Today, I got this email from President Sikahema: (I've bolded Lj's email, and italicized President Sikahema's)
Below is my letter to LJ this week explaining my involvement - insignificant as it was - in a preliminary discussion along with two Church leaders with Mayor MIchael Nutter of Philadelphia before Pres. Monson's announcement of a temple in the city. LJ and his brother's Catholic Prep school is two blocks north of the temple site and City Hall is two blocks south of the site. It's in North Philadelphia on the City's "Main St." if you will, a rather urban, gritty and yes, crime-ridden part of Philly. I suppose the site was chosen because of access to public transportation for city folks, like Manhattan - whereas suburbanites like us will easily travel there in our own cars. Genius. And of course, inspired. LJ's letter to us also reveals his release date. Looks like he's chosen to stay an extra month longer. And he's hedging on our plans to come pick him up. This is pure, classic LJ. Throws a wrench in our family plans ;-)) because he has other ideas about his release and how it should go, who he should be with. His reasons are noble and you gotta love him. He's so good. And he may have just saved me a small fortune - though his mother may not be too thrilled. Here's my letter:
LJ - You'll hear in the first session of conference Pres. Monson announcing five new temples for groundbreaking, including Philadelphia and get this, Rome, Italy!! I was involved in a preliminary discussion before the announcement because the First Presidency asked Pres. Corbitt to reach Mayor Nutter by pulling me in to contact him. The First Presidency did that, apparently knowing that Treybo was a member of the Philly Public Affairs Council because he interned for Mayor Nutter. Well, I was given a few days notice by Pres. Corbitt to reach the Mayor prior to Gen Conf. The Mayor finally called me last Wed. and we chatted briefly - he asked, "How's my boy doing,?" I told him Trey was good and had a "Nutter For Mayor" poster in his dorm room - then I asked if I could put him on hold 10 sec so I could conference in two men who had important news for him relating to Philadelphia. He agreed and I conferenced in Pres. Corbitt, who was in NY and Dean Davies - Church temple architect and over physical facilities. After short introductions, I allowed Pres. Corbitt to take the lead. He told Mayor Nutter that the Church holds bi-annual conferences and one was coming next weekend and the leader of the Church, Pres. Thomas S. Monson, was prepared to announce a building to be built on North Broad and Spring Garden, which will bring millions to the City as well as jobs. Then, he turned it over to Bro. Davies. Dean thanked the Mayor for his time and told him he'd read on-line his inauguration speech and assured Mayor Nutter that this new building will help him realize his vision for the City. Mayor Nutter was pleased and pleasantly surprised that Bro. Davies had done that. At that point, Mayor Nutter asked more about the location and about the building. Interestingly, in a conference call prior to our speaking to the Mayor, Bro. Davies had instructed us that we were not to refer to the building as a "temple." He said once the prophet makes that announcement, then we could refer to it as a temple. With that, Mayor Nutter told us that we should work with his Deputy Mayor and the City Planning Commisioner and if there were any problems, he would step in. Pres. Corbitt asked him to keep the information confidential until it was announced and the mayor agreed to. He wished us well and congratulated us. Before we hung up, I said, "Mayor, when this building is finished, we'll have an open house before it's dedicated and it would be my honor to have Trey help me give you, your wife Lisa and daughter Olivia a VIP tour of it. This will be a magnificent building that will bless your city in ways you can't fathom; it will bring people from throughout the City and from all over the Delaware Valley and beyond. It will be a showpiece in the City." Before he hung up, he said his office overlooks North Philly and he'll watch it's construction carefully. We called Trey after it was announced and told him what we just shared. Trey Bo just cried and cried, he was so moved and touched. I find it significant that the temple is a two blocks north of city hall and two blocks south of Girard and the Prep. How awesome is that? Also, we finally saw the video of you in that film at the Hinckley Bldg. BYU is having me come in Fri to shoot a new film for the Hinckley Bldg but they told me they'll keep the shot of you and those cute girls in it. Should be fun. We're so proud of you. You will love conference. It was so good. You'll love it. Soak it up. Let it seep into your soul. Look forward to your report. Love, Dad
I've just sat here and thought about it and not opened up a new window to write an email because I've just been thinking about it. So now my time is short. I really don't know what to say. I am absolutely amazed. By small and simple things are great things brought to pass. Who'd've thought that when Treybo one day in Gov class was offered an internship for a Mayoral campaign that it would be a link in the finalizing of a temple built in the largest city in the United States without one... Absolutely amazing. When I get back to the apartment I'm gonna write that boy a letter. I am so proud of him. I'm just crying. Gosh, I'm so honored to be in such a fantastic family. It makes me wanna work hard and make a difference in the ways that I can. Gosh, I'm just so happy. BROAD AND SPRING GARDEN!!!!! Almost makes me wish I coulda pulled a Falaniko Noga so I could still be in high school so I could go every day. THAT IS SO CLOSE!!!!!! Man, I am just so happy. And Rome! WAAAAAAHAAAAAAA!!!! Non so come spressare mi'emozioni. I don't even know if that it right because my Italian is terrible now. I tried to pray the other day in Italian just to see if I could still do it, and I got a couple sentences and then the rest was Cantonese. I guess my brain was just thinking that I gotta do it in a language that was not my mother tongue and was not Mandarin either, and I guess Cantonese was all I could think of. Looks like I'll hafta brush up on that when I get back so I can go see il tempio d'Italia a Roma. (?)While we are on the subjects of temples, I added the other day to my "Things to Do Before I Die" list in my journal. Aide the construction of the Beijing temple. I'll be workin on it. Anyway, before I go there is a couple items of business that need to be taken care of. One, I've never done anything while I was home or here about getting registered to vote. But of course, I'd very much like to. Please help me do that. I can only become registered through you. And send me some actual meaty literature about the candidates. I catch some stuff on the trains when I'm going from place to place, but my Cantonese isn't quite THAT good yet. So please help me to do that. Two, I got a call from President Van Dam this morning. He told me that you guys had contacted him about my release date. The way it works is that every missionary gets two options for release- one date that is earlier than his MTC entry date and one after. He gave me my choices- June 26th or August 7th. I told him I'd get back to him on that after thought and prayer. My decision is August 7th. BUT-------- Please don't make any definite plans as to whether or not to come pick me up or to fly home. I know it is something you have had in mind for a long time, and it is something you really would love to do. Not that it is something that I would not love to do as well, but it's been on my mind for a pretty long time as well, how I want this mission to end. It's just such a huge chapter in my life, and I'm not quite sure yet how I want it to close, to go up to the mainland or to take the flight back with those that I came in with and have gotten really close to and talk and reflect on what I just did with my life. Anyway-- it's been on my mind for a long time, and I know I shoulda brought it up to you earlier, but I'm just gonna ask for one more week to think about it. And then I'll let you know in next week's email. Is that okay? But yes- my release date will be August 7th. (Holy smokes I am so scared that I know that already...) Gotta go. Love you. LJ
I guess there are a lot of things running through my mind right now. Honestly, the most prominent one is the date of August 7, 2009. A DATE. A tangible piece of existence. I guess during this crazy trek of having a missionary, I never thought that that date would happen. It always seemed as though I was stuck in an eternal vortex of letters, tapes, postage, and missing. But, now, the light at the end of the tunnel is shining brightly though. I'm so glad he decided to stay the extra month. Not that I didn't think he would, (I was telling this to Brooke-- just two nights ago) but it just reiterates to me his focus as a missionary, and his desire to do what the Lord wants him to do. I am so proud of him.
And how cool is that about the Philidelphia Temple? The Lord's work will go forward, no matter how the adversary tries to tear it down.
I love Jesus Christ. I love the gospel. I love my missionary.
Church is true.
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