As I near my 18th birthday, I’ve been overwhelmed with the many decisions I’m faced with as part of growing up. Decisions such as where I want to go to school, what I want to study, and what I want to be when I grow up are some of the questions I’ve frequently considered during the first few months of my senior year of high school. There are a lot of decisions I’ll have to make over the next few years, and some of them will influence the rest of my life. One of those huge decisions is whether to serve a full-time mission for my church.
Taking two years out of my life to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints definitely isn’t the easiest thing I could choose to do. Most kids my age plan to go straight from high school to college and begin independent lives at school. I have the same goals. I have been planning where I want to apply for college and what I want to do with my life after high school for quite some time now. So you may be thinking why are there currently 88,000 LDS missionaries currently setting aside time where they could be getting on with their futures? And why would I want to be one of them?
If I were trying to decide today whether or not I wanted to serve a mission, I know I would have a very tough time choosing between so many good choices. The pull of school would weigh on my choice, plus the possibility that as an LDS missionary, I could be sent to a country I don’t know about with a need to learn a language I don’t yet know. To be honest, I don’t know if I would end up serving a mission or not if I had to decide today. Luckily, I don’t have to make the decision today or tomorrow. I made my decision to serve a mission years ago, and I’ve been preparing ever since I can remember. It’s a decision that’s going to make a big difference in my life, so likewise I’ve given it a lot of thought and preparation.
My dad served his mission in Honolulu, Hawaii. (That may seem like more of a vacation than a mission to many.) He has shared several stories of his experiences serving there. Some of them are stories of success, or times where he was really enjoying his mission. Others, however, are those of disappointment or homesickness. He could tell you that missions are hard, and challenging even to those serving in the sunshine of Hawaii. But what I hear the most from my dad about his mission is how it changed him. He always reminds me that his mission made him a better student, a better husband, a better son, a better father, and even a better friend. He gained a testimony of things such as prayer, family, and most of all the love our Savior has for us.
I cannot wait to be a missionary. I know that I don’t have to wait until I literally become a missionary to act like one, or stop acting like one after my mission. I know that serving a mission won’t be the easiest thing, but it certainly will be the most worthwhile thing I have done yet. As I trust in my Heavenly Father I know He will help and guide me on my way, as He will for all of us, in all things, if we put our faith in him.
Want to learn more about the missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? “The District” is a television series about real missionaries, members of our church, and investigators in non-scripted, unrehearsed, actual missionary situations. You can learn more at The District or by watching the video below.