Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Time Has Come

I finally scanned in dozens of more missionary pictures. It's time to test my memory and write down each conversion story I witnessed.

Just a few notes before I begin. The dozen or so stories I'm about to spotlight represent a very small percent of the people who touched my life during those 18 months. In fact, most the people who I felt the greatest bonds with either never joined the Church or were already pretty faithful members.

Second, my friends always complain when people give them parenting advice . . . but I'm going to give it anyway. I'm not a stranger in the store scowling at you cause your kids wants candy. I'm a returned sister missionary who begs of you not to exclude your daughters from the "future missionary" conversations you have with your sons. I know a lot of you mothers out there are training your handsome little devils to be excellent missionaries. You mention the prospect to them often, and they know what is expected of them. Please, please, please, always make sure your daughters also know this awesome journey is available to them if they so choose. Truth be told, all missionary service should be a choice, male or female. Elders who serve only because they've been taught "they have to" don't usually last very long. My request is really quite simple, when you tell your son he can get married after his mission, drop a line that your daughter can also choose to serve a mission before she gets married. When you talk to your kids in FHE about missionary work, be sure to share stories and pictures of sister missionaries. Use mine if you have to. When they're teens, encourage them all to go to mission prep. I had two friends go with me all the time and neither ended up serving missions . . . but I doubt either would say it was a waste of their time. I guarantee that whenever any prophet or apostle mentions missionary service, they include both genders . . . so I beg you to do the same.

I'm so grateful that whenever my parents spoke of my brother's future as missionaries they always included me. I never once doubted whether or not I should serve. When I turned 21 I was super frustrated that the timing didn't feel right, but I still knew I had to go. I just had to wait for the storm clouds to lift and more of life's lessons to settle in. Then I was on a plane to Borneo Island.

Let me share one of my all time favorite scriptures. Perhaps part of the reason I always knew I would serve (even though I was a girl). I want to copy down all of Doctrine and Covenants chapter 18, but these few verses will do:

10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;
11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.
12 And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.
13 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!
14 Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.
15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!

I know this scripture to be true. And not just for missionaries. I know this promise of joy in our Father's kingdom extends to all our friends whose lives we touch. When we bring one another closer to God, we connect ourselves to one another in a giant eternal round. I love love love these verses. They bring me so much comfort. I know that I will get an opportunity in the life after this to continue searching out any of His lost sheep I may have encountered during this lifetime, who weren't quite ready to make the sacrifices necessary to join His Gospel. This is why I feel so compelled never to forget these names or faces, cause I'm coming after all of them on the other side!


Scott and Claudia said...

Great post Sis! Can't wait to read on... I'm sure someone can find something to be offended by, but not me!!! That's a miracle in and of itself. Perhaps there is still hope.

Tiff + Albert said...

I got a little weepy remembering my time as a missionary. It was one of the best things I have ever done. I'm so grateful for the opportunity. I can't imagine my life any other way.

A few years ago a member of the Stake Presidency asked me if I would encourage my daughters to serve a mission. Of course! I would be over the moon if a daughter of mine wanted to serve a mission. How could serving the Lord possibly be a bad thing?

I also thought being a returned missionary weeded out those guys for whatever reason didn't like sister missionaries. Who wants to be with a guy like that anyway?

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