As a youth, I had a strong desire to serve a mission. I knew that it would be difficult, but that the blessings would far outweigh the trials I would face both in my preparation and during my service. I knew that the Lord had a plan for me but looking back I did not know how different His plan would be.
After finishing school, I thought I was ready to serve. However, it was a long hard road of several years of trials and sufferings, especially from mental health issues. These prevented me from being ready to serve a mission, although I always had the desire and willingness as well as they assurance that the time would soon come.
Fast forward to about a year ago, when my bishop called me into his office and asked me, “Why do you want to serve a mission?” I had never truly pondered that question. I knew the textbook answers: I wanted to serve the Lord and those around me, and to share the joy that I have felt through the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. My bishop asked me to think about it and come back to him the next week. I came back and tearfully explained that as I am a perfectionist and find it hard to forgive myself for even the smallest of mistakes, I wanted to serve a mission because through that service I would give to those around me (and indeed to the Lord), I would come to love Him and each of God’s children more and, in turn, I would come to love myself more.
As I started my application, I could see the Lord’s hand in my life as I drew closer to serving my mission. I could see the love for others already growing within me, as I felt more sorrow and compassion for the welfare of the people that surrounded me. Then COVID-19 came, and I fell into despair—I felt so close to starting my mission, but now it seemed a distant goal. But the Lord had something incredible in mind for me that I would not have expected.
I knew that I might not have the opportunity to serve a proselyting mission due to my difficulties. However, I am eternally grateful to my Saviour Jesus Christ for delaying my mission until the time was right. A few months ago, I was contacted about the opportunity to serve a service mission for the Church. I was thrilled at the opportunity to serve in local communities and to volunteer for charities, to be an example of Jesus Christ and to serve just as He did (although I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be moving from home).
In retrospect, I am incredibly grateful, even tearful, to the Lord for the privilege it is to be a service missionary, and although it is still going to be a challenge, I know that the Lord loves me, and He will be there every step of the way!