Sunday, January 17, 2016

Elder Larry J. Echo Hawk at Our Stake Conference

Elder Larry J. and Sister Teresa Echo Hawk
We had Stake Conference in the Centerville, Utah South Stake this weekend. That's when all the members in each of 11 wards or local congregations of 300-400 members each meet together wih the leadership of the Stake for religious instruction and inspiration. These days, we don't always get visitors from the General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that's not because we're just a few miles north of international HQ. There are just many more stakes these days all over the world than there are GA's to go around.

Elder Echo Hawk indicated in the Saturday evening session for adult men and women that he sees the stats from a Stake before he visits a conference. Ours look pretty good, probably the best he's seen in his travels. That probably does come from being a few miles up the road from HQ. We're well settled in. It's not that we don't have room for improvement; he noted that we weren't ready to be translated beings and lifted up into heaven. In fact emphasis on basic principles of faith and the atonement of Jesus Christ and seeking after all our friends and neighbors who do not fully participate in the principles was a strong challenge.

Saturday Evening, Elder Echo Hawk cited the story of Ammon the Missionary in the Book of Mormon "rebuked" by his brother in Alma 36 for boasting. But he responded, "I do not boast in my own strenngth, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God." Alma 36:11. That was Elder Echo Hawk's attitude as he shared a spiritual testimony of God's workings in his life as a convert to the LDS Church.

He talked about his Pawnee heritage and his Great-Grandfather, the first Echo Hawk, who earned his name with his quiet deeds of valor that he did not speak of but were spoken of by a group over there, and a group over here, leading to the Pawnee version rendered in English as "Echo Hawk."

There was a good bishop and a priests' quorum advisor assigned to go after teenage Larry, who was baptized, but they were afraid of losing him as he admitted he was not fully converted. Conversion is a process. The young mens leader got involved in Larry's sports life and into his heart. Larry suffered an injury to the eye and could have lost his sight but he prayed and was healed. That cemented his testimony and commitmtent to the Lord.

After the evening session, my wife wanted to watch a movie and snuggle so we found "Interstellar" to watch again (the kind of movie that needs that) not realizing that it was a very looooong movie, so we were up late. Well, my wife fell asleep. I think I did figure out that the 5th dimension is not "gravity" but "love" which fits into religious themes. Although I think Matt Damon would have been better off growing spuds than blowing up the space ship. But the problem was that I had to go to the Priesthood Leadership Session which was 7 a.m. this morning having been asked to give the closing prayer and to make my presence known before the meeting began so the Stake President's counselor and my interview-sparring partner would know I was there. The night was sultry, and restless. But it didn't snow so that was good.

Back to the early Sunday morning meeting, still on the theme of basic principles, when Elder Echo Hawk spoke, he spoke of priesthood basic principles as found in D&C 13, Matthew 16 and 17, D&C 110, Hebrews 5:4, Moses 1:39, and D&C 15 and 16, He reminded again that while this is a strong stake, we must still seek to RESCUE THE ONE. He referenced Pres. Eyring's talk in last conference on "You Are Not Alone in the Work." And he showed a video of President Monson as a young bishop leaving his priests quorum with the advisor for instruction and going to find a missing young man who was in the grease pit at the car repair shop. That young man ended up on a mission, married in the Temple and had many faithful descendants. He mentioned a story of Sister Burton's about how many seeds are in an apple; but the real question is, how many apples are in a seed? [gave me reminders of the infinities of the Abrahamic Covenant].

It was at the end of that meeting that I gave the closing prayer. I remembered to be grateful for those who had rescued us, our fathers, our grandfathers and grandmothers. And as I was right there on the stand, I turned and shook hands with Elder Echo Hawk. I told him that I had him at a disadvantage because I was from the Solicitor's Office at Interior and knew him better than he knew me. He said he always had a lot of respect for the Solicitor's Office and that we kept him out of a lot of trouble. I explained that we still were as I had some cases in court from appeals he had signed. [No more details on ongoing cases here]. He appreciated the continuation of "keeping him out of trouble."

At the General Session, the speakers continued on basic principles, faith, prayer, etc. Elder Echo Hawk had his wife bear her testimony  as he said the GA rule is they are not supposed to invite their wives to sit with them on the stand unless they are going to speak and he wanted to sit by her.

When he spoke, he gave a bit more of his life history. He and his wife knew each other since 2nd Grade but they didn't get "serious" until 7th Grade. She was a convert too as he baptized her when they were 19. At their sealing in the Temple by then Apostle Spencer W. Kimball, Elder Kimball gave them a challenge to always be willing to serve.

He went through his career opportunities which he always enjoyed culminating at BYU Law School and as the University's Administrative Adviser to the Sports Programs. His life was perfect! Then he got a call from the Presidential Transition Team in 2009 to meet with the incoming President [Obama - the name was never mentioned. But this is where it gets good]. He hesitated. He took some time to make a decision. There were several phone calls back and forth.

As he was also serving as a stake president at BYU, Elder Echo Hawk called his ecclesiastical authority, Seventy Russell T. Osguthorpe, Elder Osguthorpe told President Echo Hawk that he had recently served as a mission president in the Midwest where there were several Indian Reservations with the tribal people facing all kinds of challenges of poverty, addiction, and ill-health. Elder Osguthorpe said, This isn't about you. It is an opportunity to help others." President Echo Hawk knew that he needed to listen to the promptings of the Spirit so he called up his wife to say that they needed to go to the Temple. In the Celestial Room he told his wife that he felt right about taking the job. She said that she had heard that answer from the Spirit the moment she heard of his phone call and that she needed him to come to the decision in his own time.

Elder Echo Hawk said the job as Assistant Secretary, Department of the Interior for Indian Affairs was the most challenging of his life. He had 10,000 employees under him and worked with 566 tribal governments [he got the number right]. The work was hard but satisfying.

Then, after three years, his staff assistant, a young Navajo woman who happened to be a former LDS missionary, came in to his government office and told him that there was a call from the office of the First Presidency of the LDS Church. He and his wife made arrangements for a video call with President Eyring who called them together as he was to serve as in the First Quorum of the Seventy. He had no hesitation accepting this call as he and Sister Echo Hawk had made that commitment to serve the Lord at the time of their wedding.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful to hear from another LDS democrat. Proud that he has contributed to the wonderful Obama administration. It does not matter which political party we belong to as long as we serve the Lord. Denise Grayson


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