When Ranelle and I signed up for our first mission we were timid about specifying just what kind of mission to ask for, or where to serve--we did not want to be telling the LORD what He was to do--or not do--with this pair of his children. So when we got the word that we were to serve a CES (that stands for "Church Education System") mission, we were gratified because of the feedback we had had from our friends Bill and Linda Lyda. So we went where we were told to go, and did the things the LORD knew we could do best. That was some five years ago, and we returned infinitely richer in experience and friends than we were before we left. Then when the impulse came to serve a second time, we were a bit more bold, and we outright asked to serve another CES one. Plus, after finding that this opening required roughly the amount of money we could realistically spend, we specifically asked for the opening in East Lansing.
I say this because you need to know that a CES mission does not entail the same hard-nosed, fill-every-second-of-every-day kind of devotion a proselyting mission exacts. Not that we don't work hard, but there are days where we can let up and look around a bit. Which is what we did today. Early on, Ranelle attended stake Relief Society conference, and I stayed home and wrote a stack of letters. She came home and since the day was sunny and nice (for a change), and warm, we dressed in "grubbies" and sauntered out for a walk. Most, most pleasant! First we walked up our favorite little street. Then up near the cul-de-sac, we descended into our favorite little forest (the same forest that's connected with the back of our "house," only we began walking about 1/4 mile east of here). Once into the wetlands that keeps our forest a forest (the land is not good for anything else), we tripped and wadded our way homeward along the river side. NICE! Very, very nice. And picturesque. And wildish, and private. Just the two of us, walking when we wanted, and halting and observing where we wanted--just looking and sensing the pleasantry of nature and the companionship of each other. Then before coming home, Ranelle re-counted what little wildwood friends we encountered along the way. (Care to join in?) We saw: two turtles; two Canada geese (from close up, and "tame);" a wood pecker; a blue jay; deer tracks; beaver tracks; a crayfish; two pond splashers (I suspect maybe frogs, or fish). We heard an unseen cardinal bird; saw two ducks, and a handful of tiny minnow fish who were daring the strike of some lunker fish that was lurking in the depths below. Closer homeward, we saw the marks of mighty beaver teeth that had either eaten off the bark of some standing trees, or had "necked-down" the wood of other trees, and toppled them over.
And that was just today. At other times we have observed white-tail deer, a snake (harmless garter snake), ducks mating; squirrels of course, one raccoon so far; vultures, two hawks eating; and maple trees yielding their sap.) What I'm saying is that besides the unspeakable privilege we have of declaring the uncomparable truths of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, we also get the privilege of living a lifestyle we could never match in our back yard in Provo, Utah.
At Relief Society today they served a portable sack lunch. So Ranelle purloined (by invitation) a lunch for me too. It is suppertime now, so we missionary companions will take our two lunches to some scenic lake we know of, and eat supper together while sitting on a bench looking over Lake Lansing.