Last year I was in West Virginia at Mountain Justice Spring Break. I was standing on the back porch of the building where we were staying looking out over the Appalachian mountains. We had just listened to some fantastic folk music from the area. I was really loving West Virginia. Standing on the porch, watching the sun set over the misty mountains, I thought to myself, “Do I have a future here? Will I live here someday? Is this going to be where I go on my mission?” I had a very strong feeling like was going to go there for my mission, and since then, but I didn’t tell anyone about it because I didn’t want to jinx it.
For a little background: growing up as a Mormon, becoming a full-time missionary for a year and a half during young adulthood was always an option I knew I would have. Many people don’t consider this strongly until the late teenage years, but I have always known that it was something I wanted to do. When I entered college, the minimum age for me to go on a mission was 21, so I decided to leave right after I graduated from college. The fun/scary thing about a Mormon mission is that you have no idea when you’re applying where you’ll go. Aside from my little premonition, I knew it was as likely that I would be sent to Japan as it was that I would be sent to Idaho.
Come Monday, I opened my mailbox as I had been doing about twice a day all week and I found a very, very exciting big white envelope. Inviting lots of friends and loved ones over for the big mission call reveal is a fun Mormon tradition and I love being able to get my Bryn Mawr friends involved in fun Mormon traditions, so I sent out the bat signal and invited everyone to join me in the London room that evening. I opened my call with shaky hands and read the letter with my assignment aloud. As soon as I saw the words on the page– “Maryland Baltimore Mission” I felt deeply at peace. That’s exactly the right place for me, I thought. Still, there was a little bit of surprise. The most reasonable guess anyone had made was that I would be sent to Germany, as I already speak German, but this didn’t match my premonition or any of the guesses my guests had made. One of my friends there who is a veteran mission-call opener and one of only three Mormons in attendance encouraged me to look at the map inside of the packet in my big white envelope. The map shows the broader area with all the different places I will be moving between during my mission and it encompassed– guess where!– West Virginia as well as Virginia and Maryland. I feel so excited and I feel a renewed confidence in my intuitive skill set. I will be so, so sad to leave Bryn Mawr but knowing that my next stop is exactly where I need to be makes it a little easier.
As a Mormon missionary, what is it exactly that you do? The area you described has some a lot of poverty, so will you be doing charity work or trying to convert people to your religion? Or both?
@Claire, I also served an LDS mission, but was assigned to Bulgaria. Obviously, there are huge differences between the two geographical regions, but the most basic activities of a mission are pretty consistent, with slight regional/assignment differences. In my mission, we spent most of our time talking to people about religion and faith, but also taught free English classes, did charity/volunteer work, and looked for random opportunities to serve or help people. Ingrid’s mission might be similar to that, but a lot depends upon the particular leaders of the mission in that area, as well as the kind of things that happen to be important there. There are also LDS missions that are purely service or development oriented, with no religious discussions or proselyting whatsoever (they tend to be in less-developed countries or politically unstable countries). So to answer your question: it depends, but both activities will come up, and they’ll usually be intertwined somehow.