Just so you know, it was on this day thirteen years ago that I entered the Empty Sea, beginning my preparation to eventually serve an LDS mission in the Switzerland (and Germany for a little bit). I will never forget that day. It remains one of the most pivotal points in my life (if not the pivotal point in my life). After eleven years of reflecting on the mission, I’ve determined there really is no adequate way of articulating the experience. It’s an event that, for many reasons, defies description. There is simply no way to explain what it’s like to be a full-time missionary.
That said, an anniversary of such an event demands listification, even if that list may not be totally understandable or appreciateable by some. Here is the list:
Some Things I learned from the Mission:
1. I learned how to talk to people, kind of. Before the mission I couldn’t talk to people at all. After the mission, I could talk to people in German about church stuff. So that’s a little bit of progress.
2. Walking in church shoes for more than 30 minutes is actually quite uncomfortable. Walking in church shoes for two years, well that’s even more uncomfortable.
3. Expect to see the hand of God in your life every day. There are daily miracles all around if we look hard enough.
4. The greatest food in the world is a Doener Kebab from Germany. Serious. Ask anyone that’s had one and I promise they’ll agree.
5. The smell of marijuana smoke gives me a headache.
6. All day is a long time to be around anyone, even the nicest companion.
7. The strongest testimony in the world doesn’t help a missionary too much, unless he/she is willing to share it.
8. I learned that if it’s been a hard day and nobody will talk to you, find an African, they’re usually pretty nice and talkative (which makes me wonder what missionaries in Africa do when they’ve had a long day and nobody will talk to them).
9. I learned that most missionaries are pretty average (and actually a surprising amount are pretty below average), but the Gospel and the Spirit are amazing.
10. Switzerland is a breathtakingly beautiful country.
11. Italians are crazy drivers, but actually very clever (which differentiates them from most Californian drivers)
12. I learned that I wasn’t nearly as smart as I thought I was (I am now though).
13. If you work as hard as you possibly can, God usually has a way of rewarding you.
14. There’s absolutely nothing like a good nap on Preparation Day.
15. In personality and temperament, I’m more like a Swiss person than an American person. Somehow I was born on the wrong continent, which is a little frustrating actually.
16. I learned that if I had to live with an adult male for the rest of my life, I would probably have to be put in an insane asylum. I really have no idea how wives can handle having husbands.
17. I learned that two people, named Neil Hahl and John Holbrook respectively, are great, great men.
18. Generally speaking, you get out what you put in.
19. I’m a huge fan of dependable, punctual public transportation.
20. And finally, I learned that the end of the mission isn’t really the end at all.