Loving missionaries where they are
“I went on a mission. I wasn’t prepared. In all honesty, I didn’t want to be there. I went mostly because of social pressure. As a result, I was disobedient, and my disobedience eventually met me in the face. I was embarrassed and ashamed, and I felt like I was wasting my time, the Lord’s time, my parent’s time and money.
“I was kind of a smooth-talker up until that point in my life. In high school, I always got free chicken nuggets from the cafeteria ladies. I was probably tardy three or four hundred times and got detention once—when it only took three tardies to get detention. But I smooth-talked the office ladies.
“About 16 months into my mission, I had to decide whether or not the gospel was for me. And if it was, I needed to be all in. I knew I needed to live the gospel. Not just say I lived it, not pretend, not kind of live it. At that point, I chose to live the gospel. From then on, the gospel became a quest, a mission, and a desire to live in my life.
“In the ideal situation, you should go out with a testimony, you should have been through a personal spiritual struggle already. Unfortunately, we don’t all fit that exact mold just yet. My mission president emphasized he’s thankful that each missionary is there for their own reasons, bringing their own perspective.
“It's been my experience that being completely prepared for a mission and having a proper mindset to serve a mission is more the exception than the rule. Everyone is at different points. And Heavenly Father is most interested in the direction you’re headed verses the decisions you’ve made.
“Just because somebody isn’t at the same place as you doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. Pres. Uchtdorf said, ‘Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.’ Ultimately, the Savior understood others and tried to meet them where their understanding was. The same should be true of us in serving in the gospel as well as in the mission field, loving missionaries where they are. Chances are they’re not who they want to be anyway.”