Joining the Saints- Livin’ in the Latter Days

Following my Baptism, there was a lot for me to do.  I was an adult member of the Church, I was a new member.  And I hadn’t done the things that someone who had been born to a member family, and was baptised when they were eight would have done.

The first order of business was to receive the Priesthood.  This is something that any worthy male member of the Church can hold.  Young men, when they are 12 years old, can be ordained into the Aaronic Priesthood.  This is the prepatory priesthood.  They can pass the Sacrament, and even bless it once they turn 16.  They can also fill other basic Priesthood needs of the Church.  I received this within a few weeks of joining the Church.

Then it was time to receive my first calling.  We have a lay ministry.  Nobody in out building is getting paid.  So we all take turns filling the various roles that make the Church run.  On the upper end the Bishop of our Ward might be spending 15-20 hours a week to fill their calling.  Generally new members stay in the basic Sunday school class for a year after joining.  But someone had moved out of the Ward shortly after I joined, which opened up a position on the Sunday School.  My wife and I were called to teach the 12-13 year old class.  Callings often play to your strengths, and they often play to your weaknesses.  Usually both.   On the plus side, I was already a teacher, so that part of the calling was natural for me.  My wife had all these grand plans for her first day of class, only to discover she was so nervous presenting, she was pretty much a statue.  The challenge for me, and her, was that I was now teaching Church principles, to a group of kids who were all far more familiar with the Church than I was.  Over the weeks and months we got better at it, and were soon really enjoying our work.

After about a year, Mellissa got called to join the Primary Presidency.  The Primary is our organization for children up to the age of 11.  They spend the last two hours of Church in their own little world.  So, I was now teaching the class by myself.  I did have a second calling added on though.  I was called to be the Elders Quorum secretary.  The down side was it was a lot of paperwork and organizational stuff.  But I really enjoyed the people, and enjoyed doing both callings.  After a few months, maybe a year, of doing both callings, I got released from my Sunday School calling.  Less than a month before getting released, I actually corrected one of the most knowledgeable students in the class on how the Church was run.   So sorta like the TV show, Quantum Leap, I finally got something figured out, and off I went.

Elders Quorum is responsible for providing lessons to their own group during the third hour of Church, we also have several activities a year that we plan and run.  And we also keep up to date with the needs of our Ward members, and assist each other whenever possible.  One of the ways we do this is through home teaching.  Each person in the group is assigned a companion, and 2-4 different families in the Church to keep up to date with.  Once a month, we visit our families, and share a message from the First Presidency.  As the Elders Quorum secretary, a lot of my duties involved keeping track of this home teaching.

This calling also did not last forever, and soon I was called into the Young Mens organization, first as the first counselor, then as the second counselor.  The difference is, as the second counselor, I am also in charge of the Wards Boy Scout Troop.  I have a class I teach during the third hour of church.  Our group also meets on Wednesday nights, and we have the occasional weekend activity or scout camp.  On the plus side, I’m used to working with teenage boys, and it’s a great group of people.  Being a Scoutmaster has been a challenge at times, but I have a lot of people who help me out with it.

Somewhere in this time period, I also received my Patriarchal Blessing.  I was surprised to learn I was not of the most common lineage, and I was able to learn more about my life.  It’s something I try and read a few times a year to help prioritize my life.

After a few years in the church, it was also time for me to advance to the Melchizedek Priesthood.   This restored Priesthood allows me to do more of the work of the Church, and to serve in more and different ways.  It is also a requirement to be able to enter the Temple, which we began to prepare for.

In August of 2010, we entered the Boston Temple for the first time.  We both received our Endowments, and then we were sealed together as a family.  Our earthly wedding used the phrase “Till death do us part”  Temple marriage is forever though.  Since Cassidy was with us, she got to be sealed too.  My fondest memory of this first trip to the Temple was as we were preparing for the sealing, they brought Cassidy into the room in her little white dress.  She hadn’t seen us for a few hours, and was only 8 months old.  When she saw us, she gave a happy squeal, and gave a big smile.

Since that time, I’ve been to the Temple a few times, always with the Young Men and
Young Women, performing baptisms for the deceased.  We believe that unbaptized people on earth who pass on, still have the opportunity to know Christ, and to progress.  Your spirit can make the decision in the next life, but you still need to be baptised on earth, which can be done in the Temple.  Members are encouraged to research their own family history, and to perform the Temple work required for them.   This is something that’s very interesting to me, and I’ve gotten started on it, but haven’t really learned how to do genealogy yet, and the Temples are about 4 hours away, so I haven’t had much of a chance to get to them yet more than the once or twice a year I go with the youth.

There’s a variety of responsibilities and activities that are involved in being a Latter Day Saint, and it always makes learning more fun and exciting.  I look forward to going to Church each week, and always look forward to seeing what is going to happen next.  I still have a lot to learn, and I am eager to do so.

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About garybraham

I grew up in Mahopac NY, studied geology at Colgate University. I've moved to Queensbury NY to teach HS earth science. I also coach soccer and wrestling, take pictures at local sporting events, and am the Scoutmaster for the Glens Falls ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. My wife and I will be married 5 years this October, and we have a two and a half year old little girl.
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