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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lessons in Hindsight

When I served a mission all those years ago, I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Now that my daughter is serving, I'm beginning to see some new lessons the mission experience taught me. Here is what I'm starting to see….

First of all, serving a mission gave me experience. As a mother of a
missionary, this is priceless. I don't worry about my daughter. I know about travel for missionaries. I know the basic schedule, and more importantly than any of those, I know how I was protected and guided. I knew I was in the Lord's service. There are experiences you can't share with everyone because no one could really understand unless they were inside your heart, but there were almost daily experiences that reminded me that Heavenly Father was close and was watching out for me, my companion, and others.

Second, I learned about agency--the ability to choose. A missionary experiences excruciating situations with this topic. You grow to love the people you teach. You watch them draw closer to the Savior and you encourage and challenge them to draw even closer. When they take what you say or ask and choose not to do it, it rips your heart all up. You quickly learn that, want to as you might, you cannot take another's agency away. You cannot control what another chooses to do. You learn, over time, that your right to choose is yours only. You learn where your limits are. Painful as it may be, you learn to respect what others choose good or bad.

Third, I learned to fight through exhaustion. Mission life taught me to be low-maintenance. I realized that what I looked like didn't matter as much as what was in my heart and the more I sacrificed, the bigger the blessings. I learned that being tired didn't matter. You just went and did, and believe me, NOTHING holds a candle to mission exhaustion…NOTHING!

Fourth, I learned to step outside myself. Going up and talking to complete strangers isn't an easy thing for most people. I was among those ranks. One day, I finally decided to make a game out of it….I told myself that I owned the street. Anyone on that street was visiting me, and it was my job to introduce myself to him/her. My job was to make the lives of those who visited happier even if just for the moment I introduced myself. Of course, no one knew they were visiting my street, but it got me to step out of my comfort zone and made me take risks.

In hindsight, I can see what a life-changing experience 18 months dedicated to serving the Lord was. I am thrilled that my daughter and so many young women and young men are now getting that same opportunity. What a difference it will make on their outlooks on life!

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