Twenty-some-odd years ago I spent two years in Ohio as an LDS missionary. They were a great two years. I met so many wonderful people.
In December, my son will be doing the same thing, in a different place: the Philippines.
Over the past two decades, I've thought a lot about my experience and what I could have done better. Here's what I told my son a couple of weeks ago... (knowing that he was going on his mission, but not knowing where the assignment would be)
The next two years will be an opportunity for you to _learn_ how to serve and help other people. Probably, at no other time in your life, will you have such an opportunity to focus on something quite this completely. Use the time well. Your job is NOT to convert people to the LDS Church. Your job is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, to love people, serve them, and help them. Don't ever get caught up in how many people join the Church or how many discussions you give, or anything like that. Those things are easy to measure, but they don't mean anything.
If you want to measure something, keep track of the number of times you get a sincere "Thank you" from someone.
I've spent time in the Philippines. There will be no end to the good he can do. What a great learning experience this will be.
Friday, September 26, 2014
Marriott Executive Lounge - Manila
Associate: "Hello Mr. Teasdale, good to have you back."
Me: "Wow, you know who I am?"
Associate: "I'll never forget you."
This interaction happened a couple of nights ago - about 11:00 PM. I just arrived in Manila after about 17 hours on 3 different airplanes.
I'm not a memorable person. Not handsome, tall, short, skinny, fat. Really just particularly average. I don't stay too often at this particular hotel, maybe 18 nights in the past 30 months. I didn't recognize the associate speaking to me. However, I'm pretty sure I know why she responded as she did.
You see, last time I was there, there was a bit of a tension in the room. Some self-important customer was behaving like an ass and giving this particular associate a pretty abusive treatment because he wasn't getting his way. From what I remember, he either wanted a room upgrade or a lower rate on the room he had. Given how important he thought he was, and said he was (there was no problem overhearing him), you'd think that 500 pesos wouldn't really be that big a deal ($13). However, you'd have thought the Marriott associate was telling him he was about to be dipped in boiling oil.
Anyway I apparently checked in during a lull in the fight and then his argument picked up after I arrived. I listened to this man berate this associate for a long time (> 10 minutes). I contemplated stepping in and suggesting he cool off. However, here's what I did. I took out a business card and wrote the following on the back: "I am so sorry you have to go through this. If he complains to ANYONE, please feel free to contact me and I will confirm that you behaved in a professional manner. Andrew Teasdale"
I didn't actually do anything. They never called. However, that simple offer made a difference to this person.
I'm not relating this for anyone to think I did anything great. Again, I didn't actually do anything. I write this to illustrate that little acts of kindness mean a lot. Her comment back to me, "I'll never forget you" meant a lot to me. She just said a kind thing to me, and it helped me at the end of a long day.