Ever since I was very young, I had a very made-up mind about how I was NOT going to serve a mission. You can even ask my parents and they will tell you the same, I knew from a very young age that I did not want to go. With young men leaving on missions every few months from my ward, the standards for young men to serve a full-time mission were very high. I didn’t know what I was going to do, I just knew that I was not going to serve a mission. Here I am about a decade later, serving as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and speaking Spanish in the Dominican Republic. But how did a kid so set on not going even get out here in the first place? Well, I’d be happy to tell you, first we are going to need some context of who I am and where I come from.
My name Is Travis Josiah Terry, son of Jared and Shauna Terry. I am the third of six children, two boys, and four girls. I was born and raised in Utah, in the Utah County area. Neither of my parents served missions, they are high school sweethearts and got married right out of high school. However, they were both born and raised in the church and have been very faithful members their whole lives and have always been diligent in magnifying any calling they receive. My parents did a very good job teaching us kids to love God with all our hearts. My big sister set the example for me and my siblings when she decided to put her personal life aside and serve a full-time mission even though it has been made quite clear that she didn’t have to. My big brother followed in her footsteps and chose to serve a full-time mission as well. They are both happily married to their spouses now as well as sealed in the temple for all of time and eternity.
Like I said before, I did not want to serve a mission for a long time. Practically up until the day I got an answer to my prayers I was too selfish and didn’t want to put my life aside and go. But I can still remember the day that changed everything for me. We were sitting there in the deacon’s quorum class for the third-hour class on a Sunday morning in the Spanish Peak ward in Spanish Fork, Utah. I was twelve years old, and we were talking about missionary work, serving missions, and helping other people. As we sat there, I remember thinking about how silly it was to be there because I wasn’t going to serve a mission. Suddenly, I still don’t remember exactly what was said but I remember hearing in my head as clear as day a voice says to me “Travis, what if it’s not just about you.” That day I began to look at a mission differently. The Lord asking me to serve a mission wasn’t just about what I wanted to do, it was about what He wanted me to do. From that day forward I understood that serving a mission isn’t just going to bless my life, but it will also bless the lives of others. As well as it is a direct invitation to young men to live the law of consecration by giving their all towards the gathering of Israel. However, that did not change the fact that I still did not want to go, I just now understood better why I should and how I wasn’t the only person who could benefit from it.
For years I fought this internal battle of “Do I go? Or do I stay?”. Now in Utah if you are a member of the church with about seventeen to nineteen years of age the number one question you constantly get asked anywhere you go is “Hey! How are your papers coming along? When are you going to get your call? Is there anywhere specific that you want to go?”. It isn’t really a question as to whether or not you are going, it’s a question of when, and that will definitely put some weight on your shoulders. I still was looking for ways as to how I was going to get around going on a mission. After having graduated from high school in 2021 I decided I had to make a decision on what I was going to do. Now just to be clear, just because I did not want to go on a mission did not mean that I didn’t believe in God or that I didn’t have a good relationship with him. My whole life I have always kept a good relationship with my father in heaven through prayer and scripture study, and I knew this was a decision that he definitely needed to be included in. So, I started to sincerely pray and truly seek an answer as to whether or not I needed to serve a mission. Which really means that I already knew I should serve a mission. I was just waiting for God to tell me that I had a special pardon and that I didn’t need to.
At the time my personal life was going great, I practically had my dream job doing what I love each and every day. I worked for a great company and good people and there were lots of great perks for working there, one of them being big paychecks, and I was a big fan of that. All of these things were making it even harder for me to just drop everything and leave for two years. I figured if my life is so great right now, why do I need to leave? As I continued to wait for an answer as to whether or not I should go I felt that my time to decide was coming to an end. If I was going to go I needed to get up and go. If not, I was going to get too involved in my career and I was going to stay home. One night I got home frustrated with God that I hadn’t gotten my answer yet (at least the answer that I wanted) and I just wanted to know what to do. Looking back God had made it clear as day as to what he wanted me to do. However, I still wanted some sort of confirmation, so I prayed my heart out that night begging for some sort of sign. I now know that God doesn’t always work that way, but he sure had mercy on me because little did I know but that next day I would witness quite the miracle.
During my normal morning routine, I had just picked up the other guys on my crew to head to a job site when out of nowhere a car came flying through a stop sign and we got in a bad accident. The truck was totaled and leaking fluids everywhere and the car that had hit us was about thirty yards down the road. Right before the incident we had just pulled out of a gas station and got back on the main road when it all suddenly happened. None of us had put our seat belts back on yet. Miraculously none of us were too badly injured, just a little shaken up was all. Afterward, talking with the local police officers I was informed that the way the accident happened, myself and my other co-worker sitting in the front seat could have easily been ejected through the windshield for not having seat belts on. Things didn’t start to settle in for me until later that night, but then I remember hearing a familiar voice in my head saying “Travis, you could be dead right now. But you’re not.”. That’s the moment that changed my life because I understood that I was kept around to see another day because the Lord had something in store for me. Finally, I knew that I truly was called to serve.
Shortly after that experience I filled out and sent in my mission papers. A few months later I received my call to serve as a full-time missionary in the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo West Mission. My mission has entirely changed my life. Not to say my life was bad before because it wasn’t, but I have gained a much deeper understanding and appreciation for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have grown more than I ever imagined possible. Since being here I have learned so much but one of the biggest lessons that I have learned is that my mission blesses not only the people that I serve but also myself. I truly believed that I would just leave and help other people, I never really realized how much serving others would have an impact on me. I now have a much stronger relationship with my father in heaven than I ever thought I could have. I know that Jesus Christ is my savior and that he knows and loves me personally and perfectly. I know that this is his restored church and that Christ himself directs his church through living prophets and apostles. I know that God’s knowledge is so much better than ours and that when we put our trust in him, he will help us unlock our full potential. If any of you young men or women are considering serving a mission, I invite you to. It will be one of the greatest decisions you ever make and will bless you continually throughout your life. Remember what Christ said to Peter in John chapter 21, if we love him, we must feed his sheep. As we do so, the gospel of Jesus Christ will change us and the people we teach into the people that our heavenly Father wants us to be. This is the story of my mighty change of heart, and I share it with you in the name of our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ, amen.