A Scandalous Baptism

To set the stage, I’m going to quote a number of relevant entries from my mission journal. These entries are from my time in Grand Junction, Colorado, in 1978. I have changed all names:

[6/29] I challenged Debbie Bell today. We didn’t get a commitment, but she didn’t say no, either.

[7/5] We committed Debbie Bell today. She’s really good–just a slight problem with coffee. Unfortunately, she’s living in a common-law marriage, so we’re not sure we can dunk her. Jones dunked Tricia Turner in Fruita, though, and she was living in a common-law marriage, so I think maybe we can do it. Cross your fingers.

[7/6] I went with Elder Stone to interview Debbie. She had had an abortion, so we had Pres. Samuels interview her tonight, and she passed! I’ll be performing the baptism. It’s cool.

[7/8] Well, I baptized number 13 today. In order for a marriage to be common-law, the people have to be using the same last name, and I was afraid Debbie wouldn’t let us do that, but as it turned out, she didn’t care. I got it on the first try, so I still haven’t blown one (of course, she’s only the fourth person I’ve ever dunked).

[7/9] We attended Executive Priesthood meeting at 7:15 a.m. Bishop sort of got on our case about the marriage being common-law, but I expected that.

That doesn’t sound like much, but as it turns out there was a lot going on behind the scenes that I didn’t know about at the time. We had had the ZLs ask the MP about the common-law marriage situation, and after checking with legal counsel he gave us a list of requirements that had to be met for a common-law marriage under Colorado law. Debbie and her boyfriend lived together and had a child together. They didn’t consider themselves to be married, but as it turned out they met the requirements and so we got the go-ahead to perform the baptism.

The bishop’s reaction directly to us sounds pretty tepid from my journal entry, but I later found out that the local leaders were furious that this baptism was allowed. In their view they now had a baptized member who immediately upon baptism was still living in sin with a man. The uproar became so dramatic that the MP ended up pulling both of us out of that area, transferring us to different areas and (temporarily) closing that area, which was kind of a big deal because it included the downtown portion of the city together with the Redlands. It’s not a ward where missionaries would normally have been pulled out, but for the scandal of Debbie’s baptism.

As you can tell from my journal entries, at the time I just wanted the baptism to happen and was thrilled when it did. There was a time after my mission when I sympathized with the local leaders, and saw this baptism of a woman living with her boyfriend as a symptom of the baptize-at-all-costs culture we had. But then later I sort of reversed course and sympathized with the MP; if Debbie were legally married under Colorado law, why should it matter whether that marriage was formally effected or common-law?

So what do you think about this? Was the MP in the right to greenlight this baptism? Were the local leaders justified in being [really] upset about it? (In retrospect, I’m glad that I was just a lowly missionary at the time and this drama was all taking place above my pay grade.)

Comments

  1. Far more than any consideration of the legalities is, in my view, your statement that “they didn’t consider themselves to be married.” Doesn’t that indicate that Debbie knew or felt or should/could/would have realized that she was living outside a major gospel principle? If so, then yeah, the local leaders were justified in their upset — they had a new member whom they still had to convert.

  2. It’s always frustrating to see the full-time missionary wing (MP included) butt heads with the local leadership. So often I’ve seen where it could all have been avoided with better communication and better training as to who’s sphere is where. Our PEC spends 15 minutes each week with the FTM’s and then spends 5 minutes afterwards with opinions and commentary about how they’re doing. Lame.

    If the MP greenlit (word?) the baptism with full knowledge of the hell that would break loose, then I’m not sure I agree. I’d have liked to see him do a better job of getting the local leadership on board, and I’d like to have seen the local leadership do a better job of getting on board. It’s easy to blame the other half of the process, in particular because they don’t interact all that often.

  3. It’s been a long time since we covered this in law school, but I believe that in at least some jurisdictions, not considering themselves currently married would not affect the analysis at all. If the couple had ever met the basic requirements (cohabited, consumated the relationship, and held themselves publicly at any time as husband and wife), then the common law marriage took place.

    And once a common law marriage takes place, it continues to exist unless it is formally dissolved, just like a marriage under the statute. That is, just because they stop living together, or stop considering themselves married, does not create a “common law divorce.”

    But like I said, it’s been a while, and this is outside my area of expertise.

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    Yeah, my recollection is that the mission and the stakes were not exactly on the same page much of the time. The mission was highly motivated to baptize any and all comers as soon as possible. And the stakes were often in the position of being left to pick up the pieces. It was not an ideal dynamic. (I assume, or at least hope, that things are better these days.)

  5. Coffinberry says:

    Kaimi, in this jurisdiction as the law currently exists (which is not necessarily how it was when Kevin was on a mission here), the three general requirements of common law marriage are (1) capacity, (2) mutual consent/intent to be a married couple, and (3) holding out to the public that you are a married couple.

    Based on what Kevin described, it sounds to me like this couple wouldn’t qualify as common-law married under current law. (Obligatory disclaimer: While I am licensed to practice law in the State of Colorado, this comment is not intended and must not be taken as legal advice. If anyone reading this has questions about the marital status of any person or how the law applies to a particular individual, they should consult an attorney.)

    That said, in my days long before becoming an attorney, I was once a tax preparer and had a lovely young couple seated across the desk from me. They weren’t married. They had a sweet tiny kidlet. She stayed home taking care of the kid, and had no income of her own. He worked two jobs to provide for them. On his own, he had to pay a considerable amount of additional tax, but if he asked if he could claim both the girlfriend and the baby as dependents. We talked at length about the pros and cons of his options (talk about unauthorized practice of law! But I was young, ignorant, and plain didn’t know any better). I warned him that if he filed jointly, they would be holding themselves out as married, and if they ever separated, they would have to have a formal proceeding. They looked at each other, and decided to file jointly as a married couple. In that way they qualified for a massive refund.

    In any case, in this day and age, for the purposes of legal involvement in their splitting up, people who make babies together without being married might as well be married because the headache and heartache of the court proceedings involving Allocation of Parental Responsibilities might as well be a divorce.

    Anyway, Kevin highlights one of the hard things Missionaries have to face. Often people who are ready in one part of their lives to receive the message aren’t ready in some other part, and it takes some mighty special people to help those prospective new members get ready in all the parts of their lives.

  6. @Kevin: I’ve been involved in missionary work fairly directly for the past 13 years, and while the “baptize ‘em and we’ll figure it out later” mentality is not as pernicious as it once was in the 70s and 80s, we can all feel trapped by it.

    [Uh-oh, soap box coming out] Again, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have a better partnership with the FTMs. The best way to eliminate the tension would be for us everyday members to finally “get” that “their” investigators are “our” investigators, and that we’re the ones that should be feeding the teaching pool anyway. That would solve the majority of the “issues” we have with how they go about their work anyway.

    A bit beyond the scope of the OP, sorry. It’s Sunday, though. Time for sermons! :)

  7. An MP (stateside) friend tells me that the Church has a line in the sand on what the missionaries can do after baptism. He works with “his” stake presidents all the time and finds that they always want to blur that line. The whole thing seems a little odd, given that missionaries often get into reactivation efforts. In any case, I think his point is

    (1) that this whole issue is not well thought out in SLC
    (2) on the ground (this includes local seventies) people don’t like and are always trying to fudge the current policies.
    (3) he believes the current separation of powers would work fine if people (SP’s, L70’s) would fully engage and try to reorient efforts.

    Personally, given that we can’t even get people to do home teaching, I don’t think local congregations are ever really going to do this. But they could certainly do better.

  8. Reading your journal makes me SOOOO glad that I was not an Elder. I abhor the “dunk;” can’t stand the #s; and really really really hate when missionaries talk about convert baptisms as their own personal possessions.

    If I were in the local leadership I too would have been livid to have had this baptism occur in my ward. I agree with Ardis that the key is the couple’s feeling: they did not FEEL like they were married. So they weren’t for gospel purposes.

    It seems to me that all parties involved in the mission knew that this baptism was tenuous at best, and doing it was more for their numbers than for the good of this woman. I would love to know if she is an active member today and if her “family” is in tact.

    Another call for excluding missionaries from performing baptisms and allowing bishops/local leaders to perform baptismal interviews.

  9. I agree with Ardis, up until Debbie agreed to use his last name. Up until that point they might not have considered themselves married, but I think that simple act pushes them across the threshold. I imagine if they’d been asked the next day if they considered themselves married, they might very well answer differently. Especially since they themselves understood that this was a prerequisite for baptism.

  10. Esodhiambo – something probably worth considering is that perhaps you wouldn’t have so many capable local leaders if you excluded the young missionaries from having difficult decisions to make. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think that the mission program and the many responsibilities afforded young men in our church creates future leaders unmatched in other institutional organizations.

  11. This example is also illustrative of the reliance the church has on the legal definition of marriage for what is right, and that is the sticky situation the church has itself in now with gay marriage. I’m all for separating marriage into two categories: the legal and in the eyes of God. I don’t particularly understand or agree with relying on the arm of the flesh in defining the law of chastity, especially since as we see, the institutions of man are willing and capable of changing the definition that the law of chastity is dependent on.

    In the case of LDS couples getting married, the pattern is already there in European countries where a legal ceremony is required in addition to the ecclesiastical ceremony certifying marriage in the eyes of God. For convert baptisms, this would require some change in church policies but its somewhat inevitable since gay marriage will at some point be legal and the church will need to discriminate between heterosexual people who are married legally and homosexual people who are married legally.

    We could discuss some proposals for how compliance with the law of chastity would be assessed if it were divorced from the legal definition of marriage.

  12. Evangelization is about bringing someone to God. Proselytizing is about bringing someone to the Church. There is a big difference. LDS Baptism serves both, but for Catholics baptism serves the first, confirmation the second. Lost souls are mourned and prayed for, but lost members are not: if a Catholic chooses to be Protestant or Mormon, it is probably better for the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that he or she depart anyway.

    Would it not be better if missionaries would only evangelize and let local wards do the proselytizing? Missionaries would introduce the Restored Gospel, then introduce the evangelized to a local ward to attend as a visitor, for as long as (s)he and the ward need to grow fond of each other. Joining the Restored Church would be a completely separate, evolutionary, procedure. Missionaries could concentrate on their “nobler” calling devoid of cynicism more fitting to their young age. Wards wold be better served, since the new members would have shown much more commitment not just in what the Church can do for them, but what they can do for the Church.

  13. This is a tough situation. The ward will needto fellowship the family…so why not involve them more from the beginning. If you know the ward won’t fellowship them…will it work?

    It doesn’t make sense to count it as marriage when they don’t consider themselves married. Her taking his name doesn’t work legally, and he didn’t exactly give her that name.

    Common law marriage doesn’t really make sense, church wise, to me…

  14. #12: I read or heard that the Mormon membership was once as you discribed. That is, you were baptized, but not confirmed a member for one year. Please__someone clear this up for me if this is wrong.

  15. I served as the ecclesiastical leader in one branch, and I would have had a difficult issue parsing the differences had I been the one to make the decision as “the local leader”. I probably would have gone with the direction of the MP.

  16. (as a missionary, to clarity my #15)

  17. Cynthia L. says:

    Dan, I appreciate your comment. The (often poor) integration of newly baptized members into the ward is something that I know church leadership spends a LOT of time worrying about. This strikes me as a very thoughtful way to approach the issue. Having the confirmation officially mark the end of successful integration would give the ward a concrete milestone that they will obviously achieve or not achieve, which would be a good motivator.

  18. Also really liked Dan’s comment.

    In addition, especially the idea of mourning for lost souls and not lost members. “Retention” is kind of pointless in the grand scheme of things. I believe we have an article of faith along those lines.

  19. Just seems like a marriage with a certificate is a nice, bright-line rule to follow. Sure common-law marriage exists, but it is a grey area that can lead to misunderstandings and contention. I’d go with the clear rule of getting them married. That said…many missionaries in my mission in Mexico City had found contacts that could “arrange” for divorces and marriages…turned out these contacts were counterfeiting documents for a small fee and not telling the missionaries how it was that they could come up with documents that people had tried to get for years with no success. People were legally married to former spouses, and had false docs showing divorce and marriage to current spouses. Turned into a big mess having people living and “married” to people, but who in reality were still legally married to others. So even a “bright-line” rule can get a bit blurry sometimes.

  20. I just don’t understand why someone didn’t say: if they consider themselves married, I’m sure they wouldn’t object to a little officiating in the Bishops’ office or home to make it legal.

    It seems that if the couple balked at that, it would be a pretty good indicator of how they felt about their relationship and the Church.

    Sometimes it just feel like people do everything they can to push investigators across some minimum threshold of being able to be baptized. Wouldn’t it be much better to let people exceed the requirements for baptism before actually accepting the ordinance?

    B. Russ–I suppose in some missions exceptions might need to be made to allow missionaries to serve, for example, as branch president. Hardly the case in Colorado at the time of this incident. As a missionary, I neither performed a baptism nor a baptismal interview, and I still feel that my mission helped me develop worthwhile skills. Such is the case with all sister missionaries–what are we, chopped liver?

    Isn’t it very very plain that in most cases it would be advantageous for a new member to bond with a local congregant rather than a missionary? If an investigator doesn’t know anyone in the ward well enough to ask them to perform the baptism (rather than the Elders who taught them), then I think the missionaries have failed in a major part of their job. Missionaries should find and teach. Allow the bishop who will actually be working with the new members for many years after the elders have gone home and forgotten about them, be the judge of who is ready for baptism.

  21. #4 As someone who has lived in both GJ and Fruita in the recent past I can tell you that the dynamic is a lot better there now.

  22. Dan that is a very interesting idea.

    Kev., I think that it took some bravery to open up your missionary self like this.

    I just got the latest issue of JMH and there is what appears to be a discussion of baptismal surge dynamics in Japan in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We’ve heard of the baseball baptisms; but I wonder how common these sorts of periods are across Mormon proselytizing.

  23. …not that your mission experience was anything close to that, Kevin.

  24. D.M. Smith says:

    The bishop of a ward I served in noted that the local mission and wards seem to exist as two different churches. The mission is almost exclusively concerned with baptizing people while the ward is primarily concerned with retaining people. As he once lamented “your baptism is my less active member”. There will always be tension between the mission and the wards until the former begins to take some level of responsibility for the people they ‘dunk’ (as was so eloquently put in the journal entry).
    I am convinced my second MP was concerned almost exclusively with posting ‘good’ numbers in relation to Brazil’s other missions. I hated his approach and as a consequence I ended up hating my mission. Two years after coming home I went back to visit and discovered that the members were appalled by the work the missionaries were doing. The mission president would punish bishops resistant to baptisms by removing missionaries and in at least one case an entire ward stopped providing missionaries with meals.
    As far as this particular situation is concerned, Ardis is right in #1. If they didn’t consider themselves married then it’s impossible that she could consider herself to be living the law of chastity which explicitly requires marriage and therefore she shouldn’t have qualified for baptism. Ignoring this fact, would it have been so much trouble to hold a public ceremony to ensure that all was in order?

  25. John Mansfield says:

    About twelve years back in LA, there was a couple with several children who married in preparation for baptism. A year later when they were sealed in the temple, they held a very enjoyable wedding party in the back yard with dozens of relatives and friends and the bride dancing in her white dress. Their oldest child’s school teacher was among the guests.

  26. I think it is the responsibility of the missionaries (and the MP) to work closely with the wards and stakes. Communication is vital, and if a MP makes decisions like this without consulting the local leadership, he is out of line, IMO.

    Why? Because in 3 years he will be gone, and in 2 years the elders will be gone. The problems end up in the hands of the locals to deal with. I started my mission in Potosi, Bolivia, where there were 700 members, but only 100 active. I remember walking down the street with my companion one day and had about a dozen youth wave and say “Hi, Elders!” We asked them if we knew them, and they said Elder X had baptized all of them about 6 months before. None were active. Elder X had lots of notches marked on his Triple Combination, but left the area with huge inactivity problems.
    It was so bad in our mission that right after I arrived, Elder Gene R. Cook came to the mission and chastised us about the sloppy baptisms. We were ordered to focus on quality baptisms for almost a year. Then he returned and told us that our quality looked good, and we could now increase the quantity without diminishing the quality.
    We did increase our numbers, tripling them without reducing our quality. And it was because we began working more and better with the local leaders and members in all our efforts.

  27. @8 Esodhiambo: In your comment you made this statement: “It seems to me that all parties involved in the mission knew that this baptism was tenuous at best, and doing it was more for their numbers than for the good of this woman. I would love to know if she is an active member today and if her “family” is in tact.”

    I know that the church stresses nuclear families with a husband, wife, and children, but I would love to get to a place where we didn’t think that any other kind of family was not authentic. I wish you hadn’t put “family” in quotes. She had a kid, she had a family. It was a family, not a “family.” In this day in age with divorces, remarriages, adoptions, surrogacies, extended family arrangements, etc., families come in all shapes and sizes. They should be welcomed at church as people, not as “families” with quotation marks around them. We don’t have anything to brag about here. People inside and outside the church in situations that some would consider non-traditional, raise happy, healthy children, and they all love each other. Good for them.

  28. Couple of things.

    I largely agree with ESO on this. MP’s and Miss. have to short a time frame in an area to be solely making decisions on who gets baptized. Bishops should probably be doing bapt interviews. Converts are not trophies. They are people and come to Christ in all kinds of circumstances

    This couple in particluar should have been offered a wedding in the chapel or bishops office and if they said no she should not have been baptized. The church wisely does not accept “common-law marriages”. This is esp true here in the US where divorce and marriage laws are really easy to navigate.

  29. Last Lemming says:

    I think it makes sense for the Church to recognize common-law marriages that existed before the missionaries started teaching a couple. But it is unseemly for missionaries to be pushing people over the common-law line when formal ceremonies are available at minimal cost and with little wait.

    Although off-subject, I am also sympathetic to the idea of delinking baptism and confirmation from one another. To make that work, however, you might even have to pull the conferring of the gift of the Holy Ghost out of the confirmation and perform it separately at the time of baptism.

  30. @Karen:

    When I served in Brazil (1999 – 2001), baptizing a “family” meant you baptized a husband and a wife (or baptized the nonmember spouse in a part-member family). One can quibble over whether that’s politically correct; but the couple in the OP were probably counted statistically as a “family”. Family baptisms are relatively hard to come by, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that that was why a) the missionaries wanted so badly to “dunk” them, and b) the mission leadership was willing to wander into the outer bounds of Church policy (and jeopardize relations with the local leadership) in order to make sure the baptism happened.

  31. I worry that if bishops did baptismal interviews, no converts would be baptized.

    We’ve been quite fortunate in the last decade or two to live in areas where the mission presidents and local leadership have worked hard to be on the same page.

    In Venezuela, our stake president had just returned from being a mission president in a different part of the country, so he was very missionary minded, as were members. It was a remarkable time when we had 75 baptisms in our ward one year, 50 the next and about 85% retention (of the remaining 15%, about half had moved away, so we just didn’t know what happened to them). The continued activity came because the ward members were remarkably gracious and open to the new members.

  32. I had to laugh as I read your journal excerpt, because I had served my mission after the “tongues of fire” efforts to help missionaries purify their vocabulary and purge unholy language like “dunk,” “Jones [sans "Elder"]” and counting baptisms.

    Had I served before that time, I am sure that I probably would have adopted the vocabulary of the mission – whatever that may have been.

  33. “One can quibble over whether that’s politically correct”

    No, one can quibble with whether it’s doctrinally correct. Elder Oaks’ talk in this last conference made it very clear that a mother can preside over a family, without scare quotes.

    “But the authority that presides in the family—whether father or single-parent mother—functions in family matters without the need to get authorization from anyone holding priesthood keys.”

    It may be that this understanding was not widespread 10 years ago, but there’s no need to defend the erroneous “traditions of our fathers” now.

    (I imagine Elder Oaks wouldn’t appreciate having the household he grew up in called a “family.”)

  34. i don’t think the missionaries should be performing the baptismal ordinance. let a fellowshipping brother or ward missionary do it. i believe it removes attachment from that one elder. i’m a ward missionary, and not that it’s important to me that i personally baptize someone, but it is important to me when said new convert suddenly doesn’t come to church or answer the door/phone a mere three weeks after “his/her” missionaries have left. heard not but a week after a new baptism to a missionary: “elder [blah] just left, and now you are leaving me next?!”

    i don’t know about other wards or stakes, but i always thought [believed] that the ward should take over the new member lessons, or whatever they are called now. we don’t seem to be doing that either. although in all honesty i can’t say that our ward is doing a poor job; our retention rate is pretty good

  35. I am so glad that I didn’t know all of the behind the scenes as well, things that I really didn’t need to know or care to know. There is a bit of innocence in not knowing all the workings, and as knowledge increases, so must faith also…
    As a side note I had to cringe when I read the “dunk” and numbers references too, I served a long time ago (or so it seems – 1990-2), I always thought it too lax to refer to someones personal commitment in that way, sorry thats just me.

  36. Prior comments include:

    “I’d go with the clear rule of getting them married.”

    ” if they consider themselves married, I’m sure they wouldn’t object to a little officiating in the Bishops’ office or home to make it legal.”

    This reflects a misunderstanding. If the couple live in a common-law marriage jurisdiction and they have satisfied the requirements of common law marriage, then they *are* married. Full stop. And no additional marriage ceremony is necessary to make their marriage legal.

    It is true that a common-law marriage does not provide a marriage certificate, but it absolutely does create a marriage relationship under the law.

  37. it was jolly interesting to deliver assign to bycommonconsent.com
    I want to bring in your notify in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

  38. Karen–when I used the term “family” I was referring specifically to the couple’s marriage. Obviously any and all of them are welcome in the Church. I am curious about a “marriage” (quotation marks indicating that they did not consider themselves married, although they were, perhaps, legally regarded as such) that was forced on them by the missionaries being long-lasting.

    I don’t know if that makes it more or less offensive to you, but that is what I was referencing.

    Kaimi–yes, as I reread my comment, I realized that my use of the term”legal” was inaccurate. I realize that their marriage was recognized by law. Perhaps I should have used “kosher”: there was certainly some question about whether they themselves considered themselves married (they apparently did not), so should their relationship have been considered a marriage by the Church?

    For example, I was legally married to my husband for two years after our marriage relationship ceased and before our divorce. By law, I was married. I, however, did not consider myself married (not that I was out dating, just that I did not have a marriage partner).

  39. Martin Willey says:

    I am no expert, and certainly do not know all the facts, but am quite curious about a common law marriage where the partners “didn’t consider themselves to be married.” To establish a common-law marriage in my state, the parties must mutually assume marital rights, duties and obligations and “hold themselves out . . . as husband and wife,” among other things. Meeting this test while not considering yourself to be married would seem to be to be an exceedingly close call. But like I said, I do not have all the facts.

  40. Mike from Atlanta says:

    In the 1970’s my missionary companion and I taught the gospel to a wonderful family. The wife, the gorgeous 20 year old daughter and the twin 9 year old girls believed and wanted to be baptized. The father and two teenage sons did not. We fasted and prayed about what to do and my senior companion felt we should wait until they were all ready. His last night before transfers we visited this family and he pressured the father to the point that we were asked not to return. The father would not let his family attend church after that and they honored his decision.

    The next senior companion visited them once and decided they were not worth our time. He was extremely lazy and drove me nuts over the next four months. When every other tactic failed, I just left him alone to rot in the apartment and tried to find useful things to do on my own. I started seeing the 20 year old girl, who had a passionate testimony. We organized neighborhood English classes and her brother got me on a competitive baseball team which became a constant source of referrals for other missionaries. To be honest we “fell in love” to the point of kissing and having to exercise great restrain to not go further, before I was transferred. Leaving her after such a short time was so unfair and painful.

    My last senior companion, a native Japanese missionary, somehow found out about us, even though we were very discrete and only wrote a couple of cryptic letters. He did not tattle on us. When the transfer came promoting me to senior companion and transferring me to Okinawa, I felt entirely inadequate and unworthy. My companion asked me if I believed in letting the Lord carry my sins? And was I going to call her and tell her? I denied the need for such a call. He called her instead.

    He finished his mission a few weeks later and came back for a visit and started dating her. He worked with her father and brothers and it would take him over a year to convert them. One night in Okinawa when my latest junior companion was so mad at me that the ZL’s had to keep him from beating me up, she appeared at the church. She wanted to run away with me to some island and get married that night and start a branch of the church there.

    I admit it was tempting, to leave an obnoxious, dangerous missionary companion for a beautiful girl like her. It would have been one of those little hinges upon which our entire lives swing. But I wanted to finish my mission and I didn’t want to dishonor her father by basically stealing her away. I sent her back home. She later decided to marry my former native Japanese companion.

    This was so many years ago and he has been a Stake President and Mission President. I ran across her brother, my old baseball team mate, in an airport a few years ago and he filled in many details. He reported that the moment his father found out that I had sent his beloved daughter/sister back home, he knew that this had to be the Lord’s work. They had their “fun” giving many missionaries a hard time over the next months but the course was set.

    The lesson I take from it is that the Lord’s plans for us are so much better than our plans for ourselves, even when we muddle them up. The missionaries, Bishops, and MPs, everyone needs to get away from a corporate high-pressure organizational mentality with contradictory rules and get back to seeking and doing the Will of the Lord the best we can and letting him carry our sins.

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