Personal Musings on Preparing for My Mission

It’s February already and out of the blue I can actually start counting the weeks before our three year adventure will begin. What happened to the idea that the new year would bring me some breathing space after a hectic Christmas and new year?

We are immersed in endless emails, phone calls, medical appointments and skype sessions, with various people and authorities, macro-managing all aspects of our future mission life. Big details which will affect us for the duration of our service.

But this morning I found myself lying in bed micro-managing our experience. The big things seem easy compared to the little things that will have to change. So here are two lists I have put together, of things that will have to change.

The Obvious things:

  1. Read the scriptures EVERY day. Shock, I can hear you say to yourself, that any future mission presidents wife would not be reading the scriptures every day! But in reality I live a real life, and sometimes scripture study loses out to other things. But not now!
  2. Know the scriptures. Oh for the days of my proselyting mission where I could quote almost all the relevant scriptures in the discussions and some…
  3. Always have a two minute talk prepared. Ask any mission presidents wife and this will be their #1 recommendation.
  4. Always have a smile for the missionaries. Not much to change here, I always have a smile for the missionaries. But there may be days where it takes a bit more effort.
  5. Stop talking long enough so my husband can say a few words. It’s become most obvious in the last few weeks (mostly during our Mission Presidents tutoring sessions) that I love to talk and share my ideas and thoughts. Great, but I have to remember that my husband is a little more thoughtful and considers his words more carefully before speaking. I need to learn to take a breath in between sharing so he can share….
  6. Hold myself back from wanting to hang out with the sister missionaries ALL the time. Sister missionaries are the coolest people on earth and I just want to hang out with them…is that such a bad thing for a mission presidents wife?

The Less Obvious Things:

  1. Start carrying a handbag. Currently my chosen form of personal item transportation is my pocket – one for my phone and the other for my credit card and keys. This will have to change in order to carry all those extra emergency supplies…make up, Kleenex, water, nail file, hand sanitiser, moisturiser, electronic devices, hair brush, mirror….eek, possibly the whole contents of my bathroom.
  2. Wear make up most days. From the day we received our call I knew that I would have to step up my personal presentation. I don’t mean to transform myself into model status, but definitely have to focus more on the personal grooming.
  3. Brushing my hair every morning. Hahaaaaa…thought this might get your attention. I am guilty of neglecting this on the odd day where I don’t need to go out..bit like the next one too.
  4. No more PJ only days. It will be three years before I get to have one of these…
  5. Remembering people’s names. Show me a face and I will forever remember it. But give me a name and I struggle. What is the trick to remembering names? I’m sure any of the brethren could tutor me in this…they are amazing.
  6. Learning to ‘glow’ not sweat. Humidity and I just don’t click. This one is going to be tough for three years in the Philippines. How am I ever going to keep that make up on? Note to self – definitely need that make up in my handbag
  7. Wear practical shoes. I’ve always lived a little on the edge when it comes to shoes. Flip flops are my current choice of footwear. But I remember when I served my proselyting mission I splurged on a bright pink pair of suede shoes for tracting in (soon to be replaced by a more practical black pair – not because of their edginess, but because they just couldn’t live up to the rigors). For that day and age those shoes were considered radical…I put it down to the day my mum caved in to me when I was about 7 and bought me a shiny pair of red patent leather shoes instead of the more practical black buckle ones. Ruined me for life 😦

I hope my musings haven’t worried you too much. Just wanted to share some of the thought patterns, and funnier side, of my mission preparations.

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His Badge of Honor

Scriptures, journal and Preach My Gospel

Today, while sitting in sacrament meeting, I happened to glance over to where two of my children where sitting. The meeting was fabulous (particularly the speakers) , so I hadn’t planned on diverting my attention for too long. But what they were looking at caught my attention for longer than I expected.

It was my sons journal. I knew he had been keeping a journal – I had often seen it lying around the lounge room and in his bedroom – but it surprised me to see he had it at church. I’m still not sure why he had it there…but I noticed that he and his sister were looking at some photos towards the back.

Those images took me back to what seemed a lifetime ago. Well, actually it would have probably been less than 5 years ago, but since we had moved countries and settled into a new life in that time, it definitely felt like a lifetime ago.

For as long as I can remember my son has eagerly anticipated serving a mission. The year we brought home his first suit (at about age 5) it included a tiny little missionary badge declaring him to be a ‘Future Missionary’. He wore that badge (and that suit) for a long time. He was proud of it and what it represented; a kind of badge of honor towards his future.

But on further contemplation, I have realised there were many other events that have helped pave the way of his missionary path. Those photos represented one of them. They depicted a time when one missionary in particular made a lasting impression on my son.

The images drew me back to the day that this missionary and his companion – serving in our area – had made a connection with my 13 year old son. This missionary had recognised within him a desire to know what it takes to be a servant of the Lord. Through inspiration, they invited him to walk door to door with them, up our street, and share what it would be like.

I remember the fear I had at the time. Would this harm the utopian view of a young man who had dreams of striding from door to door in his crisp new suit, preaching the gospel to everyone he came in contact with? I tried mentally to go through all the people I knew in the street, determining whether they would present a positive or negative response. But unfortunately (or fortunately in this case) I didn’t know anyone beyond my neighbour next door.

Oh ye of little faith!

That opportunity was perfect for my son. It really didn’t matter what kind of response he got at the doors. The look of pride on his face in those photos said it all. He was living a dream and the missionary who stood beside him represented everything he wanted to be. That experience for my son helped him along the way.

I sit here now and reflect on both the glimpse I had in church today, and the experience my son had those few years ago. My conclusion is this…

While missionaries have a sacred duty to find those who seek for truth and teach them the true and everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ…they also have the ability to affect the lives of many young men and women who are preparing for this same service.

As a mother I am grateful for two young missionaries who came into my home (probably on just two or three occasions) and recognised a tiny flame of desire within a young man. It took a simple invitation to join them for just 1/2 hour, to cement in the mind of my son that this is what he needed to prepare for.

As my son is now in the final stages of preparation to serve his mission (in just over 12 months), I am grateful for their example – that they were inspired enough to lay down some bricks on the road to his future.

I only hope that as part of my sons missionary service, he may be the means of inspiring at least one other young man to do the same. I pray that he will be galvanized enough to identify a similar tiny flame burning within the heart of another future missionary.

Did They Doubt?

My daughter has been home from her mission for 5 months now. Believe it or not, she only just gave her homecoming report to the Stake High Council this past Sunday. No fault of anyone in particular, just life circumstances that prevented it happening sooner.

Anyway, as I reflect on the things that have happened since her arrival home, I {again} realise that life doesn’t always go the way we want, or expect, it. Whether it is challenges the Lord throws in our way to make us stronger, or Satan’s sinister subterfuge; things can derail us if we are not prepared.

Five months down the track and my daughter had expected to be well into the second year of her university studies; picking up where she left off prior to leaving for her mission. But as life would have it, that has not been possible. Instead she was obliged to delay those studies and seek full-time employment for a few months until the start of the new semester in July.

The job she was forced to take was actually very similar to the work she was doing on her mission…like many other missionaries, cold call selling seemed to be a natural progression for her. With similar frameworks of goal setting, door to door approaches, and prepared presentations, it is a familiar pattern to a returned missionary. The only difference being that the rewards are not nearly as good as those on a mission.

Knowing she still had over two months before returning to her studies, about 3 weeks ago I got a text from her while she was out working…

“Mum, I want to quit my job, what do you think?”

The ensuing conversation between the two of us consisted of self doubt on her part, and a need to bring support and encouragement to the situation on my part.

While on her mission, we rarely had the need for these kinds of conversations. For the most, she seemed to manage the few down times on her own, and relished and shared the up times with us.

No parent wants to hear those words of doubt from their child – whether on a mission or anytime else.

So how does a parent instill in their child a sense of purpose, of overcoming doubts and battling debilitating discouragement? Every missionary will undoubtedly have times when those small seeds of uncertainty arise and bloom; many battle with it weekly, some daily.

I won’t go into my own experiences here, but needless to say there was many a day on my mission when my companion and I would be riding our bikes home after a long and fruitless day and my tears surpassed in quantity the pouring rain falling all around me.

The support of family and friends is vital in time of doubt. Having only had one missionary daughter serve so far, I feel inadequate to address this topic as a whole. But I did want to raise awareness of it; especially to those new missionary mums, dad’s and families who may not have considered it.

I also want to share with you a great article in the Meridian Magazine by a father of 5 returned missionaries – Larry Barkduhl – who discusses this topic in detail. It’s a must read for anyone who has sent, or is sending, out a missionary.

LETTERS TO STRUGGLING MISSIONARIES

I am pleased to say that my daughter didn’t walk away from her job that day, but managed to stay the course. I would like to think that it was because of the multiple quotes on success/failure that I sent her that tipped the scales. But in reality I think it was her own sense of understanding, and drawing on her own experience as a missionary, that helped her through it.

But for what it’s worth, here are a couple of the quotes I sent her that day…

‘You have never failed until you give up’  (Wall plaque in my home as I grew up)

‘Don’t confuse psycho-babble for reality’ (I own this one)

‘Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm’ Winston Churchill

‘Your attitude determines your success’ Spoken, I’m sure, by many a prophet and apostle

‘The only limit to our realisation of tomorrow will be our doubts of today’ Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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Ahaa Milestones and Noise.

I’ve decided that the level of noise in one’s house is directly related to the presence (or non-presence) of one or more family members. Duhhhh! Makes sense right? However, I have also decided that the noise level is the measure of happiness in one’s home, and if a voice is missing then a measure of happiness is missing too.

With the return of my missionary daughter home is almost back to its happiest…

It’s never really the way you think it will be.

After all the discussion I have had on here about what it could be like for a missionary to arrive home, I feared the worst. I envisioned my daughter scratching to get on the next flight back to her mission and rejecting her new life. But my fears were allayed when she tells me within minutes of stepping off the plane that it’s like she’s never been away. She slipped back into her place as if she had never left.

I found she and her sister lying on the bed yesterday talking and giggling about anything and everything – just like they used to. By that afternoon she was asking me about the books I had on my shelf, and was keen to get stuck into the ‘Great and Terrible’ series by Chris Stewart. As we sat as a family last night to Skype her sister and brother-in-law in another city, it was clear that she was comfortable quipping with all her siblings in such a way that you would never have believed she’d been away for 18 months. The only real indication of this absence was when I had to open the front door for her because she couldn’t remember the door code.

Ahaa Milestones

Noise levels aside, most notable in difference for me is the spirit that entered our home on Saturday morning. In walked the daughter I knew, but with her was a new sense of confidence and conviction. With friends and family around for breakfast, I sat silently watching and listening as this missionary daughter expressed her love for the work she had been involved in. Then later, as we sat in the Stake Presidents office, I witnessed the depth of her testimony. I have determined that our home is now inhabited by someone who might very well be wiser than both my husband and I combined…

I remember on many occasions, as a mother, I have noted milestones in my children’s lives. I’m not talking about the birthday milestones, or the baptism, ordination, or school milestones, but more what I term the ‘Ahaa Milestones’. You know, like the first time your child gives a talk at church, which they have prepared themselves, where they are able to teach you something you didn’t know. Or the times when they come out with some amazing truth in a conversation with you, and you wonder where they learnt that because you don’t remember ever teaching it to them. For me, these Ahaa Milestones are a marker in the spiritual lives of my children. They are indicators that the gospel principles we have taught in the home have become internalised in their lives.

Well, that’s exactly what I am feeling at the moment. Right now we are experiencing a major Ahaa Milestone. I see in my missionary daughter that sense of conviction as she has internalised the principles she has been teaching for the last 18 months. But what is most amazing to me is that it is not something that has changed her from who she fundamentally is, but it is something that has enhanced the core of who she is. She is still the daughter I know, but the light of the gospel has expanded her soul.

I know that there is a long way to go, but I feel confident that my missionary daughter is well prepared and equipped with the tools she needs to move forward with her life. Through small and simple steps she will be able to find the path she needs to be on.

Sorting Feelings

As most of you know, my missionary daughter will be arriving home TOMORROW……….

The leap

She’s flying as I type…

Sorry, just had to take a moment to digest that statement…again.

I got up this morning and found an email message from the mission office with a farewell photo of her and a message on my FB page telling me she was on her way to the airport.

Of course I am soooo…excited. I have missed her absentmindedness (I’m sure she won’t mind me saying that), and I have missed the sound of her around the house (mostly not much sound as she was usually buried in a book somewhere). I miss her amazing smile, and all the times she said to me, “Oh, mum, don’t worry so much about it”. She is such a laid back kind of person…I miss her calming influence. I miss watching her with her sisters and brother, and how she almost always refused to enter into a quarrel or a fight (yes we have some of those in our house sometimes, don’ you?). I miss that she would often call me ‘mummy’, right up to the day she left on her mission. I miss her incredible dedication and commitment to any task she is given (most evident in her missionary service), but mostly I just miss having her around as part of the family….

So, I am really excited to have the old daughter back in just one day…with maybe some new parts to her as well. I know her mission has polished her, and I know she will come home so much more prepared for life, and have so much more to offer our family and her own down the track.

BUT….

There is a but…

There’s a lot about her being on her mission that I will miss too. As much as I want her here in our home again, there was just such a wonderful feeling when we received her emails each week. To read about all her investigators and the work she is involved in; actions not seen by us, but felt through her words. Sometimes we would receive photos from her and, altho’ we hadn’t been there, we were always able to make connections with them as she talked about the people she met, the miracles that occurred, and lessons learnt. I will also miss the blessings that came to us through her service; too personal to share here, but I will be eternally grateful for the sacrifice she has made that has affected our lives almost as much as hers.

So it is with mixed feelings that I approach her homecoming. Grateful to have her return with honor, but sad to know that this part of her life will soon be over.

Will I ever be able to sleep tonight?

Things You Should Never Do On Your Mission – Part 4

The ‘Memory Lane Series’ follows some of the more unusual experiences I had on my mission over 30 years ago. These stories are meant more as a light hearted view of one missionaries life, but I am sure that there are some important principles locked away in one or two of them somewhere…

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7. Never let your new companion (fresh out from the USA) ride the streets of Australia ahead of you.

Here’s another companion/bike story. This one will forever be etched in my mind as a true miracle.

I was blessed on my mission to train one of the most amazing missionaries I have ever known. When she was passed into my care, I often mussed that I should be in her care more than she in mine. Her preparedness as a missionary was outstanding. She literally hit the floor running and had such an enthusiasm for the work that I was often fed and motivated by her.

For the uneducated, in Australia we drive on the ‘other’ side of the road. I am tempted to say the right side of the road, but that would confuse even more as we actually drive on the left side of the road. But for me that is the right side of the road.

So when new missionaries arrive on our shores down under, it is often a challenge for them to adjust to this new order of things.

I remember on several occasions explaining to my greenie companion the importance of taking care as we rode the streets of our area. I suggested that, when riding our bikes, it would be best if she remained behind me for the first little while – at least till she got used to it.

For the most part she took care to do this. But for some reason on this particular day there was a real enthusiasm on her part. As I laboured to pedal up a fairly steep main road I noticed that my companion clearly had a bit more oomph than I did and she very quickly pedaled past me. I wasn’t too concerned as I knew that we were headed for a right hand turn up ahead, and she would have to stop to wait for oncoming traffic before proceeding across it. I knew I would catch her up before then.

I have heard that when someone is close to sudden death that their life flashes before them in lightening speed. But in this case, as an onlooker, it was quite the opposite. It was like everything was being played out in slow motion, and I was watching it all unravel before me.

I watched as my companion made no effort to stop before making the right hand turn. She maintained her momentum up the hill and swung out across the road. She clearly didn’t see the wall of cars that was heading down the hill towards her at considerable speed.

There was absolutely nothing I could do. By all calculations that wall of cars was going to hit her head on. The distance between the center of the road and the road she was turning into was only slightly less than the distance between her and the oncoming cars. If she had been driving a car, then I think she could have made it. But on a bike, her speed was much slower, and therefore logic stated she had no chance.

Stunned and paralysed, I braced for the worst possible outcome.

Words cannot convey my astonishment as I realised that she had somehow, miraculously reached the other side without connecting with any of the oncoming cars. By all reasonable calculations there was no way that those cars could have missed her.

I still can’t explain why, but I don’t need to. I know that the Lord was truly looking out for His missionary that day and that a miracle had just occurred. It was also at that stage I knew she had a great future before her – both as a missionary and a future mother in Zion.

<<Back to Part 3 of Memory Lane<<

<<Back to Part 2 of Memory Lane<<

<<Back to Part 1 of Memory Lane<<

The Measure of a Hero

My school experience was not the best. I was not particularly academic, and I didn’t show any real promise with sports. So I was less than enthusiastic about school life, and in fact ended up leaving high school when I was just 16 years old.

But even at that very young age I knew that I had more in me. I just couldn’t find the key to unlock my potential at the time. I can’t really pin down what it was about my school life that held me back. Maybe the school system, maybe a lack of opportunity, or maybe it was just my indifference to the expectations that everyone placed on me. Aside from all this, I still remember thinking to myself when I stepped out of the classroom for the last time at 16, “I will come back to this one day, I know I can do it, I’m just not ready for it now”.

It was to be another 4 years before the dimmer switch began to turn on inside my head, and I was able to return to the classroom to complete my high school studies. It was there I discovered that I actually did have academic ability, and I had been selling myself short for far too long. At that point I really felt like I had won a personal race in my life. It might have only been the 100 meters breaststroke (swimming was the only sport I ever showed any promise in), but it was a start…

It would be another 30 years before I really discovered what I had in me. As I come to the close of 6 years of working and studying for a university degree, I am now able to reflect on just how important it is for each of us to work to find the key that can unlock our potential in life – whatever that potential is.

The World Stage

Cropped transparent version of Image:Olympic f...

Olympic flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the last week I have sat and watched much of the wonderful sporting feats of our world Olympians. While it excites me to see the amazing results of those who stand on the dais to receive their medals, I also wonder about what it took for them to get there. We rarely hear the real stories of struggle and sacrifice that it takes.

While I am pretty sure that just about every athlete who participates in the Olympics has had their struggle to get to where they are, my mind reflects back to my school years and how the system always (and still does) rewarded those who came 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. At school heroes where built around these numbers. But I am not sure that this is a very healthy way to celebrate it.

Now that I look back on the growth that I have experienced over the last 40 years, I am pretty sure we have it all wrong. I am questioning here the way in which we build the profile of a hero. Do we take it on face value that these ‘winners’ have struggled any more than those who didn’t make it on to the dais? Are we over-inflating their success at the expense of all those others out there who have put in as much, if not more, effort to make it to where they are?

My Hero

English: South African Paralympic runner Oscar...

Oscar Pistorius, Olympic Runner (Wikepedia)

This morning I sat and watched an Olympic semi-final for the men’s 400 meters race. I watched the man they call ‘The Blade Runner” run an Olympic race devoid of two legs. No, I am not talking about the Paralympics; I am talking about the Olympics.

Oscar Pistorius, from South Africa, was born with a condition that required both his legs to be amputated at a very young age. Where did he come in this semi-final?

Last…

But there in front of me was a hero. No story needed to be told to explain what this man had achieved in his life to get where he was. No medal was needed to define him as a world hero. Right there in front of me was someone who had found the key that had unlocked his potential. For me this will be one of the highlights of the Olympic games. For me he was the winner. This was the measure of a true hero.

What Manner of Men Ought Ye To Be?

So, you may be wondering what all this has to do with missionary work…

Well, maybe not much. But I am sure that each of us could apply this measure as we consider the lengths we have gone to become the best we could at whatever it is in our life.

As a missionary mum, I can measure myself as a hero as I prepare my children to be the best they can be. I can also measure myself as a hero as I honour the role of my missionary daughter and support her in her efforts.

My daughter, as a missionary, can be measured as a hero as she works daily to dedicate her life to serving the Lord in the best way she knows. It has nothing to do with numbers, but everything to do with the process of her becoming.

In a recent talk by Brad Wilcox (Time Out For Women, Auckland) he reminded me that this life is not about earning heaven, but more about learning heaven. He also stated that, “We are not called human ‘doings’, but we are called human ‘beings’”. Our outward actions are not what the Lord is measuring us by, but he is far more concerned about what we are becoming on the inside.

So when we consider the measure of a hero, lets go beyond what the world would have us consider it. It is not about earning a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Neither is it about earning a gold, silver, or bronze. But it is more about the journey taken and the way in which we have been changed and transformed through it.

The Lord asked this simple question of his disciples, “…what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” 3 Nephi 27:27

I am still with you…

It seems like a long time since I last posted here, but I want to assure you that I am still with you. I’ve just been a little overloaded the last couple of weeks, and needed to prioritise my activities. Unfortunately MMM has had to suffer a bit of neglect as a result.

I do have some really good posts on the boiler that I hope to get out here soon, but with two FINAL (yes that’s right, final) assignments due over the next 4 weeks, and a trip to Tahiti (yes, I did say Tahiti) coming up in three weeks, I am trying to get everything done so I won’t have to worry about churning out academic words or ideas while I am enjoying the sun, sand, blue sky and warmth of Tahiti and the Society Islands.

I am also anticipating a job interview coming up this Monday. It will be my first job interview for 25 years, so I am feeling a little nervous about it all. Had to dust off my resume’ yesterday and get it updated, and now trying to locate anyone who would be willing to provide me with a half-way decent reference.

Ok, so enough of my blabbering, but be assured that this space will be buzzing again with ideas and stories very soon.

Just to make you a little jealous here is a picture of where I will be in about two weeks…

Bora Bora

Bora Bora (Photo credit: Benoit Mahe)

But I will share with you even better photos on my return. I may even find something relevant to write about.

Now back to my assignments…

Coming Home

The day our missionary left

Today I got an email from my daughters mission.  It’s not often a parent gets them, so it was with some trepidation that I opened it. In those few seconds between seeing who the email was from and opening it a multitude of scenarios flashed through my mind. Death, injury, missing, arrested, or maybe even something positive like….ok, so I can’t think of anything positive, and maybe I couldn’t at the time. As someone said, “It’s a mother thing!”

We always think the worst when it involves someone we love. But being the optimist I am, I opened the email with great expectations.

Oh happy days! Of course! It was information about her mission completion date and her travel arrangements. But wait! It can’t be that close could it? Counting on fingers I have discovered that in exactly 110 days our sister missionary will be home!

I guess that means I have to start thinking about what that really means.

I would love for anyone who has experienced a missionary returning to let me know what to expect. I mean, I know I have experienced being a returned missionary, but I have never experienced being a parent of a returning missionary. What should I prepare for and how best can I pre-prepare for it?

Things You Should Never Do On Your Mission – Part 3

Part 3 of Memory Lane Series. It is here that I reminisce about the funnier and more unique experiences I had on my mission over 30 years ago.

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5. Never assume that everything an AP says is true.

When I served my mission, even tho’ I was older than most of the Elders out (and in some cases more mature), I always had a deep and abiding respect for the two Elders who served as Assistants to the President (AP). Not that I didn’t have respect for all the other Elders, as silly as many of them could be, they had my respect for the mere fact that they were sacrificing two years of their lives in service to the Lord. In my book, there is nothing more worthy of my respect.

However, the roll of AP seemed to carry with it something really special. The Mission President had chosen these two Elders to assist in the workings of the mission as a whole. There was a lot of responsibility placed on their shoulders as leaders, and the pressure was never off them. They were expected to maintain the roll of AP – speaking assignments, Zone conferences, assisting the President in determining where missionaries will serve and with whom etc – as well as continue to meet the same kind of missionary goals that all of us were expected to achieve; their load was huge.

On this occasion I remember hearing from family at home that one of my friends there had just received her mission call, and was coming to serve in the APM. My excitement was barely contained. I really loved this young lady, and had a very high regard for her. What an amazing missionary she would make, and maybe, just maybe, we might get to work together one day as companions. I shared these thoughts with many of the missionaries I worked with. They too were excited for me, and anticipated the day when this sister would come into the mission.

My excitement brimmed over one Sunday evening at a missionary fireside, and I just had to share this with one of the AP’s. This Elder had been one of my Zone Leaders in the past, so I knew him fairly well, and felt confident that he would share in my enthusiasm.

With dismay I listened to him respond (and I remember his exact words to this day), “Sis. Maine, you will NEVER get to serve with this sister as a companion”. I was shattered…

He explained that it would be wrong to put two people together who were friends from home, and that it would cause more problems than it was worth. He then listed all the things that were wrong about it.

It took me several days to get over the disappointment of his statement. But I eventually did.

However, my excitement was still on a high when I heard that she had finally arrived in the mission. I rejoiced in the knowledge that she was there and doing the work.

I still remember the joy in my heart when, just one transfer after this particular AP had returned home from completing his mission, they announced that my new companion would be my friend from home. I knew then that you could never assume that what an AP tells you is true.

6. Never pass up a chance to have your companion sing to you.

For those who have served a mission, you will agree that there are always some really low points to it. Now, on the whole a mission is probably one of the best experiences a person can have in their life, and on returning, there is not often many negative experiences that you would remember. The good experiences far outweigh the bad.

But I do remember some really low points to my mission. Times where I really struggled with feelings of rejection and disappointment. Hey, the scriptures teach that there is opposition in all things. Without the bitter we would not appreciate the sweet. So there was certainly always a purpose for this.

I was really blessed to have had amazing missionary companions. If you were to ask me which was my favourite, or which was the best, I would not be able to tell you. They were all so very different, but all offered something to me that I needed and learned from at the time. I love that about a mission. The Lord blesses you as much, if not more, than you can ever repay Him.

So one of my companions was the best at something that I needed more than anything at the time – singing. We lived in an area that was incredibly hilly and difficult to navigate. It was also in the middle of winter, so at times it was wet, cold and miserable. Sometimes this was ok, as we loved to stomp in the puddles and make the most of it. But, on many occasions I would find myself grinding the peddles of my bike, homeward bound through teaming rain, tears streaming down my face, wondering whether it was all worth it. There were some dark moments in this time of my life.

Somehow tho’, I was always able to find my way out of it when I remembered to ask my companion to sing. There were many days where you could see two wet and bedraggled missionary sisters walking the streets of Perth, Australia with one of them singing “How Great Thou Art” at the top of her voice. Oh, that was just what I needed on those days. Her clear, beautiful, vibrato voice ringing out praises, filled me with such love and hope.

Now, whenever we sing that song at church it takes me back to those days. Not in dread and remorse, but in thankfulness and joy.

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