For those who are not aware, young men of our faith are asked to serve missions for our church when they turn 19 years old. Young women also have the option of going when they are 21. Many times the missionaries are asked to serve in other countries, and suffice it to say, that almost every young man I know that has served one of these missions has left a boy, but come back a man. It's an experience that cannot compare to anything else in their life, and while many young men do opt to go, there are of course many that do not.
John stated that he had a friend and when they were both almost 19 they contemplated going on missions. The friend asked their Bishop "What would happen if I didn't go? I can still be a good member of the Church even if I do not go... so what would I miss?" And the bishop looked at him and replied, "Your Mission. You'd miss your mission."
John was impacted greatly by what the bishop told his friend, although said he did not quite understand it until he himself went to serve his mission in Mexico. He told of an experience he had while he was there.
During his senior year of high school and the year before leaving on his mission, John had taken EMT training here in Utah and was loving the things he had learned. Well, one day in Mexico, John and his missionary companion were walking the streets and they felt prompted to turn down a certain street. As they began, they were stopped by several of the townsfolk. "Do not go down there!" they cried. "There is a crazy man with a gun who has entered a local shop!" Then all of a sudden there were gunshots. Just then, John saw a police car and was able to flag them down and send them to the shop where the gun shots were heard. The missionaries figured they were supposed to be on that corner just at that specific time as the police car drove past so they could flag them down. They figured THAT's why they felt prompted to be there at that very moment. Feeling somewhat satisfied, they began to leave. However, John kept feeling the urge to turn back. All of a sudden he couldn't help but feel that maybe there was something more. Just then someone yelled to get a doctor and call an ambulance. John & his companion ran back and John offered his skills and knowledge that he had learned as a medic here in the states. John asked the victim, Carlos, if he believed in Jesus Christ. Carlos said yes. John asked Carlos if he believed that Jesus Christ could heal him. Carlos answered in the affirmative. So, not only did this missionary administer the medical skills and knowledge that he had been trained for back in the states, but he and his companion were able to pronounce a blessing of healing upon Carlos as well. Because of the length of time it took for an ambulance to get to this secluded area, John was able to save his life. As the missionaries left, John knew now that THIS was the reason they had felt prompted to be at that spot at that very moment on that very day.
Then he said something in his talk I felt was profound. He said, "I knew at that very moment, that everything in my life leading up to my mission was preparing me for my mission. And now I know that everything in my mission has prepared me for the rest of my life."
I thought about that quite a bit over the past week and while I have not done missionary work in a far away land in a third world country, I feel that I can acknowledge and apply this to my own life. It is obvious to me that while the choices I make are mine and mine alone, that there have been times I too have acted in faith or followed a prompting or inspiration from the Holy Spirit. And when I have, these are the things that have usually prepared me for something else; something bigger. And many times I have not even realized it until much later.
Looking back, I realize the events that have unfolded in my life thus far have brought me to this state, to this town, to this neighborhood, to certain jobs wherein I have made certain friends and have endured certain trials and have become stronger because of them. I feel like everything in my life up to this point has prepared me for my "mission" here on this earth. I haven't quite figured it all out yet, though I can't help but feel that things are about to take a turn, and that this "mission" is now preparing me for the rest of my life.
It's an affirmation to me that when I listen to the promptings I can follow the path that the Lord has in mind for me. And what would I miss if I do not ask in faith and if I do not follow His promptings? Well, I'd miss my "mission".