Monday, August 12, 2013

A Word about Mormon Missionaries

Hey there Neighbor,

You may have seen some of these guys around town lately.

Or maybe girls that look like this.

I'm not surprised, they seem to be everywhere these days and you are probably going to see a lot more of them in the coming months and years. This is because the number of full time missionaries for the Church has gone from somewhere around 55,000 world-wide to 70,000 and is projected to be to over 85,000 in a very short period of time. The young people in our church are choosing to go out and serve in astounding and ever increasing numbers.

These missionaries are good, honest, talented, wonderful kids. They love the Lord and are doing what He has asked. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."(Matthew 28:19) They have a glad message and they will share it with anybody who will stand still long enough to let them.

Missionaries are completely in the Lord’s service for 2 full years for the men and 18 months for young women. They put on hold schooling, jobs, dating, and all the things that others their age are doing. Their day starts at 6:30 am and ends at 10:30 pm every day of the week. They teach, proselyte, and do service projects. It is difficult and most times thankless work.

They do this willingly; they are not paid for their service. In fact, most of them worked jobs and saved before they went out to pay their way and in most cases their families and members of their home congregations are contributing to financially sustain them.

Intense sacrifice is made by the families of these missionaries; prayers are said daily and sometimes hourly for these beloved family members who are serving all over the world. “Keep them safe. Help them to find people to teach.” Mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, grandparents and friends, all of them are binding their hearts together in faith and love to ask for God’s blessing on these treasured youngsters.

So what I ask of you (my friends and neighbors who are not of my faith) is that when you see the missionaries out on their bikes, in the store, or on your doorstep please be kind to them. They know that this Gospel is not for everyone, but they want to give everyone a chance. They’ve seen it change lives, it has most likely changed theirs and so they are excited to tell you how the happiness that fills them can be yours as well.

When talking to them if you decide it is not for you then please just let them know. There is no need to be rude, call them names, or slam the door in their face. There is no need to get angry, or try to get them to fight with you. Try to remember that these are cherished sons and daughters, both of their parents and their Father in Heaven. So I ask you to be kind.

Also, please don’t tell them that you would like to hear more if you really don’t. Don’t make an appointment with them if you aren’t going to show up and don’t pretend not to be home if you are. They can tell you are in there, I promise. Instead just politely tell them you aren’t interested and that you appreciate their effort. They can handle it and then you won’t waste their time.

I know that you are awesome and good-hearted. I see your kindness and love as we work together in our community. Please take the same care and kindness you give to others and apply it to this situation as well. And who knows, when you chat with a missionary they may be able to teach you something that you didn’t know and you may have something to offer them.

Thanks folks and I’ll see you around the neighborhood.


P.S. The examples I've used are not the case with many of my wonderful neighbors but all of these things happen to the Elders and Sisters in our area on a daily basis. Thanks to those of you who show compassion for everyone you meet regardless of who they are.  


Friday, August 9, 2013

The Rest of the Story

Dad owned a small motor rewind and repair shop for more than 30 years. The “shop” was a place many of my childhood and adolescent days were spent. It was a family business and as such the family was expected to work. Whether we wanted to or not.

The shop was a concrete building, a converted service station built in the early era of cars. The smell of oil and solvents and metal filled the air and counters were covered in well-used tools. There was a little transistor radio that was eternally tuned to the oldies rock ‘n’ roll station. The Monkeys and the Beatles were our constant companions.

At noon everyday dad would get his sack lunch out of an ancient refrigerator and come up to the front office. There he sat at a little desk that housed all the invoices and bills to paid, hand-written ledgers and deposit tickets. It was a wooden school teachers desk, a hand me down from a long forgotten donator which had a glass top laid over cutouts of peanuts comic strips and a small sign that read “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”.

Dad would get a couple of empty Grainger shipping boxes and prop his leg up on them. His leg had been injured years before on an accident while on his mission and never fully recovered. He would unpack his sandwich and switch the radio over to Paul Harvey.

“The Rest of The Story” was the background for countless lunch breaks spent eating peanut butter and jelly or bologna with mustard. I can still see dad there in his blue work shirt, blue jeans and red Converse all-star  high tops. Leg propped up, leaned back in his chair as the iconic voice of Paul wafted across the shop.

Over the radio that newscaster/storyteller taught us about farmers, government, and told folksy stories of every-day heroes. History and religion, composers and businessmen, the background you had never heard about George Washington and Elvis Presley. Then Mr. Harvey would sign off with “this is Paul Harvey, good day!” and lunch would be over, back to work we went.

Dad has been gone now for more than 5 years. Our bond in life had some cracks in it, especially in the early years. He had a lot of work to do when it came to family, but he did do it and by the time he exited this sphere had repented and purified himself to a degree which amazed those closest to him. And yet some of the pain of that previous life still lingered in my heart, even after he was gone.

I assumed that his death would be an ending of some sort. That no more progress could be made in our connection… at least for a time. But it has become clear that nothing is further from the truth. Dad has been around, he is actively working for the good of his family, he is mending things and occupied with healing old wounds. In experiences of all sorts I find him continuing his progress towards our eternal family and doing his best to help us along. It is amazing and I know that it is so.

President Joseph F. Smith said “I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly messengers and of heavenly beings. We are not separate from them. … We are closely related to our kindred, to our ancestors … who have preceded us into the spirit world. We can not forget them; we do not cease to love them; we always hold them in our hearts, in memory, and thus we are associated and united to them by ties that we can not break. … If this is the case with us in our finite condition, surrounded by our mortal weaknesses, … how much more certain it is … to believe that those who have been faithful, who have gone beyond … can see us better than we can see them; that they know us better than we know them. … We live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever. For now they see the dangers that beset us; … their love for us and their desire for our well being must be greater than that which we feel for ourselves."

So as I think about those lunch times at the shop all those years ago I can do it with fondness. The hurt that used to cling to my heart-strings is fading and the love I feel for dad increases every day. Dad is working for that and so am I. Relationships don’t end at death, not even temporarily. And that my friends is really the rest of the story.



“Relationships can be strengthened through the veil with people we know and love. That is done by our determined effort to continually do what is right. We can strengthen our relationship with the departed individual we love by recognizing that the separation is temporary and that covenants made in the temple are eternal. When consistently obeyed, such covenants assure the eternal realization of the promises inherent in them.” –Richard G.Scott

Here is one of my favorite Paul Harvey tributes. Best if you listen with closed eyes. 
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