Mar 24, 2008

My Mission

One of the most often heard clichés I hear is about two-year missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: "My mission was the best two years of my life," or some variation of that. Yet I know of no cliché that was proved more true than this one. It truly is the best two years.

It starts off with more emotions and feelings than one can shake a stick at. In my case, I was leaving home for the first time for an extended period of time...a very long extended period of time :) For me, it was the most exciting time in my life. I love my family; I did back then, and I do now. Perhaps my love is a little more mature now than then? Or perhaps I just hadn't realized it at that point, how strong my love was that is. Either way, my family can testify, I wasn't one of those elders that has a hard time walking away and wishing my family goodbye. I stood up after the brief orientation, said my goodbyes, and as I briskly walked off excitedly wondered "What's next?" The whole day as I went through orientation upon orientation, met my companion, met my roommates (the legendary Elders Engman and Paulsen), unpacked, met everyone else bound for the Philippines, I couldn't stop a big smile keep creeping back to my face upon every new happening. I was so pumped, everything seemed awesome. When we tried to enter our room in the evening, the door handle was jammed, so some other elders welcomes us into their room to sleep on their floor, and borrow whatever clothes they had lying around. Even this couldn't wipe that smile off my face. I cannot even begin to describe the joy I had while in the MTC. The MTC experience in and of itself is enough to make me miss the mission experience immensely.

Leaving the MTC, and leaving the companionship of the elders I had bonded with for two months in the MTC was tough. Whenever I think about that place and the great fun and happiness experienced there, I get this dreamy look in my eye, and feel that same kind of feeling you feel after listening to "Canon in D Major." I relish the opportunities I have to talk to people that I was with in the MTC.

After being temporarily brought back down to earth during my first month or so in the Philippines, I resumed my spiritual and emotional high. It's a very different and special comradery you feel with your fellow laborers. You try to relate what you're going through in letters and emails, and in those rare phone calls a couple times a year. Nothing though can compare to walking going to a zone conference and meeting up with mission buddies...not even having to say anything to one another to understand what the other has been through. Before you know it, you can't even remember what life was like back in your 'homeland.' You no longer dream of going home or what it's going to be like. Your emails become more and more concise as you wish to spend more of your precious preparation-day time away from the computer and immersed in your surroundings.

The friendships formed on your mission are like no other. More times than not, the sweetest fruit cultivated from your labors is enjoyed by yourself; while you do get to meet many special people, 90% of the people you talk to could care less about what you just told them. That you have a special message for them and their family. That God loves them. Don't they see the sincerity in your eyes? But no labor is wasted, for as aforementioned, there is one lucky person who always reaps the fruit of your labors: yourself.

Occasionally, when I was assigned in some rather rural areas (San Mariano, Tabuk, Burgos), I was awarded with long, peaceful walks through the countryside. As we would be walking along the dirt paths, looking out over the endless rice fields, peace and happiness would often be felt. Often times these feelings would be shattered as you get caught up in the demands of missionary work, or the um, requests, of your companion. But those times that you have to just look out and admire the creations of God are special.

In the upcoming months, I am going to have the privilege to once again be reunited with some of my choicest friends. Often times, when I talk to or see them, I don't even talk about our time together in the mission field, just because I know if I do, a short chat won't suffice. It needs to be good and long. During the mission, there were more than a few people that I had the pleasure of staying up until the wee hours of the time, talking and reminiscing about the past.

There is no single thing that I can point out and say "That's what I miss the most!" or "That was the funnest town I served in!" It's kind of like when you start listening to songs from the listen to one and remember how awesome it is, then listen to another, and another, and another, until it's suddenly 2:30 in the morning and you turn off your computer while trying to conceal from no one in particular the big grin on your face.

My mission president once said "When you go home off your mission, there will be a big hole in your heart. You'll yearn for your mission, and the friendships now separated by hundreds, or even thousands of miles. The only way that hole is filled in, is when you find your eternal companion." Wise words those are, as I am slowing realizing the truth to the latter part of that statement.

I know this blog I have written is probably hard to follow or relate to. If I can't even describe the feelings I have for my mission to someone in person, how much less through the written word? I am not talented enough to convey with words the deepest feelings I have felt. All I can say is I that I love my mission, I love my friends, and I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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