Today is the 15th anniversary of the end of my mission. (Note that I can’t entirely remember what I mean by that—I’m pretty sure that August 5, 1997, was my last day of proselytizing, the 6th I got on an airplane, and the 7th I arrived home. But it has been 15 years, and I’m not 100% sure.)
And what does that two years mean to me, 15 years later? On one level, not a whole lot. I don’t think about it a whole lot; my days are much more likely spent occupied by the Internal Revenue Code. Or my kids. My wife. My calling. Blogging.
But although its explicit significance has diminished in my life, I still feel fallout from my mission’s underlying repercussions. (Fallout in a good way, naturally.)
Principal among these is that my commitment to the Church and the gospel solidified over those two years. This is not to say that, without a mission, I wouldn’t be active and involved in the Church. It is to say that those two years allowed me to build a foundation I could attach to. The subsequent 15 have allowed me to continue building that foundation, to the point where I won’t be surprised or shocked out of the Church. I’m invested in it, I believe its truth-claims, and I’m happy that way.
My mission provided me with a shared experience common to many Mormons. Which is to say, even absent anything else in common, I have something in common. Examples: in college one time, my roommates and I looked at our mission journals to see what we were doing around the same day. When I first met my now-wife, we broke the ice talking about our missions.
On a much-less spiritual level, learning and speaking Portuguese has been relevant, too. I minored in Portuguese, which introduced me to a world of literature and music I otherwise wouldn’t know. Although I rarely speak anymore, I’ve used my Portuguese to fake Spanish (including helping my daughter with her Spanish class), French, and Italian.
What other 15-years-later[fn] benefits am I missing?
[fn] Even if you’ve been back more or less than 15 years. Heck, even if you didn’t go on a mission.