As you can imagine, I've been thinking a lot lately about where I could be going to serve the Lord for the next 18 months. It's kind of unnerving to think that I could be going anywhere in the entire world, that I have no control, and that my assignment is decided by someone who doesn't even know me or my situation. At least it's easy to think of it that way. But as I've been reflecting on the divine nature of a missionary call I've found a lot of peace in knowing that each missionary call is in fact inspired of the Lord. Wherever a particular missionary is sent is where the Lord needs them the most and where they will be able to touch the most people through their personality, talents, and spiritual gifts. It's humbling to think that the Lord makes these calls so personal and has a special need for each individual.
Last week as I was looking for a talk to read from the most recent General Conference, the talk entitled "The Divine Call of a Missionary" by Elder Rasband caught my attention. In the talk he relates an experience he had in watching an Apostle of the Lord make these divine assignments:
"I joined Elder Eyring early one morning in a room where several large computer screens had been prepared for the session. There was also a staff member from the Missionary Department who had been assigned to assist us that day.
"First, we knelt together in prayer. I remember Elder Eyring using very sincere words, asking the Lord to bless him to know “perfectly” where the missionaries should be assigned. The word “perfectly” said much about the faith that Elder Eyring exhibited that day.
"As the process began, a picture of the missionary to be assigned would come up on one of the computer screens. As each picture appeared, to me it was as if the missionary were in the room with us. Elder Eyring would then greet the missionary with his kind and endearing voice: 'Good morning, Elder Reier or Sister Yang. How are you today?'
"He told me that in his own mind he liked to think of where the missionaries would conclude their mission. This would aid him to know where they were to be assigned. Elder Eyring would then study the comments from the bishops and stake presidents, medical notes, and other issues relating to each missionary.
"He then referred to another screen which displayed areas and missions across the world. Finally, as he was prompted by the Spirit, he would assign the missionary to his or her field of labor.
"From others of the Twelve, I have learned that this general method is typical each week as Apostles of the Lord assign scores of missionaries to serve throughout the world. ...
"After assigning a few missionaries, Elder Eyring turned to me as he pondered one particular missionary and said, 'So, Brother Rasband, where do you think this missionary should go?' I was startled! I quietly suggested to Elder Eyring that I did not know and that I did not know I could know! He looked at me directly and simply said, 'Brother Rasband, pay closer attention and you too can know!' With that, I pulled my chair a little closer to Elder Eyring and the computer screen, and I did pay much closer attention!
"A couple of other times as the process moved along, Elder Eyring would turn to me and say, 'Well, Brother Rasband, where do you feel this missionary should go?' I would name a particular mission, and Elder Eyring would look at me thoughtfully and say, 'No, that’s not it!' He would then continue to assign the missionaries where he had felt prompted.
"As we were nearing the completion of that assignment meeting, a picture of a certain missionary appeared on the screen. I had the strongest prompting, the strongest of the morning, that the missionary we had before us was to be assigned to Japan. I did not know that Elder Eyring was going to ask me on this one, but amazingly he did. I rather tentatively and humbly said to him, 'Japan?' Elder Eyring responded immediately, 'Yes, let’s go there.' And up on the computer screen the missions of Japan appeared. I instantly knew that the missionary was to go to the Japan Sapporo Mission.
"Elder Eyring did not ask me the exact name of the mission, but he did assign that missionary to the Japan Sapporo Mission.
"Privately in my heart I was deeply touched and sincerely grateful to the Lord for allowing me to experience the prompting to know where that missionary should go.
"At the end of the meeting Elder Eyring bore his witness to me of the love of the Savior, which He has for each missionary assigned to go out into the world and preach the restored gospel. He said that it is by the great love of the Savior that His servants know where these wonderful young men and women, senior missionaries, and senior couple missionaries are to serve. I had a further witness that morning that every missionary called in this Church, and assigned or reassigned to a particular mission, is called by revelation from the Lord God Almighty through one of these, His servants."
That story was so powerful to me and I was filled with a spirit of peace and comfort in knowing that my missionary call will not be some random act of chance. In fact, I believe that where I get called to serve my mission will be a manifestation of just how well the Lord knows me and the desires of my heart. I know that wherever He sends me is where He needs my testimony, talents, and abilities to reach certain individuals. No matter where I'm called, I will give my all and love the people I will be privileged to serve.
I encourage you to read Elder Rasband's talk. I promise that as you read this talk you, too, will be able to feel of the truly divine nature of missionary calls. I know the Lord is the one who makes these calls because of the love he has for his children, both the missionary and those they are called to teach. I am so excited to find out where I will be serving the Lord and His children for the next 18 months!