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Pride didn’t seem to be my problem. I was a 19-year-old missionary in the mental throes of learning Russian. My mind was weary from language study, my body exhausted from walking everywhere, my spirit stretched uncomfortably thin from my new life in the former Soviet Union. And yet looking back, I now see Easter Sunday, 2004, as a pride-revealing moment.

That was the day a cheerful 50-something woman in the eastern Ukraine city of Makiivka greeted me and others with the words, “Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is risen!” She said this with joyful and serious conviction, and the group responded, almost in unison, “Indeed, He is risen!”

These Ukrainian Latter-day Saints were exchanging a Paschal greeting, an Easter custom they carried over from their Eastern Orthodox faith tradition. That night I wrote in my journal:

“On Easter, the people here say ‘Иисус Воскрес’ [Jesus is risen] … in greetings, in testimonies, in talks, in lessons, saying goodbye. A little annoying.”

I now cringe when I read that phrase, “a little annoying,” because it reflects an immaturity and pride born of an ignorance too common for me and other missionaries I knew when it came to thinking about other religions. Most missionaries with whom I served were ablaze with the trademark spirit and fire of missionary work—but that fire can sometimes consume our humility and blind us to the goodness and richness present in other faiths.

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