Reading your mission call letter that you receive from the prophet assigning you to your field of labor is always nerve raking and exciting. Most people will pause, celebrate, cry, or all of the above after reading the line that says “you are assigned to labor in the ________ mission.”
When you read to the end of the letter, though, you will notice that the prophet asks you to “please send your written acceptance promptly.” I’m not aware of any specific deadline for writing this letter. I assume promptly means within days or a week at most. I also presume if you don’t send that acceptance letter within a couple of weeks, you or your stake president will be getting a call from the Church’s Missionary Department.
When I received my mission call, way back in the 1990s, acceptance letters were sent through the mail (snail mail, that is). Nowadays, acceptance letters are sent through the same missionary online recommendation system you used to send in your original application. You’ll log in and sending in your acceptance letter will be as easy as sending an email.
Now, with regard to what should be included in your acceptance letter, Elder David B. Haight, formerly of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, once spoke about the mission call acceptance letter. You may want to read his words as you consider what to say in your letter.
Included in the packet is a page that may go unnoticed at first. It is a form, the Missionary Call Acceptance. This is a personal letter in which the missionary, addressing the First Presidency, formally accepts his or her missionary call. The form contains 15 lines on which the missionary expresses feelings about the singular opportunity of serving the Lord. The letters are usually handwritten, brief, and direct. Yet these few words speak volumes and convey deep meaning. Behind each one is a faith-promoting story.
“My Savior has blessed me more than I ever imagined. He gave His life for me. The least I can do is give Him two years of my life.”
…In accepting a call to serve, the missionary is expressing sufficient faith to act on his or her beliefs. Blessings will inevitably follow, as so many returned missionaries can testify. Faith in the Savior becomes an anchor to the soul.
“I can’t express the happiness and joy I feel as I accept this call to serve. I am ready and willing to commit two years of my life to preaching the gospel.”
In the acceptance letter, many missionaries state, “I gratefully accept my call to serve.” But I wonder how many missionaries realize the implications of the word accept. It means to receive willingly something given or offered; to respond favorably to; consider right and proper. It also means to be admitted into a group or community. In a gospel sense, it implies submission to the will of the Lord and willingness to follow the prophet, who extends the call. The mission “call” is to serve the Lord with all one’s heart, might, mind, and strength. The mission “assignment” is to serve in the assigned field of labor. The acceptance letter implies willingness to accept both the call and the assignment as the Lord’s will.
“Preparing for my mission has been a long struggle. After deciding to serve a mission, it took almost one and one-half years to overcome problems in my conduct.”
…“Deciding to go on a mission wasn’t easy. Having a strong passion for the game of baseball made it hard.”
Numerous acceptance letters speak of sacrifice. The young man quoted above was well on his way to fulfilling a life-long dream to play baseball in college, and then perhaps enjoy a career in professional baseball. After ponderous and prayerful thought, however, the answer was certain: he was to serve the Lord. Once the decision was made, his priorities in life became clear.
…Prospective missionaries write about giving up a prized car, a girlfriend, music, a lucrative job, and many other things. Too many allow such worldly treasures to blind them to spiritual opportunity and divert them from their foreordained mission. On the other hand, we are continually amazed and gratified by those who forsake all to serve the Lord.
“Just two short years ago, I did not have any purpose in life. When I walked the streets, I was scared that people would ask, ‘How are you?’ Finally, two missionaries helped me find the love of Christ. I will find people who have the same feelings I had and show them the purpose of life.”
Mormon wrote, “Perfect love casteth out all fear” (Moro. 8:16). When prospective missionaries learn of life’s purpose and of the Lord’s love, they gain the courage to act in spite of fears. In doing so, they learn the fears were an illusion, a creation of their minds. The Lord repeatedly assures missionaries that He will give them strength to succeed in the face of obstacles. “He that trembleth under my power shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise and wisdom” (D&C 52:17). President Harold B. Lee often stated, “Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.”
…Missionary Call Acceptance letters reveal a wealth of spirituality and faith. My own faith is continually strengthened by those who accept calls to serve God, who allow their love for the Lord to overshadow their fears, and who submit willingly to the call of our living prophet. I pray always that every eligible young man, and also every young woman who so desires, may experience the wondrous adventure of a mission.
A Spiritual Adventure, David B. Haight, New Era, June 2000.