Serving a Mission: Mitchell’s Story

"How One Humanitarian XP Builder Had a Confirmation to Serve a Mission"

By: Mitchell Merrill

At the end of a work day, Raul, our bus driver, told my co-leader and me that he needed to pick us up 30 minutes early to go to the worksite the next morning due to a scheduling conflict. Since this meant that the kids would have to wake up 30 minutes early the next day, we decided to postpone our normal 30 minutes of personal study and instead try to do something spiritual with them on the bus.

That night, we talked about what we could do. We discussed having them read their scriptures or sing hymns as a group, but ultimately decided that we would talk about missionary work, as it was an important topic for these kids and we hadn’t really covered it much yet. Through last-minute scrambling, we planned to show them a Mormon Message video on missionary work and tell them some stories from our missions as we drove to the worksite. 

We got the kids ready to go 30 minutes early as scheduled, and left to the street where Raul always picked us up. I gave him a call since he hadn’t arrived yet. He told me that his other commitment fell through, so he was just going to come at the normal time. I chuckled to myself that he hadn’t given us further warning, and we went back inside to the hostel. We told the kids to take a seat in our normal meeting space, and my co-leader and I decided to just go through with the lesson plan we had prepared. So there we were at 7:30am, completely ready to leave for the day and we began our “devotional” about missionary work. We showed a clip from Elder Holland’s talk about preparing for a mission, and then both my co-leader and I shared an experience from our missions about meeting a family that ultimately got baptized, and how that experience impacted our lives.

Almost immediately after we began the video, I looked over to my left and saw a Builder, a tough, mature kid, crying. I could tell he was trying to cover up his tears so no one else in the group would see. I glanced over every few minutes, and the tears continued to stream down his cheeks. When Raul arrived, we closed the meeting and left on the bus to the worksite. He still continued to cry. He sat next to an open window and as I periodically looked over my shoulder, I saw that he kept crying in silence for the entire 45 minute ride. I hoped everything was okay, but I wasn’t sure exactly what he was feeling.

Later that night on the ride home, I made sure to sit next to him and I asked if everything was okay, clearly referencing his emotion-filled morning. He smiled and reassured me that all was well. He said that as we began our devotional on missionary work, he had a distinct, vivid image appear in his mind of a man. He could see him very clearly. And as he saw him, he received an overwhelming feeling that the man he was seeing was someone who he was going to meet on his mission that didn’t yet have the Gospel.

“In that moment,” he said, “I just knew that there was someone out there that I needed to find. That there are people that I’m supposed to meet on my mission. And once I saw that, I just couldn’t stop crying. And I’m not even a cryer! I don’t cry, like ever. So that was really weird.”

He later told the group that it was during that devotional that he knew for the first time in his life with complete certainty that God wanted him and needed him to serve a mission. That was the moment that changed his life. It was a spiritual witness to him that God is real, that a mission is indeed the path that he wants for his life and that there are specific people that he will influence as he serves a mission. 

This experience powerfully reminded me that God is in charge of our lives as we strive to do our best. He took a sudden schedule change and turned it into an opportunity to have a spiritual experience. I also learned that those with humble, softened hearts can learn the things of the Spirit. Because that Builder’s heart was receptive and teachable that morning, he was able to receive direct revelation through the Holy Ghost that he needed to serve a mission. He will now be able to use the memory of that sacred moment to propel himself through the challenges he may face on his way to the mission field so that he can ultimately serve a mission and meet the man he saw.