Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Chinese New Year Mormon Prom

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In January, Will pulled me aside at church and said that President Jensen wanted to meet with us. I figured Will was getting released from his calling as an early-morning seminary teacher and might be getting a new calling of some sort. Whatever it was he wanted to talk to us about, I was pretty sure it had nothing at all to do with me and felt fairly at ease. Sure, Will might get a more time intensive calling, but me? There was no way. I'd just had a baby 8 weeks ago for heaven's sake.

President Jensen is my good friend Stacy's husband, and she took notice as we followed her husband toward the stake presidency's office. As I walked past her she mouthed, "What are you going in there for?"

I shrugged. "Do you know?" I mouthed back suspiciously.

She didn't.

When I say I'd just had a baby--baby number four at that, I mean to say that I had a somewhat fussy, high-maintenance baby. Because of this, I couldn't sit in the chair that was offered me, so I  danced him around the room as we made small talk.

"I bet you're wondering why you're in here," he eventually said.

Suddenly I was nervous.

"I actually feel kind of guilty asking you to do this," he went on, noting the bouncing baby and looking at me. "And this isn't a calling--more an assignment, so you can say no...

"Marie, we were wondering if you'd head up Mormon Prom..."

Now for any other creative person, this might sound fun and exciting, but directed at the girl who stresses out every time she has to host anything, it kind of sounded like my worst nightmare. Sure, I have a bit of an artistic eye and I like to decorate my house, but I wouldn't say I'm good at it. I'm just persistent and a bit of a perfectionist and go at a really slow pace when it comes to home improvement; if I can't do it right, I don't want to do it at all. And I almost always get it wrong before I get it right.

And one other stumbling block-- I don't like to be in charge! I'm capable of being in charge, but I'd much rather be someone else's worker bee. So there's that.

As I was getting ready to say, "Can I think about it?" to President Jensen, Will starting raving about what an awesome job I'd do at it and was just being all Mr. Enthusiastic, so I went with it. I didn't want to disappoint anyone, especially my sweet husband who seemed to have so much confidence in my abilities, so I gave a shaky yes. But for the next two weeks I started dreaming about Mormon Prom and panicking. I'd find myself getting on my knees at random times during the day asking Heavenly Father if he really wanted me to do this because I just didn't think it was humanly possible for me with a brand-new baby, homeschooling Isabella, and just my day-to-day crazy life full of interruptions. I couldn't wrap my head around it.

I whined a lot to Will and then he said something that became a turning point for me, which ultimately was probably an answer to my prayers.

"Marie, I will support you if you decide to back out, but if you decide to do this, I will support you too, and I think you might even enjoy yourself."

Enjoy? This felt like a big, fat, stressful burden. There was nothing to be enjoyed. As I mulled over it a little more, I kept thinking about what Will said about enjoying it and decided that I was going to do this and I was going to have a positive attitude about it. From that point on, things started looking up. I made a goal to do at least one Mormon Prom-related task every single day, and I was amazed how how things started to come together. A huge comfort and blessing came in the form of my next-door neighbor. She is a wedding consultant and loves to do this sort of thing and assured me she would help me. And boy to did she ever! She hooked us up with so many lanterns and lights and table cloths, and she was just a good resource for me to fire questions at since she throws events like this all the time. I adore Trista! All along the way there were people to help point me in the right direction. Sarah Wrigley--the huge talent behind last year's Mormon Prom-- was an enormous help to me as I asked her questions; she also helped me realize that this could be fun! In fact, as I contacted each person on my committee, they each expressed excitement for the opportunity to get to do this, and it was really eye-opening and humbling to me. Made me more eager and willing in my attitude.

So yes, my committee was top of the line. Most of the people on it I'd never met before. I mostly went with names that were recommended to me. And I tell you what, Mormons in general are a hard-working, dependable people! Even though I'd never met any of them, I trusted that they'd follow through with their different assignments, and boy did they ever.

Brother Johnson designed and built a pagoda! Jenae Henrichson made a Chinese dragon. Absolutely unbelievable. We had gorgeous tables, a wishing tree, food (both delicious and beautifully displayed), Chinese banners and signs. And those are just some of things that went into it. There was also tons of unexpected help along the way... people just popping their head into the gym and offering their help. An army of a clean up team came and helped take down the event. We were literally cleaned up and out of the building in just over an hour.

So, in the end, I had the most rewarding and meaningful experience. I learned once again that Heavenly Father hears prayers and supports us in the things we worry about. He enables us to do things we don't think are possible. I also learned that a good attitude changes everything. And I learned that a little faith goes a long way. Most of all, I learned that when it comes to an opportunity to serve others, the answer is probably YES.


  1. Wow! Nothing short of spectacular. You should be very proud of yourself for a job well done. And with a new baby??? Amazing.

  2. Wow, wow, wow!!! What an experience... and so good for me to read right as I'm about to jump back into the swing of things in a couple of weeks;) Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Amazing job! Those lanterns and lights were breathtaking! I hope those kids know how lucky they are to be blessed with you and all of the other adults who helped to make this happen for them.

  4. This was basically a call to repentance for me! Ahhhh I have a bad attitude.

  5. It seriously looks so amazing!!!




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