Monday, February 23, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

By Rodger Dean Duncan

First, we send thanks to the many readers of this blog who have taken the time to send words of encouragement during our mission. One long-time friend even sent a five-page handwritten note. Handwritten notes, if you haven't noticed, have become a lost art in this age of digital communication.

We've been asked a lot of questions about serving as senior missionaries. Let me address a few of the more frequent ones:

Will you be transferred? No. In addition to keeping our companionship intact (very convenient when you're happily married to your companion), we will not move to another area. We are assigned to Waco for our entire mission. We are very grateful for that. In addition to not wanting to move again (the younger missionaries have all their belongings in a couple of suitcases), we certainly wouldn't want to have to find another apartment, etc. But of greatest importance, a lot of our work involves establishing relationships with the "locals."

Can you communicate freely with your family? Yes. Younger missionaries are allowed (and encouraged) to email their families once a week. And they may talk with their families by phone (or Skype) twice a year ... on Christmas and on Mothers Day. That's all the communication that's allowed. We, on the other hand, can call or Skype or text our loved ones (and anyone else) any time we wish. We feel especially blessed by technology that makes instant communication possible. One time we received a FaceTime call from our son and daughter-in-law in Italy while we were driving down Interstate 35. (Don't worry. I kept my eyes on the road while Rean enjoyed both the audio and video.) Miraculous!

Rean with some of young friends at last week's district meeting.
Do you do anything other than attend meetings? Of course. Because we are assigned to work with three different congregations and an entire stake (a group of many more congregations), our Sundays are especially full of meetings. But during the week we typically attend only two or three other meetings. The week day meetings are with the younger missionaries. In addition to helping us keep up with the missionaries' activity with finding and teaching, these meetings provide a good forum for us to coach and encourage the missionaries. They do not report to us, but the mission president has encouraged them to look to us for counsel and advice. We love and admire them. We're now working with missionaries in two zones and multiple districts.

When our friend Rodney Ames (our mission
president) comes to our part of the mission he
stays with us. When we go to the northern part
of  the mission, we stay at the Mission Home
with him and his sweet wife. In addition to
his inspired leadership skills, Rodney can
cook a really fine breakfast.
Do you have a strict regimen? No. We were given an area (the Waco Stake, with special emphasis on three congregations) and simply told to "go forth and accomplish good." In addition to relying on inspiration from the Lord, we are using our own experience and proactivity to identify opportunities to advance the work of the Lord. Through the spiritual lens provided by our calling, we see a very target rich environment and are finding many ways to be of service. Also, the local leaders are reaching out to us for help in ways ranging from speaking to leadership training to coaching on public affairs. No grass is growing under us.

Is all of your work in Waco? No. We frequently drive up to the Fort Worth area for various meetings. We can also attend the Dallas Temple as often as we wish (our schedule has allowed only one visit since we arrived before Christmas). And we often drive to surrounding cities for meetings. This past weekend we went to Lake Whitney (about an hour north of Waco) to participate in a Leadership Retreat for the Young Single Adult Branch. Both of us provided some of the training on Saturday morning. Rather than stay in one of the rustic cabins, we opted for a motel in Hillsboro, about half an hour away. Call us sissies if you wish. We figured a motel bill was cheaper than additional visits to the chiropractor.

Do you teach missionary discussions to investigators? Yes. In addition to occasionally accompanying the younger missionaries to assist in teaching their investigators, we are of course called and set apart as proselytizing missionaries. By covenant, and literally by law, we are licensed as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just today a member asked us to teach the discussions to one of his friends. We are happy to oblige.

Are you making a lot of friends? Absolutely. And we're certainly getting a lot of practice associating names with faces, and faces with families. After all, we're working with three different congregations. It's a real challenge recalling who is a member of which ward, who the leaders are, who the teachers are, etc. But it's actually going better than you might imagine. People are very friendly here and they've made us feel quite welcome. We are getting especially well acquainted with the stake and ward priesthood leaders. They are relying on us more and more to provide help with their callings. This week, for example, we've been invited to meet with the stake presidency to offer our recommendations for public affairs "staffing" and programming throughout the area.

Do you wear your missionary tags at all times? No. We don't wear them on our pajamas, and I simply clip mine to the shower curtain while bathing. Seriously, yes, we do wear our missionary tags at all times when we're outside our apartment. Why? Because we're missionaries.

As servants of the Lord, we must continually jump off cliffs - then develop our wings on the way down.

What do you miss most about home? One of the many tender mercies about being on the Lord's errand is that the natural tendency to be homesick is mitigated by the joy of meeting and helping people we otherwise would never know. But what do we miss? (1) Our family and friends. (2) Our king-sized bed with custom-made mattresses. (3) Our family and friends. (4) Our climate-controlled garage. (5) Our favorite supermarket. And, oh, did I mention our family and friends?

What's your favorite part of the mission so far? (1) Knowing that what we're doing can make a lasting difference in people's lives. (2) Feeling the spirit with so many nice people in the local congregations. (3) Working with the wonderful young missionaries. (4) Being on a perpetual "date" with each other.

We love you all, ya'll. And we would love to hear from you. Leave a comment (below), or drop us a note.


  1. I love to read your blog! It is so informative and insightful. It makes me excited for the day when Tricia and I can be on a perpetual "date". Another thing I like about your blog is your writing. The content and flow is perfect and more than anything, there are NEVER any spelling or grammar mistakes.

    Keep working hard and forwarding the Lord's work in the heart of the bible belt.


  2. Dear Duncans – just dropping by to say hello! Thank you for sharing with us. I enjoy knowing that you are doing well, and find it interesting to learn about what you are doing as missionaries. All the best from Austin! ~Amber McGinty

    1. You're very kind, Amber. We'd love to see you. Do you ever pass through Waco?

  3. I have tried to post and the site bumped me out. I'll try again.

    Thank you for sharing so many wonderful and important life lessons with us. You are wearing out your lives in the service of others. You are the BEST and I love you! I have to also say that I'm a bit jealous and wish we could get out there again. We will in time.

  4. Jeff and Marge, we miss you. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could serve together?