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The following is written by Kerry Harding as part of the “Missionary Moment” series curated by Mark Albright.
Cover image via LDS.org.
The above slogan shows up as the tagline under the words “Brigham Young University” at the school’s main entrance. I had the chance to be there a few years ago to accompany our son into the Missionary Training Center or “MTC” as it is more commonly known.
As we looked around the MTC chapel, I thought to myself, “Where on Earth are there nearly 500 better young people than in this room right now?” Then, I remembered that, an hour before, and an hour later, every day for the foreseeable future, there were, and would be, nearly 500 more young men and women of the same caliber entering this room. It was absolutely mind boggling.
What was also mind boggling were the coincidences that accompanied our experience. The family behind us, sending their son off to Paris, France, had another son with them who had just returned from the mission our son was heading to in New York City. Also in the room was a former missionary who had served in my ward for several months five years previously. He was dropping off his brother-in-law. Leaving the chapel, we saw another family from a ward in my stake dropping their son off in the next session. And, to our surprise, we discovered the daughter of the current MTC President had sung at our wedding nearly 30 years ago.
During my time in Provo, I had the chance to catch up with many of my “favorite” missionaries from Washington, DC who, now at BYU, had moved beyond their mission and were successfully integrating back into the real world. By sheer coincidence, I had the chance to meet the family of one of the former assistants to the mission president, who, at the time, were eagerly anticipating his arrival back home after he finished his mission the previous Thursday, and to tell them in person what an amazing, spiritual and loving missionary he had been during his time here.
As those of you know who’ve been through the routine know, it used to be that, when you took someone to the MTC, at the end of the spiel, the families got up and went through one door marked “Family Exit” and the missionaries went through another labeled “Missionary Exit.” This symbolic physical separation never seemed to get any easier—at least for me.
After going through this experience for the second time in two years, I thought to myself how much like my week in Provo my weekly attendance at Sacrament meeting each Sunday meeting is.
Each week, each of us walk through the chapel doors, and like those at BYU, we “enter to learn and go forth to serve.”
Each week, we partake of the Sacrament, and covenant, again, to “take upon us the name of Christ.” Like the MTC, it would be appropriate for there to be a sign on the doors of the chapel that says, “Missionary Exit” because, each Sunday, each of us leave to go out into the mission field for a one-week “mini-mission”—may it be to a school, an office, or, in some cases, even to our own home and family members.
Each of us needs to remember that, as we leave our homes each day, we are a missionary. As we come home each day, I guess whether or not we have been good ones depends on us.