Early in 1971,I was attending the Italian LTM (Language Training Mission) in Provo. We of the Italian persuasion lived in a three story house and walked a couple of blocks to another building for all our meals. In that dining hall I saw a clever little poster. It had apparently been written by someone who had labored among Lamanites in the American southwest as a missionary. In bold letters it warned all and sundry to beware of a disease called Lamanitis.
The poster said that it was easily communicable and that there was no known cure. It went on to say that those who lost themselves in the service of Lamanites would soon find themselves unable even to think of them without getting misty and having to employ hankies and Kleenex. There was some more clever stuff there, but you get the gist of it. If you labor to teach someone the Gospel, you'll come to love them in unforgettable ways and will be afflicted with this gentle malady all the rest of your days.
Now, this principle is true of all people whom we might serve, of course. Len Humphries and Jake Haeberle no doubt feel a great deal of tenderness for the Brazilian people. Joseph must have developed a great deal of love for the German people despite the hard time they occasionally gave him and his companions. My brother John and my son Miles both served in Florida, and I remember reading letters in which they felt great excitement about families and individuals who were investigating the Church. I, myself, came to love Italians so much that I can get choked up just listening to them speak in a movie today. Perhaps the way to sum it up is this: That which we serve, we love. And that which we serve in the Lord's work, we love with an almost Godly love.
But I've always wondered about that "disease" called Lamanitis. Could I get it?
About three months ago I was at the Gate City Range, testing a few loads in three rifles. Only one other group was there and they were several benches to my right. Shooters, like many other hobbyists, are a gregarious bunch. In no time I had shared my rifles with them and walked down to post new targets with them. This family consisted of a young couple with one of their nephews. They were shooting rimfire rifles and taking their time, doing it right.
The young husband seemed delighted to get to fire my three center-fire rifles. He mentioned his service in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a pleasant day at the range.
Maybe three weeks later, I was standing out front of my house with Sheryl, discussing what needed to be done with our lawn. (Believe me, a great deal needs to be done!) The young Lamanite fellow drove up, rolled down his window, and said, "I know who you are!" After a moment I recognized him, too. After another pleasant chat, we agreed that we would have to go out shooting again sometime. But it was another month before we finally did it. He took me to a place on the desert near Blackfoot where he had marked off some fairly long ranges. He was my only witness when I hit a 2 1/2 gallon Roundup jug from 300 yards with an iron sighted Russian military carbine. He was hitting a paper target at that same distance with a scope-sighted .22 Magnum!
Since then we have eaten dinner in their home, gone shooting with them a couple of times more, and today, shared some pointers of reloading with young Aric, the husband. It is apparent that the Lord has put this sweet young family in our sphere of influence. Zanitta, the wife, is expecting their second baby. The first one, Akira, is a doll of the first order. I already sent some of you her photos several weeks ago.
It's been some time since I did any real member-missionary work. I don't want to scare them off by inviting the missionaries into the equation too soon, but I don't want to miss the opportunity, either. I'll attach some pictures so you can see how I caught my first case of Lamanitis.