Nov 28th (1975)
yesterday was thanksgiving
we gave lesson H to Baldy & left with this -------->
we planned a Big dinner at
Keiths so that Teresa paola &
Ivana could come but they
couldn't come. We ate a really
lot. I cooked everything.
tonight we go to talk to
arches forse (maybe) for the last time I hope not But i'm not
sure what to do. in general things look better But
in reality there (they are) just the same.
The above is a very short journal entry, it is very brief, but the fact that I made one, meant it was a big deal and a big day, but was not recorded until the day after.
Baldy may not seem like an endearing term for someone that was a golden investigator, or at least more precious of metal than anyone else. He was amazingly Bald, not that common in Italy, and at that time my companion, was loosing hair, fast, so it was my way of giving him a bad time. But we never referred to him as calvo, or bald in Italian.
Keith was the RLDS service man, that got us food supplies from the base.
The Arca's were a beautiful, young family, with one baby. I think they were just too cool to be ostracized by becoming Mormons in a small branch of less then 30, in a town of more than 300,000. (actually I don't know the population of Calgliari)
My companion was Steve W. Shaw, the best companion that I had, and the one that I got along with best. We had the most success. Well at least we had 2 good contacts. As far as, "in general things look better But in reality there (they are) just the same.", I suppose it was code to myself, that even though I was finally teaching the Gospel, I was still struggling with memorizing the discussions. I felt that I was still having a mental block about memorizing the discussions.
At that point I was motivated as much as ever was, but had not realized that such rote memorization was beyond my memory. I don't know why I never realized it during my mission. Daily I was reminded as each morning, as a district we would recite the 4th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, I would mumble through it, pretending to be sleepy, when the truth was I never could memorize the 7 short verses, (circa 156 words).
What was the same, was my memory, that it could store many logical or related concepts, but not blocks of data, or sentences, constructed, by someone other than myself.
Test yourself, see how long it takes you to memorize this word for word.
Date: February 1829
Place: Harmony, Pennsylvania
To: Joseph Smith, Sen.
Sezione 4 ( italic letters, represent accented letters)
1. Orra ecco che un'opera meravigilosa sta per giungere ai figlioli degli unomini.
2. Petanto, o voi che vi imbarcate nel servizio di Dio, guardate di servirlo con tutto il vostro cuore, con tutta la vostra forza, mente e facolt a, per potervi tenere senza maccia dinanzi a Dio all'ultimo giorno.
3. Percu o, se voi avette dsideio di servir Iddio, voi siette ciamatti al lavorao;
4. Ecco, infatti chei il campo e gi a bianco, pronto per la mietiura; ed ecco chiunqui inpagna con tutta la sua forza la sua falce, pu o ammassarsi la vita eterna en portare a salvezza alla sua anima;
5. E la fede, la speranza, la carit a e l'amore, con occio diretto unicamente alla gloria di Deio lo qualificano per l'opera.
6. Rammentate la fede, la virt u, la conoschenza, the temperanza, la pazienza, la gentilezza fraterna, la piet a, la crit a, l'umilt a e la diligenza.
7. Chiedete, e vi sar a dato; buate, e vi sar a aperto. Amen.
Now for the English version.
1. NOW behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.
2. Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
3. Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;
4. For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;
5. And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.
6. Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.
7. Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.
Try memorizing it. Then imagine if you attempted to repeat this daily, but never got it word for word. Then imagine if you didn't have the type of memory that could easily that, try memorizing the missionary lessons and passing them off close to word for work. The Missionary discussions were about 170 times longer then the above. There were 7 chapters and the short baptismal challenge.
They were at least 20 times longer than the above scripture. They were 239 pages long, not including instructions, or the Family Home Evening lesson. The Right side of the 4 1/2 by 7 inch pages, were the part to be memorized and passed off, one chapter at a time. The longest chapter was 41 pages and the shortest 25. The Right side of each page was not always filled in, as blank sections were inserted to match the left or facing page, where rebuttals to the questions that you would pose were given.
You didn't have to memorize the rebuttals to if people did not answer your questions in the assumed manner, but if you didn't know them, you would have embarrassing pauses and confusion during the lesson. Fortunate for me I didn't have to memorize or lean that, because for the most part I knew that doctrine from years of paying attention in Seminary and Sunday School.
Now if that is not challenging enough task of memorization for you, try doing it in a foreign language, that you had only been studying for 2 1/2 months. But it was NOT a language problem. I had an opportunity to pass off the discussions in English at bother the start and end of my 2 year mission. The result was the same. I could study for hours and still not be able to repeat one page, let alone 41.
It never occurred to me that it was beyond my memorization abilities to commit to memory, blocks of text, for I had learned 1000's of words, in Italian in 4 months.
Anyway this is getting way beyond, Baldy and his failed attempt to quit smoking, Steve Shaw will be forever a happy thought, during my 2 years of unsuccessful attempt at getting with the program. For when we taught Baldy or the Family Archa, it was the feeling, spirit and general content of my communication with them, rather then the rote repetition of memorized text, that communicated my message I had built from childhood, that I wanted to deliver.
BTW the Gettysburg Address had circa 278 words. And the 4th section of the D&C has 145 words, which is only twice as long as Section 4. Each full page of the 239 pages of the missionary discussions, contain circa 320 words, or each lesson, considering blank sections was 20 times longer than Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
Stop and think, what was the longest block of text, you have rotely memorized? Now try something at least 20 times longer than the Gettysburg Address, and do this 7 time in about 2 to 3 months. Now this task was expected of the 17,000 Mormon Missionaries that spread out over the globe each year. They had the Lord helping them with this rather foreboding task of memorization. I am sure there were those missionaries that had lenient companions that passed off rather loose recitations of the lessons. I being honest to a fault, struggled with not being able to the lessons accurately or close enough and wanting to do it correctly in the eyes of God, and have his blessing to help me to remember what I passed off, 3 weeks later.
When I was in High School I was in plays and musicals each year, but they were all short parts. Never having more than 5 lines of dialogue in one scene. During the performance I would study my 3 or 4 ones off stage, until the last minute I had to go on. I hid this fact for the most part. In UP the down stair case, I hid my typed lines in a book that was a prop on stage and glanced at it up until seconds before I gave my line. I was a animated actor, with a strong voice. What more motivation can one have for memorization, than being Mr. Snow, in Roger and Hammerstein's Carousel. Surely a High School student would not want to flub his lines in front of his peers, and the community. It was not procrastination or lack of desire, that forced me to have my libretto, in hand in every performance, including the closing night.
As an adult I was in a stake play, I don't know why I put my self through this stress, but I enjoy putting on a good performance. The husband of the director, said I was a cross between Sylvester Stalone, and Sir Lawrence Olivie. I hope he meant, the macho charisma of Sly, and the depth of emotion of Olivie Three of the 4 performances, at the grave site scene I shed real tears, streaking down my cheeks, even though my back was turned to the audience for most of the scene. I remember the look of shock, in the face of a 17 years old cast member as I exited the stage, and see up close saw the real tears. In the 15 years since High School, my acting had improved, due to life experiences, rather than any being in any play. What had not changed in 4 years of collage and a year and a half of graduate school was my inability to memorize block of text. I still had all my lines and the lead in lines type, an safely tucked in my pocket, rehearsed, just before going on stage.
I had a daughter die 10 days after birth, and could now draw on that deep and real life sadness, if I were in a play today, but this play was before Christy Lynne. The sadness that I drew on in those performances, which brought tears to my eyes, was from the despair and rejection I had felt for having let down, my family, my companions, my ward members, myself, and my God, for not having the faith and ability to pass off those missionary lessons, and fulfill my mission in the manner in which I had prepared for and envisioned.
Now some 20 years later, if I am to believe the scripture, that God giveth no commandment unto the children of men, least he prepareth a way by which they are enabled to obey it.
I must then come to the rationalization that "Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;", that memorizing the missionary discussions, is NOT a prerequisite.
The desire was there, the spirit was there, the knowledge was there, the ability to repeat the correlated, standardized missionary lessons, was not.
It is still a paradox to me, that I knew more than enough about the Gospel, to cry repentance and baptism, yet was not useful as a missionary, until I could repeat it with the same words and in the same order at the other 17,000 young 19 year old boys.
"For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle [ memorizeth his discussions] with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul."
My soul still yearn for inspiration from someone, that not everyone has the same memorization capacity, nor do they have the same spiritual depth. It was not my personal sin, or lack of faith that held back the Windows of heaven, but the fact that I did not need to learn, memorize, repeat, pass off the gospel in rote style, for I then had that knowledge, power, and testimony of what the gospel was and what it meant to me, years before and thousands of miles, before I stepped foot on the same soil as Peter and Paul.
"And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work."
I guess I should have been 2,000 years before my time.
"Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen."
If any missionary now incapable of memorizing large block of text as I was, it is my hope that someone, somewhere, will be inspired to open another door other than the standard response, and find a way, for an individualized "marvelous work is about to come forth".
Or if that does not work, try this mail form.
All opinions are mine and mine alone, and represent
my thinking at this point in time,
All original writings of mine are just that, to
reproduce, forward or use, parts or whole, you need to get permission from
Spellings constructed for effect and to confound
the ridged. ;)
©1996 by Perry L. Porter. All copyrights
are maintained by any parties (individual or corporate) which may have
originally created any of the information or artwork contained herein.
If you see your work, and I've mistakenly not given you or your company
credit, please E-mail me, I'll gladly add the appropriate credit, if you
feel it's necessary.
(subject to change based on better information).
All opinions are mine and mine alone, and represent
my thinking at this point in time,
All original writings of mine are just that, to reproduce, forward or use, parts or whole, you need to get permission from me first.
Spellings constructed for effect and to confound the ridged. ;)
©1996 by Perry L. Porter. All copyrights are maintained by any parties (individual or corporate) which may have originally created any of the information or artwork contained herein. If you see your work, and I've mistakenly not given you or your company credit, please E-mail me, I'll gladly add the appropriate credit, if you feel it's necessary.