Called To Serve

Called To Serve

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How could I forget that day as I was getting ready to go to my French Class. The green haired clown who had the most famous Mexican Live News Program during that time, seemed to be a little concerned as I watched the news that day before I went to my class; “another war movie?” I asked to myself, after watching the first 5 seconds of that live broadcast but, at the time, I didn’t realize that those were actually live news. “That’s funny, Brozo (the clown) doesn’t seem to be happy now, anyways, I need to go” I said, as I changed the channel one last time.
What a surprise it was for me to notice that the same images were being broadcast on every channel and that everybody seemed to be speechless during that time. It was September 11 around 8.30 am in my hometown and everything indicated that it was going to be just a normal day for me but after watching those videos I felt a familiar feeling, a feeling of fear and anxiousness, a desire to go and call my friends and parents and ask them if they were watching those same images that seemed to be in every channel and that were concerning many people, especially those from that country to which I was supposed to go soon but didn’t know about it yet.

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What a nice time I spent in college: during my first year in high school I didn’t really want to be there because it was a religious boarding school, yes, it was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ High School in Mexico City, one of the most prestigious high schools in Mexico. All the students were members of that church, including myself of course, but at that time I couldn’t completely understand the church’s principles and didn’t really know much about the Christian Gospel. I would hear my companions talking about their desire to serve a Religious Mission and about how well they would know the scriptures from the Book of Mormon and from the Bible, but for me that was completely unknown; learning about the church was less important for me than receiving good grades.
Most people don’t actually realize the importance of the gospel of Jesus Christ, especially those who don’t know about Him. I went through different proves in my life in order to realize that but, during high school, those scriptures and principles seemed to be unnecessary for me during my freshman year although I was about to discover the true value of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
High school was a great experience for me especially because I had the opportunity to live without my parents for the first time. My parents were divorced since I was little and I would spend a season with my dad and another season with my mom right before attending that boarding school. There were times when I felt lonely and times when I felt free; free of those assignments and duties I had to do in my home and the anxiety that I would always feel whenever I didn’t accomplish my assignments: “you’ll see when your grandpa gets here” my Grandma would tell me and those words would make me hate my grandpa even when late at night he would come back home and bring me presents because he loved me so much.
My church high school was a great experience for me as I began to realize the importance of the church of Jesus Christ. I learned how to pray everyday and not only for me but also for my companions and for other people in the world. I learned how to read the scriptures and how to live with my friends rather than my parents; the truth is, I never felt more useful than during those years and most importantly, my parents never were more proud of me because of my grades and because of the respect I was acquiring towards them.
Isn’t it true that a man who follows the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes a better person in every aspect of his life? I can truly say “yes! It is”. During the last year of High School, as I watched my companions leaving every weekend to meet with their parents I would stay at school, feeling happy about it and not wanting to leave it ever. Of course there were sad and difficult times for me but still, I could feel a little bit of that power of God called “the spirit”. On June 2001, my friends and I would gather to take some of our last year’s pictures which were the pictures of our school generation. I remember going around trying to find my best friends and asking them to write something in my journal; what a great day, our graduation day, the day when we all were going to say “good bye”. I noticed that many of my friends were feeling the same thing that I could feel, since they were having tears in their eyes.
“Will you serve a Mission?” was the common question that everybody would ask me, but now I could proudly answer “Yes, I will”.
It was hard to believe for me that I actually was going to serve this mission in the United States since even my parents would know that now it was going to be harder for me to get my visa because of that attack to the twin towers. The people at the American embassy in Mexico would ask many questions and required many documents from me in order to prove that I was not a terrorist and that I was not going to stay the rest of my life in the United States. Anyways, my parents would even tell me that serving a mission in Mexico was going to be great even when I had not received my calling yet, therefore, they were already planning everything in order for me to stay in Mexico.
My father never really liked the idea of me spending 2 years in this church’s mission while many of my friends would continue studying towards their bachelor’s degree: “You are going to waste 2 years of your life” he used to tell me, until one day I would reply “I will do what I have to do, even if you don’t want me to do it”.
I filled up my application papers in order to go to the mission and I have to mention that although I knew I was supposed to go wherever the Lord Jesus Christ wanted me to go, I always wanted to serve the mission in the United Sates and I would pray every single day about it in order for that to happen.
United States of America would experience one of the greatest catastrophes in their history. People from around the world could see those towers falling down as I was still waiting to receive my calling that wouldn’t have arrived yet. My dreams were falling apart, If I were to go on a mission would be until November or December that year but of course “Something like that had to happen in order for me to not go, dear Lord, you have your reasons”. I was really sad about that event but still was getting ready to go on a mission.
“When are you leaving?” one of my best nonmember of the church friend asked me as we were getting ready to go to the movies.
“I still don’t know, I haven’t received any letter yet” I said with disappointment and then, while we were about to leave the house and we were opening the door, there it was, that shining piece of paper with some words in English I couldn’t understand. “What is it Homero?” he asked:
I was speechless; I knew what it was not because I read the name of the sender but because of that feeling that can only come from God called “the spirit”. I remember giving him a big hug and he was actually happy for me. What happened next was a miracle: “Icce Homero Mejia Correa, you have been called to serve in the California San Fernando Mission and will enter the Missionary Training Center on Dec 4 2001” were some of the words that were written on that letter.
Five years have passed now and I can still feel that warm sensation and the smile on my face after reading those words. I couldn’t believe it; reading those words made me feel that God loved me and wanted me to be happy. I felt on my knees and offered a silent prayer as tears would roll down my cheeks.
My father was the only member of my family who went to the airport to bid me farewell. “I know we haven’t get along very well during these last years son, but I’m very proud of you and I just want you to be happy” he said as I saw that reaction in his throat with a sensation of bitterness and sadness.
I never heard my dad saying those things to me and I just gave him a good bye hug and never looked back as I would get in the plane that would take me to that land of my dreams.
The day after I arrived at the Missionary Training Center I would have to take some Spanish classes which were easy for me since my companions and I would speak even more Spanish than our teachers. We were required to pray and share our thoughts in Spanish which we could do easily but still we needed to learn the missionary discussions that we were going to use in our mission. “Is good to have you here Elders and Sisters, you are doing the most important thing in the world: to bring souls unto repentance and help them return to our Heavenly Father’s presence; we will see you tomorrow” one of our teachers said, as we were getting ready to go back to our rooms because it was late already.
That was the end of my first day in the United States; “who would ever think that I was actually going to be able to go in spite of those terrible terrorist events that happened that year on September 11?”
There I was, enjoying the snow and sending letters to my friends and parents every single day, telling them about how great it was to be a missionary and also reminding them about how blessed I would feel for being there.
My joy was full; we went downstairs after finishing that class and as we crossed that door that would lead us to the hallway outside, my heart would never expect what was going to happen next. “Common Elder Mejia, it is getting late and we need to hurry.!”
“What is this?” I asked to myself silently as I stood for few seconds trying to assimilate what was happening right now. I had never seen snow in my life since it never snows in Mexico, but I remember that as a child I would play with my cousins pretending that we were building snowmen even when we were just using sand or mud that we would also throw at each other.
I would open my hands to catch some of that snow and with my arms wide open, I would start turning around as I laughed and as I cried; “this is indeed, the happiest day of my life”.
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