Before I came out into the field, I asked everyone about their mission experience and the lessons they learned while serving. I talked to a bunch of old geezers who had been home for 25 years, and I talked to a couple guys freshly off the mission. The responses were all different, but some were very much alike. Regardless of the different advice everyone gave, there seemed to be one thing that stayed constant for all missionaries. Change seemed to be the answer.
“You’ll change so much out on your mission.”
“The mission changes who you are.”
“You’ll come home a new man.”
After hearing all of this, I essentially came to the conclusion that “I would come home as someone different than the person I left as.” I didn’t quite know how to take it, but if everybody’s doing it, I need to as well… right?! I needed to come out on my mission and come home a brand new person. I needed to leave, and return as a new individual. Now… I know I’ve only been out in the mission field for 5 weeks, but I’m slowly starting to realize that what everybody was telling me was the complete opposite of what I wanted to happen while being out on the mission. I didn’t want to change? I loved the person I was when I was back home. I enjoyed being myself.
I’ve learned very quickly, that change isn’t always good. We don’t come out here to “change” the person we once were. We shouldn’t come home a “new person.” I believe the reason we are invited to serve is so that as young men, we can grow. Growth is the destination when serving a mission. Heavenly Father assigns each missionary to a place in the world that we will most benefit from, and the people we come in contact with will benefit from, as well. We are assigned this specific place because The Lord knows where we will most succeed and become the people we were designed to be. He knows whom we will touch the hearts of. If we come out to the mission field to “change” the person we are, we can no longer serve those that are in need of US. The people that need our personalities, and senses of humor, and wisdom, and knowledge, and testimony.
I once heard something really cool out here. A sister in our ward shared “It isn’t quite about where we are on the ladder, but whether or not we are climbing up it.” I think that is both applicable to the mission field and life in general. It doesn’t matter who you are right now. It doesn’t matter who you come out into the mission field as. As long as we are growing as people, we have served our purpose. We all grow in different ways as well. For people like myself, growing UP is a huge thing that I need to learn. Also, growing to be the father that I will one day need to be. Even growing to be more Christ like and having more humility towards my neighbor. It’s all a matter of our own rate, but growth is central to the Savior’s plan of happiness for each and every one of us. We cannot be the people our Heavenly Father wants us to be if we aren’t growing as humans.
Now, talking about life. Life is quite the same way. (It’s so interesting to see the same principles out here in the mission field able to be applied for those back home) We can be growing in our everyday lives as well. Heavenly Father doesn’t just send us out for two years, and upon returning home, pat us on the back and our work is suddenly done. Growing is a lifelong process. Growing closer to our spouses. Growing closer to our families and children. Growing to be more of an example of righteousness to others. All these examples of growth are very simple aspects of our lives. It’s not my job to determine that for you, though. We are each sent here on earth to be tried and tested as people. Our earthly ministry is our own journey. We are invited to come unto Christ and keep his commandments. As we do this, in return, the Savior promises us blessings and growth as human beings.
It’s my testimony and invitation for you to try it. Find something in your life that you could do better at. Maybe, something that you haven’t quite mastered yet?! Look inward, and try to grow better at it. Try and be the best person you can possibly be. Strive to be an example for everybody that looks to you. Be the person you were designed to be. You can do it. I have faith in you. The Lord has faith in you. Not only does he have ample amounts of faith, but is willing to help you in any goals or aspirations you have. He is there for each and every one of us. I promise that as you reach out your hand, he will reach out as well.
This is just kinda my two cents on this whole mission thing. I haven’t come a long way, and I’ve still got a LONG way to go. I don’t want to give you boring mission updates when I send emails. It’s the same every week. Work, work, work. We pick up new investigators and lose some. We sweat more, and come home stinkier. Members feed us gross Meatloaf and we have to choke it down. It’s a monotonous type of work, but one that I’m truly finding myself through. Growing as a person and growing closer to the Savior. I hope to return home not a new person, but a grown person. Grown closer to the Savior, and maybe a little more grown up than I left. ;)
I hope all is well in your lives. I keep you all in my prayers EVERY night. I love and miss each and every one of you. Keep growing. Keep moving forward and climbing the ladder of life. It’s a long journey, but the end of the race is beyond worth it. Strive to be better. I know you can do it.
I’ll see you soon. I love you most. GodSpeed.