Sunday, April 26, 2015

Valentine's Day in April (and every day)

By Rodger Dean Duncan

As reported months ago, our experience at the Missionary Training Center prior to coming to Texas was a delight. The instruction was excellent, the atmosphere inspirational, and the company extraordinary.

But we learned one thing that was disappointing: not all senior couples have a successful mission. In fact, some senior couples actually get divorced after their mission. Although that number is extremely small, it underscores a reality: some couples can’t seem to manage spending so much time together.

I’m happy to report that Rean and I are getting along famously. (This will be no surprise to those of you who know us!) Except for the occasional manicure or haircut or meeting, we are together 24/7. I cannot imagine a more wonderful marriage or missionary companion. She is the love of my (eternal) life. And she seems to like me okay, too. We thoroughly enjoy our time together, and this mission is helping us serve each other as we’ve tried to do these past 47-plus years. Corny though it may sound, every day is Valentine’s Day for us.

The recent change in the Waco stake presidency opens up some opportunity for more relationship building. Although we already know all three members of the presidency, we will now get to know them in the context of their new assignments. We have a meeting scheduled with them later this week. We will brief them on our public affairs activity. Notably, we will tell them about our outreach to the City of Waco, the Waco Foundation, the Prosper Waco organization, and a range of non-profits. We’ll also report on our efforts to build relationship bridges between the church and Baylor University, a key player in most everything in this city. In addition, we will offer recommendations on such matters as increasing the frequency and quality of “member present” missionary lessons in the stake.

Regarding Baylor, we reported earlier that I was to meet with Burt Burleson, the university’s chaplain. That meeting went superbly well. Burt and I hit it off like long-lost friends. He introduced me to his complete staff (several associate chaplains, mission directors, etc.), then we had a wide-ranging discussion about possible collaboration between the church and the university on service activities. It turns out that Burt’s son Brandt is a graduate of William Jewel College in our hometown of Liberty, Missouri. He also knows our friend David Sallee, William Jewell’s president. This really is a small world. Just one more of millions of reasons to be on good behavior at all times. Burt said he would like to know more about our church. I pointed to my missionary name tag and told him we can accommodate that request. We will invite Burt and his wife Julie to dinner at our apartment.

Someone showed me this 
photo from the 1966 
Baylor yearbook.
This past week I was guest professor in a marketing communications class at Baylor. I really enjoyed being with the students, and have appreciated getting to know some of the faculty members. I will do some more guest teaching in the fall semester. These relationships will help us identify resources for some of the public affairs work we’re doing in Waco.

We’ve continued to try to balance our missionary work with daily exercise. I go to the fitness facility at our apartment five days a week. I walk at least five miles a day, more than half of it at aerobic speed. But our favorite activity is walking along the Brazos River or through Cameron Park. Waco has some incredibly beautiful parks and walking trails. As the summer heat and humidity set in, I’m sure these walks will need to be very early in the morning.

This week brings another round of transfers. We will say sad goodbyes to some of the young missionaries we’ve adopted as our own. But that will be somewhat offset by the pleasure of meeting those who are new to our area.

The work goes on. 

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