Recently Mormon Newsroom posted a story online about our family history work in Fiji HERE. Elder Champlin, one of the Public Affairs missionaries who works right across the hall from our office put the piece together from the photos I took and stories I shared in our report of our recent trip.
It was interesting to see the number of "Likes" for this article go up and up. Then, the Fiji Sun Times picked up the story and ran it in both their print and online publications.(Fiji Sun HERE)
Shortly after the piece came out in the Fiji paper I got an email from Sister Senikuriciri, one of the Area Family History Advisers in Fiji. She said that many members there were excited to see this positive piece about family history getting so much publicity and that she knew of at least one person who had been prompted to investigate the church after reading it. Learning that an article led someone to investigate the gospel helped remind us that the things we do can have far reaching results we may not even see.
Larry and I are fortunate that we get bombarded with love and support from the people in the various islands we visit and we frequently see direct results of our labors. Still, I am sure there are plenty of outcomes from our efforts that we never will know of in this life.
Whether as missionaries or back in our "civilian life" in the day to day things we will do, it is important to remember that everything we do or say has the potential to touch people's lives in ways we may not fully comprehend like the rings in a pond after throwing in a stone.
I want be a positive example of righteousness and do all that I can to be sure the influence I leave behind helps others feel respected, appreciated, encouraged, loved. I've heard it said that people may forget what it was you said or did, but they will never forget the way you made them feel. It is so easy for any of us to get caught up in our own needs, our own schedule, our own priorities, leading to words or actions that can hurt without ever intending to. I know I have been on the receiving end of abrupt or thoughtless treatment more than once. Even when it is not deliberate, it stings. Unfortunately, when I have been rushed, preoccupied, or in a bad mood I fear I have also let others down, making them feel snubbed or slighted, without even being aware of it. Sometimes just being super busy can lead me to overlook a friend's need to talk or a family member's sensitive feelings.
I know I cannot take responsibility for everyone else's feelings and there will inevitably be times that someone will be unhappy or disappointed if I am unable or unwilling to meet his or her needs. Gone are the days when I would bend over backwards in order to please others no matter what the cost. Still, I think it is a healthy and appropriate thing to be more intentional about how I interact with others - to be more sensitive to the impact my words and actions may have. The example we saw in Nakawakawa very much showed us the power of that.
There are so many lessons this mission brings to us. I hope I can learn them, keep them, become the person I have the potential to be rather than just busy myself through the work. I want to allow the experiences of this mission to soften me, to shape me to being more open, more teachable, more loving toward others. Some days I feel like I come close to that. Other days I recognize that I still have a long way to go.