First of all, you are not alone. I’ve talked to a lot of missionaries that weren’t pleased with the place listed in their call & some that didn’t enjoy where they served, saying they’d never go back. So, what should you do? I think it’s important for everyone, whether you couldn’t be happier with your assignment or couldn’t dread it more, to pray about their mission call. It’s important to have that revelation & assurance when hard times come, so instead of saying, “I’m not supposed to be here, my call was all wrong.” you can say, “I know this is where I’m supposed to be.” More than anything I’d ask you to remember why you’re serving a mission. Is it to go on an extended vacation or to get a bunch of cool pictures in a foreign land? No, & if it is I think you’ll be disappointed.
I’d imagine you’re serving a mission for more noble reasons. You’re probably serving a mission because you love the Lord, because you know the Gospel is true & you want to share it. You’re serving because you’ve felt the joy & peace this message of Jesus Christ offers & because you have been given much & now you want to share it. So, my advice would be to pay attention to the meaning in the words “Called To Serve” & remember that “You are not called to serve in a place, you are called to serve in place of the Savior.”
That being said, the disappointment is can be tough. For some reason we see some missions as better than others, more important or prestigious, but it’s not true. Pray for understanding & reassurance that you’re needed wherever you’re called. I promise that you are, & if you doubt that, just ask.
“I don’t know enough. My testimony isn’t strong enough.”
*Addressed more in depth here
Let me just remind you that there’s nothing wrong with learning. We’re all still learning, that’s why we study the scriptures daily & why we go to the Missionary Training Center before we enter the mission field. Your investigators are learning too & as you teach & share your testimony everyday it will grow. That’s the promise of a testimony, when you share it, & continuously study the gospel, it grows.
Heavenly Father doesn’t expect you to know everything everything. He’s going to give you trainer to help you, hours of study each day to help you progress & learn. You’ll have lessons to practice, role plays, & experiences that will teach you.
It’s hard not to think about all you don’t know when preparing for a mission. We tend to focus on what we lack rather than what we have -it’s true in almost every aspect of life, but it’s a tendency that can be corrected. It’s not fair to compare your ability to teach as a new missionary to the ability of a returned missionary. It comes with time, practice, & effort.
So don’t worry, it will come. If you’re doing what you can to grow your testimony & deepen your knowledge of the Gospel then you’re learning, even if you don’t always see it.
“I’m nervous to leave my family for so long. Will they be okay?”
Lately you’ve probably had some realizations, one of those being that you’ll be gone for a long time. A lot can happen in a year or two. People change, kids grow up, & life happens. Most everything will be different in some way when you return & sometimes you might wonder if you’re ready for that. Despite your best efforts time does not stop while you’re away. Life keeps moving; people move away, get married, & pass away. Your friends will still go on that camping trip & the snow cone shack will open & close without your visit. But more importantly, you aren’t around on the days that your loved ones need you most.
You won’t be there to put band-aids on your brothers scraped knee or help your mother with the dishes after you’ve had company. You won’t be there to hear your dad’s stories or help your grandparents with the yard. You won’t be around to chat after a long day or to comfort a friend when life gets rough. You’ll miss Christmas, Easter, & countless family cookouts & reunions. You will not be there to comfort others during trial & they will not be there to comfort you.
When you think about it, you’ll miss a lot, & when you focus on that it’s almost enough to make you stay home. But God would not have you focus on such a short period of your life, dwelling on things that likely do not hold eternal consequence & wanting to exchange trivial activities for the saving of souls.
If I’ve learned one thing in my 19 years it’s that we can trust God, &we should trust Him, because He is there. He listens & He is always, always good. So think about the opportunities that a mission opens for you & those that you will serve. When you think about that instead of what you will miss it will likely be more than enough to possess you to board a plane & not look back.
The Lord knows that this is hard & He sees your sacrifice. You’re trusting Him with your family & with your happiness when He says He’ll bless you with more joy than you have ever yet known. Trust that He would not have told you that a mission is right if it was not. Even knowing all of that it can be hard to feel peace & know that Heavenly Father will watch out for your family. So, we turn to the scriptures. God has promised the same thing to all His missionaries, not that everything will be perfect, that they won’t get sick or have trials, but that He’ll take care of them & everything will be okay. Read D&C 31 & feel the peace that it can offer.
“I’m not currently worthy to serve.”
“One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final.” -Thomas S Monson
He cares so much more about the direction you are headed than where you were. I hope you can be proud that you’re doing the right thing, that you’re fixing what needs to be fixed instead of leaving to serve knowing you shouldn’t. I’m sure it’s hard & I can’t imagine the pressure you must feel, but I hope you can do what you need to, taking the time you need, without feeling like others are judging you.
“Keep studying the scriptures. Keep doing the things that build your faith in Jesus Christ. And then notice the wise choices you are naturally drawn to make.” -Russel M Nelson
You can do this, & when you’re ready it will be such a sweet experience.
“This is going to be hard, and I don’t know if I can do it. I wonder if a mission is right for me.”
*Addressed more in depth here.
If Heavenly Father tells you a mission is right, then trust that He’ll help you make it happen. He will make it possible to to go on a mission & face the challenges that may come your way.
“I’ve received revelation that I’m not supposed to go on a mission & I’m confused. I really wanted to serve.”
Before anything else, let me say that I’m sorry. I can’t imagine how heartbroken I would have been had my answer to serve a mission been no. However, if Heavenly Father tells you not to go on a mission, you just have to trust in Him. It may be really hard to understand why the answer is no, especially if there’s nothing in your life keeping you from serving, but remember that He sees the bigger picture.
Your struggle & lesson will be one of submission to His will, & that can be a painful lesson. But you have to trust Him.Trust that He’ll eventually help you understand why & trust that He’ll help you deal with the disappointment of giving up something you want. He is not depriving you of any spiritual growth and that he isn’t saying that you’re not worthy, needed as a missionary (we’re all missionaries), or strong enough. Just pray, trust in Him, & with time understanding will come.
You may not understand this, but you understand other things. You know that God loves you & that He has a plan perfectly fitted for you, & that He wants what’s best for you. He sees potential in you that you can’t even imagine. Lean on that. Pray to understanding, peace, & where He wants you to go next. You have so much potential.