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3 Unexpected Blessings of Serving a Mission
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From the Mission Field

3 Unexpected Blessings of Serving a Mission

I knew that serving a mission would bring blessings into my life. I just didn’t realize how many.

Thailand: Sister Missionaries

Photograph by Tiffany Myloan Tong

When I opened my mission call and saw that I had been assigned to serve on a faraway tropical island, speaking French (what I had been hoping for) and that I was to report to the missionary training center on April 1st, I fleetingly wondered if I was going to show up and discover that it was all an elaborate April Fools’ Day joke. Luckily it wasn’t, and nobody even tried to play a prank on me as I tearfully said my goodbyes to my family.

Far from being a joke, my mission ended up being one of the greatest blessings of my life.

If there is one promise I believe with all my heart that the Lord fulfills, it’s this one, found on the very first page of the missionary guide Preach My Gospel:

“The Lord will reward and richly bless you as you humbly and prayerfully serve Him.”

I have seen that promise fulfilled in my life—not just during my mission, but for long after. Like the Book of Mormon missionary Ammon, I often think of the blessings that God has given me because of my missionary service and feel to exclaim, “What great blessings has he bestowed upon [me]? Can ye tell?” (Alma 26:2). I truly can’t count all the blessings He has given me for my service to Him and can sincerely echo what President M. Russell Ballard recently said, that “missionary service blessed my life forever.”1

So, if you are currently weighing the pros and cons of serving a mission, let me share three unexpected blessings of a full-time mission that you might not have considered:

Lifelong Friends and Mentors

I expected to meet a lot of Church members and new friends during my mission. What I didn’t really expect, though, was how much my companions, fellow missionaries, and mission leaders would influence my life.

I met my MTC companion when we had to apply for our visas. We connected instantly, and it was such a blessing to have her there with me through every step of my mission. Because we served on such a small island, all of us missionaries got to know each other very well. We encouraged, inspired, served (and yes, even at times good-naturedly pranked) each other as we all strived to fulfill our missionary call. We developed genuine friendships that not only made our missionary work more enjoyable but also stayed with us long after.

Since my mission president and his wife lived about 600 miles away (my mission spanned three different island nations), the senior missionary couple on our island were like my second set of parents. They became some of my best friends and the lifelong mentors I didn’t even know I needed. Having them to look up to and see how living the gospel has shaped every part of their lives has inspired me to always trust in the Lord.2

It might sound a bit dramatic, but when I think about the friends I gained from my mission, my heart could sometimes just burst from the gratitude I feel. Our shared mission experiences bonded us in ways I can’t explain, and even since our missions ended, we have been there for each other through so many of life’s ups and downs. And I can’t thank Heavenly Father enough for their eternal influence in my life.

Resilience through Challenges

I expected that there would be challenges on my mission. But because of them, one thing I returned home knowing was that I can do hard things. I learned how to face rejection and still know my message was worth sharing. I learned how to make the monotony of walking miles every day enjoyable and even meaningful. I learned how to take a moment to breathe and center myself after disheartening or discouraging experiences. I learned that through my faith in Christ, I can deal with loneliness, uncertainty, inadequacy, and straight-up exhaustion. With Him, I’m stronger than I am on my own.

This resilience has served me well while going through challenges as a student when I didn’t know how I would pass—or sometimes pay for—my classes. It helped me cope with rejection in dating and with trusting in God’s plan for my future when I couldn’t see it myself.

Perspective on the Influence of the Gospel

Having been raised in the gospel, I had never really had a chance to see how implementing gospel principles can profoundly affect someone’s life. But on my mission, I saw firsthand the blessings of choosing to start living each of God’s commandments.

In a country where marriage is rare (one of the first words I learned in French after I arrived was “cohabitation”), I felt a different spirit in homes where the parents were married. In a culture where certain drinks and drugs were commonly used, I saw how those who kept the Word of Wisdom were protected from evils in the world. And for those who genuinely wanted to know their Savior better, I noticed how reading the Book of Mormon brought a light to their mind and heart.

Later in life, when I’ve had moments of wondering, “Is living the gospel really worth it?” I think back to what I observed on my mission and the undeniable influence of the gospel.

It’s Worth It

Of course, these are only a few of the countless blessings I’ve received from serving a mission. In the April 2022 general conference, Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis of the Seventy also talked about the lifelong blessings he received from his missionary service. He noted: “Serving a full-time mission may seem difficult to us. Perhaps it requires that we give up important things for a moment. The Lord certainly knows this, and He will always be by our side.”3

He went on to say: “My mission completely shaped my life. I learned it is worth the effort to trust in God, to trust in His wisdom and mercy and in His promises. After all, He is our Father, and without any doubt, He wants the best for us.”4

As our dear prophet recently reminded us, the Lord needs you to serve.5 And trust me when I say that He will bless you in immeasurable ways not just during your missionary service but for long, long after.

Mindy Selu is an editor for YA Weekly. She is also a wife, a photography enthusiast, and a mother to three darling daughters and three cute cats. She is a firm believer that God cares about the details of our lives.

Notes

  1. See M. Russell Ballard, “Missionary Service Blessed My Life Forever,” Liahona, May 2022, 8–9.

  2. In fact, one of my all-time favorite general conference messages is “Trust in the Lord,” by Elder Richard G. Scott (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 16–18), which I discovered and now treasure because of Elder and Sister Mautz. If you haven’t read it, you should!

  3. Marcos A. Aidukaitis, “Lift Up Your Heart and Rejoice,” Liahona, May 2022, 41.

  4. Marcos A. Aidukaitis, “Lift Up Your Heart and Rejoice,” 42.

  5. See Russell M. Nelson, “Preaching the Gospel of Peace,” Liahona, May 2022, 6.