Welcome visitors!

Thank you for visiting our Christmas Service Blog. We welcome comments from visitors.
We would love to hear if you decide to implement this idea in your family.

Friday, December 24, 2010

This one's for Africa... well... and the dead

To my favorite dad (and Anne Marta Erikstadder, Ellen Perrott, and dozens of others)-

When I was a kid, I remember overhearing mom talk to people about dad working at the temple. I remember noticing the pride she exuded when talking about how early he woke up every week to go and serve in the temple.

I remember taking on a similar pride as a friend asked why my dad was all dressed up and I proudly responded what I had overheard my mom say many times, "He works at our temple. He is a 'bell' worker" to which she responded "So he like rings the bells at your church?" I paused thinking of images of Quazimoto ringing bells in a high tower, I've actually never seen bells at the temple, and I'm kind of surprised that my not-so-musical dad received a call to serve ringing bells. I was stumped, not knowing what really went on in the temple besides weddings.

So I went to mom later that week to ask what exactly dad did in the temple. She responded with, "He is a veil worker". Oh, goodness... I felt like a MORON! How was I going to tell my friend I was wrong? A VEIL worker- not a BELL worker! Now I totally got it! So I went back to my friend and said, "Hey, I'm a nerd, I'm so embarrassed. He doesn't ring the bells! I was WAY wrong! He is the one that lifts the brides' veil after the ceremony is done and before they kiss their husbands" ... true story :)

I then remember thinking, "Wow, Dad wakes up REALLY early, and goes a LOT just to do that! He must care a LOT about that for some reason." As I grew older I learned more and more about what dad was really doing and it had such a deeper meaning knowing how much it meant to dad. To know the time, sleep, and other things he was sacrificing to go and serve and make special ordinances possible for those living and those who had passed on.

While visiting Ghana as a young adult, I saw that passion and love of temple work in a similar way. I met Saints and heard stories of those who had wanted for decades to receive these special ordinances, and do them for others and were so excited when the Ghana temple was finally finished. It breaks my heart hearing about the Saints in the Congo who want so much to attend the temple but can't due to long distance and monetary needs.

I know this might sound crazy, but a little piece of me has always felt comfort knowing that dad was going to the temple EVERY month. Sometimes I would sit in a close to empty temple session and think the words that we have heard mom (as well as the man himself:) repeat many times, "They broke the mold after they made Eddie". It recently donned on me that Dad and mom weren't going every week or month any more to the temple. A part of me felt like the entire numbers of temple work had decreased because of this great loss.

So, slowly my service for dad came to light. I decided to step in and help fill that void of temple attendance as much as I could. I was going to attend the temple every week for a month (some of you may already do this, but I am sad to say I was not).

Now, going to the temple one night a week did not seem like a service, but instead something I really would love to do and would not be at all difficult... so how could I make it a little more "Eddie" like that would be a little more out of my comfort zone. And then it came to me...
Yep! If I was going to truly fill dad's vacancy in the temple, I would have to do it on Eddie time. So, each week I would wake up early to make sure I was in the first session. This way it was not only doing it Eddie style, but it was also not causing any inconvenience for anyone else by having Houston have to go to a babysitter. Instead I would make it home before, or close to, him waking up. That first 4:15 a.m. really started to feel like a service, but I never felt burdened because I knew that dad had done it weekly for so long and had worked much harder days before and after than I ever have!

Each week it would brighten my spirits (and awaken my tired eyes) as I pulled off the freeway and found not only the gorgeous temple, but the Christmas spirit as well.
So dad, in honor of you, I upped my temple attendance and served Anne Marta Erikstadder (1812), Ellen Perrott (1836), and dozens of others via baptisms, initiatories, and sealings.
The last morning I went, I did sealings. It was just me and 5 cute old men temple workers. They were very grateful and a jolly bunch. They kept telling me how grateful they were that I was there, but I couldn't help thinking the same about them knowing what they, and their family members, go through to make it there early each week. It made me wonder what you must have done for those many hours in the temple and the people who were grateful for you that maybe never had a chance to voice it. It was a wonderful and extremely enjoyable service.

The only regret I have is that we all know... it's not a big secret... Lani likes her sleep! and maybe doesn't function on all cylinders when I don't have as much sleep. So... the last day I went was this past Thursday. Upon coming home, it was the first time that Michael and Houston had been up for a while and Michael noticed how pregnant I looked. We joked about it for a bit and went on with our day. A few hours later I happened to notice that Mom and Dad logged onto Skype. So I gave them a little ring. In our short 8 minute conversation, somehow it went from talking about being flexible to... WOOOPS... the gender of the baby slipped out and it took seconds to realize why dad was giving me THE SCOWL! "I knew I shouldn't have answered this call!" he exclaimed! I felt SO BAD! I had done so well for so long! So now I guess Chuck and Ashley are the only people who don't know... which I hear is ironic seeing as how Chuck hasn't done real well in the secret keeping department lately (Just teasing Chuck- OBVIOUSLY I am not one to talk)! So dad, I am so sorry I spilled the beans, my mind was running on very little sleep!

Dad, Merry Christmas! Thank you so much for your wonderful example of service and love of the Gospel. Tonight we sat around reading the Christmas story and singing Carols. I looked out the window and found myself thinking of the many times I had done this Christmas Eve tradition, then thinking about how many people were doing similar in the community, then US, then living rooms- big or small- around the world. Within seconds my mind pictured you and mom, sitting in your humble African home, reading the Christmas story and singing the carols together. Tears filled my eyes and heart as I realized just how much I missed you! I do not think I missed you that much in my entire mission, as I hope you do not miss us on yours because you are so busy. We are all so proud of you both! I am so grateful that Heavenly Father sent me to your house to learn of Him and His Son. I truly have been born of goodly parents. I am so grateful to you daddy!

I love you! Love, Lani

Now the only question is, when does your veil worker calling fit into the timeline of things... I suppose it was after you became righteous, eh?


  1. What as awesome service experience! I love the pictures that went along the post.

    The only reason Chuck can keep the gender of our babies a secret is because he doesn't even know the secret to spill.

  2. Loved the photos of you sleeping on your car clock. Very spiritual service Lani!

  3. First of all, Lani, I want to say that I am still trying to become "righteous". It is by reading posts like this, and sharing them with our whole family, that all of us are becoming a more righteous people. The scriptures tell us that we are to do so.

    My second comment is, "Not only was I a monthly veil worker at the Los Angeles temple, but I don't know if you realize that I was called to be one of the original ordinance workers for the San Diego temple... which meant I went every week,early, for 4 hours. It was supposed to be a 2 year calling, but ended up lasting for several years. It was one of the richest times in our lives. 27 years ago we set One of our most cherished goals. We decided to attend the temple at least monthly. Once when mom was 9-1/2 months pregnant, she couldn't go, but made it up the next month. Thank you very much for the service you provided for me. I appreciate it. What a wonderful gift. Love, Dad

  4. 1.) Lani sleeping anywhere.... a gift I wish I possessed!
    2.) Love your little expressions in these photos!
    3.) Wow, look at your belly in that picture! So cute!
    4.) Such a cute service going so early in the morning! That is dedication!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Let me just tell you all how hard it is to go without sleep and so I think this was a valiant service Lani. Way to be righteous. What a great example you are to us all.

  7. Lani, what a sweet way to go above and beyond. 4:40! For those of us that really know you, we know exactly what a service that was!