Tag Archives: mission

Missionary Work: Experiences Shape the Future

A while back, the Church Newsroom had a nice write-up about how missionary work shape the lives of missionaries. I know that this is put out by the Church, so people could say it was just PR work, but having served a mission myself, I definitely agree with the general premise of the article.

I served a mission in Taiwan back in the 90’s. I remember clearly sitting on the plane as I flew out of the Buffalo airport to go to the MTC, crying like I’d never cried before. It was the first time I had been away, and I was scared to death. Obviously I survived. The mission turned out to be one of the great experiences of my life.

Without getting into too much detail, I learned:

  • independence – from being away from home
  • respect for Church leadership – like many missionaries, I loved my mission presidents
  • respect for other cultures – at the time, Taiwan was still quite insulated from Western culture, so it was great to learn about and experience a culture so different from ours
  • hard work – if you want to be happy as a missionary, you’ve got to get to work
  • dealing with conflicts – dealing with a companion that you’ve never met before can be hard
  • trusting the Lord – it is His work, so we need to trust in Him
  • defining success – if it is based on the number of baptisms, I was pretty much a failure (a few people I taught were baptized, but not many). However, I feel like I had a very successful mission.

I can’t say serving a mission was the best decision I’ve ever made… my wife and my children might argue about that. However, at the time, it was definitely the right decision, and has helped shape who I am today. For that I will be eternally grateful.

Making the transition from seminary to institute

One of my responsibilities in our stake is to work with the young single adults, our YSA branch presidency, and the Institute Teacher. One of our biggest challenges is in getting the YSA to attend institute.

When you are a youth in the Church, it is generally expected that you will attend seminary. Not everyone goes, but there is definitely that expectation. If you are from an active family and plan on serving a mission (male or female), you are almost definitely going to attend seminary. However, in our area, Institute is just not a big thing. We want it to be, but when there isn’t that “critical mass” of YSA in one area, there just isn’t that momentum.

Anyway, that is just background as to why I’m sharing this article. The Deseret News recently had a nice article about making the transition from seminary to institute.

As an 18-year-old freshman at Utah State University, Bradon Capener registered for classes at the Logan Institute of Religion for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but he admits he didn’t see the value and rarely attended.

It wasn’t until Capener returned from serving a Mormon mission a few years later and “decided to get involved” that he realized what he had been missing.

It’s a good read…

Elizabeth Smart is my hero

I hope that didn’t sound sarcastic, because I mean it. Let me explain why…

When the 14-year-old Mormon Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped in 2002, it got a fair amount of attention in my part of the world. I live in Canada near Buffalo, and so a lot of our radio and TV stations come from “over the river”. The Canadian media also reported on things a fair bit.

I only had 1 child at the time (a baby) and I could only imagine what her parents must have been going through. When she was found, it seemed like a miracle.

I wondered how “messed up” this young woman would be. She had to try to get back to a normal life after almost daily rapes. Her life was threatened and she was forcibly removed from her home. Could she grow up and be “normal”?

I have no idea how difficult it was, but it was great to hear that she was going on a mission (to France). Then later came word that she was getting married (I think in the Hawaii Temple).

Now she has written a book, and apparently she tells it all. I read somewhere that she figured there would be no point in writing a book if she only shared half the story.

So after all of that, I thought, “Good for her! What a nice person.” Then earlier this week she was interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air. That is when she truly became my hero. She was so calm; so well-spoken; a person who didn’t seem to be full of hate or bitterness; a person who cherished her family; a person who knows that God loves her. She showed her faith, and represented her family and the Church well.

People like Elizabeth are heroes. Movie stars, athletes and pop stars generally aren’t. I’ve been lucky enough in my life to know a couple of people who have overcome huge challenges and I marvel at how they managed. Faith played a large part. The support of loved ones (family, friends, and community) helped.

If these people can survive what they have gone through, and even flourish afterwards, then it inspires me to keep slogging through my difficulties.

Thank you Elizabeth and others for being such an example to us all.

“Red Hat board member trades one mission for another”

CNET News has a nice article about a board member from Red Hat that is leaving the company to serve as a mission president in Japan:

Steve Albrecht, a longstanding Red Hat board member, has resigned from Red Hat’s board effective June 30, 2009. The reason? Albrecht, originally tapped six years ago by Red Hat chairman Matthew Szulik, will serve as a mission president in Japan for the Mormon Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), starting in early July.

It’s a new mission for Albrecht, but will require many of the same attributes that made him a successful board member for Red Hat.

It would appear that the author of the story is also a member (or at least his father is). The official Red Hat release is here.

We often talk about the great sacrifice it is for young men and women to go on a mission for a year and a half or two years. It surely is. But it is also an impressive sacrifice that mission presidents and their family (sometimes just their wife, sometimes with their children as well) have to give up their home and employment for 3 years. Some of these families are certainly financially able to do this (a few years ago, the president of the Canada Toronto West Mission was Alan Ashton, the founder of WordPerfect); others struggle. Whether proselyting missionaries, mission presidents and their family, or service missionaries, the blessings of service more than make up for the time away.

Brother Russ Ballard in the Instructor

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As I’ve mentioned before, I recently borrowed some old issues of the Instructor magazine (see The Busy George Romneys – Juvenile Instructor May 1958 and April 1957 Juvenile Instructor – Draw It With Chalk… note: I erroneously called the magazine Juvenile Instructor). The July 1970 issue of the magazine had an article by some guy named Russ Ballard:

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Russ Ballard is president of the Family Achievement Institute and the organizer of several business in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he and his wife, Barbara Bowen, make their home. The couple have seven children and are members of the Monument park (Utah) Stake. Brother Ballard completed a mission to Great Britain in 1950, has served as a high councilor and twice as a bishop. He currently teaches Sunday School in the Monument Park 13th Ward.

Yes, that is Elder M. Russell Ballard, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I’m not exactly sure why, but I love stuff like this. I loved hearing Presidents Hinckley, Monson and Faust, referring to themselves or each other as Gordon, Tommy, and Jim (I wonder if Dieter has an short-form). We show so much respect and reverence for their positions, that sometimes we forget these are men, who at one point lived just like me. I actually find it more faith-promoting to think of these men as regular men who have overcome the average challenges of life to become who they are, rather than as these perfected beings that we seem to associate with Prophets, Seers and Revelators. I wonder what type of a person Russ was… Was he a good Sunday School teacher? Did his members like him when he was a bishop? Was there any sign in 1970 that 15 years later he’d be an Apostle?

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“When choosing where to play, Mormon recruits face unique issues”

Andy Staples, a writer for Sports Illustrated (and one whom I’m not familiar with) posted an excellent article last week about the challenges that active LDS athletes face in choosing a school and the possibility that they may leave for 2 years for a mission. I was an average athlete in high scho0l, and never had any dreams of even playing in university/college. I can only imagine how exciting it must be to be that good, and also to worry about what might happen to your scholarship and your abilities if you leave for two years.

A few highlights from the article…

On dealing with a potential school:

“I basically told them, ‘This is me,'” said Te’o, from Laie, Hawaii. “I’m LDS. I’m thinking of serving a mission, and I want that to be available to me. If that’s not in the cards for your university, I have to respect that, but I have to consider others.”…

Considerations other than serving a mission:

LDS players also must consider how their faith will mesh with the campus environment at either a secular school or one run by a different faith, and they must prepare for a backlash from some in the LDS community should they choose a school other than Brigham Young, the Provo, Utah, university run by the Mormon church…

Pressure to stay:

“The pressure came more from just knowing that your team is counting on you. You are in the mix of things. You have been practicing with them every day. They know you. You know them. So to all of sudden say, ‘I’ve got to leave you for a couple of years’ gets really hard for the young man to do. … The pressure to stay once you’ve gone there is tremendous”…