Missionary Focus:
Anywhere But

by Mario G. Echeverri

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    He would serve wherever the Lord called him—with one exception

    I come from a small city in eastern Colombia. It was there that I was taught about the Church and was baptized, and it was also there that the desire to go on a mission was born. I was the only member of my family to accept the gospel.

    I remember going out with the missionaries almost every night to help them in the work and at the same time to gain experience in the field. When the missionaries asked me where I wanted to serve my mission, I told them, “Anywhere but Venezuela.” My response was such because this was a time of great tension between my country and Venezuela, and I had little love or appreciation for the Venezuelan people.

    Time passed, and I had my interview with the mission president. One of his questions was, “Brother, will you go where the Lord calls you?”

    I responded without hesitation, “Yes, President.”

    He then leaned forward, looked me in the eyes, and said, “And if the Lord calls you to Venezuela?” I knew then that the president knew my thoughts. After a short time I was able to tell him that I would go where the Lord sent me, but still inside of me I felt as if I could not accept those people.

    Finally the day arrived when the mailman brought the large white envelope containing my mission call. I opened it. I was called to serve in the Venezuela Mission. That night I knelt and asked the Lord not to make me go to that country. After talking to him for some time, I said that I needed his help. I got up, turned on the light, and began to leaf through the Doctrine and Covenants. I stopped in the 53rd section. There was the answer from the Lord to me:

    “Behold … I have heard your prayers; and you have called upon me that it should be made known unto you, of the Lord your God, concerning your calling. …

    “Take upon you my ordination, even that of an elder, to preach faith and repentance and remission of sins, according to my word, and the reception of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands;

    “And also to be an agent unto this Church in the place which shall be appointed by the bishop. …

    “And again, I would that ye should learn that he only is saved who endureth unto the end.” (D&C 53:1, 3–4, 7.)

    I closed the book and knelt once again, this time in the spirit of humility. The tears burned my cheeks, and in my prayer I asked the Lord to forgive me for telling him his will.

    Now I was ready to head for Venezuela, this time in a white shirt and tie. I met many people who needed to be saved, and I had to fight for them. I learned to love them with all my heart, persons who today have gone to the temple, who are the leaders of the Church in Venezuela, and others who are missionaries themselves.

    I received a great deal of love and satisfaction from the Venezuelan people, and I came to learn why I was sent to that part of the Lord’s vineyard. My greatest blessing came shortly after being released as a missionary when I saw my own mother enter into the waters of baptism. I know the joy that the Lord promises to those who bring others into his kingdom. I know that this is the work of Jesus Christ because I have felt his direction. I know that it is for us to bring the message of the restoration to the millions who are waiting. And I know that one of the best ways to do this is to serve a full-time mission wherever the Lord would have us go.

    Photo by Jon Lockwood