Monday, September 10, 2012


It kinda cool being like a traveling zone leader and getting to know all the missionaries better and seeing how their areas are doing. It's been real successful for us. But now more and more companionships are asking us to come do work visits to visit tought investigators or help their fechas stay strong and I kinda feel this pressure to come in out of nowhere not knowing anything and just make all problems everywhere go away and make every area be successful.

I think that's the best thing about being a missionary though. You never don't know what to teach when you're set apart to represent Christ. No matter what the problem is the first thing that needs to be done is have more faith in Christ, then repent, then make or keep covenants, then get the Spirit, then persevere. Every single time. It's a good lesson to learn.

There have been several times in my mission where I have these reality checks, knee to knee with a forty year old guy whose life's fallen all about him and realize I'm a twenty year old kid whose never really done anything at all. So, who am I to tell him how to fix his life? And then it becomes oddly comforting to remember the way that President Beard told me after I got set apart, "No one really cares about Doug for the next two. Just be Elder Brian." And so we just teach the doctrine of Christ. And it works every single time. And people's lives change. It's a really cool experience. It's like this name tag is just a really big mirrior. And my only job is to angle it right and reflect the gospel at people.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Day in the Life

Concilio went good. May was a rough month for the mission so we talked a lot about plans to step up in June. Pretty sure we'll have a better month in June despite starting the month in with changes.
Change week is always hard because all the new missionaries don't know their zones or the investigators really well but I don't think it will hit us too hard. At least it shouldn't if we've all been keeping are stuff up to date ("stuff" being area books and baptismal calendars and various other things you don't really care about). We've been training a lot this last month on rendir cuentas and verification (I cannot for the life of me remember how to say rendir cuentas in english...) and more that a couple times I've found myself saying something about "I've asked you to do this before" or "Who did you expect would do it for you" (except in spanish and more gently...) and I had to look back over my shoulder to see if Dad was standing there. Missions really are little mini-lives. Real weird. Elder Wright goes home this week. The rest of his group leaves today but his parents came so he'll be kickin it with them around here for a week and then go home around sunday.

Really weird to see guys go, the outside world is a scary place.

Anyways, I got a package from Grandma and Pops this week. Those guys we're definitely Johnny on the spot with the supply drop. Swedish fish, Pistachios and sour patch kids; exactly what my study sessions have been lacking. Which for some reason reminds me... This last week we had a ward activity. We had a fulbito tourny with basketball and volley and a little ring toss game I set up to win drinks and then we had the other missionaries come with their wards and do a waterballoon toos. It went real good. But somehow during the past month we've been planning my ward completely spaced the small detail of requesting money from the church budget. ie. I ended up bank rolling the thing.
 The good news is I'm a chungo ex-Financial sec and know where to go for cheap goods. So I bought somewhere between 60-70 drinks/prizes for like, 20 bones. holla.

Monday, April 30, 2012

When the Universe Looks Traceless

We had another experience Sunday when a sister from our ward came up to us after a meeting and explained that her niece had schizophrenia and that she wanted us to come and give her a blessing (what she really did was draw a cross in the air with her hand and ask us if we could come “do our thing”). I’m afraid the sister originally thought we would be casting out some kind of spirit and even asked us if her niece’s sins could have caused the problem. We explained the story in John 9 and the purpose of some of our trials. When her niece finally came we gave her a blessing of health and Elder Richards shared a personal experience from his family. 

The spirit was extremely strong in the lesson and by the time we closed the sister that originally asked us for the blessing talked about how her niece was “an angel” and so close to God because of her innocence. The ability to put tribulation into an eternal perspective is something I’ve always struggled with, and I guess everyone else as well, but I learned from this lesson how that change of perspective brought by the spirit can change the manner in which we bear tribulation, our attitude while we do it and the products that tribulation work in us and everyone around us. 

I have this weird habit of repeating quotes over and over in my mind and for a while now it seems like I’ve been waking up with either the poem Invictus or a quote from The Screwtape Letters where C.S. Lewis says, “[The devil’s] work is never more in danger than when a man, no longer desiring but still intending to do God´s will, looks round on a universe from which all traces of Him have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” I think it’s a basic part of our own, personal plan of salvation that we have these moments, however much they may vary in degree. I remember missing a spelling test in third grade in the same week I accidentally offended the 8-year old girl of my dreams and I thought the universe looked pretty traceless. Since then, I’ve had a few more of those moments, and they seem to have increased substantially by degree, but in principle I guess it’s still the same. I’m grateful for the knowledge that someone far better than I’ve ever been had that same moment to a degree I can’t understand, and that He has promised to help us through our own diluted experience.”

Dear Muggles,

I’m still here till Tuesday. Can’t leave Richards in the lurch on change day, you know? It’s actually gotten uber crazy. The ever-reliable LAN airlines cancelled our flights to Lima that connects all the returning missionaries with their international flights all over the who-knows-wheredom. Apparently Monday is the day some supposed saint did some purportedly saintly thing and blah blah blah something about a magical door. So, to commemorate that great act of Christianity/Door-Human relations everyone will stop doing less useful things (like staffing airports and hospitals) and go consume liver pulverizing amounts of alcohol and play some fulbito. 

In the spirit of venting my stress, let me explain one of my favorite Peruvian medical discoveries. What you must never do is play fulbito or exercise or get really hot and then go open a fridge. If you do, you will die. On the spot. Just fall over dead with the open box of juice still in your hand. And everyone knows someone that this happened to. Never mind that the guy was 5´6, 245 pounds, cholesterol of 385, had just downed 4 liters of booze and ran around just as fast as his little Mario legs could carry him for three and half hours. No, no. Twas the hastily opened fridge door that got him. Almost as good as the one about how rubbing an egg on a sick person will suck the bad out. I actually like that one enough that I used to give missionaries permission to let their pensionistas rub eggs all over their heads and stuff. Absolutely hilarious. And legitimately worked like 60% of the time. Anyways, today I’ll spend all my time rearranging travel plans I had been meticulously arranging over the past month and a half....

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Guest Blogger - Hermana Turk

Doug made his debut on the misson presidents wife's blog:

We love Dr. Doug.
Here's what he had to say about the change going back out in the field,

"President called me into to his office this week and asked me if I’d accept a new assignment as a zone leader at the end of this change. Whhheird. I guess President thought the financial-to-personal secretary change works out okay because he’s calling Elder Richards to move to Personal Secretary. 

Training him shouldn’t be too terribly hard. But it’s a lot to take in. So today and tomorrow I’ll probably just be setting up reminders and schedules for the next 6 weeks to keep him from most of the stress I had. The thing about the Personal Secretary learning curve is that while you’re making all your nooby mistakes, foreign missionaries are losing their residency or missing plane connections or some sicky gets lost in the clinic because you’re not there or any number of combinations of those things. But he’ll be aight. 

So I guess I’m gonna go be a zone leader now. I don’t know where or who my companions gonna be but… should be cool. I’m gonna get to do stuff in my own area. And not do phone calls from 8:45 to 10:15 every night when I could have been making/eating dinner. But that’s good and bad news. Because incident to making my own food I’ve dropped like 10 kilos. Well, that and Elder Wright’s fascist-like insistence that I do P90X with him on the daily. So that’s the news. I’m a little bummed to leave the office. It’s cool to be involved in everything that goes down in the mission and have so much interaction with President, but I’m stoked on being a real boy again. 

We’ll see how it goes I guess."

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jacob Cinco & Priorities

What’s up, muggles?

Happy Day After Christy’s Birthday Day. Make it the best one ever. The deuces. Real real old… Seems weird that she’s never gonna stuff me in the dryer again (at least for a while) or drive me to high school zombie-style with her forehead on the steering wheel looking through the gap between the dash while bumping Brandi Carlile as loudly as little Pedro could crank it. Anyways, Love you sister. Have fun getting married this year. One day when SerPost stops being in huelga I’ll send you the bracelets I purchased you when I was up in the mountains.

This week was pretty good. If I could possibly say something less consequential I can’t think of what it is. But it was pretty good. We had Concilio with the zone leaders and went to play soccer and this crazy Frisbee/dodgeball game Sister Turk invented. It was intense. And I definitely won’t brag about how my soccer team threw down another dynasty win streak. President taught from Jacob 5 and it was a solid 25 minutes of revelation-fest. So I’ve been in there reading since Wednesday. It’s got way too much to say but the first thing I realized is that I’ve been crossing my analogies pretty much my whole life. Specifically, Lehi’s tree vs. Zenos’ vineyard. First of all, I guess I just always assumed that fruit from Lehi’s tree would be the same as fruit from Zenos’ tree. But false. Fruit from Zenos’ trees doesn’t represent the same eternal life/love of God combo that it does in Lehi’s tree. I’m gonna truncate this train of thought right here and just say that when I realized that the fruit on Zenos’ trees represents covenants and the ordinances of salvation it made a lot of other things way clearer. Anyway, that was really cool. Here’s the other thing I learned. I’m not gonna explain the scripture chain from Jacob to Genesis to Moses and through D&C but it was a pretty cool process. I ended up thinking about Adam and the commandments in the Garden. I always saw them as this big contradiction of Don’t eat the fruit and multiply and replenish. And maybe it was in some ways. But, I realized it wasn’t so much a contradiction in terms as it was just more than he could do. Too much was asked of him and he simply couldn’t do it all. So he had to make a choice based on what would really be best for the whole plan (and maybe a little expedited by the fact that his wife was already peacing out). And then I kept finding this theme throughout the lives of all the prophets. From moving a nation through 40 years of straight whining to crossing oceans in Pre-Incan submarines to establishing the kingdom of God throughout the world with nothing but a book and 30 members to “be ye therefore perfect.” It is always too much to ask. It is always more than we can do. And it is never an accident. So it seems like much less of a surprise to me that we all have absolutely too much to do. School and work and church callings and family issues and untrimmed hedges and the outrageous price of hamburger meat. It’s just too much. And I don’t believe it’s a byproduct of the times. I’m convinced that God has, and always will, give us too much to do. For, He would see our priorities. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from President it’s the meaning of the phrase “consistency to the purpose.” And if you forget what the purpose is you can waste an awful lot of time on school and work and untrimmed hedges and even the church callings.