My parents recently surprised me with a little party that celebrated a milestone mark since returning from my mission to South America. (We also gathered to watch a BYU football game, if you can’t tell by the shirt I’m wearing.)
Not only were there fun and authentic Argentine items in the bag, but my parents had also purchased a favorite treat from my mission (alfajores) and included one of my favorite Argentine foods on the dinner menu (empanadas).
They also had saved a priceless heirloom ring that my grandfather had purchased for my grandmother when picking my dad up from his mission. (My grandfather and father and parents all served missions in Argentina.)
It brought some tender feelings to remember my mission. But as someone says in the video below, once you serve in a country as a missionary, that country becomes part of you. Those experiences become part of you. I still think about the people I met while on my mission, and I’ve even had the blessing of being able to connect with a few of them over the years.
I never planned to serve a mission, but when I took that decision to not serve to the Lord, He made it clear that it was the right thing for me to go on a mission. My mom had had a similar impression around the same time.
And not that this will always happen, but in a roundabout way, it’s through people I met on my mission that I eventually met my husband. God does work in mysterious ways.
Why do Mormon missionaries leave home and family and school and the dating scene for 18-24 months to serve around the world? They do it ultimately because of love — love for the Savior and our Heavenly Father, and love for Heavenly Father’s children. We serve because we have a desire for others to know of the plan of salvation and the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We do it because the Spirit of God moves us to serve.
To learn a little more about Mormon missionary service, see the following video, which describes a little about Mormon missionaries, how they receive their assignments, and how missionaries feel about what they do. There are also perspectives from couples missionaries.
I am so grateful I had the opportunity and blessing of serving a mission. I’m grateful to my parents, who financially made that surprise decision possible. I’m grateful for the recent celebration that invited me to reflect again on my mission and the people and country I grew to love.