Tag Archives: service mission

My Short Service Mission

If you haven’t seen Elder Holland’s pre-Face-to-face video, I highly recommend watching it by clicking here.

I’m grateful that Elder Holland talked about those that can’t go on proselyting missions at all.

I served a seven month service mission. It was not in the plans. I was supposed to go on a fulltime, 18 month proselyting mission. I was supposed to return from that mission and get my doctorate in clinical psychology. None of that happened.

For a long time, I felt inadequate. I felt like I was not enough because I couldn’t go on a regular mission. I wondered if it was because I was unworthy. I wondered if I had made different decisions, if I would have been able to go. I wondered if I was letting someone down somewhere because I wasn’t going on the mission everyone thought I should be on. I wondered if I chose the right service mission. I wondered if I should have pushed myself more or tried harder to step out of my comfort zone. I wondered if my service was adequate and if my efforts made a difference. I wondered why I was given all the challenges that prevented me from serving a fulltime mission.

I don’t wonder anymore.

It has been a year and a half since I ended my service mission early to start fulltime employment with the church. In the past 18 months of employment and the previous 7 months of my service mission, I have grown exponentially. I still feel like I am on a mission. I still have that same spirit with me and the same motivation to serve and to give my best to the Lord, possibly even more so now than while I was a set apart missionary. I am a better person because of my mission and I am continually becoming better because of the effects of it.

My service mission was a miracle, and so many things after it have been miracles. The fact that I chose the Humanitarian Center, and that I even found the Humanitarian Center. That once I found the center that I chose to serve as an office assistant. That after 6 months of service, the admin assistant job opened up and that those 6 months gave me just enough experience to qualify for that job with my previous job experiences. That the week after I got my first paycheck, I found out my best friend was homeless and could afford to help buy her food. That I was able to meet wonderful friends here that have changed my life. That I am now able to help other service missionaries and early returned missionaries at my job. That I have been able to serve in the various positions I have held in the church, including being a temple worker. That I was able to serve as initiatory coordinator for a year during my temple service. That I was able to be present for all of my nieces’ births. That I was able to forgive and love people I never thought I could. That I was able to discover a new career path that I am excited about and that I never would have considered otherwise. That I was able to prove residency for college tuition because I had been employed nearly exactly one year from when I applied for school. The list goes on.

The miracles that have come because of my service mission are innumerable. But I still believe that the greatest miracle of all has been the change in me. I don’t know if I would have changed so much for the better on a proselyting mission. I don’t know if I would have been humbled as much on a proselyting mission. I don’t know if I would have discovered who I am or become what I am meant to be.

We all serve differently. My service mission is no less noble than any other mission. It may have been short. It may have been relatively small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it was significant to me and to my family and to those I served and am serving.

There is no small mission. There is no insignificant mission. There is no insufficient mission. There are simply different missions. I served with faith and love and diligence, and I hope to continue to do so. My mission is not over, and neither is yours. We are simply continuing our more significant mission. We do not serve for a couple years or a couple months. We serve our whole lives, we simply wear a name tag for that long.


Mission Updates

I originally started this blog to have a place to update people about my service mission. When that mission ended early, I decided to convert this to a place for spiritual insights and experiences.

But right now, I just want to pretend that I went on a mission like other people’s missions. I want to talk about companions and mission stories and spiritual experiences. I want to feel like I have a story to tell, and no matter how dull or everyday it may seem, it’s important because it’s my story.

So even though I don’t wear the name tag and I’ve done my job as an employee for about as long as my mission would have been and if I was a missionary, I would have been released 6 months ago… I’m going to post like I don’t know any of those facts, like I’m serving a regular mission and writing updates for everyone back home to read.

Here goes:

I got a new companion last week. She’s with me three days a week, which is nice because I have my other companions the other two days. It’s been interesting talking to her and getting to know her. We have a lot in common.

I’m really starting to like Utah. I know I’ve been here for two years already, but the first year kind of didn’t count because I was just getting used to the idea of being a missionary and didn’t do much else but learn my job and try to cope with not going on a regular mission. The second year was a lot better, but it mostly just focused on me becoming better and learning to be the person God needs me to be. This year, I feel like I can actually focus on other people and have fun without worrying about my own insecurities.

I still feel like a missionary even though I have been released for 17 months and only served for 7 months. I kind of feel more like a missionary now, like a trainer, like I have companions. Being an extended missionary is hard, but it’s worth it. I love my work. I love knowing I’m contributing to the kingdom.

Maybe service missions aren’t like other missions, but I feel like I am doing a great work. I am strengthening my testimony. I am becoming closer to Christ. I love my Savior and I am so grateful to be able to serve him in this capacity.

It wasn’t Me

While working in the temple tonight, one of the ladies that came in said that she had been feeling really confused and overwhelmed, but that I had brought her peace. I didn’t know what to say and just kind of said, “I’m glad” and gave her a hug. But I kept thinking after that that it wasn’t me.

It wasn’t me that brought her peace. It wasn’t me that had calmed her soul or helped her feel better. I was just the person God worked through to do that for her. It wasn’t me; it was God.

At a young church service missionary conference, someone sang this song called “Window to His Love” by Julie de Azevedo Hanks. It basically talks about wanting to be so much like Christ that when people see us, they’re really seeing His love. I want to be like that.

And so to that lady and to anyone else that I have helped feel better, I want to tell you that it wasn’t me. It was God and His love that worked through me to help you. So even when there’s no one around for God to work through, I hope you still feel His love because it really has never been us; it is always Him.

Service Missionary Questions

I have been thinking recently that service missionaries are the perfect people to ask certain questions- questions that other people may not be able to answer as well as we could.

So… here is my list of questions that would be perfect to ask a service missionary.

  1. How do you live a Christ centered life when you’re out in the world doing regular things and living a basically regular life?
  2. How do you keep focused on the things that matter when there are so many distractions around you?
  3. How can I improve my scripture study while not overloading my schedule with it?
  4. What kind of things are considered service and how do you find ways to serve?
  5. How can you find joy in serving while doing mundane tasks?
  6. Can I help serve more in what you are doing?
  7. Is it possible to have a job and a social life and still find time to serve others?
  8. What does it take to be a service missionary?
  9. How is a service mission different than a proselyting mission?
  10. Can you still date as a service missionary?

The End of a Mission

There are times when you just don’t want to leave the temple. The end of your mission is one of those times.

Even though my mission isn’t really ending because I’ll still be doing the same thing in the same place with more or less the same people, it still feels like an end. The thing that hit me today was that I will no longer be wearing my name tag. I will no longer be an obvious representative of Christ by having His name engraved on my name tag. I will still stand as a witness of Christ, but I just won’t have the name tag to prove it.

So it’s even more important for me to show it through my actions.

As a missionary I wanted to do good things so that I could be Christ’s representative. Because I wore Christ’s name I wanted to do what He would do.

Now though I not only want to be a representative of Christ, but I want people to notice that I’m representing Him. I want people to want to know why I am so kind or helpful or honest or friendly or happy. I want people to ask me what makes me different so that I can tell them why I’m so happy and why I want them to be happy too.

I may no longer be a missionary with a name tag, but because of that I aim to be more of a missionary than ever before.

“Lead thou me on”

One of my favorite hymns is “Lead Kindly Light” by John Henry Newman. And one of my favorite lines in that hymn is

“I loved to choose and see my path; but now, Lead thou me on.” 

I love this line so much because I’ve lived it. My journey to get to know God and become His friend hasn’t been an easy one. I haven’t always wanted to follow God’s plan for me. I loved to choose my own way and plan my path in life, but because God saw something greater in me, that has changed. 

Today we had a lesson in church about life’s plan B’s. Most people have a plan for how they want their life to turn out and what they want to happen, but sometimes life changes that plan. Sometimes our plan A changes to plan B because of life circumstances. How we choose to respond to life’s plan B determines how the rest of our life ends up. 

This is where the song comes in.

In my life, I loved thinking that I was in control and that everything would go how I planned it, but that didn’t really happen. Life happens and our plans change. And after having so much thrown at me and going through so much pain and heartache and despair, I finally put my life in God’s hands and said “Lead thou me on.”

“I loved to choose and see my path; but now, Lead thou me on.”

Now I still set my plans, but I am always open to changes to those plans. At the moment, I am in the midst of what could be a very big change in my plans for the rest of my life. I don’t know yet if it will happen or not, but if it does my plans will definitely need to be rewritten.

But the amazing thing is that I am at peace. No matter what happens, I will be okay because I have stopped trusting in my own plans and have put my life in God’s hands. 

It’s not always easy. Sometimes I wonder why God allows me to go through such hard things. But so far, I have never had a trial that I haven’t been grateful for. I wasn’t always grateful at the time, but I’m grateful now.

God sees us as eternal beings. He isn’t just looking at the next few years or even the rest of our lives. He is looking at forever. And with forever in mind, our comfort now doesn’t really matter as much as what we can become. 

So with that in mind, “lead thou me on.”

My Mission

Dear Family and Friends,

You may have noticed that I posted an insight this past Sunday instead of my usual update. When I first started this blog, it was to have a way to keep people updated on how my mission was going and to let them know what I was doing. However, I have realized that my perspective then was very limited.

I didn’t see the potential of this blog.

I don’t think I was prompted to start this blog to tell mundane stories about working in an office or slightly more spiritual or funny stories about my nursery and temple callings. I have learned so much on this mission and I think the purpose of this blog is to share what I have learned. I know that I am nothing, but with God I can be anything. And what I want to be most is an instrument in His hands to help others be happy.

My mission won’t be the kind where big changes happen to small groups of people. My mission will be more of little changes in large groups of people. Most people that I see and talk to everyday will never be interested in learning about Christ. Some people may be interested in the church, but will never convert because of cultural necessity. Most of the work I will do will be in helping others become self-sufficient. But in the end, all missions are about helping people become happier and my mission will help do that.

I have realized that it’s not so much what I do on my mission that counts, but how I do it. I may be filing paperwork or faxing documents or explaining the same videos over and over, but when I do it with love, even the mundane can become extraordinary.

The biggest miracle in this mission has been me. I’ve never been a bad person, but I have been a busy person, or a forgetful person, or a fearful person, or a complacent person. When I was young, I often said that God was my best friend. And I meant it. But I’ve never been very good at being a friend, so I let my relationship with God slip. It has taken me a long time to get back to the point where I can once again say that God is my best friend. And that is truly a miracle.

So to sum this all up, I’ve decided to turn this blog into one of spiritual insights rather than mission updates. I may still post updates every once in a while, but I want the focus to be on God and what I’ve seen Him do in my life and the things He teaches me everyday.

I have realized that my mission isn’t really working at the Humanitarian center. My real mission is living a life centered around Christ and loving others and helping others to be as happy as I am. And part of doing that is sharing with people the insights that God shares with me. So I hope that in doing this I can bless your life more and in turn you can help bless the lives of others as well.

With love,

Sister Wagstaff

New things

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been exciting and busy. My niece was born on my birthday, which was completely unexpected. I’m super excited to be able to share my birthday with someone, but it was an interesting couple of days trying to get everything taken care of. We weren’t really prepared for the new baby, but we made do.

My extended family also had a reunion this week. It was fun to see some of my cousins and spend some time with them. We also went and saw some art and historical items at our church history museum and got to look around a couple of different tourist sites.

I’ve officially decided that the hardest thing to do at the temple is to be follower 1. As follower 1 you stand in front of the congregation for about an hour and a half, assuming there aren’t any issues. For me, it ended up being about 2 hours since we did have some issues.

Although I think I handled things pretty well, I just really don’t like looking at people for long periods of time. It’s uncomfortable and I have a hard time trying to look happy and not seem too serious. I’m a pretty serious person, so that’s especially hard for me.

Anyway, I’m glad that it’s the start of a new week. I’m hoping a new week means new energy and new beginnings.

I love you all and hope you are doing well! 🙂

-Sister Wagstaff

Changing emotions

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been full of emotions. I have been tired, emotionally spent, on top of the world, sympathetic, and various other emotions over the past week. As I’ve gone through these various emotions, I’ve contemplated on what I was feeling and what I wanted to feel.

I’ve ultimately decided that I want to be better. I want to do more and understand more. Sometimes I see things as black and white. Mostly this is because I think of things as black and white. I either do something or I don’t do it, like Yoda said, “there is no try.” It’s sometimes hard for me to realize that not everyone thinks of things like that. Sometimes people really are trying, but it just appears that they aren’t doing what they should because their efforts aren’t resulting the way they would like.

So I have made a decision to try to understand people better and not think that my way is always the best. Sometimes other people have different ways of doing things and that doesn’t mean their way isn’t as good as mine.

I hope that as I try to change my point of view and seek to understand people better, that God will change me and make me more charitable and loving and understanding.

Other than that, I’ve just been enjoying all the spiritual and uplifting experiences I’ve had. I enjoy being able to learn so much at church and from those around me. I continue to grow spiritually and learn more and more every day.

I hope that I can continue to learn and grow as I strive to serve the best I can.

-Sister Wagstaff

Why I’m serving

Dear Family and Friends,

I have decided to turn this blog into letters rather than posts. Mostly this is because I feel it’s more personal and more informal. Also, I think I will write differently when I think about it as a letter rather than a statement or article.

So, this week has been busy as usual. I have learned new things and have a lot of thoughts and impressions that I’m still processing. I’m discovering more about myself and when I can find the time to meditate more about things, I know I will learn even more about who I am and who I am meant to be.

When I first came out to do a service mission, I contemplated a lot about why I was on a service mission and not on a proselyting mission. I know that a service mission is no less noble than a proselyting mission, but I have a long history of being different and questioning why that reality is so. Now, in saying that, I originally was thinking that maybe I was here because I would have some sort of health problem or because I was supposed to help people to learn about service missions or because I wouldn’t be able to handle a proselyting mission. However, in the past few weeks, I have been realizing that I may be on a service mission simply because it will teach me more than a proselyting mission would.

I have never had a problem with sharing my religion. In fact, I remember one point where the only way people could hear me speak for longer than a couple seconds was when they asked about my religion. I was listening to a book on CD by John Bytheway where he talked about what missionaries learn on their missions. I realized that I already do or I’ve already learned most of the things he said missionaries learn on their missions. What I haven’t learned though are things that a service mission can specifically teach me.

I need to learn to love others. I need to learn to motivate myself. I need to learn how to serve. I need to learn to set my own schedule and goals. I need to learn how to dedicate my life to God when the structure is not already laid out for me. But probably the thing I need to learn most of all is how to be the type of person that others enjoy being around because of my Christlike attributes.

Well, all I can say is that I hope I can live up to the calling that the Lord has in store for me. I know that I am imperfect, but I hope that in my imperfection I progressively improve.

I love all of you and hope this week is a happy one for you!