What great news about Jason! Is it against the rules to go see him on that kind of mission? I´d love to see him all dressed in white someday. I remember back when he went to bear his testimony in Hillview Ward back in the day and it makes me so happy to know that he is still growing and progressing in the gospel thanks to caring priesthood leaders. One interesting thing happened hear related somewhat to Jason that actually meant that before this letter I was thinking about him. We went on a work visit to the second to last zone that we had interviews and revisions at and I ended up with a fairly disobedient missionary and his North American companion. We had just hauled away some things he had been keeping in his room from the last time he was caught with things he shouldn’t have that morning, and I was sure he would be frustrated with me during the whole visit. The good thing was that he wasn´t too bad, we loosened him up a little trying to talk while we walked between appointments. The second appointment we had was with a man named Roberto. He´s 33 years old and probably the closest thing to an aspy that I´ve bumped into here. He had a few definite similarities, one being that the first missionary to have contacted him in the street was his "favorite" he was very attached and liked to hug a lot. He was slight of frame and talked in various voices just like I remember Jason doing, the monologues. He had his favorite thing to do, draw and do sketches in pastel oil paints. The biggest thing that surprised me was -- he lived alone. His dad is a widower and lives apart with his stepmom and visits about every weekend. He owns a dog, which isn´t something I see Jason doing, but he was independent. He gave us quaker (not oatmeal like we make it at home) at the end of the lesson and had chosen to be baptized on his own, after understanding the implications. It was incredible and inspiring to see that it wasn´t strange for him to live alone at all. I hope Jason keeps on becoming more and more independent, it´s empowering, and that’s something God wants for us, to be empowered by the way we use agency to progress.
Other than that we finished up the interviews and yesterday in the morning we had the last two: Elder Barrientos and I. I went first and we talked about the mission and President´s vision for the mission (more about that later), then we talked about his days in law school and what made the difference then and in his career. That was really interesting to talk about because he really doesn´t mention that kind of stuff to us often, even in trainings, he usually talks about his days growing up in Washington. Then we started to talk about things for after the mission, he asked me when I was planning on starting back at BYU and when I should mention the recommendation forms and what I had plans for afterwards. It was definitely definitely strange. I have been really pretty focused for a long time, and when he asked me about some of those things it was like a bell went off in my head and somebody said "hey, this has to end sometime, buddy".
I mentioned that I don´t want to finish early, that I am not too keen on the idea of 1) finishing early or 2) getting home and then turning around to get down to Utah. I told him I´d like to spend time at home getting used to speaking English again (I struggle some days) and then head down tranquilamente to start spring term. He mentioned that the class registration deadline shouldn´t hit while I’m here, but that if it does then I can ask him for permission and go sign up. That one was weird to hear too.
When we were talking about his time at school it was because it’s part of what his vision for the mission is. He said that really his main focus has never been on the numbers, more on the missionaries themselves. He wants each and every missionary to have a good experience and to progress. He looks for the potential of the missionaries within the first while and when he sees there is more, he tries to help them dig deeper and progress more. One of the focuses lately has been on having a firm mind. That means when things happen and you end up in a bad situation or things didn´t go well, you have the self-mastery to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go back to trying with everything you’ve got. He mentioned that he had some sort of farm job from the time he was 11 and always worked more or less everything. He moved pipes, pulled weeds next to migrant workers, plowed, planted, canned, you name it. Then when he got to college he said he was a studier, he would get out to campus and study. he said he was a lot more diligent in law school but that in undergrad he would spend from 9 to 5 on campus as an undergrad and as a grad student he would go to a class at 8 and then stay on campus until 7 at night during the week, studying or in class. He packed a lunch and brought it with him and then ate a late dinner when he got home. On Fridays and Saturdays he would spend until 4 or 5 in the afternoon and then go out or go to ward activities on the weekend nights. He was incredibly diligent and focused.
He said that he carried that kind of attitude into his early career as well. He would get up at 6 and be at the office by 7 something like that and then work one shift until 6 pm. A few times a week he would pull double shifts. At first he pulled double shifts to get ahead. That was always his goal, just be ahead of the game so that things are okay when they don´t go as planned. He said that the clients started to ask that he manage their accounts -- as an associate lawyer and not a partner it didn’t happen very often, but for him it did because he showed he was diligent and he worked hard. Next thing that happened he had a friend that did more or less that same kind of things from another firm that convinced him to go out to Las Vegas to start a new firm. When he got there he did the same thing but he was ahead of the curve still, he bought himself a computer for his house, also something not common, and used it to create forms that you could fill out to save time. He had a deal with Sister Erickson that they would go on a family vacation every quarter for an entire week. He took half days some Fridays and was doing less of the actual paperwork and more managing the associates while working on his own clients. He was able to go on overnight campouts with his boys and also go golfing on the weekends. He said that they made money like popcorn and then they learned to play hard after having shown they could work hard for a long time.
The point of this whole story is to show that the missionaries need to know that if they are able to work extremely hard their entire missions and then maybe afterwards they will be able to enjoy the things that they have prohibited from themselves, music, movies, their families, whatever it may be. They need to have firm minds to be able to keep themselves up, be diligent in order to gain a greater reward, and be obedient above all else. In regards to the last, we sent a talk to the entire mission that’s called the fourth missionary that´s really incredible. I have been studying it this week and it really changes how you think about the mission.
I love you all, that´s all I’ve got to say this time, but I want you to read the fourth missionary and try to apply it to how you are living the gospel right now. You´ll see what to apply when you read it, I promise.
PS The photos are of the trip we took to Center of Lima on Pday. Right now it’s getting close to the fiestas patrias, like Independence Day in Peru and so there was a parade going on the whole time we were there. I took a couple photos and a policeman there took a couple photos of the group for us. The others are of Elder Barrientos and I in our office. We share it with the secretaries, but we have our own computer and we are allowed to use President´s laptop for projects.