Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mitt Romney and Me

I don't know Mitt Romney.

I do know something about his life. I am a Mormon, so I can make a better guess about how he actually lives his life than a person who knows nothing about the Church.

We know Mitt pays tithes and offerings, so we also know he is dedicated to the Church. I would expect he lives his life pretty much the same as I do.

Mitt was a Bishop and a Stake President. He also must have been a Home Teacher, and probably an Elder's Quorum President. I'll bet he taught Sunday School.

Since he has sons he has probably gone on Scout hikes, campouts, and other over night outings with young men.

Mitt and his wife held Family Home Evening, that's a gospel lesson with your family every week where the kids sit down and the parents supervise a discussion about values and laws and rules.

He says he prays daily and reads Scripture regularly.

And Mitt went on a mission to France. There's an article about that and also about most of the rest of these things, but I'll tell you what all of this means to me, Stan Stark, who has lived this kind of life since 1959 when my wife and I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

First, every person who is a Mormon or who has joined the Church has been rejected over and over again by "Christians" just because they belong to a different kind of church. Mitt was rejected in France, probably more than I can imagine, but I have four sons who served missions.

In Arkansas, one of my sons was grabbed and a knife held at his throat because the Missionary was teaching the man's wife. Another son was arrested and held at an airport in Spain. A third and his companion were told by their leaders to stay in their apartment in Guatamala because rebels were shooting up the town with machine guns. And the fourth, in West Virginia, was followed and dogged day and night by a West Virginia minister who was pressuring them to stop teaching the people in his town.

Presidents of our United States need this kind of preparation. It gives them strength in the face of the many problems they have and the many people who don't like what they do no matter what it is.

Every active man in the Church is a Home Teacher. This means that he has about five families some where in his neighborhood that he visits and teaches every month. A Home Teacher is there to council the family's children when they need it, offer assistance in the form of neighborly work. I have mowed the grass, helped clean the house, taken children to games, scouts or meetings, and I have loaned them money. A Home Teacher is taught to "watch over" and help the families he is assigned to as well as teach a short lesson each month. Mitt still does this I'm sure, even while campaigning.

An Elder's Quorum President, which I was for seven years, supervises the Home Teachers. The Quorum president also councils with the Elders. Every active man becomes an Elder. If an Elder has a problem in his life he goes to his Quorum President for advice.

Once, while Elder's Quorum President, I received a call while I was home recuperating from surgery.  An old gentleman from Tonga who moved in with his daughter and her husband (not a member) called me late at night. The old Tongan was worried. His son and daughter were arguing, and he thought it might get violent, but he wasn't ready to call the police.

I got up, dressed, and drove over there, often carefully trying to straighten up for the pain. The conversation on the phone made me worry as I was driving over there, that I might get pushed and tear out my stitches. The family calmed down after I got there, the old man was comforted, and the situation improved. There's no question in my mind that Mitt must have done things like that.

Mitt was a Bishop. That means he supervised   the Home Teaching activities of the Elder's Quorum President, and the very difficult domestic cases he took care of himself.

I've sat in meetings with the Bishop. I was his Executive Secretary for years. I made appointments for the Bishop, night after night, with families with problems, with young people who needed a father figure in their lives, and with people who needed help with every aspect of their lives. Mitt has done this and the reporters would have found out by now if he hadn't done a good job.

Mitt was a Stake President. That means he supervised the Bishops. A Stake is a geographic area that is sometimes very large. I'm not sure how big Mitt's Stake was, but the first one I was in was 150 miles from one end to the other. The Stake President has to meet with the Bishops from one end to the other. That meant a lot of driving in all kinds of weather. Mormon's don't cancel their meetings very often, so Mitt was driving back and forth for his Stake President Duties, probably in the  snow.

Now, I'm not sure of the actual time references, but he also worked, either at Bain or as Governor while he held these offices. Every LDS leader works while he does his church work, Bishops, Home Teachers, Elder's Quorum Presidents, and Stake Presidents. They do everything that any minister in any church does, and they don't get paid. Not one cent. So they have to organize all of the other people to do the jobs and the visiting and the helping that needs to be done. United States Presidents need to be able to organize people, and Mormon leaders start at twelve and keep it up all their lives.

I could go on and on and on and fill 40 pages about the things Mitt has done, and all of it is helping others to grow and improve their lives.