Sunday, July 20, 2008

Memories of my mission

With a son currently serving in the Belem, Brazil Mission and another that is preparing his mission papers, I have reflected back on my own mission. I feel impressed to share some of the experiences I had, and encourage those that read this to share maybe one or two of your favorite missionary experiences in the comments section. Your memories can come from when you were serving in the mission field, or maybe you just had a good missionary experience last week in your home ward.

I served in the Canada Montreal Mission from May 1984 to May 1986. The unofficial mission motto was, "Many are cold, but few are frozen."

I was actually only called to serve an 18 month mission. At the time, all of the elders were called on 18 month missions, but the time length was changed while I was there. Those of us that were already in the field were given the opportunity to serve anywhere from 18 months to 24 months. My father encouraged me to come home and get started on my schooling, but my mom encouraged me to stay in the field for the extra time. I opted to stick around for the extra six months.

I was serving in the mission office, as the financial secretary, when the change occurred, and I was the first person in the mission to know about it. The mission phone rang and I answered. Elder Bangerter of the Seventy called and asked to speak with President Taggart, our mission president. President Taggart was at a zone conference, so Elder Bangerter relayed the information to me and I tracked down President Taggart to inform him.

I remember being interested in what President Taggart’s response would be. When I explained to him that missions had been extended from 18 months to 24 he chuckled. Scott and Lou Ciel Taggart are truly rare people. They have a positive outlook on everything. You get to see this in future posts when I talk about some of the knuckleheaded things I did and how they responded. As I was preparing to write this post I googled Canada Montreal Mission and came across the website I highlighted above. Since serving as my mission President, the Taggart’s have served missions in Chile, South Africa, He was called as the temple president, and she as the temple matron, for the Montreal, Canada Temple in 2000, and they are currently serving in the Madrid Spain Temple. There are not enough superlatives to describe them.

I was born and raised in Orange County, CA. After graduating from high school I worked and surfed for about a year until it was time to go on my mission. When I entered the MTC I had sun bleached blond hair (back when I had hair), and a dark tan.

President Taggart and his wife were actually in the MTC the same time that I was. I was in either the first or second batch of new missionaries for them.

On the day I entered the MTC, there were only two missionaries that were assigned to French speaking missions, myself and Sister Diana Devries. We were both assigned to the same mission.

Sister Devries and I were always put into another companionship, i.e. I was matched up with two other Elders and she was put with two other Sisters. However, there was about a three day period between when our last companions left and our new companions arrived. For those three days our branch president in the MTC told us that we were unofficially companions and to hang out together trying to keep a low profile for three days. I remember once sitting somewhere and just chatting with Sister Devries. Another man walked by, he was probably a branch president for one of the other languages and he looked at us very oddly, kinda like “what are the two of you sitting here together doing without another Elder or Sister present?”

I’ve never heard of another story of 19-21 year old elders and sisters being paired up with each other. It’s possible that Sister Devries and I are unique in that regard.

President Taggart, being aware of the unusual circumstances surrounding Sister Devries and myself, sent her to the northern part of the mission and kept me in the southern part of the mission for the bulk of our missions. We were never assigned anywhere close to each other.

I loved my time in the MTC. It was a spiritual feast to day after day be taught how to draw closer to the spirit and to learn a new language. I remember Elder McConkie coming to speak to us and the powerful testimony of the Savior that he bore.

I will chronicle more of my mission later, but please feel free to add thoughts or memories of your own in the comments section.


Trestin said...

That is the time I have heard of an Elder Sister companionship. Nice blog you have here. I started blogging weekly on my LDS blog after Elder Ballard challenged us.

Dan Knudsen said...

I was in the Northern California Mission 1962-4. At one point we had a Sisters District, with a Supervising Sister (SS) in charge of it. I was working with a Supervising Elder (SE) in October of 1963, and we were near them, so did many activities together, including going to a Drive-In Theatre one Saturday night, to see “The King & I” and “Oklahoma”--the Elders were in the front and the Sisters were in the back, and we laughed when we drove in, as it did look quite different. Our President wouldn’t have liked it if he’d found out about it, but then he also wouldn’t have liked it if we’d gone with Elders. (I’d remembered that we did that more than once, but in checking my journal that was the only time. You also have to remember that back then we were 20 years old and the sisters were 25+.) One time I arm-wrestled each of them, expecting to lose (I weighed under 120 pounds dripping wet, and they were larger than I was), but I won, which surprised everyone present. We included the Sisters in our P-Day activities, including water fights, but not football, which became banned several months later after several injuries prevented several Elders from doing their work.

Dan and Wendy said...

Trestin - Thanks for coming by to visit. I liked your blog as well.

Dan - Thanks for sharing some of your stories. We used to play football in the snow. I'm amazed that we didn't have more injuries.