A few months ago my friend looked at me one night while studying and asked “Do you want to go to Peru?” Kind of thinking he was joking, but hoping it was a sincere offer, I said “YES!” Within 30 minutes, I’d booked a ticket to South America – with a guy who would become one of my closest friends and another one of my best friends. I remember returning home after the unproductive study session thinking “What did I just do?! I hardly even know him and I’m grateful she’s going. And between the three of us, no one speaks Spanish! ha, what am I going to tell my mother?!”
Little did I know that it would become one of my favorite adventures and something that I’ll remember my entire life. There are many reasons that I’ll remember it for forever, but I want to focus on one: Being Willing.
My friend, let’s call her Elizabeth, really recently returned home from serving a mission. And she has the missionary spirit about her! Traveling with her was amazing because she wasn’t afraid to talk about the church. My other friend, let’s call him Christoffer, loves talking to people and is really good at it! The three of us combined was perfect. When I booked the ticket in March, I was not thinking that I’d talk about the Gospel with really anyone outside of our group; but that wasn’t what was in store for us.
There were many nights where we were supposed to plan our trip. We planned it enough to be safe, but open to basically anything. It boiled down to this: ask the locals, make it to Machu Picchu and stay busy.
A month after we booked the tickets, we finished our finals and drove down to Las Vegas. Elizabeth and I had originally accidentally booked tickets for the wrong day. We decided to keep the dates and just make sure we stayed in a safe part of town. Liz and I drove down to Las Vegas, where our first leg started. We pit stopped at my cousin’s house and booked an Uber to the airport. We were nervous. We’d never ridden an Uber before, it was late at night, and we were far from home. Randy, the driver, jumped right into conversation. He told us about himself and his family; and then we told him about ourselves. As we passed over “the Strip” (it is where all the casinos are in Vegas), he said “Oh, I should have driven you down the Strip! Are you girls old enough to have fun in Vegas?” Right then we both kind of chuckled and told him that it was okay that we didn’t drive down the Strip. We explained that we weren’t really interested in “having fun in Vegas” because we were LDS. He responded “I am too! Baptized and everything.” Shocked, we asked him a little more about it. He told us he hadn’t been to church since before he was 18 and that he never served a mission. After a little bit, we swapped topics and talked about when he lived in Washington. Elizabeth and I looked at each other, and I quietly mumbled (in Swedish) “Oh, I wish we’d talk about the Gospel again.” Right in that moment, an opportunity popped up. Shyly I asked “Is there a habit that you’ve taught your daughter that is related to what you learned while at Church?” And his response took us by surprise. He said “She just loves.” Our conversation was filled with many topics, but somehow they all led back to the Gospel and the concept of charity. As we hurried out of the car to make our flight, we thanked him for the ride. Right as we were leaving, out popped, “You know, I think you’d have a good time going to church one Sunday. You can just take a few hours off your normal Uber schedule and go to church. Maybe with your family? Would you want to do that?” He responded “I think I might. It is just up the street from our house.” We thanked him again and rushed into the airport, grateful for the start of the trip and the peace we’d felt.
Randy’s story is just one of the missionary moments that we had while on our Peru trip. Opportunities to talk about the gospel came as we were willing, but also as the person asking was willing. One couple from Switzerland asked us while we were eating if we were Christian, because she recognized it in our eyes. That sparked a brief, but positive conversation about the Gospel. Kiara, the hostel receptionist, asked us if we were from Utah when we checked in. The four of us were able to talk about the “Mission or Marriage” challenge that girls (and boys) experience in the church. Joe, a little Taiwanese woman, was impressed by Christoffer’s Chinese and they started talking about how he knew the language.
We didn’t talk to everyone about the Gospel. We probably didn’t even talk to 15 people about it. I’m not even going to count how many people we talked to – because that doesn’t matter.
I came to realize that what matters is the Spirit that filled our lives as you spread Good & God. While I only tasted a little bit of what it means to be a full-time missionary, my answer to not go on a mission was reaffirmed. The trip sparked a conversation with Elizabeth about the concept of “Good, Better, Best.” Dallin H. Oak’s in a recent conference address explained:
We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.
For me, to go on a mission right now is not my best pathway. For many it is. The most important thing is to be willing to follow God’s guidance as he shows you your pathway. It might take you across the world or it might be right in your hometown – both can be “best”. Finding your best path, will allow you to make a difference in the lives of those around you wherever you are. God wants to bless you with the things and experiences that you need to be happy. The blessings aren’t based off of what you were, rather they are based off of what you are willing to become.
While talking to the many people in Peru, I felt of the love that the Savior and Heavenly Father have for individuals we spoke with. They have that same love for us. For you. For me. Oh how he wants to physically wrap us in his arms! Searching for our best path will help us find our way home.
Have you asked if you are on the best path recently?