“I Will Go and Do,” Liahona, Feb. 1998, 8
If it’s stories of personal commitment, preparation, personal sacrifice, and examples of love for the Savior that you want, then you don’t have to look any farther than the more than 55,000 missionaries currently serving full time. Here are just four of them, each with a story to tell.
For most of his early life, the only sports Stanley Moleni played were rugby and basketball. But before his junior year of high school, after his family had moved from New Zealand to Hawaii, Stanley discovered American football. “I fell in love with it,” he says. It didn’t hurt that he was naturally good at it, too.
Coaches were impressed with his size. Stanley is 1.88 meters tall, and at the time he was a relatively lean 91 kilograms.
“I was still learning, but by my senior year I started catching on. I was still only 93 kilograms, and I was missing a lot of plays. I really didn’t know how to play the game that well,” he says.
That didn’t stop college coaches from showing interest in him—especially after he bulked up to 113 kilograms. After a lot of thought, he signed a letter of intent to play football for Brigham Young University. But instead of enrolling in school immediately after high school graduation in 1994, Stanley moved to Utah and worked to save money for a mission.
“My whole life I was planning on a mission,” says Stanley, now known as Elder Moleni as he serves in the California Ventura Mission. “Nothing was going to stop me from coming on a mission.”
And that included the glamour of playing college football.
Says Elder Moleni: “One of our investigators said that he really admired us because he knew we really believed in what we were teaching. When he said he admired me for coming on a mission and leaving my scholarship behind, it felt really good.”
Now Elder Moleni is concentrating on the work at hand. Soon enough, he’ll be a college student and football player.
“I’ll be behind physically. I know that,” he says about football. “But I see a parallel between my not knowing how to play football and missionary work. Through hard work and sacrifice I became better at football. And through hard work and faith in the Lord, I’m having a successful mission.”
Rosalie Lund began playing the violin when she was five. “I always liked playing. I always wanted to be a great violinist,” she says.
So why would she take 18 months off to serve a mission?
It’s a question Sister Lund became familiar with before she left in December 1996 to serve in the Canada Vancouver Mission. She was performing with an orchestra in Salt Lake City, and many nonmember musicians wondered what she was doing.
“Several of them thought I was crazy to go on a mission, especially in the prime time of my life,” Sister Lund recalls. “They were saying, ‘You’re going to do what?’”
“Knock on a lot of doors and tell people about the beliefs of my religion,” was her typical response. When the musicians talked about all the great things she could do musically if she stayed, she was quick to point out all the great things she planned to do as a missionary.
Sure it was the “prime time” of her life. And that’s why she decided to serve a mission.
“I had to do what I felt was right. I have had a very strong feeling that I needed to go on a mission. So here I am,” she says. “I’m learning and teaching about Jesus Christ. He is the source of everything good. If there is any truth or beauty in music, it comes from Jesus Christ. So in a way I guess I am still continuing my music study.”
Sister Lund remembers her last performance before she entered the Missionary Training Center. Everyone was talking about practice schedules and coming events, events she wasn’t going to be a part of. “I wasn’t very sad, actually. I knew I’d be missing out. But in a way I felt like they were missing out,” she says.
There were also the inevitable questions about the potential loss of skill while she is gone, especially since mission rules prevented her from taking her violin.
“I’m sure I’ll get rusty. I’ve had many friends—also violinists—who went on missions, and when they came back they were rusty. I guess if the Lord wants me to play the violin, I’ll be able to get back into it.”
When Ashley Rabon told his parents he was dating “a Mormon girl,” he assured them he wasn’t going to join the Church. But soon Ashley, who was at college, began taking the missionary discussions, and his plans changed.
“After the missionaries committed me to baptism during the second discussion, I called home and told [my parents] I was going to get baptized,” says Ashley. “They weren’t too thrilled with the idea.”
A year later, when Ashley started to feel he should serve a mission, things with his family really got difficult. “They were not happy about it at all. I told my dad,and my dad was probably angrier than I had ever seen him in my life,” says Ashley, who is currently serving in the Utah Salt Lake City Mission. “My mom begged and begged me every day not to do this.”
But Elder Rabon was ready to serve. “Every time I had a dispute with my parents, especially with my father, the first thing I would do was go to my room and pray that the Lord would soften their hearts,” he says.
For a while, the contention remained. “I have the most wonderful family you’ll ever meet. But every time I told my parents I was going on a mission, my mom cried and my dad became furious.”
Then, when it seemed that he would end up leaving without his parents’ support, their hearts suddenly softened. Elder Rabon describes the day before he went into the Missionary Training Center: “My dad comes home from work, and he’s walking down the hall toward me with tears just running down his face. He puts his arm around me and says, ‘What can I do to help you?’”
Elder Rabon’s father went on to detail how much he was going to miss him and how he was having a hard time dealing with his son’s imminent departure. “Since I’ve been [a missionary], I’ve received very spiritual letters from my family that I didn’t expect,” Elder Rabon says.
As Elder Rabon and his companion make their way around the east side of Salt Lake City, Elder Rabon says he’s still amazed that he’s actually a missionary. Three years ago he knew almost nothing about the Church. And today he’s teaching the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. “I know if you have faith in the Lord and you do what he asks you to do, he’s always going to see you through.”
In 1993, Dinah Lim had just graduated from the University of Southeastern Philippines. She was 24 years old. An elementary education major, Sister Lim had planned her future as a teacher carefully: Go to college. Graduate. Get a job.
So that’s what she did, accepting a position at the Holy Child Day Care and Learning Center in Davao, where she taught 10- and 11-year-old students.
Dinah joined the Church at age 19, along with her three sisters. At age 21, she elected not to serve a mission, choosing instead to finish college. “I felt it wasn’t the right time for a mission because my family needed me,” she says. Dinah’s teaching job provided much-needed money for her mother and five siblings. Her father, the Lims’ main financial support, had taken a job in Saudi Arabia, where he works as an electrician.
“Because of that it was kind of difficult for me to leave my job,” she adds. “But after two years of teaching and doing the same thing again and again, I felt it was time for something new.” The idea of a mission kept impressing itself on her mind, and it occurred to her she could help her family in ways other than financial.
Dinah’s parents and older brother are not members.
Eventually, after much prayer, Dinah decided to submit her mission papers. Ironically enough, she was quitting her job as a teacher so she could teach.
“The principal at the school really didn’t want me to go. She offered me a higher position, that of a coordinator, to get me to stay,” she says.
Although it was an enticing option, Dinah’s mind was made up. When her call to serve in the Philippines Quezon City Mission came, she knew she had made the right decision.