When I had been on my mission for just a couple months, an elder I admired took me on an exchange in his area. He was serving in our mission’s only young single adult ward, and we were headed to teach a college student who was preparing to be baptized.
I asked this missionary, who only had a few weeks of his mission left, how things were going at the end of his mission. He told me something I held onto for the remainder of my mission—something that felt like a promise.
“The Lord is trusting me with people and situations I wasn’t prepared for earlier in my mission,” he said.
I saw that as a credit to the elder, that he had lived worthy of God’s trust throughout his mission and had developed his abilities as a teacher and servant. I also took it as a personal challenge, to give my all so that as the weeks and months went by, I would be a more useful instrument in the Lord’s hands.
Almost 20 months later, I was serving in the same area I had visited on that exchange, and was having incredible experiences with my departure date only a few months away. We had just baptized a Chinese-American tennis player who attended the University of Texas at Dallas. We were teaching another Chinese college student who had dreams about the church before he knew anything about it. We had just found a young single mom who faced tons of opposition before eventually being baptized a week before I went home. A hearing-impaired young man whose parents disliked the church and a Muslim Pakistani who quickly gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon were also being taught.
In addition to those wonderful people we were teaching, I had developed relationships with some missionaries I felt prompted to help and support. I wrote letters to them and went on exchanges with them. I pondered about how I could help them and prayed hard for them.
It all feels like a blur. It did at the time as well, as I urgently crammed my days full of tracting, teaching, training and exchanging. I knew I would soon return home, and I yearned to take advantage of an experience I would never have again. I felt the promise being fulfilled.
Every young man and woman who serves a full-time mission has a different experience, but all missionaries have the opportunity to become more capable and more worthy of the Lord’s aid as they lose themselves in His service. With the experience gained from thousands of hours in the field and the language no longer a barrier, the last 100 days of the mission make for a chance to serve better than ever before.
I know Elder Wong will see great blessings and miracles over the next 100 days, and that he’ll wake up in a few months wondering where the time went.