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Sixteen items of gratitude – Mission edition

Since there was so much time in the home office this year, I took the opportunity to scan my mission journal, separate it into days, add it to my current digital journal, and type out the pages so they would be searchable. With 820 pages of written journal, it was a big undertaking and it was wonderful. I would get so lost in the days and details that it would take me a bit to transition back to the current time.

Serving a mission was incredibly rewarding and I loved it.

These days, new missionaries come to sit with me in my church office. The first thing I tell them is that “I don’t want to hear the word ‘sacrifice’ as we talk about their efforts to prepare for and serve a mission. It’s a wonderful adventure and a fun time.”

I would never be able to list out all of the wonderful people and experiences from the mission field.

So here are just 16 items of thanks from my time as a missionary:

I am thankful I was called to serve a mission in San Francisco. Rather then being sent to just one foreign country, the world came to me perfectly packaged on the peninsula.

I am thankful for President Sorenson. He taught me that well spoken gospel messages can be both entertaining and uplifting. I still walk my pointer finger through the air when I really want to annunciate every word of a sentence.

I am thankful for the member that ran Joe’s A-1 Bakery in Petaluma. He would slide free donuts to the missionaries. One day he recommended that I try a custard filled donut and it was wonderful. Who knew a word that sounds so disgusting could be so delicious?

I am thankful for the Rodriguez family in Daly City. They made me feel like I had a family away from home. They fed me weight-inducing meals and years later brought me back to their home in El Salvador.

I am thankful for Tongan missionaries who leave the islands and come to the US to serve. And to eat. Fifita, Moleni, Langi, Tupou, etc. I just had so much fun with these guys and I love their culture. Ofa ‘atu!

I am thankful for Uncle Earl who brought me into the church administration building and set me apart for my mission. He encouraged me to work hard, prepare for anything that is asked of me, and to write in my journal every day. This journal is among my most prized possessions.

I am thankful for the many views of the Golden Gate Bridge. It always stood so strong. It framed the famous hills and humidity. How beautiful are the (bridges and the bays) to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer?

Cole, Will and Uncle Kyle at the Golden Gate Bridge

I am thankful for a mission that is close to my home. I’ve been back hundreds of times with many people that I love.

I am thankful for Wes. He was a wonderful companion and remains a steadfast friend. He remembers the details of my life and makes me feel capable.

I am thankful for Melissa and those that helped me meet her. She embraced the Gospel immediately. She reawakened my soul to the miracle of the restoration. My months in Palo Alto were life changing.

I am thankful for El Farolitos. After eating there in the first week of my mission, I knew I’d spend a small fortune on green sauce and super burritos over the rest of my life.

I am thankful for Joe and Joe, my two final companions. I felt like it was cheating as I finished my mission with best friends. They kept missionary work so fun in their own way. And even now, my kids can tell if my mission story was with Italian Joe or Texan Joe.

I am thankful for President Blood. I felt like he trusted me completely. He encouraged me to use personality and precision in the Lord’s work. He encouraged me that the restoration continues and we all play a role.

I am thankful for the Nye family. They put importance on time and effort spent within a family. They trusted me to do right.

I am thankful for Boyd. We had a great time as companions. I’m especially grateful that we didn’t serve in a bike area together because that would have been impossible to keep up.

I am thankful for senior couples who decide to serves missions. They are inspiring and humble. Because of them, I can’t wait to return to the mission field with Candace.

This post inspired by a video I watched from Russell M Nelson. Many decades as both a heart surgeon and a ministerial leader, he can uniquely offer “a prescription for healing.”

I plan to more purposefully #GiveThanks. Join me.

“Counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems”