Sunday, July 8, 2012


This first month in the “mission field”, as we in the church like to call the area where we are serving, has been one of epiphanies.
Epiphany #1: This mission is nothing like we expected.
I was anticipating only a slightly less regimented daily routine than the single young men and women missionaries (up by 6:00 am, exercise from 6:30 – 7:00, gospel study from 8:00 – 9:00 am, etc.). To my amusement and relief, our schedule is shockingly fluid and entirely of our own design. We don’t set an alarm clock.
I thought I’d be wearing a dress or skirt whenever I stepped outside my apartment door. While we still wear our Sunday best for church and a few special meetings, we dress casually – but tastefully – for everything else. Capri shorts, fashion tees, and wedgies are my daily uniform.
The US Navy's latest scuba certified chaplain
and his proud instructor
Most of my favorite cave diving sites are abundantly and tantalizingly within our mission boundaries. Elder Draper was convinced I would not be able to dive at all while serving here in Florida. This would indeed have been a sore trial, a true sacrifice, and a severe test of my faith. Not only have I been cave diving since I arrived, I’ve already scuba certified one of the Navy chaplains and took him on his first cavern dive! 
My email signature block ends with “Hi, I'm Kristi. I'm a scuba instructor, a cave diver, a missionary...and I'm a Mormon.” All of these attributes are active in me on this mission. It is likely no other senior missionary on the planet can say all that.
Happily for us, almost none of the rules that apply to the single missionaries apply to couples.
Epiphany #2: Depending heavily on daily personal revelation is difficult.
Our marching orders are to assist the military members and their families with temporal and spiritual needs. We are not here to preach. Because we do not have a set schedule or a close relationship yet with the people we are here to serve, we have to rely heavily on personal revelation to know who God wants us to reach out to each day and how to contact them.
Hanna Park picnic for some of our military families
Most days I feel a vague sense of frustration that I should be doing more. The closing scenes of Schindler’s List keep playing in my head, where a tearful, remorseful Oscar Schindler laments he didn’t do enough to save more Jews from Nazi torture and death. 
I envy a little bit the office couple missionaries who have the luxury of a structured 8 to 5 job. I’m fairly certain our dear office couple would disagree with me, but it feels like the stakes are higher in what we have been called to do versus the job of a missionary sitting behind a desk all day.
Relying on the Spirit so completely every day is more difficult than I thought it would be. We fall short much of the time. But God is patient and is teaching and blessing us little by little. We’ve felt His gentle influence on enough occasions already to give us confidence we will succeed.