Would I really be wasting two years of my life?My friend had asked me a tough question about why I was going on a mission, and I wasn’t sure I had a good answer for him.

I have known since I was in Primary I would go on a mission. I sang songs about the rigors of missionary work well before I truly understood the concept. I wonder even now if I comprehend the full scope of the calling. Two years is a long time. It’s 24 months; 730 days; 17,520 hours; 1,051,200 minutes; 63,072,000 seconds.

A friend of mine approached me just after I received my call to the Georgia Atlanta Mission. He made some remarks that surprised me.

He said, “Russell, from what I hear, you are a good worker and long overdue for a raise. You could doubtlessly be trained to be a manager in less than a month, allowing for further promotions and pay increases. You have two solid semesters of college behind you and could have a degree in no time at all. All of your friends are here and no one really wants to see you go. So why are you squandering two years of your life on a mission, time that could be spent doing something productive?”

The question caught me completely off guard. I stammered something about my testimony of the doctrines and principles of the Church and its truth. However, at that particular point in time, I wasn’t sure myself if that was the reason I chose to embark on this sacred responsibility. Perhaps I was doing it simply because it was expected of me by my family and religious leaders.

The incident troubled me for some time until one Sunday, while flipping through the hymnbook during sacrament meeting, I came across hymn number 270, “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go.” It isn’t a song we sing very often, so I read through some of the verses. The chorus commanded my attention and resolved my concerns. “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord, Over mountain or plain or sea; I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord; I’ll be what you want me to be.”

Surely the lyrics of this hymn were meant for me. The lines do not read, “I’ll go where you want me to go, Bishop Buchanan.” They don’t say, “I’ll go where you want me to go, Mom and Dad.” The command to serve a mission was issued by the Savior.

There is a definite purpose and reason for me to serve in one particular area, but most of all, what matters is my capacity and willingness to be a missionary by example, by preparation, and by faith.

[photo] Photography courtesy of the Giles family

Russell Tolley Giles is a full-time missionary who will return to the Washington Fields Ninth Ward, St. George Utah Washington Fields Stake.