Episode 159: Issac and Rebecca Goeckeritz on dealing with disappointment and using talents to bring people to Christ
Issac and Rebecca Goeckeritz join the Church News podcast to share what they have learned while working with the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square
Episode 159: Issac and Rebecca Goeckeritz on dealing with disappointment and using talents to bring people to Christ
Issac and Rebecca Goeckeritz join the Church News podcast to share what they have learned while working with the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square
For Issac and Rebecca Goeckeritz, working with the Orchestra at Temple Square has become more than just a calling. It’s the organization that brought them together as a married couple and allowed them to use their talents to share their testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.
Rebecca is an inspirational violinist and a member of the Orchestra at Temple Square. Issac is a videographer who has helped document the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square’s work. He has also traveled the world, covering the ministries of senior leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In their marriage, the Goeckeritzs have also overcome challenges and disappointment as Rebecca has dealt with health challenges. They join this episode of the Church News podcast to share their stories and testimonies.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: When people ask me what it’s like to be a member of the Orchestra at Temple Square, I say that when I go to rehearsals, whenever I enter that space, it feels like I am entering the temple, because everybody is there as a volunteer; it’s part of their musical missionary work. We’re all missionaries, set apart as missionaries, and we all have the same goal. And that is, again, to glorify our God and to glorify our Savior, Jesus Christ. And because we are one in purpose, we can bring all of these different characters and all these different people into the mix and create something really powerful. And I love to scan the audience. It feels special to be able to witness the Holy Ghost touching their heart, and to feel peace.
Sarah Jane Weaver: This is Sarah Jane Weaver, executive editor of the Church News, welcoming you to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
For this episode of the Church News podcast, I welcome my friends Issac and Rebecca Goeckeritz. Issac is a talented videographer who has traveled the world documenting the ministries of senior leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Becca is an inspirational violinist and a member of the Orchestra at Temple Square. They join this episode to talk about their experiences and share their testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Welcome, both of you.
Issac Goeckeritz: Thank you.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Thank you. We’re excited to be here.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and it’s so nice of you to join us. I met Issac while I was covering the global ministry of President Russell M. Nelson. It’s been a few years since then, but that was a time of pretty intense travel.
Issac Goeckeritz: Didn’t know where you were going next, let’s say that.
Sarah Jane Weaver: So, as we start today, I’m hoping that you can each just tell us a little bit more about yourself. Becca, I have seen some of your story on your YouTube channel. You have a video there called “Learning To Fall.” And so, why don’t you just give us each a little background on yourselves, and then we’ll talk about how you met.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Awesome. Well, when I was 15 months old, I was involved in an auto-pedestrian accident. And the car ran over my back and paralyzed me from the waist down. And before my doctors or my parents knew that I was paralyzed, my dad gave me a priesthood blessing. And in this blessing, he promised that I would walk and run and have a full recovery. And so with that faith, my mom went forward and raised me like every other child in our house. I have four other siblings. I’m the second oldest. And so she just gave me all the same chores as my siblings. I mean, I had all the same expectations. So even, like, recently, I was telling my niece how I did laundry, and I would climb up on the laundry machine — we had a top loader — and I would just dump my clothes in. And anyway, it was this whole big thing because I was just expected to do the same things that all of my other siblings were required to do in our house to help out.
And so, right before I started kindergarten, and I was given braces. And these braces were unique in that they would allow me to have a regular gait. And so, they were called “walking braces” or something like that. I don’t know their official name. But you can kind of imagine how that would look. And so I went to physical therapy, learned how to use these braces, but one thing that my mom was watching them do is that they never taught me how to fall down.
And she asked them, I remember her asking them, “Well, aren’t you going to teach her how to fall down?” And they said, “Oh, no, someone will be there to help her get up.” And she was taken aback by that answer because she thought, “Oh, OK, so here she’s going to be on the playground at school and fall down and not know what to do, possibly be scared or possibly hurt and crying. And everybody’s going to look at her like, ‘Why can’t you just get up?’” And so she had this vision in her mind that that would be the case if I didn’t learn how to fall, and so she took it upon herself to teach me how to fall. And that’s kind of the premise of the video.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And in the video, it shows you actually on daily walks with your mom where you fall and then pick yourself back up.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Yeah.
Sarah Jane Weaver: It has to be sort of a symbol now of your whole life.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: It really is. When I’ve had to go through some hard times, that is a source of strength for me, because I look back on that Becca who is a child, who’s 5 years old, and that fear that I had — my view for how many years of my life up to that point, five years of my life, was sitting. And so suddenly, I’m in a standing frame. And that distance from my head to the floor seemed just like I was going to fall off a cliff as soon as I fell, right? So, but just taking that plunge and going for it as I learned to fall, that has been a source of strength for me in my life, because I just know that I’ve got it in me to push through some tough stuff.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And as a child, you also learned to play the violin.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Yes. Yep. So I started violin when I was 6 years old. And I fell in love with it when I was 15. But I didn’t hate it.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Isn’t that the story of every child’s musical journey?
Rebecca Goeckeritz: I never hated it. But I definitely fell in love with it when I was a little bit older. But it’s just — there’s things about it that I loved instantly, though, like I love ringing tones. Any string players out there, a ringing tone right there on your collarbone feels just real nice. And hearing it as well, it’s magical.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, as a child and still in my adulthood, I play the flute. One of the things that I love most about the flute now is listening to flute music. I especially love to hear Issac’s mother, who is the principal flutist for the Orchestra at Temple Square. And so, Issac, you got a little involved with the Orchestra at Temple Square through your mother.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: I did, yeah. When I was in college, she came to me and said, “They need some people to basically sign up for a Church calling.” So this was kind of one you get to pick yourself, which was kind of cool. And basically, you show up and lift heavy equipment and get all sweaty on Sunday morning to help out on the broadcast. That’s kind of the calling. And it sounded kind of fun. Most of the people who did it, they were all spouses of people in the orchestra or the choir, so I was a little unique that I was a son of a player. And I did that for a couple years. And that’s actually how I met Becca. One of my assignments was helping her get on and off the stage in the Tabernacle and the Conference Center. And then I met a few people. And after a couple years, they started asking me to help out on video projects. So that was kind of my start into both the orchestra and also just doing video work with the Church.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, I want to talk to you about your video career, because it has taken you to almost every corner of the world.
Issac Goeckeritz: When I was doing this calling, I was still in college, and I was taking the slow route, let’s say that. I was trying to run a business, I was doing this, and the Church ended up hiring me as a video producer. I didn’t have a degree yet. And it’s kind of something that I learned on my own, you know. You could say I did a few documentaries on my own. I did video production. So when I needed to get a degree, I said, “If I’m going to pay for this, I’m just going to do something fun.” So I did it in geography. So this traveling the world has actually been kind of a fulfillment of that degree in a way, you know. So it’s kind of the best of both worlds; I get to do video, and I get to enjoy my college. You know, what I liked doing in college was studying geography.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and I have to call you on that. Most of us would not think of geography as fun.
Issac Goeckeritz: Well, it’s kind of when we travel — I don’t know, you probably have, when you travel in the car, there’s this argument over the maps, you know. And nobody ever thinks I have any authority to take control in that situation. But I really do.
Sarah Jane Weaver: There really is. Whenever a media team goes out, there is a discussion over who gets to plot a course.
Issac Goeckeritz: Who gets to navigate, yeah. Yeah, I’ve never been assigned.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and in that capacity, you have had the opportunity to amplify the words of the Brethren, especially the Prophet, in the way that very few people have. How has that changed your testimony or deepened your testimony of prophets, seers and revelators?
Issac Goeckeritz: When we go out, and when we get to go to these foreign countries and hear a message that’s fit for the people there — this isn’t a message for people on the Wasatch Front. This is a message for people in Zimbabwe or Thailand or Tonga, Samoa, you know, it’s based on similar themes, but it’s tailored. It can even be in their own language. And so, that’s — what’s inspiring about that, though, is still just the simplicity of it. The message is always the same. It’s: Follow Jesus Christ. I was joking, I think with my Primary class one time, they sing the song “Follow the Prophet,” and I said, “You know what? I’m an expert at following the Prophet.”
Sarah Jane Weaver: You are.
Issac Goeckeritz: But I do really well, you know. But following the Prophet isn’t physically following him. It’s just following who he preaches about, and that’s Jesus Christ. And so I think as I come back into my own ward, or even in the branches we visit, I want that to be the focus. It’s just — there’s so many things you can preach about, but you just bring it back to just your faith in Jesus Christ. That’s what prophets preached. And that’s what they’ve always preached.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and Becca, you get to testify of Jesus Christ through music. What is that like?
Rebecca Goeckeritz: When people ask me what it’s like to be a member of the Orchestra at Temple Square, I say that when I go to rehearsals — we rehearse on Thursday nights and then Sunday mornings, before we do the broadcast — whenever I enter that space, it feels like I am entering the temple, because everybody is there as a volunteer; it’s part of their musical missionary work. We’re all missionaries, set apart as missionaries, and we all have the same goal. And that is, again, to glorify our God and to glorify our Savior, Jesus Christ. And because we are one in purpose, we can bring all of these different characters and all these different people into the mix and create something really powerful. And my favorite is when we finish with “God Be With You Till We Meet Again,” I love to scan the audience, and I love to look at the people who are emotionally touched by that gift to them. And it feels special to be able to witness the Holy Ghost touching their heart, perhaps even for the first time in their entire life, and to feel peace.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And you know, you said it took you so many years to learn to love the violin. It took me probably 30 or 40 or maybe even 45 years to love the music of the Tabernacle Choir. And now, it’s just — all my playlists are Tabernacle Choir. I play it in the car constantly because it makes me feel different than any other music.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Absolutely. I fell in love with the Tabernacle Choir in my 20s. So, previous to me auditioning for the Orchestra at Temple Square, that was always a goal as I was going to school, but I was going kind of through a rough time in my 20s, and I turned to the music of the Tabernacle Choir. And one of my life dreams was to be able to sing or play my violin with the principal flutist, because I just loved her sound. And now I can anytime I want. So that’s like a — that’s like Heavenly Father saying, “Noted. Got it.”
Sarah Jane Weaver: Tell us about your courtship.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Oh, I love our story. So, Issac was on the stage crew, and as he said earlier, he was asked to make sure I could get on and off the stage. So, there’s some stairs and things like that that I need to navigate, and so he would help me, and he’s so soft spoken, and so many times through the tunnels, they’re so loud with the air conditioners just blowing, and I would just pray, like, “Please, Heavenly Father, let me hear what he’s saying, because I honestly cannot hear him,” but I felt like I was always like, “What? What?” you know, “He’s going to think I’m deaf.”
Anyway, so he and I got to know each other. And then — and we were like “hi friends,” you know, nothing more than just hi friends. But then, the day before my youngest sister’s wedding, I was in my bedroom, and I had this thought: “You haven’t seen Issac in a while.” I was like, “Yeah, that’s right. I haven’t seen him. I wonder what he’s up to. Next time I see his mom, I’m going to ask her how he’s doing.” So then I go to my sister’s wedding the next day, and on the temple grounds is Issac, and he needs a bride to film, and my sister’s videographer has not been in contact with her. She didn’t even know if he was going to show up.
Issac Goeckeritz: We were shooting some stock video for a Church project on Temple Square. And I needed a bride.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: So I provided the bride. Not me; I mean, it would have been really great because, you know, Issac and Rebecca, we always say that, like, “We should have just gone in the temple that day, you know, because then we really could have been scriptural,” but we were close.
Anyway, so, while we were there, we talked and kind of caught up a little bit. And he said, “Well, I’ll reach out to you and figure out how to get this footage to you.” So a couple days later, I’m working at a law firm, and I was a legal secretary. They — I get this email from Issac that says, “I have the footage ready. Do you want me to give it to my mom, or figure out some other way?” And I’m like, “This is him asking me on a date. I know it.” So it went — that email went around the whole office. Every attorney, every secretary, like, gave me their input. All of them were unanimous: “Yeah, he’s trying to ask you on a date.” So they helped me craft my response. But, “Yeah, why don’t we meet for lunch?”
Sarah Jane Weaver: Which was legally vetted.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: It was legally vetted, exactly. So that’s how we went on our first date. And it was my last first date.
Issac Goeckeritz: I told — I think that’s when we were in New Zealand, and we were waiting; I think President Nelson and Elder Gerrit W. Gong spoke at a — it was a big stadium. And I was standing out there, and while I was waiting for our van, they came up to us. And President Nelson said to me, “Now, remind me your name again.” And I said, “It’s Issac.” And I said, “You can remember that because my wife’s name is Rebecca.” And he said, “Oh, it’s a perfect match.” And so we actually, I told that at a Young Women’s camp, and we actually had somebody in our ward make us this little thing for our house that says “Issac and Rebecca: It’s a perfect match.” So, not many people can say that.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: And quoted underneath President Nelson.
Sarah Jane Weaver: It is a perfect match. And I have to say some of the things that you guys do together is amazing. And I want to talk about two of them. One of them is that you’re expert Lego builders.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: We are.
Issac Goeckeritz: Becca, well, she had a kidney transplant in 2016. And leading up to and following that was just a lot of hospital time. And they were longer, and just —
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Sometimes they were like infusions, so they would take like three hours, or just appointments that were, you know, one after another or something. And so —
Issac Goeckeritz: We needed something to do. And so we just said — and it also was discouraging; I mean, it was a hard time, and so I don’t know why it started. We just said, “Every time we go to the hospital, we’ve got to buy a Lego.” And that just kind of became a tradition. And now it’s like a puzzle in our house. You know, there’s just always a Lego out to build.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And there’s a few times — I can’t even remember, Issac, what trip we were covering — but I said, “I have this house.” And Issac said, “Oh, we took two Lego sets and connected them so that ours could open and shut,” and I thought, “That’s it. I’m never ever visiting their house to check out their Legos, because I like mine.”
Issac Goeckeritz: The last few years, we’ve done — we don’t have any kids, we haven’t been able to have children, and so we figure for, we get these Christmas cards or, you know, we fear people wouldn’t want to look at a bunch of pictures of us. And so we make a —
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Or just me, because he would be taking the picture.
Issac Goeckeritz: That’s true.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: I was like, “I don’t want to be, ‘Here’s Becca here. Here’s Becca there.’”
Issac Goeckeritz: So we started making a Lego — and we were too busy at Christmas, because Becca is doing the Christmas concert, and I’m helping out with the Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert — and so we make a Lego New Year’s card. And so we pick five or six events during the year and re-create them with Legos, with minifigures of ourselves in these places, and then take pictures, and that’s our New Year’s card that we send out.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and I have one of those cards. It’s actually on my fridge right now because we have kept it there because it’s so sweet and cute and really, really creative. So the other thing that you guys do that I think is so much fun is I think you are targeted as the best trick-or-treating house in the entire city where you live.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Word is getting out. So, I have official sources that say word is getting out.
Issac Goeckeritz: We’re worried that after this year, it may be unsustainable. That’s the word we’re using.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: We may have to go find another, you know, 1970 —
Issac Goeckeritz: We might need to move.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: No.
Issac Goeckeritz: During — 2019? Is that when it was? We’ve never done much for Halloween, but when I married Becca, her parents do a ton for Halloween. And I was just kind of impressed by that, you know. We usually always go over there. And so one year, I thought, “Let’s do something kind of fun.” And I was on KSL Classifieds, and somebody had an arcade claw machine, like the one you see outside the grocery store. It was really expensive. It was broken, too, by the way. And it wasn’t selling, it wasn’t selling.
And finally it got down to $100. And he would deliver it. And so I did some Googling, and I think I know what part it was that was broken. So I bought it, he brought it to the house, I bought this part for $30, and it works fine. So, we put this club machine out. And we had big candy in it. And it’s interesting with a claw machine; trying to make it so kids can win is kind of a hard thing to do in a claw machine, since it’s designed to make you not win. But we figured out how to help it win. And it got up to a half-an-hour wait to do this claw machine on Halloween. We probably had 200 kids.
Issac Goeckeritz: Oh, easily.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Next year was COVID, and we weren’t comfortable having 40 kids jammed in the front of our house. We didn’t think that was a wise thing to do around this claw machine. And so we did the same thing, went on KSL, and I found a vending machine for $100 and figured out how to make it vend for free, and we put that on our porch, and I’ve done that every year since. Last year — I think the first year, we had about 400 kids, then we had a little bit more. Last year, we had 700 kids. So we may top a thousand this year. We don’t know, but it’s a fun night.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: It’s something we budget for all year long.
Issac Goeckeritz: Since we don’t have kids, we’re not spending money on candy and ice cream all year long, so just spend it all on one night. Why not?
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Exactly.
Sarah Jane Weaver: If you ever move, you might have to — Issac has joked that you’ll have to put a disclaimer in the clause of the sale of your house that says, “This house comes with,” you know, “a couple thousand trick-or-treaters.”
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Yeah. “Here’s the claw machine. Here’s the vending machine. We’ll leave you that.”
Issac Goeckeritz: “We’ll give you a one-year supply of candy.”
Rebecca Goeckeritz: “Yeah, a one-year supply of candy, a gift card to Amazon or something.”
Sarah Jane Weaver: And I want to talk more about two things that Issac mentioned both in passing, because they’re things that have to have been hard, and things that you had to have found peace through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Becca, you had kidney problems, and that facilitated a kidney transplant. Tell us about that experience.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Yeah. So, right after we were married in 2009, I started experiencing high blood pressure. And I’d never had high blood pressure before. And so we went to the doctor to figure out what was going on. And I was told, “Something’s not right with your kidneys,” but not really officially diagnosed with chronic kidney disease until I was taken by emergency room with a blood pressure of like 220 over 180. And this was two years later. This was in 2011. And there they kept me. They brought down the blood pressure really quickly. And they ran all these tests. And it was then that I was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. My kidneys at that point were functioning at like 36%, which they even told me, “That’s really good. You could give a kidney to somebody else right now. So you’re, you’re doing fine. But what’s happening to your kidneys, you’re going to at some point need a transplant.”
And so, this started a long journey. And it was really tough, because when you have organs dying in your body, you go through depression, like, there are some side effects to that. And so I fell into depression, and just — Issac was the best. He knew how to just help me focus on other things. We’d go for a ride in the car. We started this Lego thing. He would read the “Come, Follow Me” to me, which has, like, the scriptures and things for Sunday School, or — I don’t think we were doing “Come, Follow Me” at that point. But just the assigned scriptures, he would read to me those things, and — but what was the hardest was that I just wasn’t able to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost because of this depression. And so that was the toughest part of this whole journey, was not receiving that succor that you need so desperately in this kind of a situation.
And I’ve pondered a lot about that, because I don’t think I’m alone. And when people struggle with mental illness or when people struggle with illnesses, that’s something that I have conversations with people [about], is that it’s hard for them to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. And one thing that — I shouldn’t say the influence; the power of the Holy Ghost, comforting them and giving them peace. But one thing that I’ve really pondered is that even though I couldn’t feel the power of the Holy Ghost in my heart and in my mind and in my being, I could see His influence around me and other people. You know, maybe at that time, because of what was going on, I was physically unable to. But it wasn’t that I was ever left alone.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Wow. And Issac, how did you get through that time?
Issac Goeckeritz: A lot of Legos. I don’t know, it was just — it was definitely sad. You didn’t know what was going to happen next. I think I’ve tried everything on the menu at the University of Utah hospital. If you ever need any suggestions, I can give you some good food suggestions. But as Becca said, the Holy Ghost wasn’t totally gone. And maybe it was different for her as it was for me. I think maybe that’s how I felt the Savior at that time, was just that strength to — for me to keep going, but also just to help, you know, be a strength to her.
We had a lot of people care for us. We had a lot of family that cared for us. When Becca got closer to her transplant, we had like a fun concert that her friends put on. After her transplant, she had multiple illnesses because of the immunosuppressant drugs you have to take. One of them, she had a 20% chance of —
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Fifteen.
Issac Goeckeritz: Fifteen percent chance of surviving. She had a bacterial infection in her brain. But maybe you talk about it, Becca. It’s just at some point, you — we did everything we knew how to do. We were taking care of her health as much as we could, but at some time, we just had to hand it over to the Savior and just say, “We’ll do all this. We’ll do everything the doctors say we’ll do, what we think we should do too, and we’re just going to trust in You.” And I think when we did that, that really brought some peace. You just — you knew that whatever the result was, we were still doing what we needed to do, and He was going to help us when He felt like we needed the help, and He did.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: There was a talk that Elder David A. Bednar gave to, I think, BYUI at that time. I think he’s given it in some other places as well. He talks about the faith not to be healed. And it was in that 2011-2012 time, and that talk really helped me to change, kind of go through a paradigm shift, you know, and to accept what was happening to me. It didn’t make the path easier, but it allowed me to ponder that and to work at that faith, the faith not to be healed.
And also, I remember at one of the infusions — I had to get iron infusions. Your kidneys do so much stuff. So one of them is that when they’re failing, they want iron, like a lot. And so all my iron stores were very low. And so I would get these iron infusions, and they take like three hours per session. And Issac was reading in the New Testament, and we were in Matthew, Matthew 11. And he read the scriptures — this is 28 through 30 — that say, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). And I was like, “I am heavy laden, and I want rest,” you know. “Me, pick me!” And “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
And I was like, “OK, how do I do that?” Like, “That’s just what I want to know. I want to know how I do that.” And so this became my quest, my quest to know how do I actually take that yoke, because the yoke I’m carrying is just too much for me. It’s too big. And right before I was transplanted in February of 2016, they were matching — so I was transplanted in August of 2016. But it was in February where they were working out the details of who I would receive a kidney from. And things just felt like they were moving so slow, and it felt like my kidneys were dropping so fast. And I just was sick of not having any energy, and just tired of sleeping all day. And so I just started praying like — it was kind of an angry prayer — but I was like, “Our Heavenly Father can handle it. He knows me. I don’t want to lie to Him, because I am really angry right now. But I need to just pray.”
And so I said this prayer, and during the prayer, I had a vision of two Beccas. And one Becca was bitter and angry and dark and lonely. And the other Becca was light and happy, and she was the Becca that I’d always known. And so the Spirit then said to me, “You are putting your hope in the wrong things. Your medications will fail you. Your doctors can fail you. Everything, every hope you have hope in, this treatment, that can fail. If you put your hope in Jesus Christ, because He is the source of hope, that will not fail. He is the source of hope.” And from that moment, my yoke, my burden, became way lighter, because no matter what happened, my mantra is and was “Come what may.”
Jesus Christ is the source of my hope. And it didn’t matter that I had this illness afterward, after I was transplanted, that gave me such a small chance of surviving. It didn’t matter. I thought the worst could happen and everything would be OK, because Jesus Christ is my hope.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and part of the things that accompanied all of this journey are unfulfilled expectations. You both planned to be parents when you got married. You would be spectacular parents and will be, but tell us what that was like to realize, “OK, that might be a blessing that’s delayed.”
Issac Goeckeritz: I think it’s something we’ve thought about a lot, you know? Dreamed about it a lot. And we looked into other options, into, you know, adoption and fostering and all that kind of stuff, but nothing ever felt right. But I think I’ve just always had faith that blessing will come, and it’s just going to be the same, you know. It’s not now, but when it comes, the joys, the experiences, will be the same.
We’ve been blessed to have 19 nieces and nephews in our home ward. Anything I can do to get myself into a Primary calling, I will do. I had two bishops pull me out of Primary to be the executive secretary. And I kind of made a pact with the Primary president: “When I get released, you are going to call me into the Primary, right?” And she did. And so, we do activity days and just love it. So it doesn’t take the place of that, you know, but I think we’ve definitely been blessed with opportunities in our life. Becca teaches violin. I mean, she’s taught hundreds of children in her life, I get to teach these kids, and I think we get some neat experiences, and we appreciate those and look for those, seek for those whenever we can.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, I agree with you. When I was Primary president, I did once make a blanket apology to the whole ward. I said, “I’m so sorry that you all can’t serve in Primary.” Well, and this journey may have felt a little different to you.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Yeah. You know, this is something that I was so excited to get married, and I’m, “Great, now I can fulfill my divine role to become a mother. I’m a wife, and now I want to be a mother.” And when it didn’t happen, it was pretty devastating. And it has been a roller coaster ride. Most of the time these days, I’m actually pretty good about it emotionally, but there have been desperate tears throughout the years.
And one of my friends, who is also Issac’s cousin, took me to lunch, and she struggled with having children. And so, she took me to lunch, and she said, “Becca, one thing I had to do — and it really helped me, and I’m not sure it will help you, but I just thought I would share it — is that I just gave it to the Lord. And I said, ‘I am sacrificing, which also means to make holy, my desire to have a baby and to be a mom to my own child.’”
And that’s just — I love that idea. I love that advice. And so I went, and I prayed about that and just gave it to Heavenly Father. And I can’t imagine a more safe place for that dream to reside than in the loving arms of my Heavenly Father, because I know He loves me, and I know He loves Issac, and He loves all of His children. He’s the greatest parent in the universe. And so He wants to give us good gifts. And I trust that. I trust Him and His timing.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And now I want to talk about looking forward. I’ve seen the two of you all over the world. I have marveled at how you, Becca, get off and on planes and just fulfill your mother’s every expectation that, you know, that there is nothing that you can’t do. You were just in Mexico City with the Tabernacle Choir. Looking forward — you guys love to travel — what are some things that are coming up for you that you’re excited about?
Issac Goeckeritz: Well, we — well, I guess two years ago, I went with Elder David A. Bednar on this ministry to the Middle East. And as part of that, we spent a couple hours at the World Expo in Dubai, which was delayed for COVID and was just blown away by it. And I came back and said, “Becca, I’ve got to go.” And we were there a couple months later. But one thing that inspired us was that in the United Arab Emirates, and some other countries in the Middle East, they’ve changed the legal term “handicap disability” to “a person of determination.” And it was just a neat visual cue, I think, I wanted to share with Becca. And so we’re now going to go to the World Expo every five years. So we’ve already got Osaka, Japan, on the calendar for 2025.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Absolutely. That’s right. And we are also going to go to Singapore after we are in Bangkok. So we’re going to fly to Singapore, and I’m really excited about that. Issac is super fun to travel with. He is super patient with me and my getting ready times. But once we’re out, it’s his show, you know. He gives me all the time I need to get ready, but once we get out, he’s, like, finding us all the adventures. And so, we’ve done some pretty fun things.
Issac Goeckeritz: We make people nervous sometimes.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: We do.
Issac Goeckeritz: Becca’s — it makes me look really strong. I’m actually not that strong, but if a place isn’t accessible, Becca will actually climb on my back. And she’s actually the one doing all the strengths. She’s just holding on. And so, we’ve gone hiking, we go into caves, we’ve done lava tubes, we try to pick some of the least-accessible places, because she’s a person of determination, you know? So we — sometimes our travel is to places that you might normally think we wouldn’t go. But she’s not afraid of trying something new or trying an adventure that seems like she won’t be able to do it.
Sarah Jane Weaver: So, Issac, you served your mission in Brazil.
Issac Goeckeritz: OK.
Sarah Jane Weaver: This is a country where we now have 20 temples, either dedicated, announced or under construction, including one in the capital city of Brasília. Has it been a great blessing for you to see the Church grow in this area where you contributed to the work?
Issac Goeckeritz: Yeah. I’ve enjoyed going back a couple times or so on these ministry trips. And I think each time I go back, it’s fulfilling to see the Church growth and also just the blessing it is for the people too. I think what’s most actually fulfilling is to see the growth of the Church and their contributions to the Church. The Church in Brazil is not just a lot of people, not just a lot of temples, but the people there are just amazing, and they’re strong members of the Church.
A few months ago, I got to go on a ministry trip with Elder Neil L. Andersen to Brazil. When I was a missionary, he was the area president. As a missionary, you have no idea what that means. There’s your mission president, there’s Apostles and there’s prophets, and there’s kind of this muddy thing in between of Church leadership, but he came and spoke to our mission. And I remember it was a really cool event. I actually went back in my journal and found some notes, and I went on this ministry trip with him.
I was taking notes in one of the meetings, because he said, “I want you to do four Instagram videos for me. Here’s some general ideas.” So I’m taking notes as we go in Portuguese. And all of a sudden, I hear this, “Issac, get up here.” This is like during the meeting, and he has me come up and, like, share — actually, he had me talk about Becca. He actually told me to tell Becca’s story in that meeting. He asked me if I wanted to share in Portuguese, and I said, “I have no idea how to say ‘paralysis’ and ‘wheelchair’ and ‘spinal cord injury’ in Portuguese,” so he let me talk in English with the translator. I did a little bit of Portuguese, but it had to have some English.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Person of determination.
Issac Goeckeritz: Person of determination. Yeah, that’s a new one. But as part of that event, Elder Andersen had a reunion one night, and it was all the local leadership from that 2002 to 2004 of when he was there, and he just let me come into the meeting and just sit at a table in the corner and just listen. It was a fun event, because these were just people that came and spoke to our mission. These were the leadership. They have no idea who I am. And I didn’t talk to anybody. I just listened. But it was inspirational just to see the growth there and just the strength.
The Church is growing all over the world, and the growth is not just in people, but every place brings their own strength. If I had to pick where I’d go to sacrament meeting on a fast and testimony meeting, it’d be West Africa, you know. If I had to pick where I wanted to go to a ward event, It’d probably be in Brazil, you know, I mean, everybody brings their own unique story to the gospel. I think traveling around just — it makes me love the people and just be excited, not just about numbers, but it’s just about the strength that the gospel gives to these people and the creativity, just the enthusiasm they bring into their own ministries that builds up the Church here on the earth.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, great. Well, as we come to a close, there are two things that I’m hoping we can do. One is: I think everyone would love to hear Becca play the violin.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: I would love to play for you.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And so, if we can do that, and then we always end our podcasts with the same question, and we always give our guests the last word. And so, I think I’ll just turn the microphone over now. And when you’re done playing, Becca, you and Issac can both answer the question “What do you know now as a result of your membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”
Rebecca Goeckeritz: Great.
[Becca plays “Abide With Me; ’Tis Eventide” on violin]
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, I could actually listen to that all day. And thank you. So, as we turn the microphones over to you — we’ll start with Becca, and then we’ll go to Issac — and have each of you tell us what you know now as a result of your membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Rebecca Goeckeritz: I have a testimony that our Heavenly Father loves us infinitely. And I have felt His love for me. And I have felt His love for others. I have a testimony that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that He is always available to us, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. The gift of His Atonement is forever within our reach; we just have to put out our hand for it. And I have a testimony of our Prophet, and I have a testimony of our leaders of our Church, that they are men of God and that they are inspired by our Heavenly Father to lead and guide this Church, and I’m very grateful for them and for the effort that they put into following the will of Jesus Christ. And I say these things in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.
Issac Goeckeritz: I’ve learned that there’s — all of us can bring something unique to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Savior welcomes our contributions. And your contribution may be different than everyone else. I don’t talk a whole lot. I’m not one that speaks a whole lot. We were on this ministry trip in the Middle East with Elder Bednar, and we did a — it was kind of an impromptu meeting, and they had all the ward councils in the area attend by Zoom or in person. And on the stand is Elder and Sister Bednar, the area presidency, and two members of the general Relief Society presidency. And he says, “Now I am going to close this meeting, and I am going to ask everyone up here to come up and bear their testimony.” And I thought, “Wow, this isn’t going to close very fast. It’s going to take a while.” “Oh, and you have 30 seconds to do it.”
And that was an inspiration to me because I realized, “You know what? I don’t need to say a whole lot of things to minister in this Church. There’s so many other things I can do.” And so, one thing I’ve learned that I didn’t know before is that there’s so many ways to minister. There’s so many ways to worship and praise our Savior. And if you do that through words, through teaching, through preaching, I appreciate it, because I love hearing that. But no matter what contribution you give, the Lord appreciates that. And if you need to bear testimony, as long as you say, “I have faith in Jesus Christ, and I love Him,” that’s good enough.
Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News executive editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe, rate and review this podcast so it can be accessible to more people. And if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests; my producer, KellieAnn Halvorsen; and others who make this podcast possible. Join us every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channels or with other news and updates on the Church on TheChurchNews.com.