by Brad Wilcox and Russell Wilcox
Missions don’t always start off the way you might wish. One elder wrote shortly after arriving in his mission: “I have lots of blisters on my feet, but don’t worry. I don’t really notice them because it is so cold.” Later he wrote, “It’s kind of frustrating when you can’t understand the language. I want to work hard, but I can’t communicate. All I can do is follow my comp around. But don’t worry. I will never give up. If the Lord wants me to just nod and smile for two years, I will.” Of course, the elder learned the language and did a lot more than nod and smile. It was just a rough start. But rough starts often lead to smooth finishes.
As a sister’s mission drew to a close she wrote, “My mission has been the best time of my life. I’ve never felt so alone, been so frustrated, had so many pillows wet with tears and felt so forsaken, rejected, and insecure in my life, but I can still say it has been the best time because I’ve never before been so close to my Savior. This work has become my passion. I knew I would love the work and the people, but this much? This is God’s work and glory, but it has become my work and glory too…. I’m thankful for that night in the garden and that day on the cross—all that I might feel the joy I’m feeling now.”
Russell’s last email from the mission said, “Is it normal to be afraid? Each day as the end gets closer I don’t want to finish. I don’t want to stop being a full-time missionary. I don’t want to go home…. I am afraid to leave the people I love. I’m afraid I’m going to miss everything too much. I thought I would be excited to go home, but it’s a lot more difficult than I imagined it would be…. I feel satisfied and happy, very happy with my mission. I don’t have regrets. I just don’t like to think of this once-in-a-lifetime experience coming to an end.” This from the same young man who wondered if he was ever going to make it through the MTC and got through some of the first few weeks of his mission by telling himself to just make it one more hour and then another. If things are rough at first, don’t despair. Rough starts lead to smooth finishes.
More by Brad Wilcox:
Missions are Hard on the Shoes, But Good for the Soul
A Missionary Metamorphosis