Monday, August 10, 2015

Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel

By Rodger Dean Duncan

What Sunday Is Like for Us

For a missionary, the idea of Sunday as "a day of rest" has special meaning. It certainly does not include naps.

For us, as with other Latter-day Saints, Sunday is special because we get to take the sacrament. It's also special because we get to worship and serve with so many of our friends.

Yesterday was another great Sunday. And a long one. We attended meetings in all three of the congregations to which we're assigned.

First, we attended sacrament meeting in the Hewitt Ward. We were eager to hear our friend Veronica White speak. (We're teaching her husband, Bob.) Veronica gave a solid talk on the blessings of temple service. Then we attended Sunday School with Veronica and Bob, and I sat with Bob in priesthood meeting.

Rean then attended Relief Society in the Waco Second Ward. She wanted to support our friend Jeannette Lane who was the day's teacher. Sister Lane is an amazingly energetic 82 year-old from Wales. She is an excellent teacher and delightfully engaging.

When you attend about nine hours of meetings on Sunday,
this is what "lunch" looks like.
While Rean was lending encouragement to Sister Lane in the Second Ward, as well as attending gospel doctrine class there, I attended sacrament meeting in the Young Single Adult Branch. One of the speakers was Amber Cook, the young woman to whom we taught the missionary discussions and who was baptized on March 28. She's now in the branch Relief Society presidency. Amber gave a talk on the Savior's atonement that was both insightful and inspiring. It is such a delight to see this outstanding young woman blossom. We really love Amber. She has designated us as her surrogate grandparents.

After all those meetings, we attended a gathering of the Waco Stake Public Affairs Council on which we serve. This made for nine hours of meetings. But it was joyful and not nearly as tiring as you might imagine. We spent the day with a lot of great people discussing the most important things in life. The satisfaction we get from such an activity-filled Sabbath reminds us of the feeling derived from singing the uplifting Mormon pioneer anthem "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel."

Connections Everywhere

It seems that everywhere we go we keep meeting people who are somehow connected to our past.

With Andrea Elieson, who married the grandson of a
long-ago friend. A round-about connection, but 
nevertheless a pleasant one.
Yesterday we met Andrea Elieson. Andrea lives in Temple, about half an hour south of Waco. She serves with us on the Waco Stake Public Affairs Council. Within ten seconds of meeting her, I asked if she's related to Sanfred Elieson. Yes, she, said. She's married to one of San's grandsons who now practices medicine here. San Elieson was mission president here when I was a student at Baylor in the early 1960s. I was a new member of the Church and the two of us became friends because I spent a lot of time with the missionaries. In those days, Waco was in the Dallas Mission which covered much of the entire state of Texas.

I fondly remember San coming to Waco occasionally to speak at Sunday evening firesides. He and his wife were from California. But they fell in love with Texas and relocated here after their mission. He then had several businesses in North Texas, including a car dealership. In 1968, when I was a political writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Rean and I went to San and purchased a 1968 Pontiac GTO, one of the hottest cars on the road. It was fun to drive, and we kept it for several years. When our family expanded to include infant car seats, we graduated to station wagons.

In the mid 1980s, San was well connected in the Dallas business community and helped me network into some excellent consulting work. He was a good friend on several levels. The last time we saw him was in the Dallas Temple in about 1989.

Friend in the News
Our friend Mike Otterson speaking at the FAIRMormon

More activity awaited us on our return to our apartment last night. In addition to preparing for the coming week, we watched an interesting speech by our friend Michael Otterson. Mike is worldwide managing director of Public Affairs for the Church. In the 1970s, when he was PA director in London, he and I did a lot of work together in Great Britain. I wrote a book, and we collaborated on a documentary on the Church for BBC.

During that work in Britain, which lasted several months, I fondly recall visiting Mike and his family in their home. I engaged his young daughter Lisa in a conversation about accents. She had a delightful Liverpudlian accent. My own accent is a mixture of Oklahoma and Texas. I asked Lisa what she thought of the way I talk. "I like it," she said. "You sound just like Huckleberry Hound!" I laughed so hard I nearly choked on my dinner. Mike and his family later visited us when we lived in New Jersey.

The speech we watched last night was one Mike delivered last week at the FAIRMormon Conference in Utah. His remarks, titled "On the Record," are well worth your attention. Mike is an extraordinarily savvy and faithful guy who offers an unvarnished view of how the Church is addressing many of the high profile issues of the day. Click here to read the full transcript or watch the video of his speech.


This will be another busy week. In addition to preparing for two community group speeches and a two-day leadership workshop for non-profit organizations, we will continue our teaching with a very promising investigator. We're also hosting dinner for Burt and Julie Burleson. Burt is Baylor University's chaplain and Dean of Student Spiritual Life. And on Thursday there's lunch with Brian O'Grady, vice president of Baylor Scott & White Hospital.

The work goes on.

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