June 15, 2016
We receive notice of missionaries who will be joining us by email. We receive a copy of their missionary application and their name suddenly shows up on our missionary software. We are notified of missionaries coming from Mexico as long as 4 months ahead, and sometimes just weeks before they arrive. We are often given a five month alert on missionaries coming from foreign countries due to strict Visa requirements. Yesterday I received notice of 2 new Elders who will join us. Both were of the same ethnicity but from two different countries. The comparison of the two left me uneasy. It was a stark reminder of the different opportunities that are open to some, and not to others.
Elder M. is graduating from high school probably about right now. He has done extremely well in school and earned an Associate’s degree along with his high school diploma in the past few years. His parents are both members of the church. He is an Eagle Scout, a clarinet player, and his sister is also currently serving a mission in Mexico. With 4 years study of Spanish with grades of “A”, he will probably pick up the language quickly.
Elder H. is 20 and joined the church when he was 18. His parents disowned him because of that decision so he lives alone. With only an elementary level education, where he rates his accomplishment level as “not very good,” he has supported himself as a cook for the past 4 years. His home ward will help him purchase the necessary clothing items, and also be the ones to kiss him good bye.
Both Elder M. and Elder H. are highly recommended by their local leaders. Both have the chance to excel here and deepen their own convictions. Each will approach this assignment from their own perspective and face discouragement and challenges differently. Hopefully Keith and I can help guide each to success. I do know one thing for sure – Heavenly Father loves each of them more than can be imagined and will bless them both for their dedicated service. He has the ability to look on the heart and not on the circumstances.