Saturday, May 31, 2014

Should I Serve A Mission???

A little while ago, a family member who is soon to submit mission papers wrote me and asked, "Tell me everything there is to LOVE about a mission. I've heard enough about the hard.....tell me what makes it all worth it."

I responded, and now, a few weeks later, I figured I'd upload my letter for all of you who feel the same way....

" asked me some really good questions--good in a number of ways: good for you to know, as well as good for me to answer. To preface, though, I gotta say, I'm totally having de-ja-vu to back before my mission.....the whole "enough of hard! what about the good?"

"So, lemme just say, I wish I'd heard more about the good before I came out. The questions you asked made me reflect on both the the hard and the joy of mission life. I realized there is much of mission life that I take for granted, which made me realize that there is even more joy to be found in this lifestyle than I sometimes realize.  Sooooo......take this letter--which is focused on the joys and blessings of missionary life--not as the 24/7-life-is-always-easy norm, but also remember to find joy in the small things, then that makes the work joyous.

"Ok....'nuff said. Rambling.....trashed. Here's really what you want to know! 

1st question: What makes me crazy happy? People. Love the people and you'll love your mission. Whether it's having someone accept the invitation to meet with you, be baptized, or report to you that they prayed for the first time ever....that is when I'm CRAZY HAPPY! Like get-back-into-the-car-and-just-scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs happy!!! Because it's about them!!! It's sometimes hard or unnatural to love, but invest your heart in e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. you meet and talk to.....and love (and happiness:) follows!

2nd question: What is fun about a mission? Being weird. Being crazy. Getting teased. Having adventures. Little kids loving you as "their missi-mary." Eating new foods. Pranking friends. Comp selfies. District lunches. Zone activities. Sightseeing. Transfer giddiness. Laughing at old church films (Legacy.....easy cheesy! lol). Teasing companions. Meeting strange people. Getting called funny names. Mission jokes. Taking pictures. Running back to the apartment at 8:55 p.m.. Life bloopers. A lot of things, really. But a lot of times, you have to make the fun! Get creative and learn to laugh at yourself;)

3rd question: What is rewarding about missionary life? SO MUCH. period. The Lord rewards His full-time missionaries in SO many ways! I see His tender mercies around me all. the. time.! It's rewarding in ways you also don't expect, though. After a long hard day, going to bed tired? Rewarding. An opportunity to do a random act of service? Rewarding. A prayer from an investigator thanking God for sending YOU to them? Rewarding. A lesson so fulled with the spirit that you have no idea what you said, but it worked? Rewarding. The first time an investigator walks through the doors of the chapel in jeans and a t-shirt? Rewarding. Helping a new young missionary find the power of their testimony? Rewarding. There is SO much reward in store for full-time representatives of the Lord! Like I said in a past email, there is NO way this is not the Lord's work, because NO such satisfaction and joy could come from work so hard! It truly is SO rewarding.

4th question: What is the power of being a missionary like? GAH!!! I L.O.V.E. it!!!! There is nothing like it!!  It's like being superhuman, really;) Like, ya put on the tag and suddenly, there's no bars held--you can talk to anyone and everyone, people respect and admire you instantly, inviting yourself in and over to people's houses isn't weird at all, you open your mouth and no matter how stupid or incoherent you sound, your words somehow make it to their hearts.....and the list goes on! There's also unseen power from God which leaves you standing there in awe of HIS power. Check out Jacob 5:72. Nuff said. He's in this work WITH US!! What more power could you ask for?? The power is unmatched also have to work for it, look for it, love it, and appreciate it! Then IT COMES!!! Those are the days when you can't help but shout, "I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!"

5th question: What makes the mission amazing? Well, I guess the answer to that is just a summary of the last 4 questions;). It's amazing in many ways (probably most of which, I won't even fully appreciate or recognize until it's all past). One thing, I gotta say that is amazing about being a missionary is the incredible support system that you have access to. I'm constantly surrounded by people--the mission president, his wife, district leaders, zone leaders, the bishop, ward members, senior couple missionaries, fellow missionaries, etc.--who are my biggest fans and most constant supporters just because I wear the badge!! It's truly amazing being surrounded by incredibly young peple all the time, who are going through the exact same things you are. It's kinda like EFY on steroids;) hahaha!

Every now and then, I have those mind-blowing moments where I all of the sudden realize, "This is sick!" and I also have to realize how hard it will eventually be to have to resign from the ranks and go back to "normal life" (yea, whatever that is;).

6th Question: Why is a mission both amazing and hard? Yea, you hear about the hard, because it IS hard. But it's an experience that teaches you so much! You will NEVER regret serving! The longer I'm out here, the more I realize, "Dang, idk how I would have every gotten marries, had kids, raised a family, accepted church callings, etc. if I'd never served a mission!" You will learn SO much about yourself, other people, the world, the church, gospel doctrine, and most importantly, about the love of Christ and His atonement as you serve--more than you could learn anywhere else in so short a time!

You will develop incredible relationships, meet amazing people, make best friends out of companions, and see and do things you'd never dreamed of! haha! It's an a.d.v.e.n.t.u.r.e.! Take on the challenge! (And don't'll get used to people staring awkwardly at your chest until you remember that's where your tag is at;) 

Sometimes you'll feel like your badge is really a 10 foot pole with a sign tacked to the end "keep your distance and avoid eye contact at all costs otherwise, I'll be really friendly and try to convert you!" hahaha! and again, at other times, your tag is what prompts showers of praise, questions, compliments, and requests for help and a listening ear......its b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l.! There are so. many. blessings. that come with the tag--protection, comfort, strength, discernment, power, etc.!

Ok so to wrap up......I was thinking about those emotions some of us feel.....specifically, not wanting to go. My word of advice would be to make a list of the "why's"--why you're going. Rack your brains if you have to:)! As you go along, and throughout your mission, review it and add to it. It often brings things back into perspective for me when the going gets tough.

And just remember, a mission isn't meant to be easy all the time. But all the time, it's worth it! Go out and have a blast! Turn your heart and will over to the Lord and watch and see what amazing miracles He will work through and for you!  The work is hastening this last time! This is the lat time He will send for His laborers to find the elect! The urgency is there!    Don't let this incredible opportunity pass you by!    Join the ranks! "We are as the armies of these latter days!"

You'll find (and re-find) the fire of missionary work! It WILL come, just wait and see! It doesn't come all at once and sometimes not as fast as you'd like, but it does come! Hold out and hold fast! Sacrifice truly does bring forth the blessing of heaven!

Keep walking--you're moving in the right direction and the Lord knows and understands how frightening and even painful that step into the darkness can be. Just think, even before the most important step in the history of mankind--the Atonement--Jesus Christ himself pled,  

"If it be thy will, let this cup pass from me."

 He knows what that's like! He knows exactly what you're feeling!

"Never-the-less (think about the meaning of that word!) glory be to the Father, and I partook!" (DC 19:9)  Your mission is a "never-the-less"! 

The blessings and miracles brought about both to you and to others will far out-weigh any sacrifice you make! I love you! Your faith and willingness to obey will be an inspiration to many!

Onward and upward!

Sister Anna Parker