Jane and I have always found a great deal to admire in the Mormons we have known in the DC area. But our admiration was almost always bestowed from afar. Here, we have come to know the LDS missionary assigned to Šiauliai, Elder Michael Marshall (left in the photo above), who is never seen without his understudy—formerly Elder Hanson, but as of three days ago Elder Peterson (on the right in the photo above), whom we met today.
We do not know them well, only well enough to make small talk when we encounter them on Vilniaus gatvė. I’m sure they must think of themselves as being in the business of saving souls, and not as engaged in public diplomacy. But we’re inclined to think that our country is very fortunate to have voluntary ambassadors of their caliber. The USA sends mixed messages to the world; I’m thinking of some of the Broadway plays that we export, not to mention Donald Sterling and Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians and the random crazed gunman shooting up a public school. We think having Elder Marshall and Elder Peterson here with us in Šiauliai says a lot of positive things about America.
The United States: is this a great country, or what?