Thursday, 25 June 2015

Called To Serve



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I know that I normally do a Five Things About Me post on Thursdays, but I just have to tell you today about the experience Todd and I had yesterday whilst it is fresh in my mind, so there won't be a Five Things post this week.

As you know, yesterday Todd and I drove to Manchester to the Manchester South LDS Chapel so that we could be there for a special meeting, called a Transfer Meeting.   As a Senior Missionary Couple serving a Service Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, over the next eighteen months,  this is something we will have to do every six weeks or so.   Every Six weeks they have one of these meetings.    Three things happen at these meetings . . .


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1.  New Missionaries (Male and Female) are introduced to the Mission Field, after having been trained at the area MTC (Missionary Training Centre).  At the MTC, they might have had language training, they get used to being away from their families, they learn skills they will need over the next 18 months (females) or two years (males).  At this meeting they are given their first missionary companions, their partners who they will live, eat, pray, study, sleep, serve with 24/7 for at least the next six weeks of their lives.  They are nervous.   They are a tiny bit scared, mixed with a tiny bit very excited.   They are probably more than a little bit homesick.  They are wondering if can they do this, and praying and hoping that they can.


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2.  Missionaries who have been serving for at least six weeks, and often longer . . . are brought together so that they can exchange Missionany Companionships.   Missionaries always serve together in pairs, occasionally there might be three, especially when there are new language issues, but mostly in pairs.   This is called a Companionship.  They will spend all of their time with this "stranger" for at least the next six weeks.  At the end of that time, they will be given new companions.  Sometimes they do serve together for a longer time period, but the switching around happens at this meeting.  So, it's a very exciting time for them, and also a bit sad  . . . because they will most likely have become very good friends with the person they have been spending so much time with over the past weeks, and it's a goodbye to them . . .  but it's also a hello to someone new.

They say these companionships are a great training ground for marriage because it helps these young people to experience all of the challenges which can come about when getting used to living with someone else.   You may be two diametrically opposed personalities.  You might be totally different culturally speaking.  You might clash on every level, but you will have one thing in common . . .  and that is a love for the Saviour, and the desire to serve Him and to preach His Gospel.  So they learn to build on that one commonality, and normally by the end of the time they serve together, they are fast friends.


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3.  Seasoned Missionaries who are now preparing to return home after having served their 18months/two years.  These are the young people who are at the end of their mission time and just within hours/days of returning home to their families.   It is a bittersweet time for them.   They have in all likelihood grown immeasureably both spiritually and physically over the past couple of years, forged lifelong friendships both with other missionaries and with the people they have served.  They have lived, breathed, eaten, slept the Gospel 24/7 for all of this time.   They are saddened to be leaving, but also very excited to go back and see their families whom they haven't been able to see for the whole time they have served. When a Missionary is serving they are only allowed to call home twice a year . . .  Christmas Day, and Mother's Day.   Although they are allowed a weekly e-mail where they can keep their family informed about all of their goings and comings and find out what's been happening at home, for the most part their only communication with their families will have been via the post.  It's much easier for them this way.   They are not as homesick and it helps them to settle in better and to be more content on their missions.


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And so now you know the three groups which are represented at these meetings and now I'll tell you what happened!  It was really special!  I don't mind saying I was a bit nervous because this was my first time going to one of these too!

I am a very nervous passenger in the car.   I find that as I get older, this doesn't get any easier, and I am especially nervous with driving on the Motorway.   So driving long distances, even to the Temple, are a real challenge for me.   I find them very stressful, and especially so when I haven't been to a place before.  Todd is a Saint to put up with me in the car, he really is.  But we got there  in one piece and without too much hassel.

The very first thing that happened when we got out of our car was this body came flying at us from inside the building, a bundle of Missionary excitement!  It was Elder Siriachi, who had served in our Ward here in Chester a while back.   We had not seen him since he had been in Chester but he had been a frequent visitor in our home.  When he first came to the UK, he could not speak very good English, but he learned and he was so excited to see us as we were to see him.  He only has six weeks left to serve on his mission before he goes home, so he was there to transfer companions and move to a new area for his last six weeks.   We were so pleased to see him and to know that he was as excited to see us as we were him.  It made us feel very welcome and also comforted to know that we were thought so highly of.  We also saw Elder Diederich, who was one of the parting Missionaries.  He had served here also just recently and he was preparing to go home after having served his two years. So that was nice also that we had the opportunity to say farewell to him and to wish him well

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At the beginning of the meeting  all of the missionaries lined the walls of the hall leading into the chapel and started singing the hymn "Called To Serve."   As they sang, all of the new Missionaries from the MTC came into the chapel and filed their way up to the front.  It was amazing.  The excitment of all of these young people and indeed even the older ones of us was quite palpable!  There was an opening hymn and an opening prayer and then the Mission President spoke for several minutes. He introduced us Senior Couples to the Missionaries and then came the assigning of the New Missionaries to their New Companions.  Very exciting stuff.   I don't know how many hundreds of missionaries are serving in the Manchester England Mission right now, but there were several hundred at this meeting yesterday, and it was only a portion of all that are in this Mission.   There are over 40 countries represented by these young people and it was fascinating to meet these new missionaries and learn where they were from and a tiny bit about them.  Spain, Brazil, Italy, Bosnia, Romania . . .  America.   These are a few of the countries which were represented yesterday.

After this there was a special musical item from some of the Elders, which was nice.  Everyone in the chapel joined in on the last verse of the hymn they were singing.  It was great!


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The next portion of time was given over to the Missionaries who were leaving the Mission to go home.  One by one, they each of them came up and bore their Testimonies, of what they had learned on their missions and their love for the Saviour. These were very touching . . .  most had a bit of advice for those who had just arrived and begun their missions, and all were filled with such tender words and feelings for the time they had spent over here in the UK serving its people and the Lord.

Todd and I were both so very impressed and touched by the spirit as we listened to them.   These young people are truly amazing individuals.

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At a time when most young people are having a great old time, partying and being very worldly, these young people give up several years of their lives in devotion to their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and  with love for Him and the Gospel . . .  and do so with a willingness and a desire to serve Him.  There is no dating.  No partying.  No promiscuity.  Just a desire to serve.  And they truly do love what they are doing.  They are happy.   They serve with humility and gratitude for the priviledge of being able to do so.  They believe in what they are doing with every fibre of their being.   They know they will be blessed for doing so and that their families will also be blessed for their having served.  It is a sacrifice.   For them.  For their families.  But it is a willing sacrifice, and done with love.

What they are doing is hard.  It is difficult.   It is dangerous.  They have left all that they know and that is dear to them, to live and serve in a strange, and often hostile environment.  There will be days when they will fall to their knees in tears and wonder why they chose to do this.  Days when they are discouraged and when they will feel like they are not accomplishing very much of anything.   But these times of discouragement will be countered by many, many other days and moments when they will know that every tear, every prayer, every minute , every footstep, every  sacrifice has been more than worth all of the effort and the price they have paid, many hundreds of times over.

I stand in awe of them.  I love them.   I am so very grateful to them for what they do, and how they do it.   For their courage and their strength . . .  and their convictions and their faith. And after witnessing all that I did yesterday, I am even more so.  I am proud to be serving along with them and helping them in whatever way we can. 

I don't think I can really say much else.   We arrived home exhausted at the end of the day, but it was a good kind of tired after a day having been well spent.  These next eighteen months are going to be just awesome.  Simply awesome!

If I could say anything at all to you it would be this.   If you see a Missionary on the street, or on your doorstep, give them a smile.  Shake their hand.   Even if you are not interested in hearing the message they bring, let them know you understand what they are doing and why, and let them know you appreciate their efforts.  It costs nothing to be kind, and you just might make a Missionary's very hard day, just that tiny bit better.  Better yet, offer to feed them!  Missionaries love to eat and to serve.



Cooking in The English Kitchen today  . . .  Chicken and Barley Simmer.

Have a fabulous Thursday!  Don't forget  . . .

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And I do too!

15 comments:

Suze said...

Marie I am so glad that yesterday was so positive and motivating. I really am happy for you.

I do have a confession. I normally try to be very kind to all religious callers but a few weeks ago I did have cause to speak sternly to two young missionaries. Around here they ride bikes but one of this pair was a daredevil. He rode his bike across a pedistrian crossing, in front of cars and children. This young man was very fortunate he was not hit. He frightened me because I was in the car and mum was driving. It was a narrow escape..

Please forgive me.

My day has plodded on. It is grey and dreary. We have done a few chores and been to see dad. Someone promised to finish the kitchen and hasn't. I will do that and then I am making a Jamie Oliver, not so quick, dinner.

God bless.

Marie Rayner said...

Oh dear Suzan, so sorry that that happened. You probably should have reported it to the Mission Office as this young man needs to be spoken to sternly by the Mission President who is in charge of his safety and if he is behaving badly,or taking risks he needn't take, he needs to be reprimanded and cautioned. They will know exactly who it is. It would be for his own good. ((((hugs)))) Although they are very special young people they also bring with them their different personalities and are also on a steep learning curve as well. They are very different people at the ends of their missions than they are at their beginnings, having become well seasoned and matured. (Hopefully!)

Even Jamie's fifteen minute suppers are not fifteen minute suppers! But they are usually quite tasty nonetheless! xoxo

Sybil said...

Don't know what happened there but I lost my last comment....Anyway I was saying it was a great read and I was thinking about Luras grandson whilst reading. I am still not sure what you and. Todd are to be doing...? Have a lovely day,the sun is shining and its. Already lovely and warm...of to the coffee morning soon.We like to have everything laid out and ready before people arrive much love winging it sway North x x

Marie Rayner said...

Thanks Sybil! We will be serving the church by supporting the members of Wards in both the Chester and Liverpool Stakes of the Manchester Mission along with the Missionaries serving in those areas. Perhaps they get ill and need a lift to a Doctor, and someone to hold their hand. Or maybe the missionaries have problems with their flat or landlord, and need help. Maybe they just need someone to talk to and some encouragement. Our job will be to make sure that they are well taken care of and safe. We will be the Mission Presidents eyes, ears and hands in this way as he cannot be everywhere at once. Our primary purpose however is to share the love and light of Christ with others, by our actions and our words, and this we do best by serving others. So maybe we will be asked to do volunteer work sometimes or other things. To support new members just coming into the church, etc.

Love you! It has clouded over here now. It was quite sunny earlier! xoxo

Suze said...

The young missionaries are also form so m any different cultures. I am sure it is tough time for them and their contact with home and friends is so limited.

Did I tell you Beth is helping a young LDS bride on Saturday? She is not having a temple wedding. She is young and Beth is helping with hair and make up. Neither of them thinks she needs heavy make up of fancy hairstyles.

The Jamie dinner is on the stove and smells great. I have never made my own curry paste before. This one was simple and didn't even need many of the ingredients, like fish sauce, that reside in our cupboard.

Marie Rayner said...

You are right Suzan. They do come from many different countries and cultures and backgrounds. Some of them have had very priviledged backgrounds, and other's very humble and poor backgrounds. They all have challenges to work through. It is a sacrifice for everyone involved, the grandparents, parents, siblings, etc. But it is done because we love our Heavenly Father and the Lord. How wonderful that Beth is going to be helping this young bride. I am sure she will be quite beautiful. So many young women overdo the makeup and hair these days. I think a natural looking young woman is the prettiest of all! I am sure dinner smells great, esecially now I know it is a curry! xoxo

La Table De Nana said...

I too am glad this is such a positive experience for you.
I admire your faith and devotion and those of the young people..I know bloggers ..their children are away doing exactly that..Purple Chocolate Home for one..the others escape me or maybe she is the only one;)

Kudos..

Marie Rayner said...

Thanks Monique. It is a real sacrifice for a parent. I can only imagine. Love and hugs! xoxo

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Any one willing to be a missionary is a very special person. Many put themselves in harms way to help others and do need our prayers. I hope you are able to do some good to help others too. In a way we are all missionaries as we spread the good news about our Lord and Savior. Very often it's in the what we do and not in words.

Marie Rayner said...

You are very right Pam! Actions speak much louder than words! WE must be His hands! xoxo

LeAnn said...

Oh my dear Marie, this was a lovely post. Having been the mission nurse in the Spokane Washington Mission for 2 1/2 years I was with these choice young people a lot. I loved the Elders and Sisters so much. I could tell you so many funny stories about things they would call me up for.
I still can't keep the tears from coming when I hear the hymn; "Called to serve".
I am so excited for Todd and you to have this marvelous experience. I have some grandchildren that turned 16 years old this year so their missions are only 2 years away. I have one grandson serving a mission right now and he is loving it.
4 of my children served missions and my husband and I have had callings as Stake Missionaries more than once and in different areas. He is retiring soon and we will put in papers to serve one. We may even stay where we are like you doing. If we could take our Sammy on a mission we would; but that can't happen.
Well, you can tell I liked all of this post and in fact I am going to share it with my Grandchildren.
Blessings, love and hugs for you two! I am so happy for you both!

Valerie H. said...

You sound so happy Marie and I'm happy for you and Todd too! What a wonderful experience and I'm proud of you both for your willingness to serve! Both Adam and Kyle came home with many good experiences and the mission really does change them into men. Still can't believe that Kyle served in the England Manchester Mission and ate at your house several times at least. Thank you again for feeding the missionaries. May Heavenly Father give you and Todd the strength to carry out your mission. You both will be WONDERFUL missionaries!!!!

We are going to the Manti Utah, Mormon Miracle Pageant. Leaving tomorrow. Spending several days in Utah visiting different areas too.
Much love to you! xoxo

Marie Rayner said...

Thanks LeAnn, I am sure that the Missionaries loved having you as a Nurse! How blessed you are to have a grandson now serving and a few more waiting in the lines! I think a Service Mission is great for those who want to serve and can't leave their homes! Love and hugs to you and Roger! xoxo

Thanks Valerie! I loved having Kyle in our home. I only wish I had known who he was when I had had him, it would have been even more special! haha I have always wanted to see the Manti Pageant! You will have to tell me all about it and the rest of your trip when you get back! Love to you too! xoxo

Valerie H. said...

I will let you know about the Manti pageant trip (other than it's supposed to be 97 degrees each day there...ohhh!) Wish you and Todd could come with us! That would be so fun. I'll send pictures to you to see. Manti is my favorite temple so far. Love all the carved hand work of the pioneers, etc. I still need to call you! Life has been so busy lately. I think it will be a bit slower when we return. I love you! xoxo

Marie Rayner said...

I will look,feel reward to both your photos and the phone call Valerie! I love the Manti Temple. It is on my list of places I want to go. Love you too! Xoxo