As a freshman student at BYU, I shouldn’t have been surprised at how many mission call openings I have attended in the past couple of months. I knew that almost all of my friends would be leaving to commit a significant amount of their time to the church, but it never fully sank in until the calls started rolling in. Before I came to BYU I only had one really good friend on a mission who I wrote on an almost weekly basis. I was obviously proud of him for going out and serving a mission, but I didn’t realize the weight of a mission until they came in bulk.
As someone who is not planning on serving a mission, I’ve had a bit of an outside perspective on all of my friends receiving their mission calls. Because I have not had to worry about my own call or filling out my own papers, I have been able to focus on the calls of my friends and the commitments that they have been making. Among my friends, I am famous for crying not only at most mission calls, but sometimes even the mention of someone leaving on their mission can get me emotional. One of my friends has even found a handy little trick when he showed me his countdown to his mission and I immediately had tears falling. While some of those tears are sad tears because I am going to miss them so much, a lot of those tears are caused by how much I love them and how proud I am of their decision. I remember sitting in the living room after one of my friends had opened their mission call to England and thinking about how amazing it was that he was willing to give up two years of his life to serve the Lord and bring His children back to Him. Then I looked around the room at all my other friends who were there who had their calls or were filling out their papers. I was overwhelmed by how much love for Christ was in the room. Missionaries give up so much of their lives for God and His Son and that is something truly amazing about the youth of our church.
While taking my religion classes at BYU, my professors often emphasize that Christ “came unto his own, and his own received him not (John 1:11).” Christ was a perfect being and He was rejected by the very people He had worked so hard so save. He suffered for all His brothers and sisters, whether they were going to love Him and accept His sacrifice or not. I had been thinking about this a lot when I went to another friend’s mission call. When he stood up to read his call in the lobby of his dorm building, he was standing right next to a picture of Christ. I knew how much my friend loved Christ and, in that moment, I could feel Christ’s love for Him. After laboring so hard in His mortal life and being rejected, He was so grateful that my friend had chosen to dedicate two years of his life to bringing people to the gospel. My friend was choosing to focus on nothing but the Savior and bringing that love to others for two years, and Christ loved Him for it. Christ absolutely adores His missionaries.
As I have come to more fully understand Christ’s love for His missionaries, I have been able to better cope with my friends leaving on their missions. (Side note: I am a firm believer that a mission is not expected of every single person and the choice should be made between a person and God. Christ loves those of whom He doesn’t require a mission just as much as He loves those who do serve one, but as someone who has an overwhelming love for my missionaries, I like to think about Christ’s love for them during this amazing, trying, inspiring time in their lives.) As my relationships with my friends grew, the reality of them leaving for so long began to hit me. My friends know that I get separation anxiety after not seeing a close friend for 48 hours. I constantly check in on my friends and will drop everything to help them with anything. I was struggling to figure out how I was going cope with them all being gone for two years with once a week communication, if I’m lucky. In most cases, I think I am more worried for the safety and happiness of my missionaries than they are. But if there is anything that I have learned about the Father and the Son from the scriptures, it is that They have Their disciples’ backs. The first thing that Christ does when he descends from heaven in 3 Nephi 11 is identify Himself as the One whom the prophets prophesied off. He wanted to testify of the people who testified of Him; His missionaries. In Genesis 18, when God is planning on destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asks Him what would happen if there were any righteous people in the city. God answers that He would not destroy the city if any of His righteous people were in it. He loves those who believe in Him.
As we send off our missionaries or prepare for our own, we should remember that missionaries do not go out without protection. Their paths, words, and actions are directed by the very Being that they have chosen to represent. They are doing the most noble work in helping to gather Zion and bring people to feel the joy and love that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings. Missions are not only an action of sacrifice and service, but also of love and compassion. To my friends who will soon be serving their missions, I am so proud of y’all. You will be amazing missionaries. I will miss your sweet spirit, but it is that sweet spirit that will draw people to you. You all live your lives in such a way that when others are around you there is no doubt that you’re doing something right. That spirit will make others ask you what it is that makes you so joyful, kind, selfless, intelligent, and peaceful. I have always been told that the very best of God’s children have been saved for the last days, but I never had a testimony of it until I met you all and watched you share your testimonies and dedicate your life to our Savior. You have absolutely changed my life. You have made me feel loved and helped me to grow my testimony. You have never made me feel any less for not serving a mission of my own and that means so much to me. I am going to miss you all so much, but I could not be happier for you. I love y’all!