Visitors Welcome

I remember my first day in the mission field. I’d gotten up that morning at 3:30, done a final weight check on my luggage and gone to the Travel Office to grab my plane ticket and bus passes. I said farewell to the remainder of my district and got on the bus to Salt Lake.

I’d barely sat down when I heard two girls up front talking about their calls: they were going to the Oregon Portland Mission—my reassignment. I yelled up to them that that was my mission as well. And they explained that they were going to be Visitors Center sisters—I didn’t even know Oregon had a Visitors Center!—naturally, I began to wish that I would be lucky enough to serve in the Visitors Center.

I almost, for certain, knew that I wouldn’t.

I was on visa wait.

And they don’t just let any sister serve in a Visitors Center.

But a girl can dream.

After we’d gotten off the plane and met with President and Sister Morby, we loaded our luggage into a couple of vans and headed to the Temple. They took our picture, walked us around the grounds, and then took us all to the Visitors Center.

Immediately I felt the spirit of this place.

I remember that Elder and Sister Johnston called Sister Riley and Sister Quent up to the front because they’d be working in the center—I longed to be up there with them. But I was sure I’d be transferred out to some remote area of the mission and never set foot inside again.

After what felt like only a few moments in the center, they took us to the Lake Oswego Stake Center for transfers. We ate lunch and then they took us down to the Relief Society room to meet our new companions. As I watched the crowd of missionaries around me diminish, I began to get nervous. There weren’t any companions left. And it was just us visa waiters left.

President Morby explained that our companions would be meeting us later at Transfer meeting. He advised me that mine would be Sister Schmutz and Sister Priday.

A little before the meeting started Sister Brandt came up to me. She told me that she knew my companions. And that I’d be in the Visitors Center. I choked, “What?” She said, “Yeah, Sister Schmutz and Sister Priday are in the Visitors Center. They’re really cute. You’ll love them.” I could hardly believe my ears. I didn’t even dare to believe that she was right.

And then, after my name flashed on that screen and I could hardly believe my eyes.

I was going to serve in the visitors center.

And then almost as soon as I’d stood up, out of the pew, Elder and Sister Johnston were right there to welcome me. Sister Johnston gave me a hug and Elder Johnston shook my hand. And then they said something that I will never forget. They said, “We’ll keep you as long as we can, but you’re going to want to stay forever.”

And they were right.

I’ve never been happier than I am now.

Never more productive. And never in a better cause.

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