So, you’re home. You’ve been a missionary. The one goal you worked so hard to accomplish is complete. Long before your mission, you did all you could to prepare yourself to serve the Lord. If you grew up in the Church, you probably wanted to serve as a missionary from a very young age. You attended Primary and sang the words, “We are as the armies of Helaman” with gusto. If you joined the Church as a teenager or a young adult, you probably watched the missionaries who baptized you and thought how much you would like to serve others, as they served you.
Either way, you probably envisioned yourself as a future missionary becoming like those armies of Helaman, preparing for a spiritual battle, and becoming a part of a battalion of righteous missionaries who would bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. You gave your all to hasten His work and were assisted along the way with the help of your family, priesthood leaders, and teachers.
Now what? What are your goals for the next two years? What is your duty and purpose now that you’ve returned home?
Elder L. Tom Perry envisioned the amazing power of your influence as a returned missionary when he declared, “What we need is a royal army of returned missionaries reenlisted into service.” (L. Tom Perry. “The Returned Missionary.” Ensign. October 2001.) He saw you together with your fellow returned missionaries as a great force for good, strengthening the Church, and moving the work forward as seasoned warriors who know how to do missionary work and to be successful on the front lines of sharing the gospel with others.
Your mandate from the Lord is to become a part of that royal army, just as you looked forward to serving, as the armies of Helaman, while you were on your mission. Excitement is a wonderful emotion that needs to be nurtured or the emotion vanishes. Joseph Smith wrote, “Excitement has almost become the essence of my life. When that dies away, I feel almost lost. When a man is reined up continually by excitement, he becomes strong and gains power and knowledge; but when he relaxes for a season, he loses much of his power and knowledge.” (DHC, volume 5, p. 389.)
Just as the Prophet Joseph described, when the excitement of coming home dies away, you may feel lost. If you begin to relax for too long, you may begin to lose the power and knowledge you had while you were a missionary. You don’t have to lose your excitement for the gospel, however. Instead, your enthusiasm for the gospel can become even stronger. You can continue to rekindle the fire in your bones talked about by the prophet, Jeremiah. He had been told to stop preaching the gospel, but he couldn’t do it. Jeremiah exclaimed, “But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” (Jeremiah 20:9)
So, don’t stop! Be like Jeremiah and continue to preach the gospel to others and invite yourself, your family, your loved ones, your friends, your co-workers, and even strangers on the street to come unto Christ and to follow the doctrine of Christ.
Marianna Richardson is the mother of twelve children and wife to the love of her life, Stephen D. Richardson. She has served with her husband as a missionary helping him as he presided over the São Paulo South Mission from 2008-2011. Marianna also has a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and a doctorate degree in education from Seattle Pacific University and is currently an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University teaching advanced writing to business students. She also enjoys writing books in her spare time and has written, “Alfred Edersheim: A Jewish Scholar for the Mormon Prophets,” and “C. S. Lewis: Latter-day Truths in Narnia” which she wrote with her sister, Christine Thackeray. She currently has a blog where she continues to write her thoughts on motherhood, missionary work, and returned missionaries at www.mariannarichardson.com. Her current church calling is serving in the Alpine Young Single Adult stake with her husband with responsibilities over returned missionaries teaching a weekly institute class for returned missionaries and a monthly fireside for parents of returning missionaries.