“Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.” (D&C 107:99)
Last May we opened a letter from President Monson and read our mission calls. They read, “You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Virginia Richmond Mission. Your primary assignment is to labor with the Charlottesville Virginia CES programs as a CES specialist.”
That sounded very appealing. We were both pleased. We started to picture our lives for the next 18 months. Online pictures of Charlottesville were spectacular. We checked for wards and branches in north/central Virginia and the church was well represented.
A bit more difficult to picture was the specific assignment to serve as CES missionaries. We knew the University of Virginia was in Charlottesville. The obvious answer was that we would help teach Institute of Religion at UVA. We also pictured some work with seminaries.
Time has passed and we now have three months behind us. The mission we pictured, and the reality of our service, is, as you would guess, much different.
To begin with, the institute classes are much more varied than we anticipated. We participate in young single adult institute during the day on campus, young single adult institute in the evening, institute for marrieds, institute for mid-single adults, and institute for sisters. We regularly teach some of these classes. We team-teach others, and we are always the first choice as a substitute.
We were familiar with institute classes on college campuses. There are two each week at UVA and two at James Madison University. The CES area coordinator teaches all four of these classes. He is a remarkable teacher. He is experienced in gospel teaching and it shows. Students readily participate in his classes and it is easy to feel the spirit of the Holy Ghost. Through his example we are better teachers.
So we spend a considerable amount of time preparing to teach, teaching, and supporting. We enjoy it and feel we have some influence – now to the point of this post. We find CES missionaries do much more than teach. For example:
Cooking. We had a feeling we would be in charge of treats. For each institute we bring something to eat. Generally, and fortunately, it is almost always treats rather than meals. Sister Ware insists on mixing in the proper amount of healthy fruits and vegetables. Planning and preparing can increase the level of missionary stress. We find good planning is the key.
Emails. Our second bedroom has two tables, and two computers, a desktop and a laptop. On Mondays it is the most popular room in the Virginia Richmond Mission. Our computers are booked beginning at 9 a.m. Every minute is taken until 6 p.m. The mission rule is 1½ hour per missionary each week to email home. The only way to squeeze in more missionaries on the computer is to squeeze in more hours in the day. Jokes, cookies and candy seem to add to the popularity of our computers.
Missionary problems. Each week the missionaries send an email to the mission president and his wife. I can only imagine the problems they hear about. They do a wonderful job of being positive and sharing the many good things that happen. A few of the problems find their way to our apartment. You can imagine. Problems like include being sick (we have sent one missionary to the emergency room), hurt (like jammed fingers from basketball), depressed and homesick (every new missionary faces it).
Parenting. When mom is not available call Sister Ware. A couple of weeks ago a young lady in the ward came to Sister Ware in tears. She had lost her laptop computer. It’s a long story. The story has a happy ending. Sister Ware found it and computer and student were reunited. Thanks mom . . .er, Sister Ware.
Hair cuts. As a companionship we have our secrets. Sister Ware does not want anyone to know she plays the accordion. Because of misplaced athletic pride, I do not want anyone to know I hurt my leg playing basketball (the limp may give it away). The word leaks out on those secrets, but there is one secret we must keep – Sister Ware can cut hair. Think of it, missionaries, YSA ward members, neighbors, young and old, male and female, all needing haircuts. One desperate young brother needed a haircut. Late one evening, in the quiet of 1323 Villa Way, Unit C, Sister Ware relented. A slip of the tongue by that young man and our missions are forever changed.
Love counseling. Together we do some YSA eternal pairing, but only in our minds. Despite our lack of direct involvement, we feel assured our coupling skills are superior to those of inexperienced youth. A few have cautiously approached us for advice. Our recommendations have been subtle, even when we are sure the blonde would be a better match than the brunette.
Go between. Everyone knows missionaries can only call home on Christmas Day and Mothers Day. The only other communication is weekly emails. The lesser-known way of communicating is through the senior missionaries. Nothing inappropriate here, but if there is a mix up on your medical insurance you can have the senior missionaries call home. While retrieving the new insurance ID number parents can get an insight into those they love. We have been mentioned in weekly missionary emails. The results are thank you emails to us from missionary homes. We are glad to be part of the loop.
Chauffeuring. No more than 1,000 miles a month on your missionary car is a good rule. The senior missionaries have unlimited miles on their car. The number of good things to do, all located too far away, is also unlimited. Good sense prevails. We are glad to help when we can.
We enjoy teaching. We enjoy learning our duties as missionaries. We have a lot to learn.