An Open Letter to a New Missionary…

handwritten-letter-to-a-friend

Not long ago one of my previous and wonderful students entered the Missionary Training Center…and wouldn’t you know it? It was tough. Just like it is for most of the missionaries there. And just like it has been for most of the missionaries who have ever been there. Including me to some extent. I sent a few thoughts her way, and hope there is some help for some other missionary out there…I’ve edited a few details to protect, well, whoever…

Dearest Sister _______,
You’ve been there a few days, and if you’re normal at all you’re probably feeling a little bit of discouragement…
 
I know. I felt it, too. In fact, long after your mission experience, you will feel discouragement, and you’ll feel it over a lot of things: dating, marriage, finances, school, employment, pregnancy, children, callings, neighborhoods, sin…everything. I wish it were different, but it just isn’t.
 
But…with all of the discouragement coming in the future, you have much, much, much more enjoyment coming. There will be so much more enjoyment than discouragement. In fact, there will be enough enjoyment and satisfaction to more than overshadow the frustration, I promise. The joy of marriage will overshadow the discouragement of dating. The happiness in employment will overshadow the toughest days of college. The love of being a mother will make up for the struggles you may have getting pregnant. The hard things don’t go away, they are folded up and tucked away and only remembered occasionally. Your focus will be on the joy.
 
Your mission will be a pattern of that. Though you might feel discouraged today, in about a week things will be balancing out. And in a month, you won’t remember feeling this discouraged. And your life will go much like that. So a mission is great practice for life. It is hard practice, but good practice.
 
Here are a couple things that helped me, and still do:
 
1. I try to picture discouraging moments as a future funny story. I can either feel discouraged, or I can shrug and laugh a little and pray for better “luck”. When I tell someone else about my frustrations and try to laugh a little, I feel better about it.
 
2. I often picture myself thinking about this in a week or a month. I ask myself, “Will I still feel this bad a week from now, or will I feel fine? In a month, will I be ok?” I can’t think of many instances where the answer was anything other than, “As bad as I feel right now, I know I’ll be all right in a week or so…”
 
3. I try to imagine myself telling my children (when they’re older) about whatever particular trial I am going through. What do I want to be able to tell them about my reaction and effort? What will they learn from my current situation? What can I teach them about “hard things”?
 
You probably have a dozen other emails to read, so I’ll end. Well, except for one thing: When Christ miraculously healed people during His ministry, it was usually when things looked the worst. He knew the people would be all right, but they didn’t. Christ knows that you will be all right, even if you don’t. But you will. Sooner than you think. There is a big difference between being alone and feeling alone. In Heavenly Father’s family, there is no such thing as being alone. There is a little voice inside of you that is telling you that you can do this, you can make it, you can learn the language, you can love your companion, you can, you can, you can…Just listen to that voice.
 
So many people love you and are praying for you, myself included. Missions are hard. But you are on the “front lines” so you have direct access to Heavenly Father. You’re His daughter, and that’s that
 
If, by chance, you’re not feeling discouraged, then this is awkward. File this email away and give it to a sobbing companion when she needs it 🙂
 
You’re great!
 
…And the letter ends… I hope it was helpful, and she is doing wonderfully, and not because of the letter. She’s doing great because she is great and she is participating, directly, in a great work. For all of you future (or current) missionaries…you are, too.
These views are personal, and are not the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...
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