I love the way Mesa smells during the spring. All of the orange
groves have bloomed and the air smells amazing! I love it. Not to
mention that it's still in the 80's here. It feels wonderful. But just
like before, it's foreboding to know that it will just get hotter. A
shirt and tie will not be as fun during the summer.
It's so great to be a missionary here in Mesa. People definitely
take care of us. It's not uncommon to go out to eat and leave with
more money than you came with. For example, the other day we went to
Panda Express. As we waited in line, one person gave us a coupon for a
free entrée, then another gave us twenty dollars for the meal, then we
got up to pay and someone had already payed for our meal. It's crazy.
Work is still going tough. It's extremely difficult to find people
to teach. We have been going around trying to visit people who had
formerly been learning about the church. We were blessed enough to
have set return appointments with three of them so far. Hopefully it
will be a turn for the better.
What bothers me is how much we rely on the members here. I mean I
don't blame them for being busy. These people are between the ages of
18-30. They are trying to figure out the rest of their lives which
requires a lot of their time. It is just sad to see all of these
return missionaries return to their old ways. It makes me think of how
I want to be when I get back home. Looking back I can already see what
I could have done better and different. But I suppose that's the way
looking back on life always is.
I think the main problem is that I know if each person just gave an
hour of their time, once a week, to the missionaries we would see
amazing growth. If people just had a mindset to help people receive
the blessings that they have been given this work would skyrocket
further than it already has. It makes me think of a hymn named,
"Because I Have Been Given Much". The song is all about how because we
have been given much, we too must give. I never realized exactly what
that song meant until now.
For me it's easy to have that mindset. Especially because I do this
full time. Therefore I look at it through missionary's eyes. It makes
me think of an experience I shared when I spoke in church right before
I left. For those of you who don't know, I'm the oldest of seven
children. They all mean the world to me and I can't help but think
about them more and more every day that I'm away from them. It's
amazing to me how I continue to learn lessons from them, even this far
away from home.
Of those siblings of mine, Peter, Andrew, and Martha are adopted.
They are from a country on the west coast of Africa called Liberia.
They lived there until Peter was 7, Andrew was 5, and Martha was 4.
Liberia was in the midst of civil war when they left. The things that
my siblings had to go through really isn't worth going into much
detail about. Their father James is a role model to me. After the
death of their mother, James knew that there were better ways for his
children to live. War and starvation wouldn't cut it. Because of his
love for them he found an adoption agency to insure a better life for
Peter, Andrew, and Martha then said goodbye to that amazing father
of theirs and moved from their village home of Yorwee to a foster home
in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. A picture was posted of them on
the adoption agency website and shortly after my mother found it. She
knew instantly that they were supposed to be part of our family. I
remember my mom and dad coming to my other siblings and I and asking
whether or not we agreed with their decision to adopt three more
children. I remember with me being eleven and my other siblings
younger the excitement that came with the idea of having three more
hoodlums running around our house.
The adoption process was supposed to take three years. I believe
that it was that long due to the dangers in the country at the time.
Incredibly, six months later I was standing in the Portland airport
waiting for my three new siblings to exit the long flight from Liberia
to Chicago and from Chicago to Portland. My mom gave me a video camera
to film them get off the plane. I remember staring through that camera
as children of all nationalities ran through the gate. It was insane.
I remember beginning to get impatient as I searched through that
camera to find my two little brothers and my sister. As I was watching
the gate I felt something grab my arm. I looked down from the camera
and saw a little African boy holding my arm and staring up at me. He
was wearing yellow tribal clothes and some extremely beat up black
dress shoes. He stood there for a little and then simply said,
"Brother". He then wrapped me up in his little arms and held me. So I
hugged him back and we just stood there for a while holding each
other. I remember how weird it was to love someone as much as I did
without knowing him at all. All I knew was that my brother was finally
I feel like that is similar to what it will be like when we leave
this earth. Even with all the bumps in the road, as long as we follow
the path God has set for us, we will one day be able to embrace our
brother Jesus Christ. We will know that we are home.
Now why on earth would we let someone go without the opportunity to
have that experience one day? That's exactly what missionary work is!
Being a missionary means giving someone the opportunity to look Christ
in the eyes one day, call him brother, and then return safely home.
It's up to them as to whether or not they want that. Our job is simply
to let people choose that for themselves. Every child of God deserves
that. By not performing that divine duty we deprive them of that. My
invitation is simply to look for those who need to have that and then
give them the choice. You are only successful once you invite.
Sincerely, Elder Earl