30 Mar What 10 year segment contains the most life changing events?
My new companion absolutely didn’t care about his mission, and was frankly biding his time, watching the clock, simply waiting to go home (and he had 14 months left)
What the outside world sees as brain washing, the Lord sees as striving for something so important that one would shun the vices of the world to not lose the privilege of serving a mission. Answer: 18 to 28. So the Lord understood the value of kicking off that critical time of your life with a mission. What better commitment for such an important period than to forget yourself for 2 years, delay formal education, and focus on God, Jesus, and everyone else but yourself.
Think of your life in 10 year increments starting from when you are baptized at 8 years old, from 8 to 18, 18 to 28, 28 to 38, and 38 to 48 and on and on
It is the perfect example of the classic scriptural saying “to find yourself, you must lose yourself”. You gain 10 years’ worth of life experience from a mission. You leave at 19, 21 for the sisters, and return with 10 years of life wisdom and experience crammed into 18 to 24 months. In that age segment of 18 to 28, not necessarily in this order, you serve a mission, get an education, marry, choose a profession/occupation, and have children. There is no other 10 year increment with so much hanging in the balance. Wow, what a wise Heavenly Father to place the mission experience as the springboard for such a critical decade of life.
The Prayer Room This last story runs very deep in my heart, as it represents a major turning point in my thinking about mission life. As I mentioned earlier, I was transferred to Birmingham as my second area. It was a tough blue collar city, populated with a lot of people from all over the world. My new companion was an Elder from California who had one month left on his mission. We were in a part of Birmingham known as Sparkhill. Tough neighborhoods, with lots of people from Pakistan and India. Very Muslim influence, so you can imagine how missionaries preaching Christianity might feel surrounded by mosques. I remember on the second or third day wondering “why put missionaries amongst people who are so devoutly religious but don’t care about Jesus Christ”.
A month later my senior companion went home and I received a new companion from Germany who also only had one month left on his mission. This was very difficult for me, as I wondered if God was punishing me. It was very emotional for me to have had two consecutive months of sending missionaries home. Muslim area, two companions, last month for each. Month three I received a new companion and I became a senior companion. I deployed the Ricciardi work schedule on him, and he began to come around. This was a tough area, we had taught very few discussions, handed out hardly any copies of the book of Mormon, no investigators to church since I had arrived.
It was wearing on me. At that point in time I was called to be a trainer. I thought “what a bummer to have to train a new missionary in such an “armpit of the mission” area (please excuse that reference). My spirits where really low, because I had been working harder than ever, being more prayerful than ever, really obedient, and no one wanted to hear our message. At that same time, I was seeing missionaries in neighboring parts of Birmingham scheduling baptisms. One companionship bragged that they had just come back from three days in Scotland (not just outside our area, outside our mission, WHICH IS AN ABSOLUTE NO NO) on a site seeing outing and they had a baptism scheduled the next weekend.