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Sometimes I wish it was that easy to figure out what direction to take in life.
As Larry and I have continued to talk about the possibility of going on a mission, we are beginning to recognize there are many decision to make.
First, we have to determine when would be the right time for us to go. This does not necessarily mean we are looking for the perfect window of time that would be the optimal for our other plans or what would be the most convenient. The reality is, there will never be a perfect time to walk away from our home, our family, and all that is dear to us here. Serving a mission has everything to do with setting aside our own wishes and tapping in to spiritual guidance to know what the Lord wants us to do.
Next, once we know when we are ready to make the commitment, we have to determine how long to sign up for. Young proselytizing elders serve for two years and the sister missionaries for 18 months. Seniors, however, have more options. There are many different kinds of missions. Some last just 6 months, some a year, some 18 months, some 23 months. We have to consider several different factors to figure out which of those is right for us.
Part of that will depend on where we go. Ultimately it will be the church leaders who make the final decision of where we serve and in what capacity. However, seniors are very much encouraged to study out the options of current opportunities and express whatever feels right for them.
For example, in the bulletin describing various mission opportunities it says there is an "urgent need" for a senior couple to serve as " Public Affairs Specialist" missionaries in Samoa. What that involves would be to "assist the Public Affairs Director in providing information about the Church, it's beliefs, and leaders to the media, opinion leaders, interfaith groups, and the general public." I could see me really enjoying that. Larry, however, does not feel like that would be a fit for him. So we keep looking...
We have considered education missions, humanitarian aid, and a few other things.
This isn't at all the same as applying for a job. In the LDS church, we believe a person "must be called of God and by the laying on of hands by one in authority"... which means even if we pick something that sounds really good to us, once we say we are ready to serve a mission we need to be ready to go ANYWHERE we get assigned and pretty much do whatever we are asked to do. Wrapping our minds around that is a pretty big leap of faith.
One of the big "what ifs" is whether we say we are available for foreign or domestic.
As much as I my be intrigued by the idea of getting to experience going to a different country, there is PLENTY of good work to be done right here in the good ole' USA. I can see lots of reasons I would NOT be disappointed to stay stateside. It will be an adventure to watch it all unfold however it all turns out.
Since we do NOT have a sorting hat we will continue on doing what we have been doing - studying it out in our minds, praying to be guided by spirit, and slowly inching forward to knowing that this really is the direction we are going to take. We have plenty of second guessing ourselves. We especially wonder about the impact leaving all our family for a long period may have. Still, there is no denying the spiritual promptings we have had ever since this thing first started. That "still, small voice" we read about in the scriptures is getting pretty bold in our house.