Well everyone, our daughter Becky has set us up to blog.
Hopefully we'll be posting something every week. At least that is the goal.
We just hit our six month mark and it has gone by quickly. We are starting to get into the "Rhythm" of our mission. Our lives are structured around a six week cycle called "transfers". The six weeks is significant because we get new missionaries and send home missionaries (two years are finished) basically the same day every six weeks (typically the last week of the transfer period). Also during this six week period we have about a week of zone conferences and about two weeks of missionary interviews. This leaves about one and half to two weeks for other mission events and priesthood leadership type work. We have not watched any TV let alone any sporting events and our music is limited to mostly Mormon Tabernacle Choir and classical music. Our days are from 6:20 AM (much earlier when traveling for Zone Conferences missionary interviews) to about 9:00 to 10:00 PM. The President is on call 24/7. Fortunately we have had only one or two late night calls.
After six months on our mission Sister Nelson and I have observed the following:
1. Nineteen and twenty year old teenagers turn into very stable, mature young men with incredible testimonies of the Gospel especially testimonies of the Savior and His atonement. Most of these missionaries have caught the spirit of this missionary work and are every bit as focused in this work as a professional athlete might be in their particular sport. As a result they have been able to perform feats and events that are truly miracles in their own lives not to mention the lives of the people with whom they are working.
2. Missionary work is just plain hard work in all aspects of a person’s life: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. Often missionaries who have been in the field for six weeks to two months are heard saying I expected missionary work to be difficult but certainly not this difficult. The good news is that they accept the challenge and rise to the occasion. They learn in two years things about life that would normally take a person 10 to 20 years to learn. They learn about time management, about mental toughness, about mental focus, about self discipline, about anger management, about humility, about the bitter cold days, about the hot days, and all this with only a weekly email to parents and friends.
3. These young men and women learn rapidly the necessity for human relation skills. They live 24/7 with a "companion" of similar age without knowing anything about their companion except that he is on a mission for two years like themselves. Often this is a farmer from Idaho paired up with a companion from likes of Central City Philadelphia, or Chicago, or Phoenix. A missionary that is an only child is paired up with a missionary that has 12 siblings. A missionary that has none of his family members of the church (convert) is paired up with a missionary who has ancestors who came across the plains. A missionary who is from a family with scarce resources with a missionary whose family has literally millions of dollars. A missionary who came from a home where the father was a well know attorney or Physician with a missionary whose father is a carpenter or brick layer or plumber. Each missionary accepts his "new" companion and lives with him 3 to 9 months and they not only learn to "get along" but learn to perform together as a team as well as a team of marines who have trained and worked together for years. Their friendships are literally eternal. This companionship then learns to deal with people that are totally from diverse demographic profiles and share with this diverse population religious topics and ideas that has the best theologians of our day scratching their heads.
4. As we watch these missionaries tackle these enormous tasks in their lives they grow at an exponential rate in all aspects of their lives. In the process there is certainly sweat, tears, frustration, anger, and long calls or long interviews to their mission President or his wife.
5. The quality of people joining the Church is from all aspects of life. Lately however there have been several well known physicians, school teachers, sales people, business owners, etc. join the Church and immediately make significant contributions to their Wards and Branches. The Mandarin Chinese missionaries came to the President six weeks ago and said in frustration that they needed a Mandarin Chinese Branch in order to be effective missionaries. I told them they did not have sufficient "priesthood leadership" to have a Branch started. They went back to work and after a fast and a lot of hard work and prayers they have six Mandarin Chinese men with baptismal dates. One was baptized today that was a doctor specializing in kidney failures and how to treat such people. Beginning next week there will be a Mandarin Chinese sacrament meeting and Relief Society meeting held. Within six months and there will be a Branch and most likely a Ward in 12 months. Truly the Lord is blessing the missionaries and people of this mission.
6. We are truly amazed as we watch these young men and young women learn languages, especially the very difficult languages of Mandarin Chinese and Korean not to mention the easier language of Spanish in a short three to six month period. They just "bare down" and work at it until they conquer the language. We are so proud of their great effort and work ethic.
7. There is not a day that goes by that we do not shake our head in astonishment and amazement at what we watch happen with the lives of these young missionaries. We are truly blessed to be a part of this great work!
8. Each week each missionary sends a "report" to the mission president about their particular area. More and more we are hearing about new investigators that had said a prayer in the morning that they could find the truth about religion, or they could understand better the meaning of life, or they could find how to have a life of peace and solace amidst the turmoil of our hectic times. That very day our missionaries have "tracted" them out. Our missionaries are "finding" people who want to hear about our life style and our doctrine in miraculous ways. There will be a baptism of a person next week that was found when a couple of missionaries were walking down a crowded street and stopped and went back to talk to a person going the opposite way because these missionaries were "prompted" to stop and go talk to this particular person on a busy street. These types of events are "common" amongst our missionaries and many good people are joining the Church.
Hopefully this will get a start for this blog. We invite many other comments and ideas. Love President and Sister Nelson