About Thomas and Missions

Ya, that cute little guy to the right is Thomas.  Hard to imagine he's now almost 19 and half a world away in Japan.  Thomas is the oldest of five children.  He finished high school, four years of LDS Seminary, two and a half years of college, and two years of institute.  He loves all things computers and hopes to be a programmer working on artificial intelligence when he gets home from his mission and goes back to college.

So, why does a 19 year old young man stop his life in the middle of his college career for two years to go to a foreign country, at his own expense, to live with people he's never met, to live by extreme rules, to only email home once a week and only skype home on Mother's Day and Christmas during that time?

The answer is both simple and profound.  He has a deep and abiding love for his Savior, Jesus Christ and a testimony of His restored gospel.  Thomas believes these to be the most important thing in the world and the greatest of all his possessions.  But, unlike most possessions, these are things that only grow as you share them.  And, because of the perspectives the doctrines of the restored gospel give him, he knows that every man, woman, and child on this earth is a son or daughter of a loving Heavenly Father and therefore are all Thomas' brothers and sisters.  Knowing that, his desire to share these two amazing gifts through both teaching and service drove him to serve.

So, at then 18, he stopped everything and submitted a request to the church to serve a two year mission.  You don't get to decide where to go, they send you where they need you and where inspiration has led them to send you.  He could have ended up in Guam, Nigeria, Russia, or even someplace really exotic like Iowa.  Though he was willing to serve wherever his call sent him, in his heart he dreamed and hoped to go to Japan.  He's been fascinated with the place, the people, the culture, and the language since he was a very small boy.  He took five quarters of Japanese in college in hopes it would come in handy.

Imagine his thrill when he opened his call letter in a virtual room (local and five different Skype locations) full of friends and family to read "Dear Elder Harper, You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Japan Tokyo mission.”  While those in attendance erupted in shocked applause, Thomas stood in stunned silence.  His dream had come true.  For his family, a mixture of excitement, nervousness, sadness, and appreciation.  We knew he was doing the right thing.  We knew he was going where he was meant to go.  We also knew two years was a very long time. :)

So, here we are.  We're very proud of the great young man Thomas has become and the great choices he's making in his life.  Though we miss him, it's a sacrifice we're more than willing to make for what this opportunity will mean to him and those he'll serve.

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