So eight years ago today I began a strange albeit rewarding and defining period of my life. It seems like I don't talk or think about my mission much these days. (It's funny how I can mention something so vague as a "mission" and most of you, if not all, will know exactly what I'm talking about. I can't help but assume that those not in the loop would think I was part of some exposed/failed top secret government project and that I now only refer to in an ambiguous manner.)
I spent roughly two years in a country called Canada -- to be precise, in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. When I arrived in Montreal on February 12, 2002, (I'm an accountant, I'm allowed to be good at precise dates without coming across as overly-sentimental, weird, or self-important) it looked something like this:
(I didn't take this picture, nor will I be posting any pictures that I took during my mission; digital photography was beyond my means at the time. And to prove what a procrastinator I am, after six years of being home I still haven't scanned any photos I took as a missionary.)
Of course, my mission still crosses my mind and it comes up in conversations regularly (at one point or another, almost any new LDS friend you make will ask you where you served), and I even talk with a few of my companions (again, a term that might come across as strange to an 'outsider') from time to time, but it's not something I ponder on too often or talk too deeply about. Not on a regular basis anyway. I've been reflecting on it lately because Christmastime was the time of year I started and (two years later) finished my mission... but mostly, it's been on my mind because my youngest brother returns home from his mission in Australia in mere weeks.
(August 2004: In French "fleuve" means "giant river that flows into the ocean." Or something like that. This piece of artwork in Lachine, Quebec, is appropriately placed in front of the fleuve Saint-Laurent, or the Saint Lawrence River as us anglophones might say. This was taken during a trip to Canada with my folks the summer after I got home.)
It's not a bad thing that I don't think or talk about my mission that much anymore. Because I've had just as many (more?) rewarding and life-defining experiences since leaving my mission on December 17, 2003 (again, accountant here, not being overly-sentimental/ dramatic). It would be silly -- and sad -- to assume that such experiences would only occur during such a brief period and, furthermore, that such experiences would be at their best or greatest during that short -- in a strange way fleeting -- span of time.
So here's to me, eight years ago, six years ago, today. (Now, if I weren't so lazy, here I'd have a photo of me toasting, well, myself (in a mirror perhaps?) with a bottle of Spruce Beer or a glass of Red Champagne in hand (don't worry, both are non-alcoholic).)