Monday, March 23, 2015

Community Service, Stalwart Missionaries

By Rodger Dean Duncan

As we continue to network in the Waco community, we marvel at the depth and breadth of poverty suffered by so many of God's children. But we are encouraged to see the many people who are working to help ameliorate that poverty. We may not completely agree with the politics of some of the people we've met, but we do admire their devotion to the cause of helping others.

Last week we attended the Texas Hunger Initiative's Hunger and Justice Gathering. This was a day-long event focused on poverty and community action. Among the speakers were an economics professor, a sociologist, an epidemiologist who talked about the prevalence of disease in the "food deserts" of urban areas, and the director of Texas Impact who talked about engaging churches in advocacy and action in behalf of the poor.

We were pleased to have a follow-up conversation with one of the key players who is helping us position ourselves to provide some service that will help these like-minded organizations work more effectively as a cohesive whole.

Elder Paul Sammons served in the
Young Single Adult Branch since it
was formed last fall. Now he's been
transferred to Fort Worth. We miss
him already.
Last Wednesday was "transfer day." That's the time, every six weeks, when some of our missionaries get new assignments and move to different areas of the mission. We're always happy to have "new" missionaries come to our area, but it's sad to say goodbye to those who are leaving us. We grow very close to these wonderful young people. They look to usas sort of their surrogate grandparentsfor encouragement, counsel, mentoring, and friendship. We are pleased to provide. We stay in contact (via Facebook, texting, and email) with some of the missionaries who have been released are are now back home.

Our missionaries seem to have a special affection for Sister
Duncan. In addition to welcoming the hugs she provides,
they appreciate the candy and fruit she always brings them.
PCD stands for Purpose, Commitment, Doctrine.
For the young missionaries, every Monday is designated as P-Day. "P" is for preparation. On that day they do their grocery shopping, get haircuts, do their laundry, clean their apartments and do other chores. They also write their weekly letters to their parents and to our mission president via special "missionary email accounts" provided by the Church. This correspondence is typically done on a computer at a public library. Missionaries are encouraged to exercise briefly every morning. But on P-Day the exercise is more of a team effort. This past week the missionaries in our two zones gathered at the Waco Stake Center to play volleyball.

Are you curious about the white board being held by a couple of the elders in the group photo? It's a hand-drawn rendition of the Mission Model that depicts the role and focus of our missionaries.

We are grateful to be part of the army of full-time missionaries (at last count, more than 88,000) representing our Church in teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are so impressed by the stalwart young men and women who put their "regular" lives on hold for 18 to 24 months of unpaid volunteer service. And of course there are additional waves of soldiers on the way. Click here to see an inspiring brief video showing how one group of young men are using social media (texting, in particular) to prepare for missionary service.

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