As I mentioned earlier today, I interviewed for the JET Program yesterday. One of the questions, as I said, was about how I, as a Christian, would cope with living in a Buddhist country. I gave some answer about how I get along just fine with people of every religion, and that I would be fine worshiping, if I had to, on my own.
Today in Institute class, we were reading in Moses 6, which says, in verse 17: “And Enos and the residue of the people of God came out from the land, which was called Shulon, and dwelt in a land of promise.” We talked for a bit about “lands of promise.” We discussed the various times in history when the children of God have been asked to leave a place, and go to a land of promise, a place of safety and refuge where they would be protected from the world: Enos and his children going to Cainan, Moses and the children of Israel venturing into Canaan, Brigham Young and the early Mormons crossing the frontier to Utah. We then talked about how today, we build our own lands of promise wherever we live. A thought came to me. In certain times of history, the Lord has required the children of God to leave a part of the world physically, and separate themselves so that, as a people, they can grow, and progress spiritually. We aren’t asked to do that in our time. We are asked to do something much harder. We’re required of the Lord to remain in the world physically, and separate ourselves spiritually so that we can grow and progress as individuals and families.
As I thought about this, my thoughts went back to my interview the day before when I was asked how I would deal with living in a Buddhist nation. I realized then that if I go to Japan, I will be physically separated more from the “lands of promise” which I have developed more than I ever have been in my life. Right now, I have my family a few hours away, and countless friends in the Church to support me when I need it. When I was in Scotland, I was in a land where there weren’t many members of the church, but I was constantly surrounded by other missionaries, and my mission president. I was in Germany for some time, away from my spiritual support, but it was only for a short time, and the ward in that town was still fairly large.
I may end up in a small village where I’m the only member of the Church, and I may be in a branch that meets several few hours away, and only has twenty members. I may not have the support structure that I have here. I may be venturing into Babylon, and if I, like one whose name I share, get thrown into the lion’s den, I need to be ready to close their mouths. I was looking at this as an opportunity to learn more about another culture and language, and to expand my skills, but this could, likely be a challenging spiritual journey for me as well. I’m going to need to shore up my spiritual reserves.