Dear Brother Albright,
I had been waiting to enter the MTC for more than 4 months! I felt prepared and excited to go to South America. Just 3 days before, in my “farewell” talk, over 150 of my friends, family, coworkers, etc. had come to my ward to hear me speak. They all told me that I was going to be the best missionary ever, that I was going to baptize a ton, and that it would be the best experience of my life. I believed them.
Everything started out great. I had amazing MTC teachers, a companion that quickly became a close friend, and an MTC district that I absolutely loved. We all became close friends, and we all worked hard to learn Spanish and understand the gospel. Our teachers told us that we would be amazing missionaries, that we would baptize lots of converts, and that it would be the best experience ever. I believed them.
And then I arrived in the mission field. My first area was a tiny little town at the end of the earth. There were no paved roads, a TON of wind, and a not too attractive village. The food always made me feel sick. No one invited us over for Christmas dinner, so our neighbors, who were gypsies, invited us over. I didn’t like my first area at all, but the worst part was that my companion and I didn’t get along, and we couldn’t communicate in order to solve our problems. In fact, no one in my district could speak English, and the only other English speaker in my entire zone was living an hour and a half away. I felt completely alone and isolated. I disliked being in Argentina. I hated that I wasn’t enjoying my mission like I thought I would.
The last straw was when the family we had found and had been teaching told us they had decided NOT to be baptized. I had been in the field just two months, and I was ready to go home. The only reason I didn’t was because it would be embarrassing. I stopped speaking during our lessons. I hardly ate anything. Every morning, I would cry when the alarm went off because I’d have to face another dreary day. Many times each day I would pray and beg for strength and happiness, but I felt like I didn’t have either. I was frustrated because I wanted to be a missionary who “enjoyed” the mission, not one who simply “endured” the mission.
Then one day I was reading a scripture that our MTC teacher had shared with us, Alma 26:27, which reads, “Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.”
It was comforting to know that even some of the best missionaries of all time were depressed and wanted to turn back! I wasn’t alone after all! But they didn’t turn back. They kept on going even though their situation didn’t show any signs of improving. They were patient. I decided that I would just have to so the same thing and see what would happen.
Today is the end of my two years I promised to give the Lord. What has happened in my mission? Alma 26 explains it perfectly: “And now behold, we have come and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings… And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets…and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon…and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some. Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors, and are they few? I say unto you, nay, they are many.” (verses 28-31)
I kept going. I did the best I knew how. And I testify that when we are patient and continue with faith, God gives us the success He promises. Maybe it won’t be success in the way we had originally planned, but we will see miracles and be happy.
I now have just 3 weeks left on my mission. It is ripping my heart out that I am going to be released soon! At some point in my mission– I don’t know when– I changed from enduring my mission to enjoying my mission, and then to LOVING my mission! I love my mission and I love Argentina! I’ve learned a new language, and made so many new friends. I’ve learned to cook delicious food and learned to love another culture. I have helped people learn about the gospel and helped people make life-changing covenants with God. Most importantly, I have drawn closer to my Savior and tried to become more like Him. I wouldn’t change ANYTHING about my mission. I am filled with gratitude for having been able to serve a mission in Patagonia.
As it turns out, my family, friends, and MTC teachers were right. Although I’m not the best missionary ever, and I have not baptized a ton of people, my mission has by far been the best experience ever. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I know that God loves us, and that He knows what’s best for us. I know our mission assignments are received by apostles through inspiration from God. If He has called you to a particular place, it’s because He NEEDS you there. There is divine purpose in these mission assignments. There are lives that only YOU can bless. There are miracles that are waiting for YOU and your investigators. I promise. I know it because I’ve lived it.
“How great reason we have to rejoice, for could we have supposed when we started…that God would have granted unto us such great blessings? And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.
..My joy is full, yea my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.” (Alma 26). There is just no better explanation of how I feel!