As my junior year in high school was about to come to a close, going on a mission was not one of my great desires. I had been associating with the wrong kind of friends and had done some things that were not right.
My parents had always encouraged me to go on a mission, but I felt that my friends and the things I was doing were more important. This feeling kept me from planning on a mission. The thought which continually ran through my mind was, “There is no way the Lord would want someone like me as his representative.” This thought only discouraged me more.
On May 17th, my life changed. I was at a party with a club from our high school at a nearby boat dock. I had arrived early so I could help set up tables and unload the grills and food. About 20 minutes later, people started to come and began playing volleyball and throwing Frisbees. After a while the food was ready. The weather was starting to turn bad, and the wind was blowing fairly hard. While I was eating, some guys playing volleyball hit the ball into the river. Someone yelled at me to go get it. Why they shouted my name, I don’t know. Foolishly I hurried from the table, ran as fast as I could, and jumped into the river, clothes and all.
The wind was causing waves which pushed the ball further and further away from me, and I kept going after it. The water was getting cold, and my strength started to give out. Before long the ball was out of reach, and I couldn’t swim any longer. I started yelling for help as loud as I could, but if anyone had jumped in from the dock to save me, they could never have reached me in time.
Gradually, things became blurry, and I couldn’t hear. I felt myself sinking, and as soon as my head was underwater, I felt someone grasp my hand. I was lifted into a boat. I had no idea where the boat came from. I had not seen it previously, but it was there when I needed it. I was taken to the dock, where I became oriented again after about 10 minutes.
Two days later, I received a call from the owner of the boat. He said he was at his house trying to get his boat ready for a trip when he felt he should take it out for a test drive even though the wind was blowing and the river was rough. Why did he go? I hadn’t realized it at the time, but it was to save a future missionary.
My close call made me think. If I was saved from drowning in that river, there had to be some purpose in store for me. That thought stayed in my mind. Then one day as I sat gazing over the river that nearly claimed my life, it occurred to me—a mission! I wonder if I am supposed to fulfill a mission.
I soon received my patriarchal blessing, which said that I had been spared for a special mission. That confirmed the answer to my question.
I served in the Ohio Columbus Mission. I had never before had such a peaceful feeling about doing something right in my life. Yes, the Lord did want me as one of his representatives.
I realized you don’t have to wait for an experience such as the one I had to decide whether to go on a mission. Decide ahead of time and do everything in your power to be prepared when the time comes.
Missionary work is a great work. It is an experience we all should share.