These last two weeks have been a series of what could be considered the “Farewell” of our President Lanius. It’s really strange to seem him preparing to go. There are some times when the President has to leave for a Conference in São Paulo or Salt Lake and he doesn’t tell anyone outside of his immediate staff. When he’s gone, it feels kind of eerie on the mission – as though we were all on a boat and there were no captain at the helm. Part of me feels like him departing will feel similar. But I trust that the new President will leave no room for doubt. It sounds like he’ll be a real fireball. We’re all excited here in the Office to see what Fortune holds.
As the number in our team has been cut down and the logistical difficulties have increased, we’ve had to spend more time in the office. It’s not necessarily what I always had in mind – I’ll admit that my heart is in the field – but it’s nice to be able to help the Proselyting Work move forward in any way, shape, or form.
One of the logistical hurdles that is currently rearing its ugly head is the upcoming transfer. It’ll be President Lanius’ last full transfer (he’ll pass about a week after the Transfer hits until the new President arrives). The transfer day, which usually falls on Monday here in Missão Brasil Recife, happens to be the same day that there will be a World Cup Game here in Recife, a World Cup Game between Brasil and another country in Brasília, and the Eve of São João, one of the biggest Winter (remember that we’re in the summer hemisphere) activities in the Northeast. To make matters even more interesting, there’s an unusually large group of incoming missionaries and an unprecedented number of Sisters. So we have to coordinate who stays where, when the old missionaries leave, where the new missionaries will sleep, etc. etc. etc. All of this has to be taken into account to make a smooth transition. It seems like every time we talk about the transfer there’s always one aspect that we forgot to consider and we have to go back to the drawing board.
It’s hard for me to talk a whole lot about my experiences in the office – one, because, well, they’re probably just not all that interesting to most; and two, because much of it is sensitive information. But suffice it to say, my mental capacities have been stretched and turned to angles I had never imagined.
All that being said, the proselyting work doesn’t stop. We’re either working in our own area or doing divisions (mostly doing divisions) most every day of the week from just after lunch to the end of the missionary day (21h00). It’s really nice to still have the contact with the missionaries and be able to have a handful of sweet spiritual experiences that remind me of my purpose here.
As my days have passed on the mission field, I’ve felt myself becoming more and more frank, and clear, and forward with who I am and what I’m here for. I’ve learned a great deal from President Lanius about honesty – at all times, and in all places. If there’s one vice or sin that President Lanius does not tolerate its dishonesty. And it’s been – I don’t know – cathartic, in a way, being pushed to be transparent in every aspect of my interactions with others. Perhaps it’s a culture thing, but I think I had become desensitized to “Fooling” other people in a joking way to provoke a laugh or to try and lighten the mood. Anything and everything from to telling someone I had less time on the mission than I actually do, or telling people I was actually Brazilian to see how long they would believe it. Even sarcasm, though innocent in appearance, I’ve come to see is not in accordance with my calling or responsibility. That’s not to say I’ve turned into a square. But it is to say that I’ve become more sensitized to falsehood in all of its wily and crafty shape-shifting forms.
We say, in the Church, that the Spirit of God is like the Refiner’s Fire. And truly, I’ve come to see that and feel it in the mission. When we listen and follow the small and most subtle inspirations, our capacity to feel God’s guiding hand and progress in becoming more Christlike dramatically accelerates.
I love this quote from Joseph Smith, the first President of the Church of Jesus Christ since it was restored in 1830:
Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach you what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the spirit of the Lord they will go right. Be sure to tell the people to keep the Spirit of the Lord. . .