Being a missionary is in itself a rare privilege. While I have been a missionary I have been able to see tremendous changes in not just my life, but also in the lives of those we have met and taught.
Being a referral center missionary, we seem to be blessed that above other missionaries. As our mission is based at the Missionary Training Center (MTC), we are privileged to have many general authorities of the church as frequent visitors for devotionals or other meetings. Recently at the end of June there was the training for all of the new mission presidents around the world. Throughout this week long training all of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles and First Presidency were able to come through the MTC to train them. Although I was unable to meet any of the Apostles or First Presidency, I did have an encounter with President Jay E. Jensen of the Presidency of the Seventy.
I was actually able to see President Jensen a few times, as he seemed to have a habit of taking walks around the MTC campus during his lunch period. It was on one of these days that Elder Howden, Elder Edmons, and I were able to “bump” into him. I remember we were walking out of the cafeteria on our way to district meeting when we recognized the “general authority name tag” on the person in front of us. We at first thought nothing of it as we were walking to our meeting. About half way in between the cafeteria and the building with our meeting, we decided to back track, and take the rare privilege to meet one of the Lord’s chosen authorities. We were able to find him quickly; and as we were supposed to be at a meeting, our encounter was brief. However, it did make an impact on me as a missionary.
He asked us briefly how we were doing, and what mission we would be serving in. When he learned we all served in the “Referral Center Mission” at the MTC the conversation seemed to change. He made a brief sincere comment about how he had heard about all of the success we had been having and how we were doing a great work.
I was shocked. I did not expect him to know about our mission, and I was further surprised at the compliment about the work we had been doing. It had been very easy to have a lot of doubts about the mission I was in, and if I really was making a difference. It seemed with almost every single person I talked to, they were unaware of the mission I was in. I felt I had to persuade everyone I talked to I was actually a missionary. It was this surprise which led me to take pride in the work I was doing here, and it was with this I decided to begin wearing my “referral center” name tag. I have two types of name tags. One name tag has “referral center,” and the other is plain; like the other missionaries who come through the MTC. Previously I did not wear the “referral center” tag. When others noticed the “referral center” I did not enjoy having to convince them I actually was a missionary. Now, as I have been wearing the “referral center” tag, I have recently noticed a positive attitude helps to dispel most doubts. I am grateful to be here as a missionary, I do know the work I am doing is meaningful, and I am a missionary of Jesus Christ.
I know the leaders in our church are men who are called of God. I feel an effective leader is one who is able to help and encourage others. I feel the biggest impacts in my life have been made as those leaders have reached out in praise and admiration of what I was doing. Those compliments have made me have a desire to actually be worthy of their praise, and most importantly; to be the person I know I am capable of being. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I had to briefly meet President Jensen, and how he was able to change the work I am doing.