Today we experienced the most incredible sacrament meeting. It was unconventional but the surprises didn’t seem to hinder the spirit. We had a lot of family and friends visiting. I’m sure the ward was nervous as they saw the stake presidency and so many extra people attending our ward. Amos received his release as bishop. The words and spirit and feelings were overwhelming in a hundred different ways, but I knew it was right.
President Ray told us that he woke up at 3am with a thought to find a way for bishop to be able to speak in our meeting without physically being there. He informed us just before it happened that Amos would be calling into the meeting on a cell phone from the hospital. President Ray wasn’t sure if this was appropriate but he felt it was the only way he knew to make it happen on short order. Amos came on the line with a strength in his voice I haven’t heard for many days. President Ray asked him to address his congregation. He spoke of his testimony of the Savior and shared his love for our ward and the many angels who had held him up during his time as bishop. I know it was difficult for him to be released. He loved being bishop and didn’t wan’t his time in that calling to be cut short by his illness. He wanted to continue to serve the members of our ward. When he was made aware of the release I knew he loved God more than he loved being bishop because he accepted the Father’s will. President Ray told us that releasing a bishop is not a decision he is allowed to make but that the First Presidency prayerfully considered his situation and felt it was best to give him this time without the added pressures of leadership.
Amos’s first counselor, Brother Elwood, was conducting today and announced that President Ray was presiding and that he would be turning the meeting over to him. President Ray never reads or prepares written talks but always speaks from his heart and mind through his knowledge and experience and with help from the Holy Ghost. After saying goodbye to Amos he addressed the ward. He said,
“Those who are engaged in His work…as we are obedient to the best of our ability, the Lord has promised this… ‘I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand; I will be on your left. My spirit will dwell in your heart and mine angels will be round about to lift you up.’ I bear testimony that has been the case for your dear bishop. I have seen it. You have seen it. You have exemplified the pure love of Christ in this ward.”
The Maloy family invited more tears when they sang “My Heavenly Father Loves me.” It was so touching to see teenagers attempting to sing while crying out of their love for their bishop and their Heavenly Father.
I can’t remember what I said but it was mostly blubbering. Thankfully President Ray was inspired to ask Amos’s big brother, Tom, to come to the stand and share a few words also. Tom was also a bishop and is now serving in his Stake Presidency in Washington. He shared,
“As I sat in the congregation I wrestled with the spirit about an experience I had recently with my brother that I really did not want to share because it was way too personal and I lost that wrestle.” He told about helping Amos get back to bed when he started to fall. Tom caught him and said, “Just lean up against me. I got you. You’re not gonna fall.” He said that for a moment the Savior let him see through His eyes and understand His atonement better; that He is our brother and we just have to lean on him and we won’t fall.
Amos’s first counselor was then called to be the new bishop. Brother Elwood said “Over the course of the last year, I have watched great miracles that now extend beyond our ward and to the world because of the challenge that they are facing.” He invited the ward to participate in those continued miracles. He said that last week as he sat and looked at the congregation he really could not identify anyone who had not had a miracle or tender mercy because of Bishop Abplanalp.
Later, Brother Elwood came to bring Amos the sacrament again. It was such a moving experience and we were so glad Joey could come too. He loves bishop so much for helping him through his personal struggles and he bravely came into a room full of people to tell him how thankful he was. Amos reminded him that it is the Savior who took away his pain and changed his life, not the bishop. Several of our family members also shared their testimonies and at least one I know Amos will not forget any time soon. He loves his family so much.
Bishop Elwood had so much family in town as he was being called as bishop and it was amazing of him to take time away from them to make that trip. His love for Amos is stronger than anyone I know. He then came back to the hospital later tonight with all the other bishops in our stake who wanted to visit Amos together.
When we learned the bishops would be visiting last night our friend Trudy Tracy got her cousin to come give him a shave and a haircut.
Evan helped with the shave. Last night was also my Cinematic Pop concert and I was heartbroken that I wasn’t able to sing with them. This will be the first time I have missed a performance with those dear friends in 10 years. I heard from my dad and some friends that Rob Gardner dedicated a song to me and Amos and said a few kind words about us. I thought that was very special and I felt loved.
We enjoyed some comfort food today. Trudy and Lex Tracy are friends who drove all the way from Utah to comfort us and make us the most delicious meal today including some mashed potatoes and gravy, roast and asparagus. Sometimes I really wish cooking was my talent. She even taught Ruthie how to make Texas sheet cake and was so sweet with my little girls.
We also had a visit from a family we didn’t know who had lost their father to cancer a few years ago. They hold a ball game every year to raise money for a family who is going through a cancer battle. They found us. Anyone who visits us usually gets a song from Evie. They sobbed as they sat and listened to her sing. It was so touching to know how she can help others feel things through her music.
I have felt loved by friends and family and members of our church and many, many strangers, but mostly I have felt love from my Savior during these hard days and I’m grateful to be reminded by Tom that when we are in His arms we can never fall.