Having served as a Mormon missionary in Toronto, Canada a few years ago, I look back on that time with great fondness. In many ways it was an exhilarating experience. But two years spent sharing what I was familiar with and loved – the Gospel of Jesus Christ – had its challenges too.
One was homesickness. Most missionaries are familiar with it in the first few weeks or months. It’s an almost inevitable part of adjusting to the new focus as a fulltime missionary. You concentrate on developing new-found skills, reaching out to people and deepening your scriptural understanding. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” (Gandhi).
Missionary service inevitably brings you into close contact with people of all dispositions and backgrounds. Of course, this is only a challenge if you see it that way but it can certainly take you out of your comfort zone. Not a bad thing if we consider that the world’s 7 billion unique individuals need more understanding of each other, not less.
The ‘pearl of great price’ – the inestimable value of missionary service – is personal to each man or woman who follows this path. All 75,000 missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would surely describe a deeper closeness with God, our Heavenly Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ, through prayer.
How do you sum up a Mormon mission? You can’t really do that in words – it has to be felt, to be experienced. If I was to try maybe it would be along the lines of, ‘It was hard but it was worth it’. Missions are about sharing spiritual things, learning from others – about yourself too – and a lot about contributing. A pretty good foundation for the rest of life.
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