Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Blessings As the Work Goes On

By Rodger Dean Duncan

This weekend's General Conference (broadcast worldwide from Salt Lake City) was marvelous, and a great way to celebrate Easter. Rean and I watched all ten hours and took lots of notes. I found a tip for myself in every single message and every piece of music. It’s hard to imagine what life must be like for people who are unaware of the restored gospel. Or, perhaps worse yet, people who are aware of the restored gospel but fail to listen and heed.

As a post-Easter treat to yourself, click on Because He Lives for an inspiring short video about the Savior's mission.

This past week we were blessed with a visit by our daughter Rachel and two of her wonderful children, Duncan and Hannah. We basked in our time with them.

Because we're always blessed by our association with missionary activities, I wanted Duncan to take special advantage of his Waco visit. So on Tuesday I invited him to accompany me to a District Meeting with the Waco North Zone elders. 

The missionaries welcomed Duncan with open arms and actually vied for the opportunity to team with him in our role-play teaching exercises. If you know Duncan, you’ll not be surprised that he performed exceptionally well.

Earlier in the day, I had taken Duncan for a haircut by the same lady who cuts my hair in Texas. (I really miss Rob Rose, my barber in Liberty!) I'd previously had some good conversations with this lady and learned a lot about her family situation and spiritual orientation. She expressed interest in receiving some DVDs and other media related to Easter and the life of Jesus. So after the District Meeting, Duncan and I delivered to our haircutter several Church DVDs, a number of pamphlets, and an inscribed copy of the Book of Mormon ... all in Spanish as she had requested. When we 
Deacon Duncan and some of his new best friends.
returned to the salon, I noticed that the pass-along card I previously gave her was displayed prominently where every customer could see it. We received her address and phone number, and I promised that she could expect some follow up.

Rean and I took Rachel and the children on a walking tour of the Baylor campus and a mid-afternoon lunch at the Student Union Building. After lunch, I suggested we go upstairs to see the “Drawing Room,” a huge (and luxurious) space where I once gave speeches as a student body officer. Little did I realize that at exactly the time we entered the room the weekly ice cream social had begun. (If you know of my affection for ice cream, you may doubt the spontaneity of this.
Dr. Burt Burleson, Baylor Chaplain 
and Dean of Student Spiritual Life.
But I really didn’t know.) This room is about the size of four basketball courts. So what I report next is especially remarkable. In the corner of my eye I noticed a man making a beeline toward us. In a very friendly way he introduced himself as Burt Burleson. He’s the University Chaplain and Dean of Student Spiritual Life. We visited for several minutes, comparing notes on our times at Baylor (he graduated nearly 20 years after I did). Then he asked what we were doing in Waco. I pointed to my missionary badge and explained our purpose here. He had to put on his glasses to read the badge, so it was obviously not the badge that drew him to us. To employ a Texas term, we firmly believe our meeting was “a God thing.” I’ve already written a follow-up email to Burt, and we will set up a meeting for a more in-depth conversation. We believe that Burt and we can enjoy a rewarding friendship.

Rean and I had a great meeting with Matthew Polk, executive director of Prosper Waco. (An editorial in the Waco Tribune-Herald, where I got my first newspaper job, says the mission of Prosper Waco “reflects true Christian principles.”) Matthew welcomed us enthusiastically. He invited me to participate in any or all of three steering committees: Education, Health, and Financial Security. All of these consist of Waco’s movers and shakers (business leaders, non profit leaders, clergy, educators, etc.). They focus on using a “collective impact model” to improve the lives of Waco citizens, especially the 28% who live in poverty. (Baylor University president Ken Starr is a very high profile supporter of all this.)

Dr. Matthew Polk, Executive
Director of Prosper Waco.
I gave Matthew a copy of my book CHANGE-friendly LEADERSHIP. He read the table of contents and enthusiastically noted some of the chapter titles like “Validate the Journey,” “Scan for Speed Bumps,” “Chart the Course,” and “Build a Coalition.” Then he saw the book’s subtitle: “How to Transform Good Intentions Into Great Performance.” Rean and I agree that it’s almost as though I wrote the book to help the people of Waco during our mission. (When I wrote the book, we didn't even know for sure we'd serve a mission, let alone a mission in Waco.)

This week we will attend a meeting of one of the Prosper Waco committees. At Matthew’s urging, we’ve also reached out to Waco Foundation. That’s another organization where we believe we can provide meaningful assistance. Stay tuned.

Blessings to you and yours.


  1. Happy Easter, Duncans! I loved the video and the latest update. I'm glad to know your Easter time was full of blessings.

  2. All the best you, dear Amber. We hope all is well for you and yours down in Austin. We plan to follow your tip on the restaurant here in Waco.

  3. Happy Easter and Conference weekend. We love to hear about your inspiring experiences. Thanks for serving.