Okay, so is no big news for any of our local members and those who I labor over that I am the new Bishop of the Palms Spring ward here in sunny South Florida.
I actually had the draft made for this blog about 3 weeks before I got sustained and set apart, which was a week after my stake president extended the calling.
How it all came about
In 2015 I was actually preparing both mentally and physically to go to the U.S Army. I had prepared and taken all sorts of test to score high on the ASVAB test. I needed to meet weight requirement so, was also running about 5-8 miles a day and walking 1 mile to during lunch break at work. Instead of taking the time to eat, I would have a nice healthy snack right before I had my 45-minute break so I did not pass out during the walk. I did this just about every day for about 8 months… I cheated on Saturdays and sometimes on Sundays.
After countless hours of exercise and test, which I had all with passing grades, the real day of the actual ASVAB test came. Also, I had to meet a specific weight based on my height and surprising to me, my body size. This became difficult as I lost weight because my neck size got smaller. Apparently there needs to be a specific proportion in size even if your height and weight match. The test seemed so much easier than any other, still, I took most of the time to make sure I A’s the test. When my staff Sergent picked me up, he seemed to be happy but said he had not gotten the score. When we got to the office after
Finally, the big day came of taking the test. It seemed so much easier than any other, still, I took most of the time to make sure I A’s the test. When my staff Sergent picked me up from the training center, he seemed to be so enthusiastic about the results, but said he had not gotten the score. When we got to the office after brief ride from M.E.P.S, he asked me when I would like to take my Physical Test (PT). I was so happy because that was my next step which meant I passed the ASVAB. However, when I gave him the date, he was still looking at the scores. My mountain peak excitement came rolling down as he whispered to me that I would not be taking my PT because I had failed. I had scored a 23! The minimum to enter the Army is 32.
For those of you that don’t know, the score defines the opportunity of alluded jobs you can choose from. The higher you score the more jobs open up, that is if the job is available. I told myself that If I get anything below a 40 I would retake the test. A 23 meant I had no choice. This was very important because in many ways it determine your future, happiness in the military and the amount of time I would be away from home.
I wanted four jobs, media writer, linguistics, chaplain assistant and chaplain, although I needed to have a master’s to be a chaplain, heck I needed to be an officer and for that I needed my bachelors which I do not have yet. When I heard the number 23, I was taken back a ton. . It was a pure shot it the heart, it hurt like heck, I am not even going to sugar coat this, it sucked and it felt miserable to hear this. I felt I had failed my wife, myself and family. For the next following days and even weeks, I would wake up and asked myself “how on earth did I fail that test?” No only I had failed, but I had failed miserably.
Meanwhile in my church duties, I had been serving in the stake High Council for about 10 months at that point. This meant I was around the Stake president and his counselors a lot. They were fully aware of my decision to go to the Army, however, they were no aware that I had failed. No one really knew because I was really embarrassed to tell them.
A week after I had failed, the first counselor of the stake presidency and good friend, President Rich Inza asked me if I had plans to continue in the Army. Mind you, he had no idea I had failed. I finally opened up to him explained what happened. He was very understanding like always. Looking back, his emotions were mild, but he was probably happy to hear the news. He asked if I was to continue and I told him I would. (deep down, without my wife knowing at the time, I was planning ahead for plan B and C just in case I failed. Look, me failing this test was more of an act of God, so I was just making sure.)
President Inza asked me to let him know if things changed (meaning if I changed my mind about going to the Army) because they (the stake) had a possible position they were thinking of putting me on. I did not think much about it at all. I was really set on being a soldier. I really wanted to go to the Army because it was really going to change my family’s life for the better. Also, by this point, my many sacrifices were embedded in me because I had worked too darn hard not to go. They knew I was going, period.
Two weeks later, President Robinson saw my wife in the hallway of our ward and asked where I was, and said that he was supposed to meet with me, but he had not mentioned anything to me. He did the following week and asked for my wife and I, to meet with him. Kim and I were wondering what this could mean and took into consideration all the factors, counselor to a bishop, new branch president to the YSA (just because President Fabiano had been there way before we had gotten married and his time was getting close and in fact, he was released two months after I got called to be a Bishop ) or simply a release as a High council and Sunday School President. My wife was very curious and frankly so was I. I was already thinking of plan B and C even more by this point. I could not spend any more time on this, I thought to myself. We agreed that if it was something that would be life changing to us and to others that we would not go to the Army.
President Robinson asked us to sit and asked how our plans were going. He then told us that our stake was going to be cut in half. We needed to divide in order to grow and that change would soon come in a month. Due to this change, a new stake president and a new stake would be made. This meant that some of the Wards that would be in the boundaries of the new stake and others stakes around would lose some of their members due to area change. This also meant that some wards would gain many other members.
Our Home-Ward, which was the Ward that our stake president I also went to, was one that would double because of this change. However, the bigger size ward could not be, a new ward would be created, the Miramar ward which would be taken over by the current Bishop of our Ward and the Palms Springs ward would need to relocate and gain a new Bishop. When President Robison said this, he simply smiled and nodded once as he looked at me through height of his glasses and into my eyes. I was to be the Bishop and my beautiful wife would attend with me to do so. This was a HUGE, OUT OF NOWHERE NEWS!
He then told me he had been in the Nauvoo Temple on vacation with his family just weeks prior, and he sat at the Temple, there pondering about the change. As he was sitting in the Nauvoo Temple, my name came to his mind. He said he prayed right then and there. A strong feeling came over him that I was to be the new Bishop. He then came back and mentioned his experience to his counselors and they too prayed and felt that same feeling. They then went to the temple together and prayed some more and they still got the same impression. President Robinson then submitted my name to the Brethren in Salt Lake. Now that I think about this, I had been in the Temple either working or going through during this time of pondering and at least once I had seen one of the members of the Stake Presidency. In fact, one of these times President Robinson was in the Temple greeting many of the members of the Ward that were coming in for Ward Temple night. I remember him pulling me on the side and asking me if still had plans to go to the Army. This was weeks before I even took the test.
Four weeks had passed after I had accepted to become the Bishop and not go to the Army. President Robinson brought me in and told me the brethren felt that because my age, they had advice that it would be better to choose someone at least 29 years or older would be submitted. President Robison expressed the feelings and experiences he had felt along with his two counselors had and it was either do make the change or wait six months until I turned 29 (I had just turned 28 four months prior so it would have been more but close enough.) The brethren then asked about my wife and President told them fifty percent of the reason I was being called was because of my wife (she likes that fact a little too much, but I love her for it and nothing could have been more true than that.) My name was taken to a special place in the temple were the brethren prayed to see if the Lord would have me be the new Bishop. There, the same spirit that had confirmed the stake presidency was now confirming the Prophets of the Lord, that I should be the next Bishop.
That was a lot to take in, but many other things made more sense. That was the reason that I had failed that test even though I had felt a great feeling that I needed to go to the Army. Elder Holland once taught that the Lord sometimes send us in directions just so that we know that is not the way he wants us to go. This was not the first time I had decided to go to the Army, but it was the second and last time I would plan to go.
BEING THE BISHOP
It is very exciting! Five months in already and I have heard, seen, and experience so many great and interesting things. I have learned so many things, so much that at times I have to remind myself that I can’t learn everything all at once. But most of all, I love interviewing the brothers and sisters, the young men and the young women. I love to hear their stories, their outlook in life. I love to hear what they go through, what their struggles are and what their happiness is. There is something unique that happens when members come into my office in all humility. It is wonderful, I feel at times I could go for hours figuring out ways to improve and to become and become which I did not even know excited. Counsel I had never taken before. Needless to say I am learning so many things, maybe the one learning the most. It is not easy and by far one of the hardest things I have ever had to do besides my mission.
I love to be involve in a personal level with the members and see God’s love work through them. They all have a story and all have many things to teach me. I love to teach them as well (I can’t say this enough, we need, as a whole, to stop being so general when we are at the pulpit, example, Christ is the savior or God is good, but rather teach the why. Many youth and genesis members of the church will agree because it sounds right and it feels right, but knowing the why is so powerful because it is all true so it will develop to a testimony) and care for them.
I will admit that at times I get problems that can be resolved through simple thinking or simply asking one of the auxiliary leaders or simply a member. But then I get those members where they are giving it all they got to serve and love and devout themselves. Members who come to me with real dire problems and dire needs. They are my testimony builder and it is of them the I learn from the most. Guys, I can work with a flock of dozens and dozens and maybe even hundreds one day, but I have NO CLUE how our father in heaven can deal with dozen upon dozens of billions of his sons and daughter. Another thing.
Another thing, this is for the individuals who live their lives in a very high horse galloping around through live judging or those no believing, I tell this, church attendance if for the imperfect not for the perfected. If it was that all who went to church were perfect, they would not be going to church but rather, dwelling with God the Father and the Son.
I am also bless to have a body of Brothers and Sisters who’s experienced in life surpass mine both in the world, as a parent, leader in the church and husband, although I’m a pretty darn great husband. I have former bishops, stake presidents, high councils as counselors, ward clerks and executive secretary. I have the Patriarch of the stake in the ward. Is a small ward but we are slowly growing.
I am particularly grateful for those who do double callings and responsibility. The need is there and they are willing to lift the yolk and pull. I will say this, I will die for any of my worthy members, I would die for this church and as the Lord is patient with me, he knows once I understand the route he wants me to take, I will get it done for him. I know He loves me, for how patient he is and has been with all my mistakes. The Atonement is real. It changes and it has changed me.
I could care less if anyone else is against it. You have not tried hard enough to search for truth, to seek the spirit, faith, and application. Going to church is not enough. Not only is the Atonement is real, but the Gospel is real and life changing but even more, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the ONLY true church on this earth. There is a living Prophet and quite frankly, I am tired of hearing people who have a profound ignorance on anything LDS, or religious say, “well your Prophet is just a man and he is not perfect.” Get a life, there is no one on this Earth that can touch these men with a ten-foot poll, because they are the closest to perfection you will find, regardless of anyone who thinks the contrary.