Summary: Paul and Terry are well underway in their preparations to leave on a senior mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. See updates below.
- Related Post: Preparing To Be Senior Missionaries by Paul Smith
- Related Post: Receiving a Senior Mission Call by Paul Smith
We will leave for the MTC in less than four weeks. There are many little things that we have been doing and which still need to be done. Yesterday, our home was inspected for lead paint. In order to rent our home in Maryland, the home must first be certified to be free of lead paint contamination. Homes built before 1978 must be inspected. Our home was built in 1963, so we had to comply. We will get the results next week. They were primarily looking for painting that is chipped and flaking because the primary source of lead paint poisoning comes from chips of lead paint. We worked for several days in wiping, cleaning and in some cases painting any areas (in and out) that were chipped or pealing. It is primarily the window areas.
Also yesterday we rented a storage unit into which we will put our furniture, books, files, etc. We did not want to pay for a storage unit. We hoped one of our children might be able to live here while we’re gone. We figured maybe one of our eleven children would want to do this. But, alas, it was not the case. So, at this point, we have to start moving things out of the house and into the storage unit. Some things will not be moved out until just before we leave, but other things can go now–by starting the arduous task it won’t be as overwhelming as it would be to try to do it in a day or two.
The storage task is more complicated for us because of three factors: I have been storing my closed law files in our basement (approximately 2,000 files); I have a lot of books (including approximately 800 books on the Constitution; and I have lot of files about family histories, religious matters, current events and Constitutional issues. I love to write and teach about these things, and so I have collected resources that I use for this. In any event, we plan to take some of these materials on our mission, but most of the books and files will be put into storage. So we are beginning the process now of picking out the select few materials to bring with us, and then putting the rest in storage.
About two weeks ago I wrapped up a project that I needed to complete before entering the mission field–writing and publishing an issue (perhaps the last issue) of my newsletter, “Constitutional Law Updates.” This newsletter discusses law cases and current developments in how the Constitution is interpreted. The newsletter supplements the book I wrote and published in 2002, The State of the Constitution. The election of Donald Trump as President will have many significant implications on the Constitution–especially in comparison to what would happen if Hillary Clinton had been elected. In any event, that edition of the newsletter is now completed and out of the way.
We also got our flu shots this week. Yesterday we received our first letter from our Mission President, Darrell Whitney. In his letter he included a page with about a hundred scriptures that he wants all his missionaries to understand and master. Also, during the past week I applied on line for Social Security benefits to begin next month. I turn 66 in three weeks, so we will begin to receive a monthly Social Security payment in March. When we return from the mission in 18 months, those payments will continue when I resume my law practice.
We still have not received the detailed instructions we have been looking for on the amount of money we will be contributing monthly for missionary purposes. I believe we will be contributing about $1,250/month, and when we get in the mission field the Church will provide housing, and then we will pay for all of our other expenses. We’ll have to call and get some clarification on this.
We are looking forward with excitement and some trepidation to entering the mission field. Terry and I both have some excitement; Terry has most of the trepidation. We watched and enjoyed the on-line missionary training videos of “The District 2.” We found all three episodes to be very good. We are both reading The Book of Mormon again, as we were requested. Although we have already read it several dozen times, it is an inspiring experience to read it again.
We are well underway in the process of moving our stuff from our home to the storage unit. With three weeks to go before we leave, I believe we have made enough progress so that we will not be scrambling and worrying too much when we get down to the last couple of days. So far we’ve moved a couple of book shelves, a bed, about 20 boxes of books and files and a few other things.
We use our ’05 Dodge Dakota pick-up truck to move these things. But the pick-up truck is having some problems, as the engine frequently misfires in one or more of the cylinders. We brought it in for repairs last week, and we thought it was fixed, but the problem returned a day later. The mechanic said the problem was in cylinder # 5, and that it was due to a faulty injector. I have an appointment to have it repaired again on Tuesday. We had been planning to leave the pick-up truck for our daughter Julie and our son Timothy to use. But if the problem cannot be fixed, we may just sell the truck.
Last week I received a court order approving an administrative account in the Connacher Estate, an estate from which I will receive several thousand dollars for past services. We need this money in order to go on our mission, so we are greatly relieved to have this money come in. I have one other pending case from which I am expecting a significant payment in the next couple of months. We will fine financially when that payment comes.
Because of my service in the community as an elected official for eight years, I have developed many connections in the community with elected officials and other influential people. I have always regarded these relationships as missionary-type opportunities. From the very first meeting as a newly-elected Alderman for the City of Frederick, I have had opportunities to say and do things that I believe will help the kingdom move forward. At the first Aldermen meeting, the Mayor asked me to offer a prayer. I told him that I would be happy to do so, but that I was going to pray in the name of Jesus Christ. He said that would be fine. I did, and then there was a good bit of public consternation about this. My prayer became a front page story because I had prayed “in the name of Jesus.” Some people complained that I had violated the City law about prayers, and an atheist complained on the op-ed page that the prayer was “too long.” The paper even printed the text of my 45 second prayer. I responded at our next Aldermen meetings that if I did violate the City prayer policy then that policy was unconstitutional.
In any event, most Christians were quite happy with my having the backbone to pray in the name of Jesus Christ. During the campaign prior to the election, some of my opponents tried to smear me by publicized that I was a Mormon and by labeling me a “homophobe.” Neither of these tactics succeeded. To the latter accusation, the newspaper publicized my response in which I told of some gay people that I had effectively represented, including a current case in which I helped a gay man to get a large reduction in alimony from his ex-wife (where the alimony award had been much higher than was proper). The point is that for all of my eight years as an elected official, the community has been well aware that I am a Mormon. And I believe my service as an elected official has reflected positively on the Church.
Meanwhile, back to the present–after talking with my friend Tim May, who hosts a daily, 3-hour community talk show, he invited me on the show for an hour on Friday, where we discussed national political matters. Terry said it was very good–in fact, the best commentary they ever have. After the talk show, I spoke with one of our State Senators, Michael Hough (also a good friend) about a local ethics law that he had been discussing on the radio just prior to my hour visit. Senator Hough thanked me for sending him a copy of my latest issue of Constitutional Law Updates. He said that my writing is excellent, and that he has shared the newsletter with others.
I mention these things here to point out that even though I am currently making a significant public relations contribution to the Church, Terry and I still feel that we need to go away and serve a full-time mission somewhere else, while we have the health and strength to do so. The community will know that we are going on a mission, and they will learn that our commitment to the Lord is so strong that we are putting Him first in our effort to serve God and our fellow man. As I discuss the mission call with my many friends in the community, some of them ask why we are doing this. “Didn’t you serve a mission when you were younger?” one of them asked. Yes, but this is all about the purpose of life. We want to serve the Lord and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others–to help them.
Earlier this week, I mentioned to one of my clients on the phone that I would soon be leaving on a mission, and that my associate, Jeff Holtzinger, would be handling the case in the future. The man probed into why I would be going on a mission, and for what church. When I told him, he became interested, and he seemed positively impressed. I told him that I would send him a copy of The Book of Mormon, a powerful, fantastic book that he would find very inspiring and helpful. He said he looked forward to getting it and reading it. The man said that he had been against all organized religions for the last two years because of the neglect he felt from his church after he had been seriously injured in an accident at his church. He was electrocuted and fell from a ladder while working on a light at his church. The fall caused him to have a broken neck and back, and bad cuts to his head (requiring 120 stitches). He said that in his long recovery period of many months, he only had three visitors from his church. This really soured him on religion. I told him that I was sorry to hear that. I said that it is a miracle that he is even alive. I think he believes likewise. So, I’ll send him a copy of The Book of Mormon in tomorrow’s mail.
Tomorrow Terry and I will enter the Mission Training Center in Provo for ten days of instruction, inspiration and preparation for our mission. We are looking forward to that. The last month has been totally filled with attending to our personal and business affairs so that we will not have to worry about them on the mission. This has been a mammoth undertaking—partly because I plan to return to my law practice after the mission, and partly because we have not moved in 25 years and because we have had to put into storage most of the stuff that is in our home. (We will return to the home after the mission.)
Putting our furniture, papers, books, clothing, etc. into the large storage unit took a full month. We rented a large unit (10’ wide x 35’ deep and 10’ high). When our home is rented, that should be just enough to cover the cost of our mortgage and the rental. We must have taken 25 trips to the storage unit. Except for help with a few of the larger items, we moved most of the stuff ourselves. In addition to the larger items—chairs, tables, dressers, beds, etc.—we bought about 50 boxes from Home Depot and Lowes, into which we put our smaller things. In addition to this, we used about 30 plastic storage crates that we had accumulated through the years. These boxes and crates were about the same size; they were easy to handle, and they stacked very nicely to a height of about 7 feet.
We had planned to leave Maryland on Saturday morning, Feb. 25th at 7:00 a.m. But we were not able to leave until 10:30 p.m. We put the last load of stuff into our storage unit at about 8:30 p.m.—the unit is totally packed, except for a narrow passage through the middle of the unit from front to back. Once this last load was delivered, we had to go to my law office to attend to several matters. We spent two hours there. Terry waited patiently—I have to commend her. I sent out several letters that needed to be sent, and I gathered with me the files for about six remaining cases—matters that I would have to attend to in the next week. Now, a week later, I have gotten all of this work done, except for two letters that need to go out by Monday morning. Then we will be ready to have a good experience at the MTC.
While 10:30 p.m. is an odd time to leave for our trip across the country, we had no place to sleep in our home even if we had waited until the next day. So, we left and traveled 95 miles west, and got a motel in La Vale, Maryland.
As we drove west in our jam-packed 1998 Lexus, we stopped for a short visit in Peoria, Illinois with our son Philip and his wife Mary and their six children. We then traveled west, having a short visit in Nauvoo. Then we took our journey through Atchison, Kansas, stopping to see the historic marker there, at Mormon Grove. About 20,000 Mormons went through Mormon Grove in the 1850s, including some of our ancestors. One of my ancestors, Julia Ann Grant Bagley, and two or three of her children, died of cholera one day west of Mormon Grove. Julia and her husband, Edward Bagley, joined the Church in 1845 in Frederickton, New Brunswick, Canada.
We traveled through Denver, and took the time for a quick visit at Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park. That was really neat. Now we can say that we met the Hoodoos from Hanksville.
We arrived in Sandy, Utah, and spent a few days with our son John and his wife, Jessica, and their two-week old, beautiful baby, Jasmine. We thoroughly enjoyed this visit. We were also able to visit our son Michael and his wife Shelby (who is expecting), and our son Paul Jr., and his wife Jill (who is also expecting) and their son Wiley, and our oldest granddaughter, Danielle, who is a freshman at BYU. We had two wonderful visits with them.
We will be ready for the MTC tomorrow.