Melissa Inouye: Why Loving One Another is More Than Bringing Casseroles
Identity, creating understanding, covenants, a worldwide Church, faith crises, change in the Church—these are topics Melissa Inouye, a scholar, addresses in an effort to explain how she has “found the fruits of this life (the life of a Latter-day Saint) to be worthwhile—costly, to be sure, but also rich and nourishing, a source of deep joy.”
Find Melissa Inouye's new book, "Crossings," here.
1:51- A Latter-day Saint Seven Days a Week
2:56- The Church Influencing Worldview
6:38- Lessons Learned From Being a Missionary
12:14- Belonging and Identity
18:44- Wins and Losses
20:57- Creating Unity in the Church
23:41- Helping Amidst Faith Crises
29:56- An Evolving Church
36:47- What does it mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
0:00 On this week's episode of "All In," you will hear Melissa Inouye tell me that she has just learned her cancer has returned. It was my understanding going into the interview that she was in remission and her words caught me off guard. I didn't know what to say. And the reaction you will hear is very raw. I'm sure those listening can relate. But I've since replayed that portion of our conversation in my mind over and over again, wondering if I should have responded differently. In her new book, "Crossings," Inouye writes that "cancer pulls a bit of the veil from one's eyes, one can suddenly see very clearly the presence of death. Death will come to all of us eventually," she writes, "But most are used to thinking of it as far, far away. Now death is an open door I walk past every day." So what does this look like? How does it shape your world view? Which thoughts would you want to make sure you've passed along? These are the thoughts we explore with Inouye today.
Melissa Inouye is a senior lecturer in Asian Studies at the University of Auckland. She received her PhD from Harvard University. She leads the Global Mormon Studies Research Network and is a member of the advisory board of the Neil A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU. She and her husband, Joseph, are the parents of four children. Her new book, Crossings," is a series of essays dedicated to them.
This is "All In," an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Jones, and I'm honored to have Melissa Inouye with me today, Melissa, welcome.
1:50 MI: Thanks for having me.
1:51 MJ: I really love in the intro of this book, "Crossings," how you write "I am not a Latter-day Saint only on Sunday morning, but in everything I do and in relation to everyone I meet." I wanted to kind of have a conversation today, if it's okay with you, about identity, and about how that relates to our membership in the Church and our desire to be disciples of Jesus Christ. And so in relation to this statement about not being a Latter-day Saint only on Sunday morning, what does it mean to be a Latter-day Saint and everything that you do?
2:26 MI: Well, we believe that the gospel is truth. And so it's not just a kind of form of worship or style of practice, but it's an entire worldview. And you know, all the things that we do in our lives are shaped by our understanding of what's real, and what's worthwhile. And all for me is the Latter-day Saint, my sense of what's real, what's worthwhile, how to interact with people, who people are, that's all shaped by my understanding of the restored gospel.
2:56 MJ: How does that understanding of the restored gospel shape a world view? What does that look like?
3:03 MI: Well, I think it's what we learned in Primary, you know, you kind of have these assumptions that people are important. Everyone's important because they're all children of God. We feel bad when we tell lies. We feel bad when we're not authentic. We try to live with integrity. All of these things are kind of developed within us as Latter-day Saints from a very young age. And I think these kinds of moral assumptions that we have and the potential that we see in life and in other people all comes from that worldview.
3:38 MJ: Interesting. I like that a lot. And I think that we see that. I think, another thing that you wrote in the book you said, a faith tradition is not simply a collection of doctrines, but a distinctive way of engaging with the world and its people. How should or how does being members of the Church of Jesus Christ impact the way we engage with the world and its people or how should it?
4:05 MI: I think for me there's always an, especially since I've kind of traveled around to different parts of the world, I'm always aware that any person could be a member of my ward, or a branch. And I would have to be nice to them. So, so often, I think when we come across people, it's easy to just kind of write them off. But in our wards and branches, we're just kind of forced to be together with a lot of different kinds of people with whom we may not have a lot in common naturally. But we just kind of learned to love them. And I think that that kind of sense of possibility that we learn in our wards and branches as we serve in the Church is really transformative. So we can understand that even if we don't have a lot in common with someone we can know through our own experience that over time, we may come to really love that person. I think that sense of potential of just knowing how, when you're with someone, when you spend time with them, when you have a relationship, you tend to love them. That's really powerful. And when you meet strangers or you meet people who you may not like, or you even see people in the public sphere, I think that sense of potential is really, not always does, but can make Latter-day Saints really good at seeing the value of every person.
5:26 MJ: Yeah. That reminds me of one of my favorite testimonies ever given in testimony meeting. When I was younger, I was probably in high school, and a lady from my home ward, I grew up in North Carolina in a really small ward, and a lady that I love Pam Whitfield, she stood up and she was like the eternal nursery leader like she was the nursery leader all growing up, all the kids loved her. And she said that she had been at Walmart and that she saw this child in a cart with its mother and, and she said something like, "I looked at that child. And I realized he's one of my nursery kids too." And I was like, what an incredible perspective to have! And if we did look at people that way, how would that change the way that we interact and treat people on a daily basis? So I love that thought. Another thing that I love in the book you write, "Love is the power that allows us to be useful to others." And you say that that was the most important thing that you learned during your time as a missionary. Where did you serve your mission again Melissa?
6:37 MI: I was in Taiwan Kaohsiung.
6:38 MJ: Okay. And you said that that was the most important thing that you learned and I'm curious how you feel a mission teaches that and how that knowledge, learning that, has served you in your life since?
6:53 MI: So mission submissions a very humbling for a number of reasons. Number one, you have to learn a language that's not your native language in many cases. Number two, you kind of come to realize that most people are very annoyed by you, and do not welcome you. It's very humbling. Number three, you are trying so hard to represent the Savior, which is a really high bar to wear the Savior's name on your name tag. And I think lots of missionaries go through different phases of kind of trying to do that. I certainly did. So for me, I think I started my mission with this idea that I was pretty awesome. And the Lord was really lucky to have me because I spoke Chinese already and I had studied China. I was in Taiwan. So you know, I knew all these kind of culturally relevant things and I was comfortable with being in China. So I thought I was pretty awesome. But eventually through numerous experiences, very humbling experiences, I realized that I was kind of a jerk, and quite entitled. And that I was quite selfish. And that was a very painful discovery, you know, because as a missionary, you don't want to be any of those things. But that was very clearly shown to me through these experiences. And I realized that it doesn't matter how awesome you are, if you're not useful to other people. And I worked really hard to kind of align myself with the Lord's will. And I discovered during this period of time that I just came to love people. It was like a superpower. It was really awesome. And I found, I think, that I was a lot more useful to people, I was more of a source of strength in the ward because of that. And so that was a huge kind of transformation for me. I realized what I needed to watch out for in myself, and I also understood how to kind of fix that problem.
8:55 MJ: I think that's so beautiful. I served a Spanish-speaking and I did not speak Spanish beforehand. I did not feel like I was super cool or that the Lord was lucky to have me. But one thing that I learned is I'm not a super touchy feely person and, and Latino people, they love to hug. And so I learned to love hugging them, you know. And so I think it's interesting how it gets us out of our comfort zone and makes us realize things. I wondered, Melissa, I'm realizing as we're talking that we haven't given a ton of context to your background and your background is fascinating so I don't want to skip over that. You mentioned that you've lived in a lot of different places, you speak how many languages?
9:42 MI: I don't know, I used to speak more, but they've kind of deteriorated so I really couldn't put it a solid number. Maybe like 3.5 or 4.1.
9:49 MJ: You're like, I only speak three. And I'm like I speak 1.2. Melissa, I wondered if you could just give a little bit of background about where you're from, maybe touch on some of the different places that you've lived, and now you live in New Zealand?
10:05 MI: That's right. So I was raised in California, in Orange County. And I was there for my whole life until I went to college at Harvard in Boston. After that, in the middle of that, I went on a mission to Taiwan for about two years. And I also studied abroad in China. So that was my kind of first introduction to living overseas aside from a time actually in high school when I went to Germany as an exchange student, but I ended up studying Chinese history, which takes you to China a lot. And I also ended up marrying someone who spoke Chinese and who kind of works in Chinese-speaking spaces. So because of that, we lived in Hong Kong for about three years as well and we've also lived in China for my husband's work as well as for my research. In addition to that, when we were in Hong Kong, my husband was working as a super hardcore corporate lawyer and it was just terrible for family life. He came home super late at night, we had to take our family dinner to him at his office every night. So we'd like pack up...I'd make dinner. Then we'd pack it into containers. And I put it into bags, then I'd round up the kids, we'd go to the bus stop, take the bus all the way into the center of the city, we'd walk to the, you know, the tower where he worked. We'd go up the escalator to the food court, we'd meet him in the food court, we'd have our family dinner, we pack up the stuff, put it in the bags, walk back to the bus stop and take the bus back home. So that was very tiring. And just not very good for a family life. So we decided to switch and I looked for an academic job. I had never looked for a full-time job before because I had super young kids. At this point, we had kids that were 2,4,6 and 8. And then I got an offer for a job in Auckland, New Zealand. And we weren't super serious about taking it but my husband was, you know, in his lonely corporate law tower googling New Zealand and it was so green and beautiful and there were sheep. And he saw something about glow worms. So he said, we have to go see the glow arms. So we went for the glow arms.
10:08 MJ: And the glow arms got you to New Zealand.
12:11 MI: Yeah. And now I teach at the University of Auckland, and I really like it there.
12:14 MJ: So neat. Well, one thing that I was, I found very intriguing in the book in relation to this concept of identity, which, just as a background, this is something that I've thought a lot about, and how we all have these different identities, right? We have our identity as members of the Church, or more specifically, hopefully, disciples of Jesus Christ. And then we have our identity of like our family name, we have our ethnicity, we have our gender. And I thought a lot about how do we balance all of these different things. And one thing that you talked about in the book is that even on your mission, you are an Asian American and you went to Taiwan and you found that your foreignness having grown up in the United States made you feel separate, even from people that looked like you? How have you found belonging in your life? And what does that belonging look like?
13:16 MI: So because of the, I don't know how to say this, the various random things that I am, I've never felt like I completely belong, but I've always felt like a kind of belonged. And so, I mean, for me, you know, our family has moved around so much. My family is probably the primary locus of my identity. And our extended family is a very kind of loyal, tightly knit family. So I've always felt like a member of my family wherever I was, wherever we've been, we've always kind of come back to touch base with the family. And actually, even though I was raised in California, I've always felt a really strong connection to Utah because my father and my father's extended family is from Utah and we'd always come back to go camping or for the Fourth of July or for Christmas and so on. So I've got different bits of myself I guess in different places. And when I go to China, it feels like home. When I go to Taiwan, it feels like home, when I come to Utah, it feels like home. So I guess it means all places are equally home feeling or equally not feeling like home, depending on if you're like a glass half empty.
14:25 MJ: Depends on how you look at it. In relation to this idea of identity I'm curious, for you Melissa, how do you and this is a question that just came to my mind. But how do you put or balance all of those different parts of you...even the name of your book, you talk about being an Asian American, a bald woman, someone who's battled cancer. And so you've done all of these different things. You've had all of these different life experiences you bring into that who you are and how do you balance all of those different identities? And how do you put that identity as a disciple of Jesus Christ kind of in the forefront of that?
15:09 MI: Well, I think that's one of the great things about the church is that it's a very time intensive kind of religious practice.
15:16 MJ: Absolutely.
15:17 MI:And it also works in different levels. So there's kind of the sacrament meeting, there's doing jobs in Primary, I am the primary pianist. There's Family Home Evening. So we have all these different kinds of rituals to tie us to that identity as disciples of Christ, which I think is a really wonderful thing about the Church more broadly, I think, you know, sometimes different identities come to the fore, sometimes they're in conflict with each other.
15:43 MJ: Absolutely. And I think that's what I'm interested in is I'm like, how do we manage that when there are identities that feel like they're in conflict or things that we're passionate about? And those things feel like they may not be in agreement with one another. Do you have any thoughts on that?
16:05 MI: Well, I think if we have a lot of tools in our toolbox, even when the identities are in conflict with each other, we can, you know, we can kind of translate across those gaps. So just for example, let's say on the ward Relief Society Facebook page, someone says something that I think is super unfeminist, or super...I see how it can be hurtful to people who are LGBTQ or something like that. That is not the place of the time to kind of jump on them and chew them out. That's the time to kind of think, "They're coming from this perspective. I'm coming from this perspective, and how can we kind of gently work towards that kind of common value or common understanding?" So that's just an example of what I can think of is the kind of the most controversial, sensitive issues. But even on less, less controversial, sensitive issues, I think knowing where people are coming from, is really helpful in in connecting with them and being able to be authentic, but also to relate to people in a way that again, is is productive and useful.
17:16 MJ: Yeah. I've been working on a story with Senator Larry Pressler, who is a Republican, but was introduced to the church by Harry Reid. And it's been interesting talking with both of them, and thinking about this idea that the gospel of Jesus Christ really crosses over any kind of party line. And so I love that you touched on because obviously, feminist issues and LGBTQ those are things that are very important to you. And it may be that some other member of the church doesn't feel as passionately about it or feels a different way about it. But the gospel really at its core when we're living the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it should create a unity within that.
18:03 MI: That's right, because everyone has the beliefs that they do, and wants to act on those beliefs out of this desire to follow Christ. And I think if we recognize the goodwill, within our fellowship and the covenants we've actually made to each other at baptism, then then that can get us pretty far.
18:20 MJ: Yeah, I love how you said the covenants that we made to each other.
18:24 MI: Yeah. If you look at Messiah where Alma's talking at the waters of Mormon. He says, if you're willing, you know, to be baptized, this is what it entails. It entails taking on the name of Christ and it entails, this covenant entails bearing each other's burdens, mourning with those that mourn. So there's a kind of vertical aspect in which we covenant to God. And there's also a horizontal aspect in which we covenant to each other.
18:44 MJ: That's so neat. I love that. You address in the book, Melissa, that every religious tradition has wins and losses, and you kind of give some examples of what those might be, and maybe you can touch on some of those in response to this question, but I wondered, how do we confront those wins and losses within our own religious tradition? And how do you handle it when something maybe doesn't sit well with you?
19:15 MI: That's a really good question. And it's a very complex question, especially given the global scope of the Church, right. So what is a win for someone in some part of the Church is a loss for someone in another part of the Church. Interesting, just as an example, since we're here in North America, in North America, many people might think that, for example, the Proclamation on the family is quite a socially conservative document that in some ways, restricts women's autonomy because they have a certain gender role. But then from another perspective, the Proclamation on the family is an extremely revolutionary document for the sentences that say, you know, men and women are equal partners, and everyone has to kind of pull together in this partnership. So that's just an example of how within the global Church, which goes across so many diverse political and socio economic and cultural perspectives, we can have these pretty significant differences of how we see the gospel, or how we interpret the gospel. And there are some things about the gospel that are hard for some people that are sources of strength and support for other people. It just depends.
20:26 MJ: Yeah, that's so interesting to think about, and especially talking to you, someone who's lived in these different parts of the world, because I've always lived in the United States. But I think sometimes we forget that the Church is worldwide. And that, I don't know, I just think that's so neat to think about that things that may not seem revolutionary here are revolutionary other places.
20:56 MI: Yeah, absolutely.
20:57 MJ: I love another thing...I'm sorry to pull so many quotes from the book, but there were so many things. I was like, I want to talk to her about these. I love how you say "The miracle of Zion's one heart and one mind was not that all members of the community had been born identical, but that they had chosen to love and serve each other despite, or perhaps because of, their diversity." What can we do, Melissa, do you think on an individual level to create that kind of unity in the Church?
21:31 MI: I think one thing we can do is try to actively seek out people who are struggling for various reasons. It's obvious to see people who have kind of, you know, physical difficulties, who've you know have been in a car accident, people who need to move house, people who have just had a baby, who need meals, these kinds of things we're really good at noticing. I think we could be a little better at noticing where people are feeling spiritually fragile or feeling fragile in their faith, or feeling like they don't belong. We could do more to reach out to people and make it clear that we're there to support them, even if that support may be a bit...may stretch us or make us feel a bit uncomfortable. It's, you know, it's a lot of work to help someone move. I've participated in many Latter-day Saint moves, and it's, you know, you're like schlepping their massive bed and their flat screen TV, and their super heavy, you know, chest of drawers like, why is this wood so heavy, this is a really heavy chest of drawers. But like that is that's a no brainer for us. Right? It's really easy.
22:39 MJ: We show up.
22:39 MI: Right. But we can also show up in those other ways. And in the book, I have an essay called conversations are like casseroles. You know, it's like a no brainer again, just like throw together a casserole and then send that off to someone. But often it takes much less time to try to engage with someone on a slightly uncomfortable topic. But we should do that too. That's also a form of work and we shouldn't shirk, as the hymn says.
23:05 MJ: Yeah, I think that that is, I think that's so good. One thing that it made me think of we had Jane Clayson Johnson on the podcast previously. And she talked about how when you have broken an arm, you have a cast, but we don't wear a cast on our heads when we are struggling mentally. And I think that if we did, it would be so much easier for people to know when we're struggling. But one thing that I think we have a hard time with is letting people know when we're in need of help mentally or emotionally.
23:41 MI: That's right, and especially if it has to do with faith, right, because faith is something that's so precious, we work so hard to protect it. And sometimes we worry that if someone is having a faith struggle or having some doubts, that that it will be kind of like a contagion, that it will infect us and weaken our own faith. But I think if we look at the example of Christ in the scriptures, he interacted consciously with a lot of people who were literally contagious, like with lepers, and also people who are considered ritually unclean. You know, if you were with them according to the kind of local religious traditions, you know, you would have tainted yourself, you would have broken your own purity. But Jesus was...He hung out with publicans and tax collectors and adulterers. As Sharon Eubank said in her general conference talk, you know, Christ hung out with all of those different kinds of people and He was fearless in doing that. So I think that if the Savior is our example, we can follow that example. And I think it will be okay.
24:41 MJ: I think that's such a beautiful thought. Just a question for you kind of follow up to that, I think sometimes, one thing that I have observed in my life recently is that there's this idea within the Church and I think part of this stems from parents that have tried so hard to teach their kids the gospel. And so then when their kids have questions or doubts or go a different direction, they feel heartbroken. And I think sometimes then, that creates in those of us, even who are still in it, kind of this fear to explore our doubts or our questions, and to feel like we can't be honest about them, because we've seen other people be brokenhearted about others leaving, how do we kind of sit with those people in those spaces? How do we feel comfortable kind of engaging in those conversations? You mentioned that idea of contagion and I love that because I think that that's so true, but at the same time, like I don't feel like for me, that the problem is feeling like it's going to be contagious, but I just don't know exactly what to do to be there. You know, do you have any thoughts on that?
26:06 MI: I do I have a lot of thoughts on that actually. So we can remember that the first and second great commandments are to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. So, and as I think it was Ulisses Soares, who also said in general conference when people are having doubts, don't judge them, don't criticize them, just love them. And I think that's the most basic thing we can do. Someone suggested as a response to someone who was expressing doubts or saying they were going through a faith (transition), what we can say is, I love you and I respect you and this doesn't change anything. So often, people are worried that, you know, if they if they go through a faith transition, and they feel differently about the gospel, or about the Church or whatever, that they will be rejected by their family and by people who they previously called brothers and sisters. And that's an extremely painful process. So just committing to love people to respect people and to say, "This doesn't change anything," opens up that space for people to share what they're going through. We can say, you know, tell me, I'd love to hear what you're thinking and what you're feeling and what you're going through. And then more broadly, with regard to, you know, how do we work through difficult questions, I think we can have confidence in the fact that anything that is real is quite complex, right? I mean, like the human body is very complex. Nature is complex. Only in a very artificial situation does everything kind of fit together. So sometimes I use this analogy of like a sandbox. So a sandbox is a very sterile environment, from a certain point of view, like you've got these grains of sand, and they're all the same kind of thing and it's pretty clean and kids play in it. But things don't grow in it. Things don't grow in sandboxes, unless the sandbox gets really dirty and it fills with dirt. But you know, things don't grow on sandboxes. Where things grow is in dirt, which is muddy and mucky and full of microorganisms and bugs and worms and things like that. So the earth that we have here, the life that we have here is fertile. It's messy. It's complicated. The things that are real work in that space. So, I think sometimes, perhaps, especially like when we're teaching primary kids, we do need to oversimplify some aspects of the gospel, and we don't teach sunbeams about polygamy or anything like that. But as we kind of mature and become more able to handle complexity, I think we can have confidence that we can handle it. I mean, if the Church were the Wizard of Oz, and we wanted to kind of keep the curtain over the wizard then it would be sensible to freak out about difficult questions. But we believe that we are guided by Christ and that Christ is here with us and and what is true and from God can withstand scrutiny. What I mean by withstand scrutiny means that we will inevitably see that we have made mistakes, as I study Church history, as in all religious histories I see that people have made mistakes. There's things in the past that we would clearly say are wrong. But this is what happens when people do stuff. And what is a church but a community of people that's trying to follow God. So I think we can be sensible and also ultimately confident that the more things we learn, provided they're not you know overtly deceptive are things that will ultimately bring us closer to truth and to a true understanding of reality.
29:56 MJ: Yeah. So many good thoughts there. I think one thing that I have thought some about is that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, like you talked about the casserole thing, like we're good at, like showing up and helping people move or bringing a casserole. But I think sometimes when things feel a little bit messy, we back away because we're afraid of saying the wrong thing. And then that's misinterpreted as not continuing to love people. And if there was ever a time when we should show up, it's when somebody is feeling like everything's a mess. And so I appreciate those thoughts a lot. The Church, Melissa, seems to be evolving at such an incredible rate. We've seen President Nelson do so much just in the past year and a half. And you devote a whole chapter in "Crossings," to this concern that some express that the true church shouldn't undergo change. Can you tell us a little bit about your take on that?
31:03 MI: Yes. So the problem that we want to have is the problem of change over time and over space. Sometimes people are, you know, feel consternation, they feel like things are up in the air, they feel like if something is true, it should just be the same forever. But if you look at history, and you see that things have changed quite a bit, if you look at even our church history, you'll see that we've gone through some very drastic changes. And some of the things that we take for granted today were once edgy, some of the things that we see as edgy today were once taken for granted. So change is actually a constant. And it's a really good problem to have because it means that we, as a church, are continuing to survive over time. And to survive long enough to kind of pass through these shifts in moral common sense. And other kinds of shifts and you know what is administratively feasible and global logistics and the problem of integrating so many different cultures and languages into the Church. For example, the hymn book, the new hymn book is an example of how the church is changing to respond to this new global reality.
32:17 MJ: Yeah. Another thing that you talk about, and this kind of relates to both that question and the question previous, but you write that "one path to falling away is stagnation and the failure to remain what the Lord called a true and living church, a church that is organic, responsive to changing circumstances hungering not only for what God has revealed, but what God now reveals and will yet reveal line upon line. Religions that are living our religions that grow and evolve." And I thought that was such a powerful statement. How are we seeing that growth? You mentioned the hymn book, are there any other things that you think kind of showed this line upon line, all that God has revealed all that He will now reveal and all that He will yet reveal. Did I just butcher that Article of Faith? I think I did. But anyway, I think that we're seeing that. Are there any examples that you've seen, maybe even personally, of that growth?
33:18 MI: Yeah, well, many of the changes that President Nelson has made have been to, I think, to facilitate the adaptation of the gospel in local places all over the world. The 2-hour block is a more flexible format. The changes to the temple liturgy are extremely significant, and make it easier for young women today to see the power and the beauty of the gospel. There are just, in terms of cultural change, I think, you know, not top down changes, in terms of shifts in our grassroots culture I think we're becoming a lot more accepting of people who are different, of people who are from other countries or other social situations, or people who are LGBTQ. I think there's a general shift in our culture as well, which to me shows that the Church is continuing to grow, and to kind of absorb new perspectives and understandings and then reflect that into our practice. Of course we can, we can do a lot more. And you know, there's a scripture in the (Doctrine and Covenants) about being anxiously engaged. It basically says, Don't be a slacker and wait to be told to do everything, just do stuff. That's good. I think we can do a lot of things of our own volition that are good and that are helpful and that help the Church make this transition into the next phase of its existence.
34:48 MJ: Yeah. Melissa, I'm curious, kind of as we start to wrap up, you recently and this was like the catalyst for writing this book was you wanted to compile some of your writings for your children because you were battling cancer. I'm curious when facing your mortality in that way, how does it change or affect your perspective of identity?
35:17 MI: Well, there's definitely quite a change in perspective. And actually, I'm probably facing my mortality again, my doctors think that the cancer has likely returned. So I'm actually in a very good position to answer this question, because I'm thinking about it a lot. Yeah. So I think it definitely changes my notion of what I want my children to understand about me, which isn't to say that I lose track of that, but you know, the daily piano lessons and taking them to gymnastics and all of that you just kind of think, you know, why aren't people listening to me? Why don't they leave the house when I say to leave the house, why don't they buckle their seat belts? And how come they fight with each other? These are like the four questions that have always come up as a parent, for me. Maybe other people have angelic children because they're such great parents. But then you know, when you're facing a kind of life and death issue, then you do see them in different ways. Though, I must say, the first time I had cancer, I think I was like this angelic parent for about one week, I just extremely serene, nothing fazed me for like a week after my diagnosis, and then it kind of went back to being normal. But you do have these kind of flashes or periods of clarity where you realize, you know, probably not that important. We don't have to be in such a hurry.
36:47 MJ: Yeah. Well, first of all, before we go into this last question, I hope that you feel, as people listen to this podcast, I hope that you feel the love and prayers of those that will listen because no doubt they will fall in love with you as they listen to your answers to these questions. And hopefully, we can get more prayers coming in your direction. But my last question for you is what does it mean to you to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
37:17 MI: To me, that means being willing to vacuum crumbs off the floor of the chapel, both in a literal way and a metaphorical way. So when I was raised in Costa Mesa, California by my parents, they always came early to ward activities and they always left late. Like it was so frustrating as a kid because you're like, you know, you wanted to be there and run around and eat food and stuff, but instead they were making you set up chairs and then at the end, you were tired and you wanted to go home and sleep but they were making you take down the chairs and vacuum the hallway and mop the floor and all that stuff. You know, because of their level of engagement in the church. I feel so strongly that the Latter-day Saints are my people. And anywhere I've been in the world, I felt so at home. You know, I just walk into a Latter-day Saints chapel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And I just feel like I'm at home with my people. And so I'm very thankful for that. That strong sense of identity that my parents gave to me and it also means being all in also means that for me, when I come across something that I think is difficult or tricky, or a problem that I think that we could fix with a little tweaking, then I want to do my best to work on those things. And even though sometimes it's uncomfortable, and you have to kind of go out on a limb and sometimes there's, sometimes it doesn't work, and you have to kind of live to fight another day. But I do dearly believe that we as a people are small, weird and special. And that we can do a lot of good in the world. I believe that Christ is here in the Church and I've felt the power of God. And so, having had those experiences, I am absolutely committed to being where I am.
39:15 MJ: Thank you so much. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your testimony with us. We really appreciate it.
39:22 MJ: Thank you to Melissa Inouye for sharing her faith and perspective with us. You can find Melissa's book "Crossings: A Bald Asian American Latter-day Saint Woman Scholar's Ventures through Life, Death, Cancer and Motherhood (Not Necessarily in that Order) in Deseret Bookstores now. Join us again next week for another episode of "All In," and until then, we hope you have a wonderful week. Thank you for listening.
39:22 MI: Thank you.