Introverts Belong.

2017 marks 20 years since my mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Every Monday, I’ll be posting tales from that time.

My first week in the Missionary Training Center was quite an adjustment. I’d never in my life lived in a dorm-type setting, and I panicked a little at the structured meal times. Since I’m hypoglycemic, not having access to even a banana when my blood sugar dropped worried me. But it all worked out.

Missionaries are arranged in “districts” of about 12 missionaries each, and in ideal situations, most districts end up going to the same mission. That was not the case with my district. Nine missionaries were heading to Marseilles, two to Ivory Coast, and then me to Montreal. Down the hall from where we met and studied, a district of 12 missionaries were all heading to Montreal. Any number of scenarios could explain why an odd number of women were heading to a mission, and I suppose it doesn’t really matter why I was the one who was isolated from everyone else.

But as I reread my journal entries from that first week, it’s clear that going on a mission was so far out of my comfort zone. The phrase “I feel anti-social” or “I just don’t belong” are on just about every page, and I’m reminded of many articles that I’ve seen in the past couple years about introverts at church. Here’s one such article.

Even though I was an older missionary, there was still so much I didn’t know about life, even though I thought I did. And I wish I’d understood more about introverts and extroverts–especially in a church setting–when I was a missionary. I could have been more direct about how I best serve, and I could have had a bit more compassion for others as well.

But even though I felt I didn’t belong, here’s evidence I did: as part of missionary training, we had culture nights, where we learned about the areas we would be living in once we left Provo. Our first culture night was my 3rd day in the MTC. From my journal:

“I felt so alone at the Quebec meeting, since my district is all going to Marseilles. But one sister came up to me, gave me a hug and said, “You’re not alone! We love you!”

A pretty extroverted move, if you ask me. And one that this introvert really appreciated.

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