Sunday, August 24, 2008
Elder Peter Boshard
It seems almost unnecessary that my brother Peter was set apart today as a missionary.
He's going to be serving a full-time mission for two years in Tokyo, Japan, so, yes, in our church, this meant that he needed to be "set apart" (which is what we call the rite when he is given the official responsibility of being a missionary and blessed by the priesthood with the gifts he will need). And yes, being a set apart full-time missionary means that he will not be around, that he will not be on facebook, that he cannot read for government or study math or hug girls, that he will not come home for Christmas or leave me short voicemail messages about how he loves me and about what songs he's been singing non-stop of late. So yes, after today, having been set apart, his life will be different.
But I'm trying to imagine meaningfully, how.
Full-time missionary work seems to me to be about (1) learning to live in a fully consecrated, single-eyed, disciplined, and devoted way, and (2) blessing others through, among other things, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But, as a sister, I have to say, these are ways of being Peter is already practicing. He is, already, a student in AP Godly Living.
For one. Peter has led a more fully focused life than anyone I know, really. And he has since--I don't know, he started getting grades, probably. Maybe before. I probably wasn't consistently paying attention. Peter's focusedness has led to a lot of (entirely deserved) public acclaim, acclaim he likes (but only very, very privately) but also that he (entirely rightfully) finds highly problematic and distracting from what he really wants, which, I think, is to love God, serve others, and live in accordance with God's will for him. So, even as Peter was working towards being valedictorian, concert master, homecoming king, the physical education student of the year, an Eagle Scout, a seminary graduate, then a freshman at Harvard, a weekly homeless shelter volunteer, and a home teacher--he was also focused, sacrificing sleep and energies and so so much time--on being a rockstar, loving, and tender brother. A faithful pray-er. A diligent scripture-studier. (Even right now, as I write, he is sitting with the family in the living room, talking Judaism and Jesus and our nephews, when he really needs to pack. Dad said, "Peter needs to pack." And Peter said, characteristically, "This is more important. I can sleep on the plane.")
And, two, Peter shares his love of God thoughtfully and routinely with the people around him. Today, seven hours after he was set apart as a missionary, he baptized and confirmed his long-time friend and mentor (and, formerly, his high school teacher), with whom he has been working to study the gospel (as well as AP Java, AP Spanish, AP calculus, etc., etc., among other things) for years. Daily (literally, daily) conversations about the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, Preach My Gospel, God, Jesus, the Spirit. Even when Peter left New York and went to college, he was talking with Ross, praying for him, and trying with heart and Spirit to answer his many searching (and analytically minded) questions.
Missionary/hard work? Peter knows thee well.
But I do have faith--I do--that a full-time mission will teach Peter things. I'm sure he does, too. I have my own private hopes for him, of course (I'm a colonizer, we know, and spend too much time wanting other people to be what I want them to be). This includes a desire for him to come home more familiar with heart break. But too, interestingly, with a more natural joie de vivre (we, as a family--we're all working on this--we have a talent/tendency, we're realizing, for the intense and the sober). Maybe with the desire and ability to orate loudly, maybe like a Baptist preacher. (Okay, now I'm just making a wish list. How AWESOME would it be for Peter to come home from Tokyo able to preach like a Southern Baptist orator? AWESOME. And what are the chances? Almost nil. But a girl can dream.)
I was trying to explain earlier to Peter and Beka that, for me, as someone who has never served a full-time mission, missions are like this: "Ahhh? Twinkle twinkle twinkle! Ahhhh!"
I'm not sure what will happen during Peter's twinkling. And I feel safe predicting that it will not feel like twinkles to him. (Especially if heart break is on the horizon.) But I know that he and his companions and Japan will all be better for their years with each other.
As I am already better for my years with him.
Peter B., I love, love you so.