August 21, 2013
After the devotional on Sunday night, my roommates were walking back to our building when they saw a man walking around campus alone. He was dressed with a white suit jacket, gold cuff links, white shirt, olive green skinny jeans, white Sperry shoes, and a badge that said MTC branch presidency. My roommates decided to follow him out of curiosity. He would find groups of missionaries and begin talking to them, sharing a spiritual message. As his work continued, he eventually ended up at the building my residence is in. He swiped a card and came up to the third floor; my roommates were following him this entire time.
The man walked around our floor talking to various groups of missionaries. One missionary commented on how “he was wearing a nice tie”, when the man turned to him, took it off and gave it as a present. At one point he said he wanted to talk to us. About ten of us missionaries followed him into a room. It turned out to be Thomas S. Monson’s nephew we were talking to. He told us some stories about President Monson, and what kind of an uncle he was.
The main point of the discourse was the importance of the country we have been called to, and the significance that mission will have on our lives. The story of his mission call began with President Monson, at the time serving as one of the twelve. When a family member is an apostle, it is tradition for that person to issue all of the mission calls for their nieces and nephews. The man in the white jacket explained to President Monson his desire to serve in Europe or Asia. The call came and it was to go to Mexico. When he asked his uncle why, the answer came that the mission president serving there was a great individual, and for that reason President Monson felt impressed to give the call south of the border. It turned out that the first week of the man in the white jacket’s mission, the current mission president was released and reassigned elsewhere. So the entire reasoning for him serving there became irrelevant in the first place.
The reason for the man in the white coat telling his story was to show that we should not try to guess the reasoning behind God’s work. “You will not be right…” he said. “Just don’t try in the first place. Only listen.” It turned out that Mexico was the correct place for him to serve, for a couple other reasons he briefly talked about. But it was the right place. As I think about this story, I have made a goal to not guess, “Only listen.” Working toward this challenge will not be easy because our natural tendency as people is to lean toward curiosity. But I will try.
The Tuesday night devotional had some speaker that serves in the presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy. One line he said stood out to me. “More faith than fear.” His goal was to encourage us to be bold in our efforts as missionaries. To be confident in our end goal and not allow ourselves to ignore opportunities of missionary work or promptings.
Elder O in my district is a great example of someone who has more faith than fear. In Serbia the church is seen as a “sect”, cult being the more common term in the U.S. After Elder O converted, he made a personal goal to help as many people come to an understanding of it as possible. Including his closest friends. They quickly saw him as a cultist and everyone who he was close to dropped him from their lives. He was trying to live the part of “every member being a missionary”. And it ended with his loved ones turning their backs on him. He does not have any contact with them anymore because they will not respond to anything he sends to them. All of those close to him are members of the church, because they are all he had left. Elder O has given up more to be a member than anyone I have ever met.
Things at the MTC continue to go well. A number of people told me that the MTC isn’t the most fun thing, and just to wait until you get out into the field. I really don’t have any issues with things here. The days are going faster and faster, and the weeks are like flashes of light. Russian honestly really sucks. I did not expect the language study to be this difficult. But there is still ongoing progress, so that is good. The MTC is also having all of the Russian missionaries move to West Campus this coming Tuesday. That will be pretty interesting and I will write about it next Wednesday.