Without realizing it, I had tears streaming down my face. I’d been online looking at what my friends were up to, scrolling through their lives with amusement and curiosity. Many of them had recently returned from serving missions, and I found myself clicking through their pictures. With each new click came a new, quiet heartache. They were beautiful, these returned sisters. Their hair fell in curls around their black nametags, their arms were around their companions, and wide smiles were on their faces. Their pictures were filled with comments in all sorts of languages, discussions held by members and converts who loved them and missed them. “My mission was the best experience of my life,” they posted, “and I wish I could go back. I miss the people so much.”
When I turned my computer off and went to bed that February night, I wept, acutely aware that I had no name tag, no companions, and no mission.
I hadn’t always wanted to serve. It was one of those “maybes” in my life that I’d figure out when I got to it. When general conference rolled around in October of 2012 — it was the year I turned 20 — I had just begun to consider it.