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  • Writer's pictureSean Foley

A Singapore Mission Origin Story: The Week the World Stopped

Our blog is mostly focused on the present, and the wonderful mission we are serving. But it's fair to say that the the two of us would not be in Singapore in 2024 if not for the COVID catastrophe that came to a head this week in 2020. So in addition to sharing the present, I have been thinking back across these four long years.

According to The Economist magazine the number of excess deaths (defined as the number of deaths above what was expected from pre-Covid trends) is approaching 30 million. But even beyond this horrific total, COVID has changed countless things, in both profoundly negative and profoundly positive ways.

Specifically for VIvian and I, it accelerated this path to missionary service. While we didn't have a set date in mind, we were looking more in the 2028 to 2031 range to retire and serve a mission. What sped that up 5-8 years? It certainly was not hating our jobs, our family, or wanting to escape any other part of our wonderful lives. More than anything it was an increased realization of the fragility of this world and of mortal life. And that led to reframing the question: "How much can we accumulate if we retire on such-and-such a date?" to "How much do we need in order to change our focus from accumulation to full-time service?" Once we reframed and answered that question (well, and also worked out a whole lot of other details), we wound up here. I would never wish a pandemic on anyone, but like many people in many terrible situations we have been able to derive blessings from it.

OK so then back to the present: After Zone Conference we got back into the counseling routine for a couple days. Then we had a wonderful Saturday adventure with Elder and Sister Douglas. They arrived in the mission in January to replace Elder and Sister Reese as Humanitarian missionaries in the far east of Malaysia. The Reese's were finishing their mission in Singapore when we got here and they did so much to help us get situated. But even more than that, they did so much for the people of Malaysia. Take a look at one of these great videos on just one of their projects: 2-minute version 5-minute version. There are hundreds of such Humanitarian missionaries throughout the world bringing the support of our church to the worthy projects of local groups.

Now Elder and Sister Douglas have taken the torch beautifully and are engaged in projects from clean water to cleft palate surgeries. Saturday we had a really great time with them at the National Museum of Singapore and getting lunch. We are slowly working our way through the long list of sites to see in Singapore, and the museum is definitely a must.

One other adventure from our week was helping out a young missionary who had run afoul of Malaysian immigration for reasons that they never explained to him. They held him over a day, wouldn't let him recharge his phone for quite a while, and were generally unpleasant. I went to pick him up from the airport and waited a couple hours before finding he had not been allowed on that flight. Vivian and I then returned later that night, waited a couple more hours, and were finally able to retrieve him after he spoke with Singapore Immigration. It was a great relief to see him come through, get him some food, and take him to his apartment. Unfortunately, just to add insult to injury, somehow our ride share driver dropped us several blocks from the apartment. We didn't notice until he had driven away - and so we wound up walking 15 minutes at 11pm to get there. That Elder definitely has a story...

Finally a mix of other great things: teaching the Parables of Jesus Institute class to wonderful young adults and those in BYU Pathways, participating in mission health councils for various missions, and presenting a devotional on stress management at an all-mission Indonesia Jakarta Mission devotional. Life is good - and so very different than it was that other March 13th when we found out that work and church were going remote "....for awhile".


1-3 Singapore National Museum trip

4-5 January-March Zone gives way to March-April! We love getting to know so many missionaries, but it is hard seeing them go

6 Vivian, the master baker, is doing incredible work here

7 Getting the supply room in shape

8 Random sighting of Singapore Scouts on the train

9 Flashback to my first home office setup from when I was "probably only going to be there a couple weeks"

10 One of the first of oh-so-many video calls

Bonus videos (no premium subscription required!)

Vote for Brock Foley for School Board, from a true supporter

A cute invitation to Stake Conference from our visiting authority, Elder Teh

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Rebecca Morgan
Rebecca Morgan
Mar 14

Keep up the great work Elder and Sister Foley!


Mar 13

With young supporters like that, Brock may have a base that will carry him forward for many years in politics - the school board and beyond! :-)

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