Going to Austria

A number of years ago, President Thomas S. Monson told the following story of two newly called missionaries:

Young missionaries always have an idea as to where they would love to serve. Usually it’s a faraway place with a strange-sounding name.

One day I was in the men’s suit department of a large store when I encountered two missionaries with their mothers. It isn’t difficult to spot missionaries or their mothers. The two elders were conversing, and one said to the other, “Where are you going on your mission?”

Came the reply, “I’m going to Austria.”

The first missionary responded, “You lucky dog, going to Austria! Those beautiful Austrian Alps, that wonderful music, those delightful people! I wish I were going there.”

“Where are you going?” said the missionary assigned to Austria.

“California,” came the answer. “You know, less than two hours away by plane. We go there every year for a vacation.”

I could see by the expression on the mothers’ faces and the near tears of one of the missionaries that it was time for me to intervene. “Did you say California?” I asked. “Why, I once supervised that area. You have an inspired call, Elder. Do you realize what you will have in California to help you? You’ll have chapels and stake centers that dot the land, and they’ll be filled with Latter-day Saints who can be inspired to be fellow missionaries with you in sharing the gospel. You are a very fortunate missionary to be going there.” I glanced at the other mother, who said, “Brother Monson, say something about Austria, quick!” I did so.

Young men, wherever you are called will be right for you, and you will learn to love your mission.

The rest of his talk can be found here.

Serving a mission in Austria was one of the great, maturing experiences of my life. Details are recounted in my memoir, All Enlisted. I loved Austria, but serving anywhere can and will be inspiring and life-changing, including the everyday service of Christian living. It is a privilege and joy to testify that Jesus is the Christ, that He lives, and that He speaks again in our day.

 

Best Wishes.

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The Prince of Peace

The Prince of Peace

In the midst of the modern world’s turmoils there is one dependable source of peace for the world, for nations, for families, and for the soul. It is the Prince of Peace, our beloved Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. With Easter approaching, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has produced a lovely, short, and inspiring video message about the Savior. It is well worth watching:

https://www.mormon.org/?cid=HP_SU_2-4-2017_dPFD_fMORG_xLIDyL1-C_

 

 

Merry Christmas, After All

The Leftists continue to rant and rave about the election, Clinton continues to blame everyone except herself, and the climate crackpots continue to carry on despite record-breaking cold. (Oh! That’s right, any old weather “event” will do since they changed it from “global warming” to “climate change”.) In other words, things are continuing today pretty much as they were yesterday. But there is one big event in the offing, namely, The Trump Presidency, which we hope will fundamentally reverse all that fundamental transformation that the last eight years inflicted upon us. Hope and change indeed! Those had to wait for the American people to find an unlikely champion in a New York billionaire.

More important than any of that is the event we celebrate next Sunday, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah. May we all take time to remember Him and re-commit to follow His teachings and imitate His example. May we enjoy the company and fellowship of family and friends, enjoy the trappings of the season, enjoy the good food, and thank merciful heaven for our abundant blessings.

Here is a wonderful video depiction of The Nativity:

https://www.lds.org/bible-videos/videos/the-nativity?lang=eng

 

Best Wishes and Merry Christmas!

 

The Olive Tree

With enemies threatening on every side, it is worth remembering the great promises made to Israel–the state, the land, and the people–as well as what Jerusalem means to Christians and Jews and Muslims alike. To help raise funds for the Orson Hyde Memorial Garden on the Mount of Olives during the 1970s, my father printed, framed, and sold copies of a picture he had taken of an ancient olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane. Here is the picture as well as the text he wrote for the back:

The Olive Tree  091

The Olive Tree Text 092

The tree is over 2,000 years old. It was present when our Lord suffered there. It was silent witness to the years of exile and persecution. It was still there when Israel was re-established as a state in 1948. Let us remember our brothers and sisters in Israel and pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

 

Best Wishes.

 

Making America Great Again

There is much to like about Donald Trump’s campaign theme, “Make America Great Again.” That America is great has been observed since the very beginning, and only the wretched leadership and constitutional apostasy of the past decade or two have brought us to the point of needing to make it great again. The question then becomes, “How?”

Reinvigorating our economy by lowering taxes and reducing regulations, improving education by getting the federal government off the backs of state and local schools, rebuilding our military, supporting our police by enforcing the laws, protecting our culture by regulating and assimilating immigrants, protecting the integrity of our nation by properly guarding the borders, and renewing legitimacy of the central government by strictly adhering to the Constitution and appointing like-minded judges—these are all important steps that a new administration can take. But isn’t “greatness” more than that?

Although incorrectly attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville, the thought remains poignant that “America is great because America is good. If America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to great.” That goodness is not in the federal or even the state and local governments; it is in the hearts and thoughts and words and daily actions of the people. In other words, restoring American greatness requires humility, repentance, and renewal of faith.

Again, all of the above measures and more will be important to bring back under control a bloated and tyrannical federal government, but making America great again is fundamentally a religious project, a revival, a conversion. As correctly attributed to John Adams: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Best Wishes.

Another Book Review I Did Not Know About

While doing an internet search recently I found that my mission memoir was reviewed in Deseret News online back in May 2014. There is a certain irony in this–I only recently released a revised edition, available at Amazon and Kindle (prices are lower for the revised version). Not many changes, a few small corrections and a name change requested by the daughter of one of the Austrians who were kind to the missionaries. Thanks to Brooke Porter for the following:

ALL ENLISTED: A Mormon Missionary in Austria During the Vietnam Era,” by Roderick Saxey, Haus Sachse Enterprises, $17.95, e-book $5.50, 308 pages (nf)

As it turns out, many aspects and quirks of Mormon missionary work are the same — regardless of the area or time served — and “All Enlisted: A Mormon Missionary in Austria During the Vietnam Era” is evidence of that.

Author and Washington resident Roderick Saxey crafted his self-published memoir in a way to let people inside the life of a missionary serving in 1970. The book — some 300 pages — bounces back between journal entries, factual tidbits and letters to and from family and friends, notably his brother, Edward, who was serving in the Navy in various places in Asia and Australia.

For a 19-year-old boy, Roderick Saxey’s writing was quite mature — and quite endearing. With references to J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” (as well as letters to a friend he called Frodo), Saxey draws you in with beautiful Austrian landscape and food imagery coupled with raw entries about the lack of missionary success and the all-too-often slammed door.

Saxey begins the book with a background of his family, helping readers understand where he came from, which proves helpful when reading the back-and-forth missionary letters. He was born into a part-member family — a father who was a less-active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a mother who was a Protestant. He took the Mormon missionary lessons at age 11 and was baptized, but quickly joined his family in inactivity.

That is until his faithful home teacher, Clair Cantwell, invited him to attend seminary in 1965. Soon after, Saxey became strong in his LDS faith. After receiving his mission call to Austria and delivering his missionary farewell, his mother surprised the whole family by being baptized.

She literally surprised them.

Saxey received a phone call from the bishop asking him to perform a baptism. “I thought nothing of it since our leaders often gave opportunity to priests and new elders to perform ordinances whenever possible,” he said. “Unknown to me, similar calls to attend the stake baptismal service went out to Dad and (my brother) Wayne, without explanations why.” His first, and only, baptism was of his dear mother.

It’s hard not to fall in love with Saxey’s family as well as Austria. The letters to and from his brother, Edward, are quite sweet and playful, and it’s difficult not to worry that Edward may not survive his tour in Vietnam.

Some journal highlights include a visit from then-Elder Thomas. S. Monson.

Just a handful of months before completing his mission, Saxey was sent home due to what doctors thought was a faulty liver — “hepatomegaly.” Only later when Saxey became a doctor in the Air Force did he discover that he never had hepatitis, but rather a condition called Gilbert’s Syndrome.

“All Enlisted” includes a helpful glossary of German words used throughout the book, as well as updates on the mission companions and family members, as well as black-and-white pictures. The book is self-published and the format could use a bit of polish, but overall this is an endearing look into the life of one man’s mission.

It’s free of any foul language and there was one reference where sex is implied as the elders encounter a prostitute and a man at a cafe.