As I am sure you all know by know, I’ve been called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Adriatic North Mission, which includes the countries of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and Montenegro. This mission call is not only exciting, but very personal to me.
We place a huge emphasis on family history in our church, and recently I’ve become the “genealogy guy” in the family. I know that responsibility has come to me about 60 years too early, but it’s something I’ve really grown to love. It feels amazing to find an ancestor who had previously been lost! Anyway, while I was up at BYU, I was trying hard to find information on my mother’s side of the family – the Cvetko’s. I used the Church’s brand new family history library in Salt Lake to try and find information on them, but had no success. I prayed and prayed that I could somehow find these lost relatives. I was eventually told by one of the people working at the family history library that it would be impossible for me to find any of my family without somehow traveling back to their native home of Slovenia. The records simply never made it to America. I was very discouraged since I knew there was absolutely no possibility of me flying halfway around the world like that, and figured that my mom’s side of the family would just have to wait a little bit longer to be found.
A few months later, my mission call finally came in the mail, and I prepared to open it with my family. I don’t think I’d ever been so nervous and excited, all at the same time. I opened the package, took out the letter and started reading. It said “You are assigned to labor in the Adriatic North Mission. In addition to your call to preach the gospel, you have been assigned to the Slovenia Mission Region”. I almost couldn’t contain myself. Out of the 407 missions in the world, and out of the 85,000 missionaries there are, I had just been called to serve in the one country where my mom’s family had originated. I am now going to spend two years living in the only place in the world that would allow me to find my ancestors. Not only that, but I’ve recently learned that I have dozens and dozens and dozens of distant relatives all still living in Slovenia, none of them members of the Church. I can’t think of a better place or a better situation in which to serve my mission. I get to go and spend two years sharing the gospel with, among others; family members that I did not know even existed.
I know without a doubt that this is not luck and this is not coincidence. The Church and the missionary department had no idea of my connection to Slovenia when they issued the call to serve. The Lord hears each of our prayers though, and will answer them in ways we could never dream of. If you would have told me a few months ago that I would be serving a mission in Slovenia, I probably would have laughed at you! But the Lord is very aware of us, and knows exactly how to help us and help others who need it. In the Book of Matthew we are told that “whatsoever thing we shall ask in prayer, believing, we shall receive.” I firmly believe that this mission call is an answer to my prayers, and is exactly where I need to be for the next two years. I cannot wait to return to the place where my mother’s family originated, and cannot wait to update everyone on my adventures there!