Monday, September 29, 2008

Our Missionary "Farewell"

We don't have missionary farewells in the Church any more, but our bishopric did ask Beverly and me to speak in church, two weeks and one day before we enter the MTC on October 13, 2008. (We couldn't speak next week because of General Conference nor the following week because of Fast Sunday.)

In Beverly's talk, she related experiences that have inspired her to want to go on a mission to Latin America. She told about our experience ten years ago in Cancun, Mexico, where we met several members of the Church and attended a conference in which President Hinckley spoke. She also talked about our humanitarian trip to Peru eight years ago. Then she mentioned her patriarchal blessing, which said she would be a missionary abroad, and her experience in the temple recently where she had special feelings about our going to Peru, even though at that point we didn't think we'd be able to go to Peru.

In my talk, I focused on the gift of tongues, and mentioned the common interpretation---a gift to speak in a foreign language. However, the most important meaning concerns the ability to talk with a new tongue, even the tongue of angels, in bearing testimony and bringing others to Christ. It's that gift of tongues that I want for Beverly and me in Peru as much as the gift to be able to speak in Spanish.

Here I am with my aged mother, who (thanks to kind help from my sister-in-law) was able to come to our farewell.

Here Beverly and I are accompanied by three of our seventeen grandchildren (Todd, Alec, and Kenna).

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Guess We're Going to Peru After All!

We haven't received official word, but we think we're going to Peru after all. [Note added September 18, 2008: We have received official word because I called the missionary department.]

One of the Biggest Disappointments of My Life
When our mission was postponed due to my heart problems, we were not given much hope of being able to serve our mission in a foreign country, especially not in Peru, where the medical facilities and expertise aren't the greatest in the world. My cardiologist told me "Yes, you'll be able to go on a mission after your operation, but not to Peru."

I was deeply disappointed. I realized that I must have lived a charmed life, because not being able to serve a mission in Peru was one of my top two or three disappointments in my entire life. At times my wife and I decided that we definitely weren't going to Peru on our mission and we started making arrangements for a U.S. mission.

Operation to Cure My Atrial Fibrillation
I had a four-hour catheter ablation on July 10, 2008. It turned out to be a mini-miracle. My heart has been beating almost flawlessly since then. I am up to running five miles, three days a week, and my heart is doing great. I even went on two runs with a heart-rate monitor attached to me, and the resulting ECG showed that my heart was working perfectly (well, nearly perfectly).

I felt so good after the operation that I started praying fervently that we would be able to serve our mission in Peru. I prayed that I would get approval from my cardiologist and from the church to go foreign.

Temple Experience
My wife and I went to the temple just before meeting with my cardiologist seven weeks after my operation. In the temple my wife received the impression that if I asked my doctor, he would write a letter supporting our desire to go to Peru. That's what I did. I met with my cardiologist on September 2, and he agreed to write a letter giving me permission to serve my mission in Peru!

Meeting with Stake President
We met with our stake president on September 9, 2008, gave him the letter from my cardiologist, gave him a letter from me explaining why I felt we could go to Peru, and then he wrote a letter and hand carried everything to the missionary department on September 10.

Approval from Salt Lake
Two days later, September 12, 2008, the stake president called and said that we enter the MTC on October 13, 2008. I asked, "And are we going to Peru?" He said, "I assume so." He said the missionary department will send out an official letter. [Well, he was mistaken. The Missionary Department told me that they do not send out new letters for a simple change in MTC date.]

Word from the Peru Lima East Mission
In the mean time, I got an email from Doug Earl, who is a missionary with the Perpetual Education Fund in Lima. His email said that he had received word from the secretary of the mission that we were coming and that we would be serving a leadership mission. That was all news to us. [Actually, the official description of our call is Member and Leadership Support.]

So we now eagerly await the official letter from the missionary department.