I’m really excited to do this magazine spread project! I’ll be creating a two-page article directed toward the youth (New Era). For my story I chose to write about the experiences I had when I was able to serve on a mini-mission for our church, and what I was able to learn because of the promptings we followed and the people we taught. It relates to my audience because of the truths I learned from my mini-mission, and also because many of them will be preparing to serve missions as well, and might want encouragement and/or an idea of what to expect like I did. I’ve posted my story here, along with some of the images I’m thinking of using in my design.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to serve as a missionary? To work all day, drop into bed at night, get up early, yet wish it would never end? My whole life I’ve wanted to go on a mission, and I’ve always wondered and speculated so much about what it would actually end up being like after hearing all the stories going around about service, rejection, miracles, and ramen noodle breakfasts.
Finally, a couple months ago I had the opportunity to see a glimpse of missionary life and what it would be like when I was called to go on a mini mission to Olethe and Lenexa, Kansas. In case you haven’t heard of mini-missions, it’s an opportunity that some Priests and Laurels from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have to serve for four days alongside an actual missionary companionship, and participate in the work of salvation, so it won’t be quite as big of a shock when they leave on a full-time mission.
So I was called to participate in that, meeting the Elders at 8:00 one Thursday morning, and joining them in their service until the following Sunday evening three nights later. Each of those four days was jam-packed with spiritual experiences and amazing moments, and I was able to learn so much from that experience. In this article I’ll focus on three of the main principles that I learned from that, using a few of my experiences to illustrate my points:
So one of the first things I was able to learn and understand better is that everyone is a Child of God, and He loves each of His children so much. Of course I knew that before, but my experiences on my mini mission helped me be able to see God’s love for each of us so much better.
So I’m sure a lot of you have noticed this same thing, but whenever you ask a missionary what their favorite thing about their mission was (or is), they’ll invariably say that it was the people; after a while I kind of got tired of that response, so I started asking what their favorite part was besides the people.
On my mini mission though, I finally started to see what they meant: we would go teach our investigators every day, and pretty soon I started to really get to know them and want so much to help them succeed and receive the blessings of the Gospel.
For example, one of our best investigators was this old, homeless man who was so thankful for the chance to hear and learn about the Gospel. We would meet him at McDonalds, and while we taught him he would sit there and listen, and ask lots of questions about what we taught. He also came to church for the first time on the Sunday I was there, and it was so great to see him learning the right things and accepting the truth more and more. I think it must be that way for the Lord also, because we’re all His children and everything he does and says is to help us grow and receive all the blessings which He can see in store for us. He rejoices when we’re happy, and he sorrows when we have hard times, because He doesn’t want us to have to go through any unnecessary pain or hardships, and He sent us here so that “[we] might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).
Second, I learned a lot more about the amazing power scripture study and prayer have in our lives. I spent a couple of hours studying the scriptures each morning while I was there, and I felt the Spirit so strongly! After my mini-mission though, I kind of fell back into my old habits of sometimes just browsing over the scriptures, rushing through them so I could hurry and get other things done that I wrongly felt were more important.
Finally, based on my desire to feel the Spirit that strongly again, I decided to repent and work harder at following the Lord and studying my scriptures. Early one week I had a pretty awesome experience with that: my day started out pretty normally; I got up early, got ready for seminary, said a prayer, and was about to begin my scripture study when I paused, took a couple of minutes to get myself more awake and focused, and then sat down to read my scriptures, determining to do my best to have a more meaningful study.
I started to really search and connect with the scriptures, taking time to read and think about them instead of just passing over the words. I also studied from other sources of scripture such as the Bible, General Conference talks, and my Patriarchal blessing. I had an amazing, meaningful scripture study that day, and it also carried into the rest of my life, helping my entire day to be better; I mostly did the same stuff as usual: work, school, food, but it all just felt different, and I was able to accomplish a lot more than I usually did in a day. That experience really helped me to grow closer to the Lord and to rely on Him more in my life.
Finally, I learned that the Lord will bless, strengthen and inspire those who serve Him. For the first day or two of my mini-mission we had a bunch of appointments scheduled, and everyone followed through, and we had a great day full of teaching people and working with members, and after yet another meal of hot dogs and ramen noodles (yep, that part of the legend is actually true!) in our luxury apartment I thought This is awesome! I could live like this forever. I can’t wait to go on my full-time mission!
And then we went tracting.
Our dinner appointment had fallen through, so we had an extra hour or two in the evening to contact new people, and since I wanted the full missionary experience I suggested we do tracting. We decided to go door to door through part of our apartment complex, rotating between all three of us who would do each door approach.
When my turn would come it was always kind of scary going up to the door, knocking on it and waiting for someone to answer, and after having a lot of people reject us, sometimes even getting angry, I almost wanted to pray that people wouldn’t open the door when I knocked, so I wouldn’t have to talk with them and face their response.
One time when we were about to knock on a door we heard a bunch of yelling and swearing inside, so we kind of decided to pass that door and move on to the next one. After going through the whole apartment building without getting anyone to listen, we started leaving to go back to our apartment which was across the complex when I had a really strong impression to go back and visit the apartment that we skipped, so after hesitating a minute or two, wishing it were more convenient, I asked the elders if we could go back to that one door.
By then we’d left the building and started walking down the sidewalk, but they quickly agreed and we started back; when we arrived in front of it for the second time they suggested that I knock on the door because I was the one who had received the prompting. Up to that point, whenever I’d knocked on a door no one had answered, so I was kind of nervous, but the man who came to the door seemed nice and respectful, and after I said we were from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we had offered him a pamphlet, he said that he’d already heard our message and believed in Christ, but he took the pamphlet anyway, saying that he had a friend who might be able to use it.
I don’t know how that experience might of have helped him or his friend by now, but it and the other experiences we had were a powerful testimony to me of how the Lord will always help and strengthen us when we serve Him.
In this last General Conference, Elder Robert D. Hales said, “…if we have not fully done so yet, let us turn more toward forgiveness, kindness, and love. Let us renounce the war that so often rages in the heart of the natural man and proclaim Christ’s caring, love, and peace.” I know that as we share this Gospel and serve others the Lord will bless us, and we’ll be able to help Him bless others’ lives as well as we become strengthened through His Atonement and learn to follow Him in everything we do.
Images sourced from: 1. Self 2. https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/mormonad-tag-1156705?lang=eng