Monday, June 15, 2015

Crumbs in the Water Bottle

By Rodger Dean Duncan

Last week was a time for transfers for many of the young missionaries in the Texas Fort Worth Mission. That's when they move from one area to another and get new companions. For example, Elder Adam Petersen moved from Waco to Arlington. Elder Dallas Baker moved from Waco to Bedford. In turn, we got several "new" missionaries to serve with us in our area. (We feel somewhat like foster parents. We love these young people immediately, while realizing we'll have them with us for only a matter of weeks or months.)

There are several practical reasons for transfers. A transfer gives a missionary the opportunity to work with another companion. That means accommodating the "style" and personality of a new workmate. Missionary companions are with each other 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So if any "relationship issues" emerge, getting those issues resolved quickly and righteously is a priority so energy can be focused on the work at hand. Transfers also give missionaries the chance to get acquainted and work with different congregations of church members. This is helpful to both the missionaries and the members. Again, relationships are important, but the emphasis is always on the work. Transfers are also good for investigators (people interested in joining the church and who are being taught by the missionaries). It's important that investigators become attached to the gospel and the local members rather than to the missionaries.

Missionaries Teach, But They Also Learn

On the issue of companion relationships, yesterday at the request of our mission president I coached a couple of young missionaries and told them this story:

When I was a stake president, I welcomed home a young missionary who had served in Korea. I invited him to meet with the stake high council and report on his mission experiences. He began his report by saying "The first six months of my mission was hell." I told him he certainly had my attention, and invited him to continue.

He said his mission president kept assigning him to be a companion to the "problem elders," missionaries who wouldn't get up in the morning to study, who didn't want to teach, who lacked the discipline and commitment to do all the things required for successful missionary service. He said he had struggled to learn the Korean language and he wanted to teach the gospel to Koreans, not waste his time "babysitting" spoiled Americans. But at the six-month mark of his mission he had a spiritual "ah-ha" moment. He realized that he had been called to teach the gospel to God's children, not just those who spoke Korean. That realization, he reported, changed his whole outlook and enabled him to complete the remainder of his two-year mission with confidence and gratitude. Then this young missionary, with no accompaniment, favored us by singing a solo of hymn number 219, "Because I Have Been Given Much, I Too Must Give."

Now that is a powerful lesson for any of us who occasionally complain (even if only to ourselves) when we're asked to serve someone who is, shall we say, less than eager to be served.

That's Not My Job

At a recent Zone Council meeting we were discussing ways to help ourselves and others keep commitments. I told about my boyhood experience with the "water bottle." Like many families in the days before refrigerators had fancy water dispensers, we kept a community water bottle in the fridge. The rules were simple: (1) fill the bottle after you use it, and (2) never, ever drink directly from the bottle. As you can imagine, there were times when one might find the bottle with only a quarter inch of water (and even with bread crumbs floating in it). We took turns being the perpetrator. This always led to a parental tutorial on personal responsibility.

When we were raising our own children, we kept a poem on the family bulletin board. It's called "That's Not My Job." I shared the poem with the young missionaries here, and told them its lesson is a good reminder for us when we ask others (as well as ourselves) to keep commitments. As with many things in life, clear and honest communication is a key. And when we find "crumbs in the water bottle," we can always consider what we might do to be more accountable to agreed-upon standards.

We love our Zone Council meetings. We're surrounded by some of the best and brightest young people
anywhere, and we bask in their devotion and enthusiasm. The future of the Church is in very good hands.
Dayton's Legs

Finally, we encourage you to watch a brief and inspiring video called "Dayton's Legs."

It's the story of a wonderful young Mormon boy who exhibits remarkable Christlike love and empathy. It reminds us of the many good models that are all around us.

Click here to see the video.

Thanks to a couple of our our dear Liberty friends who
surprised us with a delicious loaf of cranberry walnut
bread. Yum!
This week brings a crammed calendar. We're hosting two dinner parties and a luncheon, attending multiple meetings, and following up on several public affairs projects.

The Texas heat and humidity are beginning to set in. It's possible to grow accustomed to this weather, but that's not the same as liking it.

We love you all. And we appreciate the blog comments and emails. Keep 'em coming.

1 comment: