*There is a significant portion on this blog that takes place while I was a missionary in Poland for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (June 2010-January 2012). This was an explanation I included on my blog during that time that I like enough to keep up here.
First of all, what is a Mission? Young adult members of the LDS church are sent out to the far corners of the world to teach everyone and anyone that will listen to them about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
To someone outside of Mormon culture a mission probably sounds crazy. A church asks a whole bunch of 19-25 year olds to be their primary representatives. Young adults take two years out of their “prime” to go be the equivalent of nuns. And parents are fine letting their kids run around in sketchy countries for a couple years. You know, places like Bangladesh, Tijuana, Cambodia, and South Africa (I know people who have served in all 4).
I’ve gotten a few raised eyebrows about the process of assignment too. You decide to serve a mission, fill out paperwork and have interviews, write down any language experience or connections you have to other countries, and then send it in. They could assign you anywhere, speaking any language. My three years of Spanish didn’t send me to Spain. Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 7:45 I was a college student living in Provo, UT. At 7:52 I was getting ready to learn Polish. That’s a big shift.
Choosing to serve a mission was a big decision for me. Unlike some who have been planning on it since they were 10, a mission was not in my five year plan coming out of high school. It’s really funny how it happened actually. A night or two before I turned 20 I had a random thought: “a year from now I could be on a mission”. It was really just something thrown out to the abyss of space without any forethought, but it stayed with me. I couldn’t forget it, and so I started praying about it. I continued praying and thinking and talking about it for almost eleven months. I had to come to terms with a lot before I could make the decision to go. I had to be okay graduating from college at the age of 25, likely missing some of my best friends’ weddings, and not seeing my family for 18 months. I had to get over my fears of not being good enough and doing something as hard as learning a language. It took a lot of faith.
In the end it wasn’t a dream about Polish saints or even “Go On A Mission” whispered in my ear. Late October I went to Palmayra, NY with my family and as I watched the two sister missionaries take my family around Joseph Smith’s home I knew that missionary work would make me happy, and that was my answer. Heavenly Father wanted me to be happy.
Heavenly Father wants all of his children to be happy. And the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is pure happiness. The gospel brings a deep penetrating joy that fills your soul until you’re ready to burst with light. It is powerful, it is wonderful, and it is true. It brings hope and peace. I feel so blessed to have it. I spend my days at school reading the wandering thoughts of man attempting to arrive at some semblance of truth. Their fumbles in the dark are surprisingly successful, sometimes their writings better describe my religious feelings than I can, but I’ve never read anything for English class that was 100% accurate. Even the Dickinson poem I love so much only catches a fragment of the truth. It’s all pretty fragmented- there’s just too much of the loud, distracting, confusing, overwhelming world that gets mixed up in it. I think every person on earth deals with this though. We ask our souls, hoping they can remember farther than we can. We pose the questions: Is this existence all there is? What does my life mean? What is morally right, and why is something moral in the first place?
I testify that there is a plan. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever learned in my entire life. It originates from a Father who loves his children and wants them to grow and progress. Jesus Christ is the center of the plan. He makes everything we’ve ever hoped or dreamed possible, and then he adds upon it ten fold. Our potential is even greater than we can comprehend. He didn’t atone for the sins of all mankind just so he could be powerful or popular. He did it for us- we are his end goal.
I want to serve a mission because I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love my Savior, and I love the Book of Mormon. It truly is the word of God. I know that living the principles taught in it bring joy and peace, something the world needs more of. I know that Heavenly Father wants his children to have the happiness this gospel can bring. There are people in Poland right now that he has sent me to find. There is a lot that I don’t know too. Questions don’t go away even when you have so much truth. But I have faith. As a student I’ve discovered that learning is a process and that questions lead to answers. So many answers, if you only know how to find them. I guess that’s what I’ll teach as a missionary; how to find them.