“So how was your mission?”
The question I get asked almost on the daily since I’ve been home. Its the first thing someone asks when I meet them or see them for the first time since being back. It’s also the ultimate, number one, most impossible question to answer simply.
I usually just give them what they’re after, just the casual, “yeah, it was pretty good,” and then respond to whatever follow ups they have, if any.
It was the biggest ‘you just had to be there’ moment ever. It was the summary of everything I’d experienced before in my life, and the foundation of everything I was yet to experience.
A combination of situations you never thought you would be in, seeing things you never thought could happen, and doing things you never thought you were capable of doing. In short, a mission really just is those best two years, or 18 months, that everybody talks about.
For those of you who don’t really know what a mission is – members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at about my age, have the option to apply to serve a church mission. The norm is eighteen months of missionary service for females, and two years for males. You don’t get to pick where you go, and you don’t find out until that big white envelope arrives in the mail box telling you where you’re about to go and change your life.
You could be sent almost anywhere in the world: from Paris to the Amazonian jungles, to the middle of Africa, or the suburbs of the next state over from where you live. But it honestly doesn’t matter about where you go, because it’s all about that magic that happens when you’re in the place the Lord has called you, and everybody knows that their mission is the best mission in the world.
Except mine actually was the best mission in the world. When I opened my big white envelope and saw ‘Philippines, Laoag Mission’, and especially the part where it said ‘Tagalog language’ I became a little apprehensive since I couldn’t actually pronounce either of those things. But every day since then has made it more obvious to me why I was sent to such a beautiful country to meet some of God’s most precious souls.
I remember one of my concerns about going on a mission was that I couldn’t actually see myself leading anyone to baptism. I thought I would be a nice friend to the people and help them in their day-to-day things but I couldn’t see that I could make any sort of real difference in their lives. It was only two weeks before we met Brother Ramos.
We stumbled across his house one afternoon and pretty soon his whole family was sitting around listening intently to two white girls, brand new in the Philippines, trying their hardest to string together a sentence in Tagalog, just so they would know that this is Jesus Christ’s church and that God has a plan for them.
And in the ultimate testimony building experience for me, they learned – obviously not from us, but through the Spirit of the Lord which touched their hearts – that this was true.
They were willing to make sacrifices every day. Brother and Sister Ramos needed to be married, which was a lengthy and expensive process for them, and which also meant Brother Ramos had to take time off work.
One week their motorbike broke down on the way to church and Brother Ramos WALKED the rest of the two hour journey there so he could make it in time for the end. After six uplifting and chaotic weeks, Brother Ramos and his family became baptised members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That was the day that I realised, it wasn’t me that changed them. In fact, I didn’t really do much at all. The Lord changed them, and I was just there to show them how to find Him.
I can’t say enough about those whom I met, those who I got to see change and gain more joy. And those who had a part in changing me. All I can say is that this must be the Lord’s church, because nobody else but Him could do the miracles that I’ve seen done.