As I approached 1296 Magnolia St, I assembled the letters and larger envelopes to go into thier mail box. They only had one large envelope… from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Missionary Department. It was addressed to an Elder James Webb. I felt the small spiral bound booklet inside, containing such instructions as what suits to buy, what kind of haircut to get… this envelope is unmistakable.
I was instantly taken back to that June morning in 2005 when I found a similar large white envelope in my mail box. I was called to serve in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Mission.
Much has transpired in my life since I opened that fateful envelope… things I would never have dared to imagine…
…and even now, at this moment, I am instant messaging with a missionary I served around during my mission.
There is something incredible about dedicating your life to a cause that is bigger than you. I was so happy when I recieved my mission call. I was SO happy when I landed in Philadelphia and met President Wagstaff… it was a wonderful time of my life.
If you’ve read much of my blog, you probably understand the complicated subtext in which I say this… I loved my mission. I am glad I went. I only have a few regrets about my missionary service. Elder Webb, if you are reading this… (and I’m sure you aren’t, but maybe some other preparing missionary will read it some day)…
1. I spent WAY too much time obsessing over my ‘worthiness’, and thus left little room in my heart to let the love of God in.
2. I spent WAY too much time trying to convince everyone that our church was ‘the true church’.
3. If I could re-write one aspect of my mission… I would have relaxed about 1 & 2 and just LOVED the people more. That’s what the people in the world need – they need to feel love. They need to believe that they are lovable. And when they feel lovable, ONLY THEN will they be able to love thier own neighbor.
I just wish I would have loved people more.
Elder Webb, I want you to know, even this AP-gone-agnostic, could not stop smiling for the rest of the afternoon, as your mission call sat in your mailbox.