Of Twenty-Six Year Old Prayers and A Country Nobody Ever Heard of: A Mother’s Thoughts on my Children’s Mission Calls
We believe that each missionary is called by revelation, assigned by a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles to the exact mission where he or she is most needed and suited to serve. Assignments are made with only a minimum of information about each missionary provided in his or her application, a picture on a computer screen and a map of the world. We trust that the Lord knows just where to send each of our children. I can testify personally of this process in the lives of our family. Allow me to explain:
In 1987, having just found the gospel and living and attending High School in Germany, I had the opportunity to travel through Romania as part of a group of history students. We had written award winning essays about Eastern European history and were rewarded with this trip. At this time, Romania was still a country ruled with an iron fist by the Communist dictator Ceaucescu. We were told that all proselyting and speaking of religion was strictly forbidden and could put people at risk. The country suffered serious food shortages and constant power outages. Even as a 17 year old, I couldn’t help seeing poverty everywhere, the people lined up for food for hours, the pollution, the pompous, half-finished communist parliament building, the corruption and secret police everywhere. While in the country, a bloody uprising broke out among the German minority, confining us to our hotel and we eventually had to leave the country on an overcrowded Russian plane. I certainly have some harrowing stories of my time in Romania—and I absolutely fell in love with the country and its people. I thought it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. I loved the medieval Transylvanian towns that looked completely untouched by the passage of time, the deep green mountains and valleys, the colorful gypsy wedding we witnessed, the mysterious abandoned monasteries and was fascinated by the castles. The whole time I was there I prayed with the fervor of a recent convert that the gospel would come to this people and that I could somehow be an instrument in bringing the church to Romania.
Although I still have Romanian pottery on my shelf, twenty-six years have passed since my trip to Romania and when my son submitted his paperwork, I admit this country was not foremost on our minds. Nowhere on his mission paperwork did it mention any connection to Eastern Europe, only his German and English ancestry and his father’s service in Jacksonville, Florida. But when we opened his mission call (and we opened it at home, with him watching over skype), Sebastian was called to the Romania-Moldova mission. Tears instantly filled my eyes as I realized that even though I had all but forgotten, the Lord had remembered and answered my 26 year old prayer. There are no prayers that ever go unheard or unanswered.
Which brings me to my daughter Sarah’s anxiously awaited call. As everyone that knows her can attest, Sarah loves the Alps and she loves Italy beyond measure. Naturally, she desired to serve in that part of the world, but told the Lord she would go where ever she was called. Her call, which she opened in her apartment with the whole family observing her over the internet, came to the Adriatic North mission. In response to her prayers, the Lord sent her to the one country that borders Italy to the west and the Alps to the northeast and to the mission right next to her brother’s mission. Her mission includes five countries, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro. She will be one of the very few missionaries learning Slovenian, a complicated Slavic language only spoken by about two million people worldwide. Most people have never heard of the country of Slovenia and its turbulent history, after all it’s only been around for 20 years. When Sarah tells people of her call, she usually hears, “Where is that?” We knew where it was and Sarah has actually briefly visited Slovenia already, on a quick trip for lunch across the border when traveling from Venice to Vienna in the summer of 2010. Besides confirming the power of prayer, her call taught me that no matter how small the country, the Lord is aware of the people that live there and loves them. No effort is too great, the gospel shall be preached to every land and people in their own language.
I am filled with gratitude to a Heavenly Father, who knows me and my children and answered our prayers. I am grateful that my children will be serving in two countries that I already know and love and can’t wait to hear of their experiences.