It’s been a while since I have written for the blog. The problem is, I get carried away and try to write a novel about all the things that have happened, and it takes far too long and quite a lot of mental energy.
More than anything, I want to stay away from the sappy kind of end-of-an-era discourses that abound among the general public (though, sorry to say, I’ve done it before…) I usually prefer to avoid drama unless I know it’s going to make a good story.
But missions tend to make fine stories, so we’ll get what we get from this.
Firstly, the departure of a missionary at the termination of full-time service is referred to in missionary lingo as “death.” An elder or sister nearing the end of his/her final transfer is said to be “dying.” It’s quite silly, I know, but I suspect this terminology has been in missionary vernacular since the 1960s at the earliest. It’s basically tradition now, nearly as unbreakable as Pharisaic law. This epithet has been applied to me a number of times by a variety of people over the past week.
In other words, where I am now is basically Bilbo’s 111th birthday. This week I shall age and shrivel at an accelerated rate until I look like the villain at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Happily, I can rest with a perfect knowledge that I “chose wisely.” It’s more like Obi-Wan becoming one with the Force than the guy from Blade Runner simply ceasing to exist, “like tears in rain.”
Movie references aside, I will speak candidly: My mission has been a winding and treacherous path strewn with thorns and thistles, noxious weeds, terribly sharp rocks, and (not least of all) plenty of maniacs jabbering about the Apocrypha, chakra healing, homoousian views of the Godhead, and whether or not the Incan peoples used Triceratops as beasts of burden. No singular or chronic trial I have yet experienced has ever compared. I would probably need ten or twelve extra digits to count all the times I seriously contemplated going home, but chose not to—and even then, that decision wasn’t always guided by the right reasoning.
But you know what? There is not a single experience, person, place, or possession I would ever, in my wildest imagination, trade this mission for. It is irreplaceable. And the craziest thing is that only now am I starting to realize the full effect of it. I suspect I won’t ever know it’s full extent until the day God reveals all things. When people talk about “the Refiner’s fire,” I now relate much more acutely than ever before.
I wrote a long, rambling extension to the above paragraphs, but this doesn’t seem the right place for it. Maybe it will make its way into my homecoming talk.