Well, as of June 12, we have been here for 6 months serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints here in Rostock Germany where we were assigned. We are here as well as over 70,000 other missionaries serving worldwide at their own expense because ..........WHY? It may seem crazy...young men and young women putting their educations and lives on hold for 18 months to two years to serve in another area other than where they live. They don't date, they don't call home, they get up early and go to bed early and they often times learn another language. They wear suits and ties and dresses all day; they get doors slammed in their faces, they get ignored, they get made fun of, they get yelled at. And what about us "Senior" missionary couples leaving the comforts of our homes, our beds, our communities and hardest of all our children and grandchildren to also serve in another area, dressing up, sometimes learning a new language and living in a small apartment getting used to another culture? Why do we do it? And before I make it sound all bad, it isn't! It is wonderful! It is astonishing and we all enjoy the adventure! And Gentz and I happen to be in one of the most beautiful spots on earth we believe! But let me try to explain why we are really here.
We are members of the LDS (Mormon) Church, which has no paid ministry, no paid youth workers, organists, teachers, secretaries. Instead, from an early age, we are given the opportunity to serve and teach being assigned"callings". In the words of Clayton Christianson, a Harvard Professer: "Because we employ no professional preachers, it means that every sermon or lesson in church is given by a regular member – women and men, children and grandparents. This means that we have the chance to learn from everyone – people in all walks of life who are struggling in their own ways to follow God". So we are used to serving. We love it. We grow from it. I can't count on both hands how many times my husband along with other men and women in the church showed up to help a family move in or out of their house. Heavy pianos. Appliances. Cleaning out cupboards. Is it a sacrifice? Often, yes, but what we gain is so much more than it can hardly be counted as a sacrifice. The time we give comes back to us tenfold and the love we experience as we work together fills our souls. We grow as we serve. Mormons serve...that's just what we do! "The strong help the weak, and the weak help the strong, and nobody thinks about who is weak and who is strong. It creates an extraordinary spirit of mutual love, because as we work to help others who are in need, our love and respect for those we help intensifies." Clayton Christiansen
And ultimately, we all do it because we love our Lord Jesus Christ and want to help Him build His kingdom here on earth. He is the perfect example for us. What He went through was very hard...he suffered, died and hung on the cross so that we ...you and I could all have eternal life. He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, bleeding from every pore, so that He would know how to help us as we went through our trials and challenges and problems in this life. Because of that, we can never say..."No one knows how I feel." He does. What peace this can bring a grieving heart! When we cry out, He is there. He is the living Christ. And so, out we go. We leave our homes, our families, our educations, our comfortable lives to go out and serve. To teach. To heal broken lives. To love. To tell whoever we can that they are children of God and He loves them. That is why we are here. And on days when it gets hard, we remind ourselves that someone much greater than us also had a very hard mission, but He drank of the bitter cup that was His alone and did His Father's will.
We take seriously the admonition to go out into the world and take the knowledge of the Savior and His gospel to all of mankind. "Feed my Sheep" He said three times to Peter so long ago. As modern day disciples, we too desire to feed His sheep wherever we may be sent or even where we live. We love Him and we hope to somehow through our service be able to say, Thank you! Thank you for all that you have done for us and now in some small way, we hope to be able to pay back part of that debt we owe you. And oh, the love that is here. The rich experiences! The people we meet! The trials that we see! The triumphs over adversity! The overcoming! The blessings!! The growth!! We thank God every day for this opportunity!
This is why we all serve. This is why we are here, in your neighborhoods, on your streets, in your corner of the world. So, when you see one of these missionaries..old or young take a minute to shake their hand. Look in their eyes. I promise you that you will only see love and a desire to serve. And maybe, just maybe you might want to take a few minutes to hear the message that they have. They've traveled a long way to deliver it.
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:40)