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Mission status updates?


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I'm interested in what you are experiencing/observing in your areas and circles of acquaintances. Here's what I'm observing:

1) Our son was one of the lucky ones in Europe. He comes home from his mission in Norway in June, and both church and social restrictions have been a lot less onerous, so his mission wasn't affected as much as many others. Missionaries actually getting there has slowed down, and there are indications that the well might dry up into late spring, so his mission may be down to around 30 or so when he comes home.

2) Our daughter finishes her freshman year of college in the spring. She has decided to go another semester before leaving for a mission for a few reasons. a) she wants the dust to settle from the craziness so she's not caught in all the craziness of reassignments, etc.. b) she would really like a chance at going foreign, if possible, and there are far fewer going out in mid-winter than in June (missions everywhere get a huge amount of missionaries in June/July, when most go because school is out). c) that will allow the mass chunk of 30,000 sudden reassignments to have worked themselves out of the system.

3) My aunt and uncle were supposed to leave for their mission to Arkansas in June, but after repeated delays and very little communication from the missionary department, they were reassigned to work from home doing family history records scanning. They have received very little instructions and have no oversight, so they are out to sea. They are doing what work is given to them, but don't really get any instructions or have anyone they even report to. My uncle says if they did nothing, no one but they would know. They are quite disappointed.

4) We are housesitting for a couple in our ward who originally put in for Spain/Portugal. After many months of delays and little communication, the stake president finally contacted the missionary department, who asked him to begin the process all over again. After more months, they were called to Boise, doing family history. They left a few weeks ago, and have been asked to do indexing (which they can do at home, of course). They are also quite disappointed.

5) We have several friends' children have received foreign calls, but are stateside on reassignment. Some of these will probably end up being permanent, we think (e.g., a boy called to Brazil, but sent to West Virginia. We told him West Virginia might be one of the neatest areas in the U.S. --- so different from Arizona. But, will he ever get there?).

6) There are some very weird calls. My wife's friend's son was called to Phoenix, "French speaking." When we expressed surprise at this, she said, "Oh, yes. The Church told us there is an extensive community of French expatriots from Lyon and Nice in the Phoenix area." From what I can see, this isn't true at all, and any native French speakers in Arizona would actually be taught in English, so there isn't any real reason to have language missionaries for that. We **think** that the Church might be calling missionaries stateside with odd (for the area) languages so that they might have some who could go on short notice if international areas open up. Another odd one was a missionary in the Tempe mission called to Alberta, Canada Tagalog speaking. That seems similar to the Phoenix/French one. This elder was recently transferred to a neighboring stake (we knew him in Gilbert, he is now in Casa Grande), so he's been on his reassignment for 8-9 months so far. 

7) Our mission (Tempe) has consolidated a lot of the housing, so that around 10 missionaries or so are in one house. There are a lot of reassignments as well as "original call" missionaries. We've become our sisters' go-to for church. While our area is not Covid-restricted, our stake president still has us only meeting twice a month with no activities. On the off weeks, the sisters regularly bring investigators for our family services. That's been a lot of fun! 

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What are you hearing/seeing? 

1) Are you aware of couple missionaries who are actually being sent to missions for things other than family history?

2) Are you aware of missionaries being actually sent yet to Asia, South Pacific, Central/South America?

3) What other information can you add about your local area or people you know? I'm very curious how what I know at first or second-hand compares to what others are observing/experiencing.

Thanks in advance!

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I've got two friends, with sons going out of the country (one to Africa and one I can't remember) and they've been told by the missionary department they WILL go to their assignments.  Guess we'll see if it happens.  

My 18 year old (19 in March) is waiting to put his papers in until there is more of a chance to go foreign as well (but his plan is to put them in this spring regardless).  We've had one sister missionary leave (in september) from the ward who was assigned to Canada but has been in Texas.  

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1) Are you aware of couple missionaries who are actually being sent to missions for things other than family history?

I don't actually know of any couples going out at all.

2) Are you aware of missionaries being actually sent yet to Asia, South Pacific, Central/South America?

Missionaries in the next couple of weeks will be going back to Uruguay, Paraguay, Germany, Guam, Ghana, South Africa,  possibly Uganda, Mexico (some are already back),  Caribbean Islands (Trinidad) 

Missionaries newly arrived,  now in quarantine or just got out - they arrived in their missions and then needed to quarantine for at least 10 days: lots of missionaries in Tokyo and other Japanese missions, maybe Korea?,  Poland

Brazil starts with missionaries coming in January 

 

Tanzania opens on Jan 27

Ethiopia was opening up, but was postponed due to civil war

Ukraine not getting any till late spring 

There have been a number of Samoan missionaries serving in the US who haven't been able to go home. Some have been "extending" nearly the whole time of covid.  The church can't release them because it would then cause Visa problems.  There was a "mercy flight" scheduled for these missionaries to go home and quarantined for a month, but it was canceled at the last minute so the missionaries returned to their missions. At least 1 sister is now doing pathways as part of her extension.

 

 

Edited by Rain
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12 hours ago, rongo said:

1) Are you aware of couple missionaries who are actually being sent to missions for things other than family history?

Two months ago, our stake received a proselyting missionary couple from America, so yes.

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2) Are you aware of missionaries being actually sent yet to Asia, South Pacific, Central/South America?

Three months ago, the Elders assigned to our ward were from Ecuador and Argentina, and I don't live in Ecuador or Argentina, so yes. I wouldn't be surprised if many nations are not so keen on receiving missionaries from America right now, for obvious reasons.

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3) What other information can you add about your local area or people you know?

All of the missionaries currently being called in our nation are serving here. I've met others who were called to serve in Portugal and Colombia who were reassigned to here with no expectation of any changes. An Elder who was just transferred from our ward had been serving in Mexico but was sent back here to complete his mission.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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7 hours ago, Rain said:

Zimbabwe first week of January

Couple, or young missionary?

ETA: Our friend's son's call was slightly amended to include Swahili along with French (Phoenix Arizona Mission). He starts home MTC in December, and goes to Arizona in February. My youngest looked it up, and said, "Dad --- there are even fewer Swahili speakers in Arizona than French!" Like with French, any Swahili speakers missionaries come into contact with would be taught in English. I have had and have now Kenyan students, but . . . they speak English. This thing now of calling stateside missionaries learning languages that they will never use in their missions is weird. Maybe the intent is to send them abroad if and when it opens up, but I don't think so. 

Edited by rongo
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36 minutes ago, rongo said:

Couple, or young missionary?

ETA: Our friend's son's call was slightly amended to include Swahili along with French (Phoenix Arizona Mission). He starts home MTC in December, and goes to Arizona in February. My youngest looked it up, and said, "Dad --- there are even fewer Swahili speakers in Arizona than French!" Like with French, any Swahili speakers missionaries come into contact with would be taught in English. I have had and have now Kenyan students, but . . . they speak English. This thing now of calling stateside missionaries learning languages that they will never use in their missions is weird. Maybe the intent is to send them abroad if and when it opens up, but I don't think so. 

Could it be the church is expecting to teach refugees that speak those languages in Arizona?  They would learn English eventually but they don't always know it at first right?  @Rain, your thoughts on that?

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42 minutes ago, rongo said:

Couple, or young missionary?

ETA: Our friend's son's call was slightly amended to include Swahili along with French (Phoenix Arizona Mission). He starts home MTC in December, and goes to Arizona in February. My youngest looked it up, and said, "Dad --- there are even fewer Swahili speakers in Arizona than French!" Like with French, any Swahili speakers missionaries come into contact with would be taught in English. I have had and have now Kenyan students, but . . . they speak English. This thing now of calling stateside missionaries learning languages that they will never use in their missions is weird. Maybe the intent is to send them abroad if and when it opens up, but I don't think so. 

Young missionary.

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1 minute ago, bluebell said:

Could it be the church is expecting to teach refugees that speak those languages in Arizona?  They would learn English eventually but they don't always know it at first right?  @Rain, your thoughts on that?

That would be possible in very large cities, or pockets with known refugee centers, like Minnesota for Somalis, Seattle and Minneapolis for Hmong, etc. The French and Swahili footprint in Arizona (even African or Caribean French) is very, very small. It seems ridiculous to have missionaries go through the training and wear language name tags in Arizona for things like that. I think our friend's son will go his entire mission without meeting a single person who only speaks French or Swahili (more likely to be able to practice with people who have some knowledge of them). According to our friend, his call information said that there is an expatriate community in Arizona of people from Lyon and Nice (not Africans or Caribeans), and this seems ludicrous, from what I can find. 

I don't know if they're trying to make some stateside calls seem more "special" or something. I think it's likely that in at least some cases, they are trying to build a pool of missionaries who could go foreign if and when it opens up, but the language prep in Arizona and other places will be practically as if none had happened at all. Yes, they will be studying and presumably Facebook messaging with MTC people, but that kind of prep has a ceiling. When you actually get there, it's a different story. 

I mentioned the Elder in our mission who was called to Alberta, Tagalog speaking. He's nowhere close to getting to Canada, and is a neighboring stake now, approaching half of his mission. @Duncan, are there pockets of Filipinos in Alberta (farm workers, maybe)? That seems similar to me. 

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29 minutes ago, bluebell said:

Could it be the church is expecting to teach refugees that speak those languages in Arizona?  They would learn English eventually but they don't always know it at first right?  @Rain, your thoughts on that?

That is a good possibility especially in the Phoenix mission.  We have a lot of refugees from the DRC that speak swahilli here.  I do wonder if they would be able to cross the border into the next mission.  I'm trying to see where the border is as we have a ton of that could be either side of the mission.

Edited for safety of the refugees.

Edited by Rain
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My sister was called to the Netherlands but she's been reassigned to Washington for the time being. Not sure when she'll get to go. 

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2 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

My sister was called to the Netherlands but she's been reassigned to Washington for the time being. Not sure when she'll get to go. 

That would be disappointing.

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Just now, bluebell said:

That would be disappointing.

It would be. She's still in home MTC right now so there's plenty of time though.

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8 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

My sister was called to the Netherlands but she's been reassigned to Washington for the time being. Not sure when she'll get to go. 

Which Washington mission? My son visa-waited for Norway in the Kennewick mission (six weeks in NE Oregon), and loved it. 

It is frustrating and disappointing at first. The difference is the uncertainty with travel outside of the U.S. right now (no end in sight). I know missionaries who are halfway done with their missions on reassignment, and counting. Past that point, I don't know if it makes sense to go to the field --- they might want to just keep them in the reassigned mission. Especially for sisters serving 18 months, or elders more than halfway done. 

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14 minutes ago, bluebell said:

That would be disappointing.

I've been thinking about this a lot.  It would be hard to be called to one mission and then have it change.  But this also really shows how we hold missions outside of our country higher and that isn't a good thing.

I get It.  I really wanted to serve out of country, but with my diabetes it was never going to happen.  

It really explains well though some problems between stateside called and foreign called, but reasigned missionaries as companions. I haven't heard a lot, but there has been some.

Edited by Rain
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12 minutes ago, rongo said:

That would be possible in very large cities, or pockets with known refugee centers, like Minnesota for Somalis, Seattle and Minneapolis for Hmong, etc. The French and Swahili footprint in Arizona (even African or Caribean French) is very, very small. It seems ridiculous to have missionaries go through the training and wear language name tags in Arizona for things like that. I think our friend's son will go his entire mission without meeting a single person who only speaks French or Swahili (more likely to be able to practice with people who have some knowledge of them). According to our friend, his call information said that there is an expatriate community in Arizona of people from Lyon and Nice (not Africans or Caribeans), and this seems ludicrous, from what I can find. 

I don't know if they're trying to make some stateside calls seem more "special" or something. I think it's likely that in at least some cases, they are trying to build a pool of missionaries who could go foreign if and when it opens up, but the language prep in Arizona and other places will be practically as if none had happened at all. Yes, they will be studying and presumably Facebook messaging with MTC people, but that kind of prep has a ceiling. When you actually get there, it's a different story. 

I mentioned the Elder in our mission who was called to Alberta, Tagalog speaking. He's nowhere close to getting to Canada, and is a neighboring stake now, approaching half of his mission. @Duncan, are there pockets of Filipinos in Alberta (farm workers, maybe)? That seems similar to me. 

oh yes! and Spanish as well. This mission had a Spanish missionary program but it kind of flopped overtime, lack of interest,2 or three tiny areas with Spanish people, missionary burnout, missionaries not getting the language etc.

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12 minutes ago, rongo said:

Which Washington mission? My son visa-waited for Norway in the Kennewick mission (six weeks in NE Oregon), and loved it. 

It is frustrating and disappointing at first. The difference is the uncertainty with travel outside of the U.S. right now (no end in sight). I know missionaries who are halfway done with their missions on reassignment, and counting. Past that point, I don't know if it makes sense to go to the field --- they might want to just keep them in the reassigned mission. Especially for sisters serving 18 months, or elders more than halfway done. 

She's going to Tacoma. Hopefully it'll be a good experience.

My poor cousin was assigned to Tahiti and has spent around 10 months in Kentucky. A friend of mine from college was assigned to Russia and has spent around 10 months of her mission in Missouri. If she ever gets to Russia she'll only have a few months. Her mission will have been Missouri. My heart goes out to them. 

Edited by OGHoosier
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2 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

She's going to Tacoma. Hopefully it'll be a good experience.

My poor cousin was assigned to Tahiti and has spent around 10 months in Kentucky. A friend of mine from college was assigned to Russia and has spent around 10 months of her mission in Missouri. If she ever gets to Russia she'll only have a few months. Her mission will have been Missouri. My heart goes out to them. 

It's not so bad once one gets around the disappointment and expectations. My son still writes and writes back to people from his Milton-Freewater, Oregon stint. If he would have stayed there his whole mission (SE Washington, NE Oregon), it would have been more than fine. We're going to go see the little town of 7,000 people when he gets home, and meet some of the people. :) 

Maybe the "weird" stateside language calls are a way of trying to prepare some without the expectations of going (i.e., without a reassigned call. If it happens, it happens, but it will be a pleasant surprise because you thought you were going to be in ________ all along)? 

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7 minutes ago, Rain said:

I've been thinking about this a lot.  It would be hard to be called to one mission and then have it change.  But this also really shows how we hold missions outside of our country higher and that isn't a good thing.

I get It.  I really wanted to serve out of country, but with my diabetes it was never going to happen.  

It really explains well though some problems between stateside called and foreign called, but reasigned missionaries as companions. I haven't heard a lot, but there has been some.

My biggest fear when I put my papers in was that I would be called out of the country, so I can't really relate to the idea that serving outside of the country is better.  I was just thinking about how when you are called you get excited about that specific area, and there is a lot to be excited about in the Netherlands that doesn't translate to going to Washington.

Having said that, I think it's important for missionaries to understand that COVID can't take away the mission experience that they were meant to have.  Wherever they end up going was always where God had planned for them to go.  Their reassignments are not plan B in God's eyes.

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10 minutes ago, bluebell said:

My biggest fear when I put my papers in was that I would be called out of the country, so I can't really relate to the idea that serving outside of the country is better.  I was just thinking about how when you are called you get excited about that specific area, and there is a lot to be excited about in the Netherlands that doesn't translate to going to Washington.

Having said that, I think it's important for missionaries to understand that COVID can't take away the mission experience that they were meant to have.  Wherever they end up going was always where God had planned for them to go.  Their reassignments are not plan B in God's eyes.

Yes, it's kind of interesting how it works. My son has had a number of reassigned companions.  He really wanted to learn a different language on his mission.  It isn't the same and I'm sure it's not the reason,  but he has been learned some from them.

However, because he was in the "tech zone" he helped make videos for Portuguese as well because there are quite a few who speak it there which surprised me.

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On 12/13/2020 at 9:53 AM, bluebell said:

I think it's important for missionaries to understand that COVID can't take away the mission experience that they were meant to have.  Wherever they end up going was always where God had planned for them to go.  Their reassignments are not plan B in God's eyes.

I wouldn't say that in all cases. I think that would be essentially the "predestination" view, like Dr. Pangloss in Candide : that all mission calls, and how they turn out and what is involved with them must be God's will, because if He willed it differently, it would have been different. That's also circular.

I think in many cases, mission calls are practical / expedience (i.e., what missions need how many missionaries on this day when we are assigning this pool of missionaries?). Another major factor that is looked at is where parents and grandparents have served; I know that this carries a lot of weight. Another major factor is where one's ancestors come from (my son is an outlier in his mission -- Norway. Almost all of the other missionaries have heavy Norwegian ancestry, including many who have parents who emigrated to the U.S. He has no Scandanavian ancestry at all, but he's an exception). We had a family in our ward from Utah who had grown up in Brazil before moving to Arizona. The son was called to go to Portugal, and the family noted that every single American expat in Brazil they knew (there were eight youth in the same age group) had been called to Portugal. Not within Brazil, but Portugal. It seems that there are several "flow chart" factors that play a major role.

This is not to say that inspiration doesn't play a role, of course, but I think that a lot of the inspiration is of the "counseling with councils" type --- with the flow chart triggers functioning like a "council" in many ways. And, there are dramatic exceptions to all of this, of course. 

My biggest reason for not thinking that all mission calls are de facto exactly what God foresaw and planned for each missionary is the experience we've all had with "the surge" and this Covid year. The Tempe mission president told us during the surge, when there were at least 2-3 companionships in each ward (they were tripping over each other, and it was hard to stay busy), that he received calls each month asking if he could take on 30 unplanned missionaries, with little notice. This led to a lot of sets of three and a lot of warehousing of missionaries in houses. A similar bottleneck has happened with the 30,000 reassignments in March and April. I wouldn't say that this was exactly what God had in store and in mind for all of these missionaries; rather, I think it was reactive to an unforeseen situation.

The delays, fumbling, requests to resubmit applications after six months as a stall tactic, and then calls to to family history from home (my aunt and uncle), or indexing at great expense from an apartment in Boise (the couple we are housesitting for) all look like the Missionary Department sticking people who are persistent somewhere. 

And then we have the missionaries we all know: those who continue to be called to places they probably never will get to (our friend's son coming up on 9 months in West Virginia, hoping to go to Brazil; a boy from a former ward called to Russia and waiting in Seattle, etc.). What is God's purpose in calling thousands of youth to places they will not ultimately serve in? Teaching them patience and dealing with affliction? Do you really think that's why they were called to missions they won't serve in?

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The keys to the kingdom of God function much like the keys to a house or car or anything else.  They grant access to the functions of whatever the keys open and the act of God giving the keys signifies he trusts the keyholders to use them as he would approve.

Those who have keys can still use them for their intended purpose while we they deal with COVID even though COVID may deter them a bit from doing what they would do if they did not need to deal with the COVID virus.

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22 minutes ago, rongo said:

I wouldn't say that in all cases. I think that would be essentially the "predestination" view, like Dr. Pangloss in Candide : that all mission calls, and how they turn out and what is involved with them must be God's will, because if He willed it differently, it would have been different. That's also circular.

I think in many cases, mission calls are practical / expedience (i.e., what missions need how many missionaries on this day when we are assigning this pool of missionaries?). Another major factor that is looked at is where parents and grandparents have served; I know that this carries a lot of weight. Another major factor is where one's ancestors come from (my son is an outlier in his mission -- Norway. Almost all of the other missionaries have heavy Norwegian ancestry, including many who have parents who emigrated to the U.S. He has no Scandanavian ancestry at all, but he's an exception). We had a family in our ward from Utah who had grown up in Brazil before moving to Arizona. The son was called to go to Portugal, and the family noted that every single American expat in Brazil they knew (there were eight youth in the same age group) had been called to Portugal. Not within Brazil, but Portugal. It seems that there are several "flow chart" factors that play a major role.

This is not to say that inspiration doesn't play a role, of course, but I think that a lot of the inspiration is of the "counseling with councils" type --- with the flow chart triggers functioning like a "council" in many ways. And, there are dramatic exceptions to all of this, of course. 

My biggest reason for not thinking that all mission calls are de facto exactly what God foresaw and planned for each missionary is the experience we've all had with "the surge" and this Covid year. The Tempe mission president told us during the surge, when there were at least 2-3 companionships in each ward (they were tripping over each other, and it was hard to stay busy), that he received calls each month asking if he could take on 30 unplanned missionaries, with little notice. This led to a lot of sets of three and a lot of warehousing of missionaries in houses. A similar bottleneck has happened with the 30,000 reassignments in March and April. I wouldn't say that this was exactly what God had in store and in mind for all of these missionaries; rather, I think it was reactive to an unforeseen situation.

The delays, fumbling, requests to resubmit applications after six months as a stall tactic, and then calls to to family history from home (my aunt and uncle), or indexing at great expense from an apartment in Boise (the couple we are housesitting for) all look like the Missionary Department sticking people who are persistent somewhere. 

And then we have the missionaries we all know: those who continue to be called to places they probably never will get to (our friend's son coming up on 9 months in West Virginia, hoping to go to Brazil; a boy from a former ward called to Russia and waiting in Seattle, etc.). What is God's purpose in calling thousands of youth to places they will not ultimately serve in? Teaching them patience and dealing with affliction? Do you really think that's why they were called to missions they won't serve in?

1)  

What I'm saying is that COVID can't steal the mission experience someone was meant to have.  They'll have the one God wants for them.  

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19 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

As I've written about previously, part of what got me on a mission was a dream my first year at university where I spent the entire night as a full-time missionary. When I awoke the next morning, I was filled with indescribable peace and joy and wanted to recapture that experience. I was long bothered, however, by a certain element of the dream: visiting the home of a then-popular rock star. Surely that wasn't from God, I always felt.

About 18 months later, whilst teaching one of our investigators, I shared this oddity with her only to discover that her mum, a real estate agent, had recently sold a house in their neighbourhood to this very rock star. As a result, the weirdest part of that dream was perfectly fulfilled, and in the process, I came to realise that God had known 18 months in advance not just that I would choose to serve and then be assigned to a certain mission, but He also knew which areas I was going to serve in and which people I was going to be blessed to teach.

I refuse to believe that I'm somehow more on God's radar than any other missionary in the Church.

Last month I travelled to a neighbouring jurisdiction at the request of an 18-year-old boy who is the non-member son of an inactive ward member who accidentally killed himself five years ago. This boy, now living on his own after five years in kinship care, said he wanted to start attending church and asked me to go with him his first time. Who can say no to that?! So I got his address and had the Elders in our ward look up the local ward's details for me. I then contacted the bishop to let him know the situation, and the good bishop put arrangements in place to welcome this young man. The Elders also used their app to give me the location and meeting time for the ward. I was ready to go.

The Saturday that I travelled to meet him, this young man told me to pick him up from the basketball courts several kilometres from where he's living. When I got there, he'd gone across the street to buy a slushie, so I met him at the shopping centre instead. As we were walking out, he spotted the Sister missionaries and pointed them out to me. It turned out that they were the missionaries in the ward he lived in (and out of their area). Good stuff. He and one sister, called to Portugal but reassigned here (for now?), really hit it off. As we separated, I told the Sisters that we would see them in the morning. Morning? The ward meets at 1:00, they said. So I showed them the information I'd been given by the Elders straight from the Church's app. It was wrong in both time and location.

In short, if B---- hadn't left the courts to get a drink, and if we hadn't left the food court when we did, and if he hadn't spotted the Sisters (and if they hadn't been out of their area), we would have showed up the next morning at the wrong building and wrong time. Instead, we got the correct information, and everything went brilliantly. The members of the ward were expecting him and were prepared to offer lifts to YSA activities, to church, etc. He's recently contacted me to ask me to keep 1 January open for his baptism. :D

I reckon we can fight against God's involvement in our lives, but it has been my experience that He really does have a plan and knows how to execute it, right down to the details.

He definitely does.  Some people just greatly underestimate the effect that the influence of the Holy Spirit can have when we choose to be guided by him... sometimes even against the well-intentioned counsel of some of our lower echelon leaders.

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