My Mormon Mission, revisited
June 17, 2009
I wrote an article almost 3 years ago about my mission. I’m re-posting it here.
The last couple of weeks I’ve fallen asleep each night in memories of my mission to Taiwan. My thoughts are in Chinese, and I find myself wondering what ever happened to a certain person or what’s new in a certain city. Most of my place marks on Google Earth are in northern Taiwan, making it seem I know Taipei city better than I know the United States.
It’s because I mark the most unusual things there. Here’s the place with the attack dogs. Here’s the place they dedicated Taiwan. Here’s the temple. Here was my house. Here’s where I saw monkeys. Here’s brother so-and-so’s house. Here’s my favorite fried rice shop.
I think it’s because America is always here for me. But when I see that view of the Taiwanese streets from 850 feet or so I worry I’ll forget something. I’ll forget that road between the apartment and the church in Banqiao that I took every single morning for 3 months. The one that led right through the morning market. I think I’m afraid I’ll forget even the incidentals of the most valued experience of my life so far.
The mission is a chance to see what you are truly capable of. To let you find out what happens when you focus all of your energy all of the time on one thing. You never love as deeply and as powerfully as you do while on your mission. If you do it right, eventually you can’t really help it. You see somebody and you feel love for him or her.
My mission is full of memories and experiences that are so intense in emotion – particularly love – that I can’t adequately express it to anybody. Even those who have gone on missions can’t really explain it to others who have gone. All we can do is smile at each other and say “Yeah.” It’s like saying “I was there. I know.” Some compare it to being brothers in a war having returned from fighting the greatest battle.
And it makes me sad, too. Because what I would like to do more than anything else is pull the feelings from my chest and place them into the hearts of those who haven’t experienced such depth of experience. But perhaps part of what makes the emotions so strong is the fight to earn them.
From beginning to end, the mission was greater than the part I played in it. I was changed far more than I changed anything or anybody. From day one there was never any doubt that there is a God, and that this is the work He wanted me to do. And looking back from the end of the mission it was clear in the same way that the sky is blue that this God is good, that He is in control, and that He loves me, and that He loves every person on the planet. That He knows our names and our thoughts. That He moves with power on this earth even today.
The words represent feelings and knowledge that are so much more profound than the words are capable of describing. I use sentences like that and it just sounds religious – but it’s so much more than what we think of as religion. I imagine climbing a mountain only to find you’ve conquered a foothill.
I can’t and don’t feel like describing the events of my mission right now, but I feel it important to mark now how I feel almost 5 months after being back. To those who read this and are members of my same church – serve, if you are able, and be prepared to learn far more than you ever imagined you didn’t know. For those who are not members of my same church I say: seek miracles and be prepared to accept them in places you didn’t expect to.
I know that God lives and is with us.