Saturday, September 6, 2008

Smelling Your Roses in December

When I was a missionary in the Language Training Center S. Dilworth Young, a member of the First Council of Seventy came to address us at a devotional. Even though he was an older dude I thought his stories were very applicable to us even at the time. He told us a story about his life about how when he was a young man he was a soldier in France during World War I. He said many times when he went to the temple in his life this experience would flash through his mind. He felt he had failed a fellow Latter-day Saint by his silence.

One day he said he was on leave walking down the street in a French town. He said he was observing his fellow soldiers as they would interact with the French people. He said he saw a man that was a fellow Saint coming down the side on the other side of the street. For some unexplanable reason Dill stood in a doorway just watching the man. As the man came up to a group of women, one of the women spoke the universal language to the man. The man turned and went inside with her. He felt a sense of guilt that he just stood there and did nothing. He said he always regretted that he never opened his mouth. He cautioned us as missionaries to look out for our companions so that we would never live to have the regrets that he felt that he didn't motion or speak to his buddy.

I have been thinking about this topic this week. On my own mission I think of the many times other elders would tell me to just keep out of something that wasn't my business. I remember one elder who would buy himself a television set and watch TV and read the newspapers. Other elders would tell me I should just enjoy it since the mission president would eventually confiscate it. The elder did get the TV confiscated and went out and bought a second one. Missionaries said we shouldn't squeal each other out.

Even though something might seem harmless on the surface it might have possible ramifications that could affect a missionaries very salvation. In a few places in the church over the years I have heard of elders who left the church because of doctrinal differences.

I have always erred on the side of caution. When S. Dilworth Young spoke to me he told me there wasn't anywhere my companion should go or do that I wasn't with him. I felt an obligation as a missionary even to understand my companions and their doctrinal understanding. The whole reason I was on a mission was to share the gospel. A few times I wasn't overly confident my companions were always teaching the LDS position.

I was glad to have a mission president who understood that young missionaries testimonies and knowledge could be limited. Instead of condemning us he would encourage us to read the scriptures particularly the New Testament and the Book of Mormon which he felt was another testament of Jesus Christ. He encouraged us to read Jesus the Christ. He had discussions and answered questions in all zone meetings and a couple of mission-wide firesides. My generation read and questioned the gospel. Questioning the gospel helped us to draw closer to Christ.

We did not feel that letting our president know one of us was struggling was a loss of faith or a betrayal of a companions confidence. The culture and climate in our mission was that we were there for each other. That is why thirty years later we still we travel hundreds of miles to ask questions of our mission president who is now an apostle.

I never liked the attitude that you can always get forgiveness rather than permission. I was never afraid to pick up the phone and say President my companion is goofing off with some girl making out with her or I don't agree with you said about me or Elder So and So. He would do whatever it took to look out for us. I have always felt there was a little truth to the humorous LDS joke that "Good thing the church is true or the missionaries would have destroyed it along time ago." For the most part most missionaries were valiant and devoted ministers of the gospel but the truth was we were also nineteen, twenty, and twenty-one years olds who had much to learn.

I have always lived my life in such a way that I have been honest maybe at times too brutally. I don't which is worse to say nothing or to say what you think is right. In view of what S. Dilworth Young said I have usually come down on the latter. I think missionaries need to realize that there are times when they must speak out and stand for what they think is right. There will always be those who disagree. S. Dilworth Young said we are our brothers keepers and we need to open our mouths when we see they might be drifting off the path of righteousness so we can look back in our lives and not live with the regret that had we said something we might have saved a brother or sister on the way. Even though many things are interpretation missionaries are entrusted to a mission president who must be a shepherd to his flock.


down under said...

re the title - in the Southern Hemisphere, roses are in full bloom in December lol

Mose said...

I enjoyed this, and I'll pray about your legal dealings.

Brian Barker said...

I think we should have a universal spoken language as well!

If you have time see this interesting video.