FEW DOZEN REASONS WHY OUR MISSION WAS AN INCREDIBLE ADVENTURE
-Three months of pure
sunshine yielding the most luscious green foliage and the most
splendid variety of colorful flowers we've ever seen….followed by
ten months of steady drizzling rain!
meetings every six weeks where training companions welcome
approximately twenty greenies and where approximately twenty seasoned
missionaries bear their farewell testimonies….plus an acappella
rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
-Spending Christmas alone
with no family (and not even a tree).
-The unbelievable quiet of
Sacrament meetings with no children.
-Referring to twenty and
thirty year olds as “kids”….make that “our kids.”
-The joy of actually
studying, as opposed to just reading, the scriptures with your
-Tearing up on Valentines
Day as you read post after post on facebook as “your” sweet and
special YSAs say how lonely it is not to receive a Valentines (card,
flower, candy, or even a wish) from someone special for the ??? year
in a row.
-Wondering where the YSAs
get all their energy, expending all of your own energy, wishing you
had more of your own energy, and wondering what happened to all your
energy that you used to have.
-Sitting proudly with 150
YSAs as they are spiritually mesmerized at a live fireside where an
apostle of The Lord and his wonderful wife candidly answer questions
the kids have submitted to them.
-The friendly monthly chat
you have with your old-time Catholic barber (still attends mass in
Latin) and both of you seeing how much you have in common including
the belief in the divinity of The Savior.
-Feeling somewhat foolish
as you realize how much you miss your refrigerator ice maker and your
-The joy of receiving
communications (letters, packages, emails, phone calls) from your
friends and family back home and the disappointment of not receiving
-The enormous pride you
feel wearing you mission name tag everywhere you go….and the
immense foolishness you feel when your wife won't let you wear it on
-The enormous pride you
feel seeing your wife proudly wearing her mission name tag everywhere
-Averaging being out with
the YSAs five nights a week until 10:00-ish when back home you'd be
in bed asleep by then.
-Explaining the legend of
Lilith to a couple of ward missionaries, who had an investigator
wanting to know The Church's “stand” concerning her.
weekly PEC/Ward Council, the three hour block (we always went to the
Gospel Essentials class, of course), FHE, teaching three Institute
classes a week, and attending two others to assist; and
attending/participating in monthly baptisms, YSA Institute Council,
Area Leadership Institute Council, firesides, local and broadcasted
CES devotionals, transfer meetings, Senior FHE, YSA socials, game
night, temple night, “Linger-Longer/Break the Fast,” etc.
-Giving a blessing of
comfort the third night in the mission field and averaging one
blessing of some type every three weeks throughout your entire
mission….running out of consecrated oil.
that only tourists use umbrellas no matter how hard in rains….and
watching it rain “sideways” at times.
-Dealing long-distance with
the phone company, the Post Office, your insurance agent, your health
care provider/pharmacy, banks, credit card companies, internet
providers, retirement entities, and numerous government agencies.
-Missing your eight kids,
28 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren and all their assorted
special events ranging from birthdays and holidays to baptisms and
ordinations….along with all their accomplishments from graduations
to “artistic” school performances. (We don't distinguish between
“step,” “adopted,” “half,” etc.)
-Setting an example for
your eight kids, 28 grandkids, and five great-grandkids.
-Entering the YSA
“lip-syncing” contest dressed as Sonny and Cher “singing” “I
Got You Babe.”
your wife as she bakes the equivalent of six, 9x13 cakes and makes
the equivalent of 50 chicken
cordon bleu sliders
(mini-sandwiches) each and every week. (And
yes, I did help—had to take a taste of every thing she made and had
to carry them from the car to the Institute building. After all,
quality control and transportation are important!)
-Observing the maturity and
success of “twenty-some” year olds serving in the Elders Quorum
Presidency and the Relief Society Presidency and providing shadow
leadership for those others who need support, encouragement, and
-Enjoying Sister Center's
excitement at the Broncos Super Bowl win and appreciating her hiding
her disappointment that she couldn't participate in Denver's
-Teasing my son about the
different rules between us as senior missionaries and his rules as a
young Elder years ago—we can phone/email/skype as often as we
please, watch TV, sleep-in until 8, and even date (each other, of
course)--he's super envious.
-Proudly watching Sister
Center preparing separate foods for those with special dietary needs
such as gluten-free, diabetes, lactose intolerant, etc.
-The thrill of twelve
engagements during our mission and the bittersweet feeling knowing
we'll be losing 24 close friends as they move on to their respective
-Learning and often
participating in the wildest FHE activities imaginable including:
“Dodge-ball Battleship,” “Lie in a Box,” “Gaga Ball,”
“Find the Bacon,” “Three-beach Volleyball,” “Oompa Loompa
Ball,” and “The Live Version of Hungry Hippo.”!!!
-Being recognized on the
street, in a store, etc. as Mormon missionaries by members and
non-members alike always followed by a brief though pleasant
conversation. And being surprised that a good many of these people
tell us that they're inactive and then tell us how proud they are of
us for serving a mission. (Even had a non-member pay for our lunch
one day—what a nice surprise.)
-Preparing and grilling 140
teriyaki shish kabobs for a Hawaiian luau as well as planning/hosting
a Christmas Cookie Decorating Contest, and three other
-Having The Spirit
unequivocally testifying to us that we're in the right place, at the
right time, doing the right thing, for the right reason.
during our “spare time” to clean, sort, and re-arrange every
cupboard, closet, storage area, and office in the entire Institute
-Having a huge pantry in
our apartment filled from top to bottom with Institute baking
supplies—right now in addition to the normal baking ingredients, we
have 22 boxes of Reese’s Chocolate Cookie Bar mix, 37 cake mixes, 2
dozen cans of fruit dessert filling, and tons of marshmallows, rice
krispies, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and on and on.
-Enjoying the spiritual and
temporal comradery of the other 18 senior couples serving in our
only one “tiff” between
us in the entire 13 months although it occasionally reoccurred—that
being my trying to get Sister Center to take better care of her bad
knee by staying off it more, icing it at night, wearing her brace,
and getting her cortisone shots on time.
-Teaching the newly
developed core curriculum Institute classes and helping the students
fulfill their requirements and assignments so they could obtain
college credit transferable to any BYU school.
so much about the Gospel that: 1) you realize how little you knew,
2) you are extremely motivated to learn more, and 3) your testimony
grows even more than you ever thought possible.
to know and “connecting” with each and every YSA so you
understand their hopes, problems, dreams, and challenges; and then
providing them with encouragement, common sense advice,
Gospel-oriented counseling, and yes—warm hugs and a shoulder to cry
-Testifying to the world
that: "We are disciples of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and
have been called of Him to declare His word among all people, that
they might come unto Him and have everlasting life."
-Knowing, “We have fought
the good fight; we have finished our course; we have kept the faith.”
(I Timothy 4:7)