Today, several dear friends and classmates enter the MTC. They are part of the first wave of sister missionaries from Southern Virginia to head out into the mission field. My heart goes with them, as anticipate joining them in the field in a few months’ time. They are headed to Armenia, California, and Bulgaria, among other places throughout the world. So needless to say my mind has been on them the last few days, and how thankful I am to have them.
They’ve each taught me so much about life, the Gospel, and especially about missionary work. But more than that, I’m thankful to know that we are all working alongside one another to further build and strengthen God’s kingdom. There are many of us, from all over the globe, being sent to tens of nations and hundreds of missions. Because of the age change, but more importantly because of who we are striving to become, and what we are trying to do, we have become comrades and friends. There is an instant bond, whether you know a sister missionary (or one who is preparing) personally.
There is a Facebook group designated specifically for sisters preparing to serve, with thousands of sisters preparing to serve. Literally thousands. The last time I checked, there were 7,790 members in the group. We are awaiting calls, and have been called. There are sisters serving in their home towns as service missionaries, and others called to serve outside their home lands, as well as within. We are excited, we are nervous, and we are striving together.
This is an army of sisters that the Lord has called. On the facebook group, there is the occasional post asking the members to fast and pray for a particular person dear to them. Encouragement is given and love is shown in so many different ways. There is a joyous meeting when you find someone whom you will be serving alongside (I ‘met’ a few sisters serving in San Fernando just the other day, and they are just the sweetest).
And this group of “sister friends” isn’t just inclusive of those who are preparing – it most definitely encircles those sisters who have served and have reached out to younger sisters to help them prepare, to share advice, and to be a source of constant encouragement. I love being able to text one of my friends from my ward with random questions like, “how do I approach Preach My Gospel to study it for the first time?” She is patient, loving, and kind. She texts me scriptures pertaining to missionary work, or scriptures that helped her while she was serving in Birmingham as a Spanish speaking sister. And it means so much that I can text one of my role model sisters from school to ask random questions about serving as a stateside English-speaking missionary, knowing she’ll answer no matter how dumb the questions are, or how long her week has been as an EFY coordinator. They both, as well as other friends, are such awesome examples, and definitely the kinds of people I aspire to be like.
There is this incredible bond between sister missionaries, I’ve noticed, before, after, and while they serve the Lord. My friend Dain uses the term “sister friends” pretty often, and I think it’s an apt description of what sister missionaries become. Friends, but also sisters in the sense that the bond is so strong because you’re doing some of the hardest things you can possibly imagine while you’re so far from home. Sisters, also, because obviously, for eighteen months we refer to one another as sister. It is a wonderful reminder of the relationship that we have with one another, but also the relationship we all have as children of God (yes, even the elders who are silly and dorky are our brothers, get over it).
Personally, this relationship is a huge comfort and motivator for me. To know that while I am serving in San Fernando, that Dain is in Carlsbad, that Katie is in Sofia, that Jackie is in Peru, that Lauren is in Paris, that Shoushig is in Armenia, and that we have still more sisters serving around the world. We aren’t working separately, we are working together, albeit speaking different languages and on different continents, but that we are sharing the same message, that we are laboring in the same vineyard, and that we will always be sisters.
I am so, so thankful for each of these sisters, and am excited to see who they become (and who I become) as a missionary. Their example is so powerful and helps me to become a better person, as well as a better missionary. And it’s a lot less daunting to think of my sister friends working beside me – none of us are ever alone.
In Proverbs 18:24, it says, “and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Totally true of sister friends. :)