Sunday, 22 April 2012
So, I just handed in my mission papers and, in the spirit of all things missionary, I wanted to share an experience I had recently that really helped me come to know that I need to serve the Lord:
I was lucky enough to be able to go to Utah for two weeks and, whilst I was out there, I met up with the missionary who kept me in the church when I was about 14 (rebellious teenager and all that jazz - I'm sure it's familiar to a lot of you!). Now, this elder was fantastic - he was mature, really focused and really loved the people he served. However, he left for his mission at 23, after attending a few years of university and, it made me realise that, although I have a testimony of missionary work and I have a desire to serve, I'd never asked Heavenly Father WHEN I should serve! How did I know that God wanted me to wait a few years? or that He had other experiences planned for me before I was fully prepared to work with people?
And so I prayed... a lot ha! I was sitting in the Christus in Salt Lake and really asking the Lord to tell me if serving a mission now was his plan! Now, my favourite BoM prophet is Enos, so I appreciate waiting whilst praying so I did exactly that - this whole feeling of waiting for something special, something miraculous was constantly in the back of my mind. BUT, after an hour and a half, I had felt nothing and, I thought at the time, had received no answer. I left the visitors centre disheartened and with a significant lack of confidence that I should be putting in my papers...
Absent mindedly, I walked out of the side entrance of the North Visitors Centre on Temple Square. I wasn't paying attention to anything at all, just talking to my friend and watching people as they walked past. My friend and I had barely walked ten seconds when we passed a group of missionaries who had come for 3 hours for a tour of Temple Square. And as I scanned the faces of these Elders, one stuck out. And I noticed they were staring at me too! The face was that of an elder from my home mission who, due to visa problems, had served a mini mission in my ward for about a week! Now, while he was in my ward, he was a great example - especially to my mum - of how a mission can change an 18 year old guy from a small English town into a testimony-bearing machine! he had faced opposition to serve a mission and sacrificed a really good job! but he had persevered and decided to serve a mission! he was then, and is now, an inspiration to me!
I could say how miraculous it was for me to pass the one person I knew on the 35 acres of Temple Square or talk about how unlikely that I left the Christus at THE perfect time to see him or even picking the entrance that meant we wouldn't miss each other; but, more vital than any of that 'reasoning' is the Spirit I felt when I saw his name tag. At that moment, I was engulfed with joy, with excitement, and - for me, the key part - with peace that let me know that this meeting wasn't by chance but a direct answer from God that NOW is the time for me to serve!Anyway, I felt prompted to share this with you all; if there are any young men who are wondering whether to serve a mission, I'd invite you to take that question to the Lord in prayer and have faith He will answer! I'd forgotten that before this experience but I am so grateful that it happened now! I know He will not allow fear and doubt to permeate your mind, especially if you have a genuine desire to serve him in any capacity! stay strong, work hard and keep it up - we are Zion's youth in latter days!
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ,