Bill Pringle - Bill@BillPringle
The following talk was given in January, 2005, a few weeks before we were to be released from serving in South Philly. Before the speakers were announced, the Branch President told the congregation that all of the Stake people were being sent back to their home wards in a few weeks, and the Branch would have to carry on under their own power, without outside help.
On July 9, 1978 - about a year after I joined the church, the Sunday School teacher gave us an assignment. We were studying the Book of Mormon, where Mormon was writing his last words to his people. Our assignment was to write what we wanted future generations to know. When I read that letter while preparing for this talk, I was pleasantly surprised at what I wrote:
Love the Lord Thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself. In so doing, you will come to have faith in God, and to trust His decisions. This is the first step in obtaining happiness in both this life and the next.
The second thing that I would suggest is that you take great care in choosing your life's partner. Pray often for guidance, and treat this search and decision as the sacred duty that it is. Once you have found your mate, be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity, which is a blessing and privilege that I hope someday to obtain.
Raise your family with love and praise. Avoid sarcasm and criticism. Pray always, individually and as a unit. Remember, that there never comes a time that you do not have to prove to each other that you love and are loved by them.
Let me give you some background.
When I wrote that, I had been in the church one year and one week. Five days earlier, my second divorce had been finalized. I wanted very much to find a loving wife and be married in the temple.
Several months prior to this I had been struggling with whether I should divorce my second wife. The love was gone, and so was the trust, so there didn't seem any way to salvage the marriage. On the other hand, the church really stresses marriage and the family. I was having a hard time being in this Church and not married. So I did what any of us can do when faced with a problem. I asked for a Priesthood Blessing.
When my Elders Quorum President placed his hands on my head to give me the blessing, I could feel a tingling sensation that swept over my entire body. I have never experienced that feeling before or since, but I knew that it was the Holy Ghost telling me that this was an important blessing.
I was told that someone was being prepared to go to the temple with me. I was psyched! What I didn't know then is that Linda was being set apart for a calling at around the same time. In the middle of this run-of-the-mill blessing, she was told not to worry, and that she would be able to be sealed to her daughter Denise. Now, this was something Linda had been wondering about, but hadn't mentioned it to anyone.
At this point, we were both in the same ward, but didn't know each other.
Returning back to July of 1978, when I wrote that letter.
A few weeks later I went with the singles to see the Palmyra Pageant. I was driving somebody's car, and sitting in the back seat were Linda and Denise Tancosh. They were supposed to go a week earlier, but Denise had an earache so they had to go the following week, and they ended up in the car I was driving. Contrary to what you might believe, this was not love at first sight.
I found out later that they were making fun of me the whole way up and back. I had taken a bag of carrots, a bag of rice cakes, and a jar of peanut butter for food. After two and a half days in the hot sun, they didn't look that great, but I was still eating them.
One of the highlights of the trip was a talk by Gordon B. Hinkley, who was an apostle at that time. He told us to read the Book of Mormon again. Now I had just finished it, but I started reading it again. I believe that decision is one of the reasons things worked out the way they did.
Now, Linda was never going to get married again, and I wasn't going to get married until I was out of debt - at least several years away.
This was the end of July. When we got home, Linda and Denise went with Linda's parents on a vacation for a week, so it wasn't until the middle of August that we saw each other again. At the Labor Day picnic (about 2-3 weeks later) we announced our engagement, and two months after that we were married in the Washington DC Temple.
It turns out that Linda & I could have met years before. I dated some of the girls in her high school class. We were also members of the same ward for a year, but somehow we never really met. It wasn't until a couple of weeks after my divorce was finalized, a little over a year after I joined the Church that we met. In other words, we didn't meet until after I was qualified to be married in the temple.
The Lord can perform miracles with us, provided we are willing to live worthily and have faith to trust in Him. With God, all things are possible.
In our patriarchal blessings, we were both told that we would have many opportunities to work with the youth of the Church. We have both enjoyed these callings, and have received great blessings from trying to magnify them. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with youth, and hope I will continue to have such callings. Even when my calling doesn't involve youth directly, I still spend time with the youth.
Some people think that serving in callings involves sacrifice. There are many words that I can use to describe our time in this Branch, but sacrifice would not be one of them. The hardest part of serving in this Branch has been knowing that we would have to leave.
I have found that the more challenging the calling, the greater the rewards. I have also learned that I do best when I am given callings I know I can't handle. The reason is simple: the more difficult the calling, the more I have to depend on the Holy Ghost. The more I depend on the Holy Ghost, the better I do in that calling. If I'm given a calling I think I can handle, then I might get into trouble by doing what I think should be done instead of what the Lord wants done.
Now, I have some requests for the adults and the youth in this Branch. Let me start with the youth.
All of you should know by now that Sister Pringle and I love you very, very much. What I hope you also know is that Heavenly Father loves you a gazillion, bazillion times more. We all want what is best for you. Please, please, please, promise me that you will always come to Church. That you will always try to live the Gospel. I promise you that if you do this, you will be glad you did. Not only will you be happier if you live the Gospel, but you will be able get so much more out of life. It would break my heart to hear that any of you have quit coming.
And I know that you don't like being referred to as kids. But, you have to understand that my children are in their thirties. So, not only do I refer to you as kids, but I refer to some of your parents as kids as well. So please don't be offended.
Now, for the adults. Please take care of these kids. Many of them are the only church members in their families. Their parents don't understand how important the Gospel is. Youth need adults that they can look up to and learn about the Gospel. Please be that for them.
When you come into Sacrament meeting, if you see a group of kids sitting together, sit down and introduce yourself. Ask them about themselves. Get to know them. If you do this, you will find that they will melt your heart. They are really great kids. You will also find that you will get great joy and happiness in your own life as you help them to grow in the Gospel.
I would especially like to ask the Asian adults to get to know the parents of these kids. Help the parents to understand the importance of the Gospel in the lives of their children. Some parents think going to church is just a fun thing for the kids, and don't really understand that the Gospel helps their children become better people. I would also love to hear that some of their parents have joined the Church as well. I know they are good parents because their kids are so great. I would love to see those good parents turned into great parents who also understand the blessings of the Gospel.
I would like to bear my testimony that I know the Gospel is true. Jesus is the Christ. Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us. If we try our best to do what the Lord wants us to do, then we will get the most joy out of this life, and receive great rewards in the next life.