Did I Make a Difference on my Mission?

Did I Really Make a Difference?

Missionary Journal - Missionary planner

It was about a year after my mission and I was stressed in school, working, and I overheard some RM’s talking about how they are still in touch with people they taught in their mission and how they were planning to go to back and visit them, etc. It was a great conversation but I was discouraged.

I had served at the Mormon Battalion/San Diego Temple and as an Sign Language missionary in the most transient areas of San Diego.  At the time I served there was no way to stay in contact with the people I was teaching. So, by the time I returned home I really didn’t know how anyone from my mission was doing. I was completely disconnected from those I had served.

The thought, Did I really make a difference in my mission, kept percolating in my mind. I knew I had served a faithful mission but I finally decided to pray one night and ask God if He could help me to understand how I, one little sister missionary, had made a difference on my mission.

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A few months after my prayer I was asked to interpret last minute for a group of Deaf missionaries who were going to be meeting their Branch President at the MTC for the first time.  At the time, I regularly volunteered as an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter but the request came at a very inconvenient time so I said no. A few minutes later the MTC called me back and pleaded with me to come and interpret because if I didn’t the Deaf missionaries wouldn’t be able to understand anything their Branch President was sharing with them. I reluctantly agreed.

 ASL Book of Mormon missionary work

I snuck into the meeting just as it was beginning and took my place in the front. The presiding priesthood leader began and I started to interpret on auto pilot. Then I looked over at one of the new Elders and he was crying.  It threw me off guard so I stopped interpreting and he signed to me, “Hello Sister Shields, it’s me Elder (and then he pointed to his name tag)” I was shocked. There, sitting right in front of me, was a kid I had taught on my mission a few years previous. He was my only Deaf baptism. I had lost complete contact with him and there he was—sitting right there in front of me at the MTC.

I started crying and instantly thanking God for my previous prayer. At this point my crying mixed with the Elder’s tears and my lack of interpreting had brought some attention to the Branch President. He stood, looked over at the Elder crying, and asked, “Elder (I started signing) I can see you are touched by the spirit and I’m wondering if you would like to come up here and share your testimony?” He shook his head yes and then signed to me, “Will you please be my voice?”

And so he stood in front of the congregation and I stood next to him at the pulpit. He signed his testimony and through tears I voiced his words. He shared how a few years ago a couple sister missionaries had found his house and stood in front of his window and waved furiously until they had his attention. He shared how he had taken the discussions, gotten baptized, attended the Deaf Branch in San Diego, and how he was so excited to serve as a missionary in Washington DC. I was utterly humbled and grateful for the opportunity I was given to see this young man come full circle and stand next to me as a missionary.

“And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” (D&C 18:15)

Yes, I had made a difference!

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