I left on my mission February 23rd, 2011 and went to serve in Philadelphia, PA. I'll never forget my very first few days of my mission and especially a specific counsel my Mission President gave us new missionaries. As we we're sitting in a room at the Church building he looked us in the eyes and said, "I don't like the term 'the best two years.'" When he said that I was so confused because that is the exact phrase we hear growing up in the Church. People tell you that all the time growing up, "just wait until you serve a mission, it will be the best two years of your life!" or " a mission is the best two years" Heck, there is even a iconic Mormon movie called "The Best Two Years" which I'm sure most of you, if not all, have seen before.
I took that to heart and since day 1 on my mission I thought about that every single day! I have been home from my mission for almost 2 years now. Time sure has flown by and a lot has happened since then. And now, I can say that he was right. It wasn't the best 2 years of my life, and that's how it should be. My mission will forever be a treasure and the longer I'm home the more I think about my mission and all that I have learned, felt and experienced. I miss the people of Cape May, NJ, Valley Forge, PA, New Castle, DE, Honesdale, Pa and Allentown, PA. They all have deeply blessed my life and helped make me who I am today.
I urge everyone who has served a mission to not allow it to be the best years of your life, but to be a foundation of what can come from our mission experiences.
My Mission President continued, "A mission isn't and shouldn't be the best two years of your life. It is however, the best two years you could do for your life." I love that! He went on to say, "When you get home you will get married and have more sacred experiences than your mission can offer." He mentioned how much he loved his mission, but being married to his wife and the callings he's had has been the best years of his life.
My mission is a treasure and helped shape me into who I am as a person, husband and father. But, all the things that have happened since being home have built on that foundation and has been far more better than I would've ever imagined!
Since being home I must say I have had some many sacred experiences that makes what my Mission President say all true. I met my sweetheart my first weekend home and boy, did I jump in the fire with this one. She was traveling and speaking almost everyday in our relationship before we were married. I drove all over with her and saw my wife touch the lives of thousands of people all over the country. We have even met Church General Authorities, leaders and Apostles, all of which has impacted my life.
In August 2013 I was married and sealed in the House of Lord, and June of 2014 we welcomed our sweet angelic little girl Gracie Lena. Since being home I have experienced more and seen the blessings of God everyday. Life does get better after a mission and sacred experiences have been deeply richer.
Don't let your mission be the highlight or peak of your spiritual life! There is more to come if you let it. Life moves on everyday, time waits for no one. Don't miss those opportunities to do better and be better and receive and experience more. A mission shouldn't be the best two years of your life, not at all! It is the best two years you could do for your life. With God, great things await us. Continue to press forward. Continue to grow. Continue to learn. Continue to strengthen. To serve. Because truly, these last two years since being home has been more impactful and sacred, filled with blessings and opportunities I would have never received without God and continued effort.