Thursday, October 30, 2008

Elder Dougie's Birthday 10/27/42

lder Dougie's Birthday 

Weather Report:
Overcast & rainy
Wind moderate

Temp 5.7c

No, that's not the date today. That's my birth date. I'm 66 and gratified to have gotten this far. By now, I have outlived both of my parents and escaped the curse of repeating the father's death date. My next hurtle is the early 80's. That was my mother's mother's age when she died. I figure my longevity won't be seriously challenged until then.

The next 15+ years will be clear sailing (pardon the pun Dick), and I figure that we can get in 5 more missions before we are 82. I say "we" because Sister Cindy and I were born the same year. She just came three weeks earlier to make sure things were in order. You can't leave the details to chance.

Anyway, about the missions, I figure we get back from Russia in May of 2010. If I can get Shannon to plant some peas in March, Green Beans in April, and tomatoes the first of May, we could have the garden up and going by the time we get home. Then a fall garden with a planting of peas and Cole crops in August and we are good until spring. Then we put in our papers for Tahiti or maybe Guatemala in spring, have the summer to work in the yard and party, leave in the fall, winter in the tropics for 18 months, home again for another 18 months, Nauvoo for 18 months . . . what do you mean that won't work. I've done my time in Siberia, don't I get to pick my missions from now on? No? The Lord? Whoa! You mean we have to do this, "I'll go where you want me to go" thing again? Each time?

Well, why not. The Lord did a pretty good job with this assignment. I, we, have become deeply convinced that this truly is the place we should be and doing what we really need to be doing. That's a real leap from where we were in June. Man, was that a shock. You know what made the change? The missionaries.

I am sure that every senior couple loves their missionaries, but anyone who knows how the Lord works knows that the most capable get the hardest jobs. That's just how it works. If you are having a rough time, just know that God is testing your metal, but He will not test you more than you can bear. That is why I, we, can say without fear of overstating the obvious, this is the hardest place to put missionaries and therefore these are the best God has to put in the fight. I am sure the missionaries in our next mission assignment will be great, but these are the best.

We just said goodbye to several of our Zone's missionaries who are going to other cities and I did not realize how much I loved them until they said goodbye. They are my sons and daughters. They are family, and I will miss each of them very much. We will especially miss Elder Jones, left, who was an Assistant to the President (AP) He left for home and another life at BYU in January. As his companion, Elder Egan, said, "He was a good soldier." We also love Elder Egan who left for his last transfer in another city before going home to the "girl he left behind." The only consolation is that others just as good and just as valiant have replaced them and I will soon love them just as much.

They are why I will go again. Oh yea, there is the obedience thing, and the called to serve thing, but it is the missionaries that will draw me back into the mission field anywhere in the world again. It is not the palatial accommodations, the gregarious neighbors, the sumptuous food, the moderate climate, the huge wards and stakes, the Temple nearby, the supportive local authorities, or the personal freedoms that will bring me back into the mission field. It is the opportunity to support, love, and serve these great missionaries and what's more, they need us. We are their link to home, their surrogate parents, a friendly face and a kind word to combat the rejection and hostility. We are actually needed and appreciated and loved in return. This is a truly needed service and the Lord has allowed us to give it. I have five of these great missionaries in my own family and I can say without fear of being called parochial and prejudiced, these are among the finest human beings I know. Someone served them in a like manner, and it is a joy and a privilege to fill that role for the son or daughter of someone else.

Enough of that. Lets get on with the elder Dougie's BIRTHDAY, day. I first awoke to the melodious tones of "Happy Birthday" from my companion and chief grampa-sitter, Sister Cindy. I got SKYPED by the Youells, Shannon, my sister Diane, Brian & company, talked to some of our friends via the SKYPE telephone service and an email birthday wish from Scott. Thank you all for the love and the birthday wishes.

We needed to do apartment inspections this day as the Monday before transfer day, so President Gushin drove us around to the five apartments and at each we gave them Sister Cindy's cupcakes and I was greeted with more renditions of Happy Birthday from each companionship. At the sister's home I received several pieces of "wacky cake" (an egg-less cake from the mission cook book).

We then stopped at Megas for a few odds-and-ends and proceeded to the office where I was again regaled with Happy Birthday from various members of the office crew and finally shared the cupcakes Sister Cindy made and the wacky cake along with some ice cream I picked out at the Megas. All in all, if I'd have to have paid royalties on the Happy Birthday song, It would have cost me a pretty rouble.

That night Sister Cindy served lemon chicken & mashed potatoes to Elders Pister & Doroshkin (both of whom left for other cities) and the office elders (Watson & Worthen) and the birthday grampa and again received the usual musical offering. It was a fun day and I had fun with it.

Being in this particular country is only a footnote to being in the mission field with these missionaries. It really does not matter where we serve, it just happens to be here right now. Serving is the important thing. God has blessed us with the health, the means, and the support to do this and what better way to "wear out your life". We love being with our family and watching them grow. We love traveling with our friends, and we will again. We love playing "Hand & Foot" with them and we will again. We love being involved in the ward and the community and we will do that again too, but when the Spirit whispers "Go" each of us needs to decide what we value most. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

What a life. What a birthday. What a country to experience both in.

1 comment:

Shannon Simmons said...

love you dad! You are right on with missionaries & missions. Its the best of the best. Now you also understand why we returned missionaries miss it so very much.