Elder Kornegay, Young Church-Service Missionary

Several months ago, a friend of ours who works at the Bishop's Storehouse - it's quite literally a grocery-store-food-bank for those in need - asked me if Ethan would ever consider serving a Young Church-Service Mission. She said he would be a great fit at the Storehouse. We spoke about it briefly, and left it at that.

A few months later she approached me and asked if I had given any more thought to Ethan serving at the Storehouse. I told her I had but had questions about the process, and was concerned that he would need a constant aide with him to keep him 1) out of trouble, and 2) on task. She told me a few others that serve there also had parent-companions.

As I continued to consider over my friends comments I felt a sweet peaceful feeling about the idea. I approached my wife, we discussed it, and I approached our Bishop. He was not familiar with the entire process, though there had been a brief training about it a few months back. He told me he would look into it, and would get back to me. A few days later I received a text with a link to the Church's webpage for the missionary application process. I went one and began to begin the application process, but realized I needed to sign on as Ethan, rather than myself. I switched logins and clicked on the button to begin the process.

It didn't take too long before Bishop Raban and I realized that we were in the wrong application form. As I read over and tried to answer the questions, it was obvious that Ethan certainly didn't qualify for service based on a myriad of difficulties: developmental disabilities, anxiety, sensory disorders, anger, outbursts, etc. Saturday afternoon, the Bishop text and said we were in the wrong application. He had sent me the link to the full time mission application by mistake. We got to the correct application page, and viola, it was completed within twenty minutes and submitted.

The next day Bishop Raban and Ethan sat down, went over the application, had an interview, and watched several videos about serving as a service missionary. Ethan, it appeared was going to enjoy this. But, like most things in our family, change doesn't usually come smoothly. Though Ethan had left the Bishop's office happy and excited to serve, by the time we got home, he thought missions were "stupid," and wanted to know why Bishop Raban, "was doing this to me?"

Come to find out, after many tense moments of discussion, Ethan was having anxiety about serving as a missionary like Michael, our oldest son had. Ethan preferred to just be a "pretend missionary."

On Monday the application was submitted from the Bishop's end, and by Thursday, December 7th,  Ethan, the Bishop, my wife, and I, were meeting with Elder and Sister Thornock to discussion what service opportunities were available, and to formulate a plan for his service. I had already briefed Bishop Raban about Ethan's anxiety, and so as the meeting was ending Bishop Raban offered a prayer, and prayed that Ethan would be blessed "on his pretend mission."

Now, we know that these missions are real, meaningful, and necessary, and the Church is blessed by those who serve them. But, if it makes Ethan less anxious thinking his mission is pretend, and that he isn't going to have to leave the country and live on dirt floors in the Philippines, like Michael did, than so be it.

Ethan's call arrived on Thursday, December 27th, while Ethan's brothers and sisters were all still in town from the Holidays, and able to see him open it.

His anxiety still kicks in over the idea of serving, as he says "because it's too hard," and a few choice words escape occasionally. Let's just say, we cut the video short... ;)

The next Sunday, December 31st, Elder Kornegay was set apart...

On Thursday, January 4th, Ethan reported for his mission as a Young Church-Service Missionary, with my wife and I as his companions. Every Thursday morning Ethan and my wife attend district meeting for an hour, then head into the Storehouse to stock shelves, package produce, clean, straighten, assist in filling orders, and place the cardboard boxes in the recycle.

On Thursday afternoons, after I get home from work, Ethan and I change clothes and head to the Phoenix Temple were we serve as groundskeepers. I wouldn't have thought that serving outside at the temple would have been so troublesome, but then I forgot about Ethan's aversion to "flys" which is defined as anything that may fly by his face and ears and make noise.

To address this problem, we sat down at the computer and pulled up good-ol' Amazon. Within minutes we had located the two necessities that he required, had them ordered, and with two-day Prime shipping they were here before his first Temple assignment.

What were his necessities? A trash grabber, and a hat with mosquito netting, of course.

It's amazing what makes him so happy!

If you are in the neighborhood, and are heading to the temple on Thursday afternoons between 3 and 5, look for us. Ethan and I will be about the grounds washing bird poop off the plaza floor, sidewalks, and planters, picking up trash, watering the flowers, and cleaning up leaves, among other things.

You may even find us cleaning the cracks between the capstones on the tops of the retaining walls. Nothing is too small for him to overlook at the Lord's House.

Though these pictures don't show the anxiety, that usually rear its head Wednesday nights, or the colorful words that sometime escape his lips as he expresses his anxiety-driven displeasure about doing something "hard" he is beginning to realize that hard things don't always kill us; sometimes hard things bring holiness, and joy.

If you do happen to see us on the temple grounds, feel free to approach. Elder Kornegay has special permission to give hugs to the patrons, and hopefully share a little bit of that joy!

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