The Butler 4th Ward
Today was our last Sunday as members of the Butler 4th Ward.
We bought our house in the ward in November of 2004 – 11 years and 11 months ago.
We’ve been in this ward longer than any other ward in either of our lives.
I feel like I grew up in this ward. When we moved in 11 years and 11 months ago, we didn’t have any children. We didn’t have careers or money or experience to speak of. Good grief, we weren’t even done with school.
As I sat in sacrament meeting I thought about all the experiences of the ward – the things that meant so much to me – that carried my heart through these years. Here are some of the memories I will cherish forever:
Jed Henrie and his testimony. Every fast Sunday Jed would stand and plead with us to love our children, to teach them, and to be happy. I’ll admit, at first his testimonies were something I’d laugh at (a little too pentecostal for my comfort). Then they became something that I’d roll my eyes at. Finally, in those last years, I really cherished them as the kind words of someone who knew.
His wife, Dorothy, who was (is) the steady hand of all things good. She is the Marilla Cuthbert of my life, never stirred, always constant like the stars. Every week for all the years I lived in the ward (and 20 before that) she brought her disabled and frail husband to church. The last years literally carrying him in. Dorothy has been my VT comp these past several years, and I remember she told me Jed wasn’t doing well, and she wasn’t sure how much longer she’d be bringing him to church (it was December). I thought I should take my camera and get a picture of him in the bench one last time. I remember that sacrament when she brought him in, helped him sit down. I’d brought my camera, but left it in the car. I never did go get it out. And he never came into the chapel again. He died that spring, and Wyatt presided at the funeral. I will always remember Jed and Dorothy Henrie.
I remember Sue Harrison and Cindy Beverly, my first VT’s in the ward. They were both older ladies in their mid 50’s. Both had grown up in the ward and had been best friends since childhood. Neither had married until just a few years before I moved into the ward, Sue married Glen Harrison, an older gentleman who, after his divorce, had moved back into the neighborhood he had grown up in, and reconnected to Sue. Anyhow, Sue and Cindy were the best. Cindy was jovial and hilarious. Sue was serious and kind all the time. They have both been excellent examples to me of being steadfast and firm in the faith.
I remember my first calling in the ward was to teach Sunday school to the 16-17 year old’s in the ward. And the teacher of the 14-15 year old’s flaked 3 weeks out of 4 so I ended up teaching both classes-which was perfect because I was able to get to know all the youth in the ward. I remember I had no problem telling the identical twins, Kate and Amanda Lybbert apart, but for the life of me, I could not figure out Brett and Mike Smith – even though they were two years apart in age.
Eventually I did figure out the difference between the two. And then Wyatt hired Brett Smith and Quinn Malovich to do some work in our yard, and they ended up helping us with all sorts of projects. I still have such a soft spot for those boys, and hope all the best things for those two.
I remember when we first moved over to Meadow Downs. I kinda got to know the Smiths, but not well. But at one point during some conversation, I told them to come on down any time for desert, no invite needed (we would often have treat nights with the Engh’s and Sorensen’s in those days). I will always remember the evening they showed up at my door. As they came in they both held up forks. I laughed and laughed and knew we’d be friends forever.
Of course, I remember Kathe Hollingshaus. Moving across the street from her gave me an opportunity to first get to know the elderly in the ward – to see them in a way I never had before. She was my friend, and I feel like she was the first one to teach me that I had a lot to learn from these wonderful older members of the ward.
I remember when Olivia was born – Olivia was the first (the next one coming just ten days later, and another a week after that) of ten babies born in the ward that year. For 9 of the 10 it was our first babies. In addition to those 10, two or three more babies of the same age (and their mothers) moved into the ward within the next couple years. It was so wonderful to embark on the journey of motherhood with a brood of other women in my same situation.
I remember the ward parties. I remember being in charge of the ward parties (I’ll admit, that wasn’t fun), and then when Kellie took over (that was fun). I remember winning (well, 3rd place) the ward chili cook off, and sitting at the table with Don Adamson as he bemoaned his stewardship as judge of the cook off. “It’s dangerous eating people’s chili” he complained – “you never know what people have put in them.” And I laughed my wicked laugh inwardly. My secret ingredient for my chili: Beer.
I remember all the service in the ward – the service to my family. I still remember Brenda Sim taking one look at me and saying “You look like you do not want to talk, so I’m just going to take Olivia.” And then she took Olivia to and from preschool all the rest of the year. (I was expecting, and sick, and indeed, did not want to talk.) And I remember the time I made a passing comment of being sick (not expecting) on FB and the next thing I know Tiana Titus and Nicole Ferguson showed up with dinner for my whole family. I remember how overwhelmed I felt to know that others cared that much.
I will always remember Halloween in this neighborhood. No trunk-or-treats here. In our neighborhood the kids run from house to house, showing the old and young their costumes (indeed, the trunk or treat has been vetoed vehemently in our neighborhood by the elderly who love to see the kids out in their costumes). I’ll never forget the treats and traditions in our neighborhood: Home-made scones at the Enghs, the S’more’s Bar at the Reimann’s. The hot chocolate and doughnuts at the Nydeggers, and the home made Rootbeer at Jim and June’s, all filtered with full sized candy bars and traditional candy treats. And the kids run from house to house and the parents congregate in the streets, and all eyes are sharp watching out for each child to keep them safe in a community full of love for them.
I’ll also remember the Gospel Doctrine lessons of this ward. I’ve taught GD for five of my 12 years here. But it’s not the classes I’ve taught that stand out – there are actually quite a few classes I’ve attended over the years, where the spirit has been strong and testified truths of the gospel to me. And I’ll remember those conversations with my brothers and sisters in the gospel.
And I’ll remember the Bishops of the ward – each taught and gave our families so much. Bishop Childs helped us find our current house, giving us and inside tip to a house coming on the market. Bishop Wittwer will always be the kindest, most loving man in my mind – the type of grandpa they have in story books, with eyes that twinkle (I kid you not, they twinkle!), and Bishop Trelease, who has been a steady hand and a voice of assurance as I’ve turned to him more than he probably wishes with my parenting woes, and he’s always been calm and reassuring to my concerns.
And Leslie Trelease has been a special friend for many years. When ever I get a chance I seek her out in any company. Her conversation is the best! She has an insight and thoughtfulness that I crave in my otherwise shallow life. She listens to me and challenges me like my favorite teachers of my school days.
Another calling I had in the ward was teaching primary. I did that for about three years, and in that time I was able to get to know the next batch of kids (they’re the youth of the ward now). I love the chance to get to know the kids of the ward – to see their lives unfold before us.
I will always remember Jana Malovich – how she was like the neighborhood mom – the person you called if there was something you needed help with or didn’t know how to do. She would lend me her quilting frame, helping me set up my quilts and projects. She’s helped me put on the scout badges on my boys uniforms, she’s helped me with embroidery projects. She’s always cheerful and happy to help, and I’ve always appreciated her kindness.
And I think about Sister Beverly. When I think of her though I see her bouffant hair from behind. Because that’s how I saw her every week for years as we sat in the pew behind her during sacrament meeting. The kids would throw toys and poke her with crayons, and one time I even gingerly picked a stray paper airplane from her hair, hoping she didn’t notice. But she was always so kind and encouraging after the meeting. She’d tell me my kids were great. And she never broke her smile, and she never gave me a sideways glance to make me second guess her sincerity. I think she really believed it.
I remember meeting Olivia Childs and Claire Nelsen not long after we moved in. I think they were at the bishops office collecting their after-church-lollipops that are a tradition in our ward. In any case, I was talking to them and asked them their names, and Olivia said “Olivia” and I just lit up and said “Oh! That’s what I’m going to name my baby! I love that name.” And then I turned to Claire Nelson and she said “Claire” and again I lit up and said “Oh, I love that name, that’s going to be my baby’s middle name!” And ever after that I always knew who those two girls were. And now Olivia is married and lives in an apartment in the ward, and she team teaches GD with me! And Claire is recently returned home from her mission.
All these memories and a million more are the kaleidoscope of happiness that will forever flash through my mind when I think of my time living here at Meadow Downs.
And all these things are more than just silly memories and funny moments because living in the Butler 4th ward has been more than just a socially good time, it has been a comforting envelope of the Saviors love. All of these moments, all of these relationships, have brought me closer to my Savior.
How wise the Savior is to create a church where we can look after one another, and come, hand in hand, unto Him. And how wonderful it has been to live in a ward where those ideals of gospel function are working like a well oiled cog. Our family has never been able to get far away from the Lord because our ties to him have been constantly reinforced by the ties of our ward. Their love, service and kindness has testified of the Love of the Lord, and have strengthened my testimony. How very grateful I am for that.