Growing up, I always had a strong desire to serve a mission. I wanted to spread the gospel and bring souls unto Christ. I wanted to devote myself to full-time service for the Lord. However, it didn’t happen the way I expected.
When I turned 20, I applied to serve a mission just like many others, but it was turned down for medical reasons. Then I tried to apply for a teaching mission from home, but that didn’t work out. I then applied for a temple mission, but that didn’t happen either. So, in the end, I decided to go back into education, since I appeared to have no other options. Then, ‘out of the blue’, I heard about a new mission launched in the UK that required service missionaries. So, despite my bad luck with the previous mission applications, I decided to give it a go.
And, not long after I resubmitted my mission application, I received my long-awaited mission call letter from the Prophet saying that I was called to serve as a service missionary in my local area, making me the first service missionary in the England Manchester Mission. This was an extraordinary moment that I will not forget in a hurry. Not long after I received the call, I felt impressed that this was the mission that God had wanted me to serve since before I was born. That is why none of the other mission applications worked out. That is why I had to wait so long. Heavenly Father really did have a plan for me all along.
When I received my first assignment, it was to labour in a bird of prey sanctuary, severely affected by the Covid-19 lockdown. Before applying for a mission, I had worked in zoos and with animal collections, so I realised that Heavenly Father wanted me to use my talents and experience with wild animals to help the good people at the sanctuary, and get it back up and running again, while representing the Church.
When I started, I felt that I had just gone back to my old life of working with animals, but I was wearing a badge with the name of the Saviour on it. Knowing that I am representing Christ as I serve motivates me to put extra effort into my work because I am serving on behalf of the Lord by helping the people who work there. Wearing the badge also makes me think about the way I talk and behave.
The people that I serve with are very respectful of my religion and mission. They often ask questions about my beliefs, and one person even said that he looked the Church up on the Internet. Some people say to me, “I’m not religious, but I think it is really great what you do!” Some are of different faiths and like to talk about the similar beliefs we have.
In addition to the bird of prey sanctuary, I serve with a wildlife charity by assisting classes that use nature to help people who struggle with mental and emotional health. I also help with a family-history organisation as well as finding service projects for full-time missionaries. Once it is fully functioning again, I will serve as an ordinance worker in the temple.
I attend Preston Ward, the longest-running unit of the Church in the world. One day I visited several historical sites where the first missionaries to England visited. As I stood where they first preached the gospel in England, I felt a deep sense of reverence, knowing that I am continuing their work of spreading the gospel to all people.