by Devin Justesen
Devin Justesen is a graduate of Brigham Young University, where he studied English and Business Management. He is a writer, photographer, movie-fanatic, and a lover of street-tacos. He served his mission in Tokyo, Japan.
“Alright Elder Justesen, we’ll see you in two!”
I remember looking back at my Dad’s smiling face, and feeling all of my fears, anxieties, and doubts wash away for just a brief moment. I was nervous. I was about to leave my family for two years, but before making the fourteen hour flight to Japan, I first had eight and a half weeks in the Missionary Training Center. But as I gave my parents those last hugs before leaving, I felt the fear being replaced with excitement. I knew that I was making the right decision for myself to serve a mission, and I felt excited to meet the wonderful people in Japan.
I was barely nineteen years old. I had completed a couple of semesters at BYU-Idaho, but I still felt extremely young. I was intimidated by the Japanese language and after the first few days of waking up at 6:30AM while so many of my other friends were enjoying their summer vacation back home in California, I felt discouraged.
It feels like when trials and discouragements arise, the old adage “when it rains it pours” takes on a whole new and very truthful meaning. The language seemed to be getting more and more difficult, the rigorous schedule left me exhausted at the end of each day, and then the MTC was hit by one of the largest outbreaks of the stomach flu it had experienced in years. After endless days of one of the Elders in our room getting awfully sick, including myself, I felt like this mission was going to be the hardest two years of my life. And I wasn’t totally wrong about that! But it was also one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had, and the happiest two years of my life so far.
However, during those first couple of weeks in the MTC, it felt like I didn’t have what it would take to move forward. I knew I wanted to keep working, to keep trying, and not give up, but it seemed that every step forward was met with more difficulties. I remember on one day that I felt so discouraged, my companion and I were working on our lesson plans and translating the phrases we wanted to say, when suddenly Elder Jones and Elder Adams burst through our classroom door carrying armfuls of boxes for everyone in our class. I never thought I could be so happy to see mail, but just knowing that my family was thinking about me and wanted to send me a little box filled with my favorite treats made me feel so much excitement and it immediately lifted my spirits.
I can never thank my parents enough for the packages they sent to me in the MTC. Each package would contain some of my favorite candy, a letter from them and sometimes my siblings, and laminated cards that would have inspirational quotes and scriptures on them. Though I found so much joy in receiving packages, I felt even more joy by giving my gifts away to fellow missionaries. I remember one time in particular I sat next to an Elder during one of our devotionals. I began to read a poem on the back of a small card that had a picture of Christ on it when I noticed the Elder next to me was trying to read the card too.
After sharing some introductions, I handed it to him so he could read too. Tears filled his eyes as he read, and he explained that he had been praying to have a message like that to give him the strength to keep going forward. I realized that this card was meant for him to have, and he thankfully accepted the gift.
The MTC is an incredible and sacred place. It is one of the few places in the world where every person within its walls are pursuing the same goal. It is the only place in the world where young adults will approach you simply because they want to bear their testimony to you in their mission language. Even if you don’t speak the language they are testifying to you in, the Spirit and their love of the Gospel can always be felt.
But the MTC can as well can be the place where some of the toughest times for a missionary are experienced. Suddenly you have an incredibly strict schedule, long hours of study, and for many missionaries it’s the first time they’re away from their family for such a long time. Sometimes those little care-packages can carry with them tremendous help, not only for the individual missionary, but those around them as well. For many missionaries, those little reminders that everyone at home is cheering them on can be exactly what they need to keep striving, keep working, and keep loving their short time as a full-time missionary.
That’s why at LDS Bookstore, we believe so strongly in our Same-Day Delivery service to missionaries in the MTC. Our goal is to support missionaries, not just with treats, but with gifts that will inspire and support. Please feel free to explore our website to find the items you would love to send to your missionary, and let us take care of making sure it arrives to them in a timely manner. We have a wide selection of items that can make your missionary’s day, and give them just the boost they need to feel the love and support of their loved ones.
Click here to view our delivery options for the MTC.