|Odd how many missionaries are happy!|
Lima, Perú—Elder James Roth, who believed he would “just pretty much suffer through two years as a missionary” has found, against all of his expectations, that he is actually “really, really happy.”
When Roth was called to serve, he told his friends and family back in Lehi, Utah that “honestly I’m just going because it is my duty” and “it does seem like the Lord wants me to go.” Roth believed that spending two years in Perú, learning to speak Spanish, and being so far from the people, television shows, video games, music, and movies that meant so much to him would leave him mostly miserable. In his final talk in church, Roth’s emphasis was on sacrifice and giving up one’s desires for the Lord.
So it has come as a completely unexpected surprise that Roth has found himself “happier than he ever could have imagined” while working as a missionary. As Roth put it, “my first companion was Peruvian, and I just have to say that we didn’t always get along, but I cannot tell you how happy I was when we invited our first investigator to be baptized and she said yes!” Added Roth, “it was so much better than being back home in Utah and going out with friends to see yet another ridiculous superhero movie.”
While Roth has had chances to teach and see people embrace the gospel, he has also had many difficult, painful experiences, experiences that he anticipated but which he thought would cast a predominantly unhappy pallor over his two year service. “Yah,” explained Roth, “there was the time when the a woman we had been teaching had a nervous breakdown or the times we’ve been cussed out or when dinner appointments have fallen through, but I never thought I could be so happy even with so many challenges!”
Roth’s work and response seem to be fairly typical. He has had trouble with the language, with MTC food, with companions, with annoying ward members, with dogs, and with a constant stream of rejection. “I figured I’d deal with those things,” said Roth, “I just didn’t realize how much joy I could find in the midst of all of it.”
As Roth has only a few weeks left in his mission, he has started to ponder the next stages of life. Concluded Roth, “well, if the misery of being a missionary can actually bring joy, maybe it might even be worth it to have kids!”