“I hope they call me on a mission.”
Recently I turned in my papers to serve a full time LDS mission. This means I registered with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to leave and visit a certain area, assigned by Church authorities, for two years. During that time I will give service and teach others about my religion.
Why am I doing this? The first and foremost reason for me personally is because I feel it is required of me. This isn’t to say I feel obligated without reason, but I am choosing to go on a mission right now because it is the recommended course of action for male members of the Church who are my age.
A close second reason is because I simply feel like it’s the right thing to do. Right now I don’t want to go to another year of college (perhaps partially because I’m somewhat burnt out after attending four semesters/terms in a row) but do something else instead. A mission fulfills that requirement beautifully.
Thirdly, I believe that going on a mission generally makes people into better people, as does other difficult yet rewarding undertakings, such as parenthood. Two years of service and teaching, quite possibly in a foreign land and through foreign tongues, have no small effects on my character. I hope to use this opportunity to become a better person.
That being said, I still have some worries and concerns. Likely the highest is my problem with initiation.
Generally, I prefer to be alone or with close friends that I already know. My favorite way to meet people is through mutual friends that I already have who can introduce me. I have lived most of my life this way, generally met most of the people I know this way, and feel quite comfortable doing so.
This will not work on the mission. While serving I will never be by myself unless I’m in the bathroom because I’ll have a companion who I need to always be with. I won’t be able to meet people slowly and gradually because I will be purposefully seeking them out in public with the goal of talking to as many people as I can.
However, I have found that language might work to my advantage in this situation. I am a native speaker of English, and I find that while I can often express myself most accurately using it over other methods of expression (especially when writing), I am much more bold when speaking another language. Let me provide an example: I remember once during the time that I took Spanish in high school, my class went on a field trip to a restaurant. We all had to speak Spanish the entire time, including when we ordered our food. While we were eating, a small kid who was probably no older than twelve wandered into the restaurant. Under normal circumstances (read: in English mode) I never would have said anything to him, but under the guise of Spanish, I asked him what he was doing in the restaurant all alone and why he wasn’t in school. Using a nonnative language freed my otherwise powerful innate tendency to remain in the background unless called out.
I believe the reason for this is because using other languages engenders some amount of amusement on my part. Many of the bold things I do in life I do because they are amusing to me. For example, if I am walking with a group of friends somewhere, I might start walking backwards or run and jump over/off something. If I find an opportunity to use sarcasm, quite often I will take it. Most surprising to me is my willingness to spontaneously do impressions or act in a way I wouldn’t normally on whim or impulse because I am illustrating a point. This occurs especially often if I am emotionally attached to the subject matter. Whatever the case or reason, I believe I am more bold when I am amused. Because of this, it is quite possible that I will be called to a foreign language speaking mission because it will help me overcome this barrier. I even hope that I will need to speak a foreign language for mainly this reason, although in general I would also prefer to learn another language (as in one other than Spanish) just for the experience of doing so.
This is my current mentality. I’ll find out in about two weeks how correct I am.
Update: I was called to the Argentina Córdoba Mission Spanish speaking. I report to the MTC December 12, 2012.