Moroni Saw Me: Heros
In writing my memoir, I decided to include here sentiments I was unable to express in the book. One such sentiment is my feeling towards the Morrell family. I start with my seminary teacher. LDS Christian youth attend seminary for one hour of religious training each day. It was a small sacrifice as it enlarged my desire to live the gospel. I do not know how I had time for seminary, school, and football. I did it though.
I adored Sister Morrell. She was my seminary teacher when I joined the church. She, along with a host of other members fellowshipped me into my ward. I did not start attending seminary until my sophomore year of high school. I lived right down the street from where Sister Morrell conducted the lessons. She did so from the office where she worked.
Every morning for my first year of seminary, Sister Morrell would call my home at 5:30 am for me to rise for seminary. It seemed that way anyway. We stopped answering the phone, and my mom would yell in consternation from her interrupted slumber, “Rodric, get up and go to seminary!”
We knew from whom the phone call came. We knew there was no avoiding it and I loved her for it. Sister Morrell was a busy woman with a penetrating spirit. She helped the scriptures come alive to me as a youth, and I hung on every word she taught in seminary. God put spiritual giants like my seminary teacher in place to lift and inspire the hearts of young people. Sister Morrell lifted my heart!
I enjoy the level of involvement the LDS culture exacts of its members—all of our own volition of course. The Morrell family was to me a good example of a Southern Mormon family. They taught me that my misconception about the White Southern family needed updating—at least to the twentieth century.
From them, I learned about Family Home Evening from them, which is a program of the church where families set aside one night a week, usually a Monday, for family gospel instruction and fun above all other things. They do not know this, but because of their family, my family has family home evening 95% of the time—most weeks!
I recall sitting in their kitchen listening to them talk about different subjects and then playing games in their living room. I did not understand how White people could just invite me in and treat me so well when we were not supposed to be associating according to my third-grade teacher (that story is detailed in the book). The adversary, the Devil, used that one event in my life in third grade to help color all of my experiences in the church and without the church with White people. I loved my Mormon White people so much that I almost considered them normal people, almost. It still took time to bury the incorrect teaching I received at age eight. I clung to the Morrell family. It borderline obsession.
Iy second idol was Patrick Morrell (following my first idol, or role model Dexter). I was there when Patrick left and returned from serving a mission for the church. He came back with some of the most severe stories about his mission! He effectively mortified me of missionary service. I do not believe he did so on purpose, but I hung on every word of his. I think I may have become the annoying little brother type. His services as a missionary definitely put him on my mental hero status board.
I recall one story he told me about a companion he had with mental concerns. I will not retell the entire story here, but I remember Patrick saying that he knew that the Lord wanted him to be the one to deal with that companion and all of his issues. I recall Patrick saying that he had several companions with psychological concerns. The only reason one of his companions went on mission was to fulfill his rite of passage. His companion did not want to be there. In fact, this one companion of Patrick’s could not go home! The family told the mission president that if that elder went home early, he would have no home. They would disown him! Harsh, I know! It made no sense to me then. And, it makes no sense now that I have a son who is old enough to serve as a missionary. I cannot imagine disowning my son forever just because he did not serve a two-year mission. I don’t want to imagine it either.
Patrick could not believe what he had experienced on mission! He told the stories because they were incredible to him and to us--his family and me. He knew I wanted to go on a mission so he told me that I should be prepared when I went to Utah. He said the people can be racist and there is hazing in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. He told me the stories, and I became more anxious. I did not know I had to go through such things just to preach the gospel! Patrick’s mission sounded horrible! In fact, I remember nothing good that he told me about the mission save the Lord confirmed to him that his chief reason to serve a mission was to minister to his companions. I could see the spiritual changes in him, however. When he returned from his service, he was more like his Mom, a spiritual giant. Now, for that change to come upon me, I was willing to risk going to the MTC!
Sister Morrell’s daughter Tracy married my next hero, Buck Golden. I remember going to their house after they were married just to play with their little kids. Buck was a strong example of assurance for me. Buck told me that every daughter of God deserves a husband who treats her with respect. That is what he modeled for me. Tracy and Buck lived down the street from us for a while. His presence made me feel safe as a youth.