Why I’m Serving a Mission

If you aren’t really sure of what a mission is and what it entails, check out this link- https://www.mormon.org/values/missionary-work

Having grown up in the LDS church my entire life, It was always my plan to serve a mission after  attending a whole year of school before putting in my papers, but as we all know plans change, and after only doing a summer and a fall term, i decided that the time was right for me to go. While at BYU i made so many incredible friends, and had such an amazing experience being in the presence of kids all the time who believed what i believed and had the same standards as me. My core group of friends after summer term all had put in their papers during high school and had gotten their mission calls for directly after the term was over. This definitely had a major impact on my decision to put mine in early and leave when i felt ready. Those friends got called to places like, Australia, Baltimore, Paris, Washington, and The Philippines. Seeing my friends set examples for me in having no fear in serving in these sometimes very foreign places, really put me in the right mindset to serve. After a very stressful fall term, i decided that my time to serve was now. I prayed and prayed to know if the decision i was making was the right one, and eventually i got the answer i needed. I was supposed to finish fall term, put in my papers, and go on a mission sometime during what would’ve been my winter term.

I’m just going to explain how missions and mission calls work really quickly. Basically all young men after graduating high school are strongly encouraged by the church to serve a mission to wherever they may be called. Among other things, this mission consists of two consecutive years without a phone or any worldly distractions, preaching the gospel to and helping and serving the members and non-members of the church in the area they are called. The ultimate goal of any missionary should be to bless the lives of the people they are serving. Prospective missionaries submit their mission application or their “papers” to church headquarters in Salt Lake City, and begin to anxiously await the arrival of their mission call coming in the mail sometime around 3 weeks later. With over 400 missions in the world, the church leaders rely on divine inspiration on which mission to send missionaries too. You can get called to just about anywhere to serve, there are LDS missions in every state and almost every country, with a few exceptions of places like North Korea. You have no choice of where you want to serve, once you get called to a mission, thats it, there are no changes, you either accept you call to serve, or you turn it down and don’t go, which very rarely happens. So to say that this whole endeavor is a huge test of faith is an extreme understatement. I put in my papers not knowing wether i would get called to Nebraska or to Nepal. Of course everyone has a mission in mind where they want to be called to, but the chances of getting that mission are smaller than 400 to 1. Most of the time the mission is a complete surprise, take my cousin, best friend, and roommate at BYU, Aleks for example. Aleks put in his papers about a month ago and received his mission call this week. On the mission application itself you can put whether you studied a language, and how many years you studied it. Aleks took German for 3 years in high school and put that on his papers in hopes of getting called to one of the 5 different missions in germany, with his “dream” mission being the Alpine- German speaking mission, a mission that covers southern Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and a couple other small countries in that area. He and I were so sure that he would be called to a german mission when his call came this past week, because he put the language on his application, whether it was the Alpine mission or not. Guess where Aleks got called? PERU. He had never taken any Spanish in his life, so for him this call was a total shock. But he know nows that for whatever reason, the Lord needs him to preach the gospel in Spanish to the people of Arequipa Peru.

Choosing to go on a mission wasn’t a hard choice for me, but knowing that i would be living for the next two years in whatever location it said on a piece of paper that came in the mail was a daunting thought for me. So much depended on my mission call. The week before i received my call I was freaking out, i seriously just couldn’t think straight just thinking about where i was going to spend my next two years in an unknown place. The day my call came in the mail I was just a mess. I decided to open it in front of some family and friends later the next night, as is tradition in Mormon culture, so the thought of opening it and being visually disappointed in what i read of the paper in front of this group of people was haunting me. I probably said 100 prayers that day asking for comfort, but right as people started showing up to my house, i finally got my answer. I just felt so strongly that whatever location i read off that paper, i knew it was where the Lord needed me to serve. Whether it was somewhere foreign like Asia, or somewhere closer to home, like California, it was where i needed to be, and that i shouldn’t be upset either way. This moment was my all-time biggest test of faith. As soon as everyone had arrived, i opened up my call and to my complete and utter disbelief, I was called to serve in the Taiwan Taichung mission to preach the gospel in the Mandarin Chinese language, the exact mission i wanted, my “dream mission”. I had taken Chinese for 5 years throughout middle and high school and put it on my papers, hoping i would get called to a Chinese speaking mission, whether it was someplace stateside like San Fransisco, serving as a Chinese speaking missionary in the china town area, or one of the only two native Chinese speaking missions in Taiwan, because missionaries aren’t sent to mainland China. I obviously was overcome with the spirit and emotion, and it simply felt unreal in the moment. Seriously Taiwan was the exact place i wanted to serve, and out of the two missions there, i got the one i had wanted. Easily one of the most glaring examples of Heavenly Father and I being on the same page, which is probably the coolest feeling of all time.

While I was at BYU I lived in Helaman Halls which is like the epicenter of freshman dorms, and the tradition there is to open up mission calls in front of big crowds of friends in the lobby of your dorm. I distinctly remember walking in to the building one day and seeing the big crowd surrounding one kid Max, who had always rubbed me the wrong way every time i talked to him, and i never really liked, standing on a table about to open and read off his call. I watched Max read off Taiwan Taichung mission and remember feeling disappointed and a little bit mad. I went up to my room and crashed on my bed, and i remember turning to my cousin/roommate Aleks and saying “Why does Max get to go to Taichung? Thats the mission I want”. Which looking back on it, it was a really selfish thing to say, and now that Max and i are going to the same mission we’ve developed a bond and are really good friends, but in the moment i was kinda upset! Theres like a joke that goes on through the dorms that once someone in your dorm gets called to a mission, that mission gets taken off the table and nobody else can go there until next year, which is obviously totally not true. But as 18/19 year old boys we liked to make ourselves feel better and a little less worried about getting called to a maybe less desirable mission like North Dakota, when someone else from your dorm has already been called there (Which my friend David from summer term did). Now there is nothing wrong with serving in a place like North Dakota, as those people need the gospel just as much as the people in Taiwan do, but each and every mission has both its positives and negatives, and i am a full believer in that you get called exactly where the lord needs you and your talents and abilities to serve.

I would like to thank my parents and family for loving me unconditionally, and supporting me in everything I do, as well as pushing me to become a better person; and would like to thank them for setting righteous examples for me to go on a mission. I would like to thank the Griffitts and the Hanson families for raising their boys Kyle, Hayden, and Parker, to be incredible examples to me for going on missions, and showing me the right way growing up with them. And i would like to thank you, my family and friends, for teaching, encouraging, and supporting me to undertake this endeavor.

At this point I’m extremely excited to leave in 11 days to head out to the MTC and begin my grand adventure in Taiwan, but i already know its going to be no cakewalk. Missions are physically, mentally, and emotionally draining, but the weird thing about them is that along with those things they are spiritually nourishing. While the mission is tearing your body and mind down every day, from the countless hours of bike riding in the tropical climate, and the constant frustration and rejection from some of the people, your spirit grows to immeasurable levels to help you through the ordeal. I cant wait for the mission to mature me in ways i didn’t even know imaginable, to shape me and my future into the adult, husband, and father i want to become, and to hone my Chinese skills and come back fluent in such a useful language. But most of all, I cant wait to bless lives of the people of Taiwan, and show them the gospel and the path to eternal happiness. It is said that missionaries that go to stateside missions come back gospel scholars, missionaries who go to south american or european missions come back masters of their language, and missionaries who go to Asia come back humbled. I cant wait for all the challenges the Lord has in store for me. The mission isn’t going to be easy, I’m going to struggle with the language, I’m going to struggle with living in such a new, foreign place, and I’m going to struggle with pretty much everything else difficult. But I know this church is the true church. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God to restore the true gospel to this earth. I know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God and another testament of jesus christ along with the Bible. And I know that through this gospel and following the commandments, we can return to our heavenly father and have eternal happiness some day.