Tuesday, October 14, 2008

some good advice for missionaries. and the rest of us.

my hubby sent me this, he found it in a newspaper on the net.

Mission advice to calm the nerves

Some friends came down from Washington this week to attend LDS General Conference and to drop their only son at the LDS missionary training center. I've known Mac since the day he was born. In the blink of 19 years he went from a diapered pudge to a 6-foot-plus veteran kayaker. He's a great kid - helpful, conscientious, hardworking, and goofier than a lab puppy. He's also honest. When I asked if he was nervous, his answer stemmed partly from the fact that he's leaving home and partly from the fact that he's going to Colorado, where the dust is just now settling from the desecration of a Catholic shrine by Mormon elders. "Real nervous," Mac said. To calm his nerves and prepare himself, Mac was keeping a list of one-liner mission advice from those close to him who had served missions - his father, uncles, friends, etc. He even asked me. "Do you have any words of advice, Uncle Robert?" For the life of me, I couldn't think of any. A mission is a huge deal for a kid. I didn't want to screw it up by telling Mac something that was wrong, or, worse, dangerous. I asked him what sorts of advice he'd already received. It was stuff like, "Stay close to the Lord," and "Love your companion" and "Pray and obey the rules." I don't recall much of the advice I received before leaving on my mission decades
ago. I do remember my father putting his arm around me and saying, "Screw this up and the Lord will be the least of your worries." Grim as it sounds, it was inspired. I have a very short attention span. What might happen to me after I die isn't nearly as inspirational as what will happen in the next two minutes. As I vaguely recall, the rest of the advice from friends and relatives was divided between the generic "go forward with faith" stuff, and morose reminders of all the partying I would miss. But I went and I'm glad I did, even though parts of it were perfectly horrible - like getting deathly sick, badly hurt, totally depressed, and the 19 rage-filled days I spent with Elder Barkus. I tried remembering the important things I learned from other missionaries, who although better prepared than I, were still just kids convinced of their own correctness and indestructibility. When I was about to give up, something written on the inside of my mission scriptures came back to me. I wrote it following a shouting match Elder Barkus had provoked with a local pastor over - get this - what kind of beard Jesus wore. That night I wrote down one of the most valuable things my mission would teach me. Thirty-four years later, I passed it on to Mac. "Being called of God doesn't fix stupid."

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