The Day My Bishop Almost Gave Me an Aneurysm

Today will forever be remembered as ‘the day my Bishop almost gave me an aneurysm.’

I’m blaming it on the fact that we were early for church for once. Yes, that was it. It was a retaliatory effort.

I first noticed things were strange when one of the Elders came up to my mom to say hi and ask about his suit pants that she’s hemming for him. Now, a little bit about this specific missionary for the Lord. Half of the stake’s young women are secretly in crush with the poor boy. I heard from my friend S. about this elder around Christmas, and she noted that he was awesome and that “he actually treats me like I’m a human being! Not a young woman! Even after he learned I wasn’t an investigator!”

I first noticed this missionary when Sister P, the mission president’s wife, was in our ward for a Sunday, and when she bore her testimony she mentioned Elder L. and his companion. He caught my eye only because he looked so much like a guy back in Virginia from SVU. Eerily similar, and it freaked me out a bit (by ‘a bit,’ I mean ‘a whole freaking lot’).

I got back at him for freaking me out by opening the Relief Society door into him during the third hour. No worries.

Well today Elder L. came over, said “Hi, Sis. K!” and shook her hand. Then, surprise of all surprises: he looked me straight in the eye, grinned and introduced himself. He even shook my hand. Hold tight to your seats, folks, ’cause it truly did happen.

Why is this so monumental? Because I just spent a school year being one of the masses shunned by the missionaries. Contact with elders gets a little iffy once you get to be a Laurel. They either continue being cool and say hi in the church hallways, or they ignore you and subtly circle past you. They avoid walking too slowly outside the Young Women’s room. It’s understandable – there have been many “crushes of the transfer” within the family wards with the older young women.

When you go off to a church school, as a girl you may as well become invisible to the elders if you have a baptismal certificate. They work very hard to look straight past you, never look you in the eye and goodness forbid if they’re in a position where you have to shake their hand. The ward building might as well come crashing down around your ankles if you speak to them.

Understandable – it’s awkward being on a campus full of LDS college girls. You’re the same age, you could be great friends if you both ended up at the Y a couple years down the road. But boy, does it make me laugh at how hard these elders work to keep any contact to a minimum (optimum goal? zero contact). Unless of course you’re an investigator, then they look at you. ;)

So Elder L. being all nice and charming and treating me like a normal member was strange. That hasn’t happened since I was a Mia Maid.

The second thing was that the Bishop wasn’t up on the stand when we walked in. He’s usually there, chatting with his counselors or whomever stops by to chat for a quick second prior to Meeting. I was looking around, curious, but he walked in [insert sigh of relief here]. Bishop may be late to a lot of things (temple trips, seminary, dance and fireside pickups) but Sacrament meeting isn’t one of them.

Bishop and Bro. K sat where they usually sit – on the right side of the pulpit facing the audience. Brother B on the other hand, was sitting on the left. I wondered absently if we were waiting for a stake representative, but I settled on the fact that he’d misbehaved – maybe dozed off during a meeting or something? – and was it some sort of Bishopric time-out.

Cromwell would do that.

There were various strange things I picked up as I folded paper cranes for the two primary kids in front of me. The looks of wonder on their faces as I first placed one in front of the little girl as she knelt on the floor, drawing. She smiled real big, scooting over to show her mom. Her brother promptly passed me a sheet of paper and turned around, leaning against the back of the chair as he watched me quickly tear and fold the paper into a little bird.

I was very excited to have the opportunity to listen to my dear friend K give an awesome talk on testimonies. I’d chatted with her briefly the night before about it, and was anticipating hearing the final product. I learned quite a bit from her, and loved that she referenced Elder David A. Bednar’s most recent general conference address, The Spirit of Revelation. It was one of my favorite addresses from this past conference. I really appreciated how she gave a challenge to the congregation to build their testimonies (she was followed by a new member of the church, Sister A, who bore her testimony, which was extremely awesome).

Then Bishop got up to speak. It kind of caught me off guard when I saw it in the program, because unless it is his month to conduct, he rarely speaks (I love when he bears his testimony in meetings, it always makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside). I was getting worried, especially since he got up and essentially said, “I’ve been here six years” then started talking about callings.

I’m sitting there, twisting paper in my hands getting nervous that he’s being released or something. He continues talking about what a pleasure it’s been to be to be bishop the past six years, mentioning the photograph he has in his office of all the bishops and branch presidents in the history of Cromwell – his father was the first branch president of the Middletown branch.

Middletown branch became Middletown ward, which became the Cromwell ward we know and love.

Bishop was reminiscing (which in other circumstances I would have enjoyed) and I was sitting in the back of the cultural hall, bouncing my foot anxiously, wondering what was going down.

It took a good five minutes to sit there, calm down and realize that there wasn’t anyone from the stake. So everything was OK.

Alright, put your thumb and your pointer finger together. Got it? Yeah?

That was how close I was to having an aneurysm.

But then I recovered rather quickly. I got to thinking how crazy these last six years have been, remembering all those in the ward who have come and gone. Bishop at one point asked all those who had been in the ward six years ago to raise their hands. Maybe thirty hands rose.

Needless to say, it brought forth a lot of memories of past seven or eight years and I’ve been thinking about it all day.

Memories are grand, but I don’t really appreciate the pre-memory lane aneurysm. ;)

Note to self – always look for stake representative. :)



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