Pack Your Bags, Elder

“Pack Your Bags, Elder,” New Era, Feb. 2005, 41

From the Field:
Pack Your Bags, Elder

I’d been given permission to serve an extra month, so I couldn’t understand why my mission president would send me home on time.

The day I discovered I could, with my mission president’s permission, extend my mission for a month was one of the most exciting in my life. As a recent convert, I was determined to stay in the mission field and share the gospel with as many people as I could.

As the end of my 24th month drew to a close, I was grateful for the chance to stay a little longer and teach the gospel. On Sunday night, three days before transfers, the phone rang. I was serving as the zone leader in Lubbock, Texas, so I wasn’t surprised to hear my mission president’s voice.

I figured he was going to update me on the upcoming transfers. Instead, he told me that he felt inspired to send me home on time and revoke my extension. The president instructed me to pack my belongings and be on the mission van headed for Fort Worth at 7:00 a.m. the next morning.

As I hung up the phone, I began to cry. I couldn’t believe my mission was about to end. I wanted badly to have an extra month to share the gospel as a full-time servant of the Lord.

The next morning I boarded the van for the 15-hour ride to Fort Worth. By the time I reached my destination I was drained, spiritually and emotionally. I could not understand why I needed to go home now. In my final interview, the mission president assured me that it was the Lord’s will.

After returning home, I reported on my mission to the stake high council. When I left the high council meeting, I was approached by a high councilor, who invited me to accompany him on an upcoming speaking assignment. The topic was on being a modern-day pioneer. I agreed to speak.

During the next few weeks I readjusted to life but still had no answer as to why I had been sent home on time. The day of the speaking assignment arrived, and I prayed that Heavenly Father would help me speak with His Spirit. During my talk, I told of being a pioneer as my family’s only Church member and of the hardships I had faced since my baptism. I also shared the experiences of other converts I had met on my mission and how they overcame their obstacles. I felt that the Spirit was guiding my every word.

After the meeting, a 17-year-old girl approached me. She said she was not a member of the Church but was friends with a young man who was. Her friend and his family had shared the gospel with her. The girl said she had a testimony but was afraid of how her parents would react to her desire for baptism. She thanked me for sharing my experiences and told me she now knew what she needed to do.

Several months later, the high councilor I had spoken with approached me. He mentioned the girl who had talked with me after my pioneer talk and said she had been baptized a few days earlier. He said the girl felt the Spirit so strongly during my talk that she had no doubt that Heavenly Father wanted her to join the Church.

My heart swelled with joy as I realized why I had been denied my mission extension. I was merely an instrument in Heavenly Father’s hands, and He knew where I could serve best—at home.

Illustrated by Scott Snow