

But it was a good Sunday all in all.

Afterwards, we went to Jackson Dam with family and friends for a bring-and-share. Ouma Sandy was there, Oupa Erick was there, Damien and Bonita were there, Theuns and Ursula came, Sonia and Myles arrive, Tanie RIna came, Aunty Michele, Nicole, and even Paul, Devin and Nicole Randal, and Meghan and her mom popped by for a moment.

It was actually disappointing to not have the missionaries there. I was actually checking every five minutes just to see if they were there and was wondering if they were lost. But things happen and they didn’t come. It was fine, not really, but life is such. Poor planning; can’t change that now.

At the end, however, I received the best gifts a person could ever ask for. My grandparents gave me a snow globe with a picture of them inside. I can keep that on my study desk while on mission. Then, in the form of a renaissance Bible, my friends presented me with a box containing letters from each of them as well as family members and friends. And I’m only allowed to open it when I’m down in Durban.

But that was my day. My last Sunday here in Alberton. On Thursday I leave for the MTC and my mission begins. I will miss everyone, but I know that my Lord has need of me. I’m going down to do His work and I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

This is the Lord’s work. I know it. I love it. And I invite you to check it out.

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