Sunday, February 1, 2009

Introspection 2/1/09


Light snow
Wind 2-3 mph
Temp -26C (warming from -31 yesterday)

This posting is rather personal and intended for the family and close friends. If you don't fit in that group, you can read on, but know that you are a guest and some of the "inside" terminology and references may not mean anything to you.

I had an epiphany today during Fast and Testimony meeting and Sunday School that I want to remember and share with you for your benefit; especially my family because it is very personal. Many people focused their testimonies today on prayer and the answer to prayers they have prayed. The Sunday School lesson was on personal revelation and how God answers prayers. As I sat there listening, a voice in my head said, "This one's for you friend."

Let me back up. During the last 7 months I have become more and more proficient at my job as Financial Secretary for the mission. There are a lot of details to keep in balance and most of those are moving targets.
  1. Missionaries are transferred from city to city, potentially putting them in different apartments every 6-12 weeks.
  2. Their assignments are changed making different people the ones to get certain funds.
  3. Additional funds are sent to branches quarterly via Zone Leaders who change every 2 transfers.
  4. Apartments are closed in some cities while others are opened in others.
  5. Additional funds are needed for in-coming and out-going missionaries under specific circumstances.
  6. Certain missionaries travel between cities and need additional travel funds, unless they, or their companion, are on visa renewal trips or their assignment is changed and no one told me.
And that's a short-hand list of the variables.

So, I put money (rubles) on the missionaries ATM cards so that they can draw money for their various expenses or to get money to a city for a branch. I don't write checks because most people in our mission don't have bank accounts to cash them and the mission has no local checking account. As a result, I have to make sure that the right amount of rubles is on the right missionary's card at the right time for food, rent, branch budget, apartment repair, visa renewal trips, etc., etc. This is all complicated by the fact that all of my requests for money are in dollars and I have to guess what the exchange rate will be so that they get enough, but not excess, for their need and it takes three-plus days for money to get from me to SLC to their cards. By the end of the year I was feeling like I had a firm grasp of the handle on these things and that I was really in control. WRONG!

Starting with the first week in January, I started making mistakes, some of them big ones. I have also started taking an inordinately long time to do things that I would have done faster a month ago. I spent 4 hours on the apartment list yesterday (Saturday) and it was still not right when I got done. Nothing has really changed about my job or its complexity, I'm just doing the same things, but I'm making mistakes that cause missionaries, branches, office staff, and myself a lot of grief.

I began to seriously think that I was experiencing some form of senility or early signs of dementia; really. I have agonized over this lack of focus and the inability to project needs that I did so well in December. Fortunately, I have been very open about this new inability to do my job and have enlisted others to help resolve the problems I have created and they have all been super about it. We've plugged all of the holes and back-filled with funds, but I'm a basket case by last night.

Let me mention one other background item before getting to the punchline. As you know, the Light of Christ (OK, this is where some of you get off the train. Just have a nice day.) is the power of God that flows through Jesus Christ because He is the Savior of this world and all things come from the Father through Him. The Light of Christ, or the Spirit of Christ, or the Power of God is in every living being and it gives life to every living thing. In addition, it "enlightens" every human and is the conscience given to govern the actions of God's children. It is also the conduit through which the Holy Ghost contacts us if we have not suppressed it or denied it completely.

Now, today I got the answer by the Holy Ghost while sitting in Testimony Meeting and again during the Sunday School class on personal revelation. The Holy Ghost spoke to me in my mind, and I was stunned with the perfect, painful truth, the clear rebuke of my own pride and neglect.

When we first came into the mission, I prayed constantly for help to master this job and to serve the mission and the missionaries as Heavenly Father would have me do it. I prayed morning and night and twenty times in between for heavenly help and I received it. I had angels on my shoulders guiding me every day. I knew I needed the help and I knew I was getting it, but something happened in January; I stopped praying about my job. In effect, I said to Heavenly Father, "I can take it from here. I don't need the help anymore", and He said, "Fine. Let's see how you do by yourself." Well, I fell on my face and today I understood why. I had forgotten God and He had withdrawn His angels.

I am confessing this to the whole world and especially to my family. I forgot who was really my strength and to whom I owed everything. I thought I was sufficient alone and I was wrong. I was prideful and I had little to be proud of. God's angels were doing the work and I had forgotten that terrible, beautiful fact. I am in His service, working for His missionaries, in His vineyard and I cannot do this, or any job, without His daily help. Please Father, send those angels back to help me. I am in really desperate need of your, and their, support.

I am also writing this to remind you that whatever you are doing, whatever your struggle is right now, you need His help too. Even if you are cruising, it won't last. Whether you are a regular prayer or a novice, whether you are a believer or a doubter, whether you love God or are angry with Him over something, YOU NEED HIS HELP and the only way you are going to get it is to ask for it. God is governed by His own rules and He has said in scripture that if we knock He will answer, but we have to knock. Please, whether you are cruising or struggling, pray for your Heavenly Father's help. Pray morning and night and in between. You may think that you are doing just fine, but the next challenge is just over the horizon and you need that on-going relationship to know that He will hear and answer your prayer. He has not moved away from you, you have distanced yourself from Him and He's just waiting to bless you. I know that was true in my case and I'll bet it is in yours too.

I love my Father in Heaven and his son Jesus Christ. I owe my body and my life to the Father and my salvation to the Son. Without them I can do little, but with their help and the help of their angels, I can do anything He wants me to do and I can defeat Satan in my own personal war with him and to come home to live with my God again. I know that through Christ's atonement, all mankind will be resurrected to that kingdom, condition, and place where we will be happy. For some, that will be other than in God's house. For me, I want with all my heart to live with Him again. I know that I have been called by revelation to serve in Novosibirsk, Russia and to do this job. And when He again sends me the help I sorely need, I will do it well again.

Thank you Father for the reminder. I'm sorry. I will do better.


Shannon Simmons said...

i love you dad. I was sitting on the beach thinking of you and mom this morning and felt distinctly prompted to include you in my fast. You will get the angels and help you need - i am sure of it. I just love you so very much and am so very grateful for the service you are rendering.

Marilyn said...

We all need reminders that we can't do it alone, and that if we're "cruising" now it won't be long before things will change for us, or those we love, and we need to continually pray for help. Pres. Benson was truly inspired when he taught about pride. Marilyn

Trisha said...

Thank you!

Emily said...

Thank you for the reminder. I appreciate your insight!

Jeanne Morse said...

Thank you for the reminder. That is a beautiful explanation of the power of God that can make our lives worthy of His mercy, love and trust. I miss my first home teacher and pray for you almost every day.

Bob Steed said...

You remain one of my heroes.

JudyGrandma said...

Hi Doug. I have been studying & pondering "light" lately during scripture study and appreciated you comments on light. I'm continuly gaining new insight. Hope all goes well with the surgery.

JudyGrandma said...

Hi Doug. I've been pondering "light" alot lately during my scripture study time and appreicated the way you stated it. I'm always gaining new & renewed insight. Hope all goes well with surgery.

Rodney&Sara+3 said...

Glad to know that you are better and will make it back to Novosibirsk in time for your Visa renewal. Thank you so much for sharing your introspection. It seems like every time I fall on my face and wonder what happened, I gain a similar introspection. Isn't it great to be humbled! :)