In mission life, a few material things become sacred, like scriptures, sleep, food, and shoes. Women already revere their wardrobe too much, and especially their shoes but shoes and missionary work actually have quite a bit to do with each other.
We have definitely come a long ways in the last 180 plus years since the church was restored. We have bikes, really nice cars, super comfy shoes, air planes, and awesome members who tote us around places. However, if you want to be an effective missionary and meet and find many people, you’ve gotta pound some pavement and walk like little pioneer children.
If we didn’t have shoes, we wouldn’t be able to do this work very well. The pavement (actually, every thing in Florida) is hot, there are creepy bugs, and dead Armadillos, and lizards and walking around this crazy place barefoot is not super safe. Also, due to very excellent fashion trends, shoes are a great conversation starter that help us connect with other people and relate to gospel principles. Seriously… I challenge you to find a woman anywhere who doesn’t want to talk about their shoes!
The thing I have come to love most about shoes though, especially the shoes I’ve worn on my mission, are what they represent. They represent countless doors knocked, countless miles walked, many hours on my feet, being out and about serving my God and King. They have become “sacred”in a way, because they tell the story of my mission. If you want to know how hard a missionary has worked, look at their feet first, then their hands, then their eyes. These are the telling marks of a powerful disciple of Jesus Christ.
This past week I had the privilege of listening to the testimonies of the departing missionaries of the FJM. It was such a powerful meeting, and although they were on the stand and I couldn’t see their shoes, I could see their strong hands and their deep eyes, and I heard the words and felt the power of their testimonies. It was a powerful experience I’ll never forget.
When I was in the MTC (I think I have an unhealthy obsession with that place haha I refernce it every ost, and several times throughout each day…) one of the speakers (perhaps even the MTC president) shared a story of a return missionary who’s shoes were just dead! They were cracked, the soles were falling apart, and they just looked bad. But this man had once been a missionary, and he knew what these shoes represented, and so he asked the elder if he could have his shoes to have them bronzed, and he did and under the shoes he posted a plaque that said “Return With Honor” so everyone who saw those bronzed shoes would know what their goal should be: well worn shoes, beaten in while serving God.
I want to testify that there is nothing better, or more AWESOME than being a missionary. I know the work we do, and all the money we spend on shoes (and other mission necessities) is worth it. This work is good. This work is fun! The church is true.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.