as teabelly readers know, i am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints. on sunday, president hinckley, the prophet, died. he was 97. he is now FINALLY reunited with his wife. she passed about 5 years ago and a light went out in him when she did. like my friend brigham said: "there is just something about losing your soul mate." so i am happy for him and a bit sad for us.
i wasn't really going to say anything, but i keep thinking about an experience i had with him and thought this might be the best time to share it.
on world aids day 2005, i traveled with deborah parham-hopkins to SLC, UT for events with the mormon church and around the community. deborah is one of my all time favorite collegues and i look to her as a role model, so i was VERY excited about going. the church planned on giving HHS a manual they had developed to sensitize church members to HIV/AIDS. it included prevention and care for people infected with the virus. it is well done. i saw it for the first time 2 years earlier when it was still in pilot, and i wanted to get it so we could share it. after lots of negotiation, i found out not only were we going to get it, but that the first presidency wanted to meet with us and present it to us. WOW!
i was super excited. i was staying at the inn at temple square so i could look down over at the temple. i wondered what it would feel like to meet the prophet. i was really really really bugged that i was meeting the prophet and that i was going to have to talk about AIDS. arg! of all the millions of things i would want to talk to him about, i am not sure AIDS would even be on the list.
it was weird. i think i wanted some super duper powerful confirmation of "hey this is the prophet" but i didn't get it. i felt like i was meeting with some really nice and really old church leaders. it felt like many of my other work meetings: pleasant, but with me spending heaps of time correcting people's misconceptions about the disease. i have to say, it was impressive that a 97 year old was that interested, but he hadn't been briefed and it showed. preseident monson dozed off at one point. clearly, the meeting was not going the way i planned.
here is a sneaked photo of the first presidency's reception hall (or whatever you call it)
we got the book and talked about AIDS and i begged them to be more judicious with their medical professional missionaries and to let us share information with the missionary department so that skilled medical professionals could be paired with needs of communities. they were luke warm about that idea, but very diplomatic.
our meeting had followed a visit from the mexican ambassador to the US--it was clear that they were on a schedule of doing the diplomatic visits for the day. this was an aspect of the church calling i had never thought of.
we stood for photos. pres. monson spoke norwegian to me. president faust was sweet and president hinckly was charming.
as we left i felt kinda disappointed that i hadn't felt anything more powerful. as the mormon in the group, i felt i should do some talking, so i said to the crew, "so that went well" or something trite like that. deborah stopped me and said, "i don't think we should talk right now. i feel like i was just in the presence of God"
i was shocked. i wondered what i had missed, and why she got to feel that and not me. and then i felt really glad that she felt that because it kinda hit me, that i didn't need some big whammo spiritual experience to know he was a prophet. i had that years ago. but deborah having it was pretty amazing. we share so many of the same beliefs. she is an active southern baptist and wonderful. it was cool to be able to share that part of my life and faith with her.
it was a great day.
this is us at the UT governor's mansion--just before a meeting with the governor but after our meeting with pres. hinckly. i think there is still an afterglow on everyone's faces.
below is a shocking bit of video from cnn's loud mouth host glenn beck. he has always really bugged me because i think he is contentious and mean. but here he gives a beautiful and gracious tribute to our prophet pres. hinckley. this shocked me. it is frankly the reason i am writing this blog today...enjoy