Ahhh....this is the big question!
Where will Garrett go on his mission?
How do they decide where mission applicants will go?
There are almost 350 missions and 25,000 missionaries going out every year.
Do they get to pick?
Is it based on whether they know a foreign language?
Is it based on how much money they are willing to contribute?
Lots of people have asked Garret where he would like to go.
He always responds, "I want to go to the hardest mission possible."
All missions are hard........for different reasons.
The application to be a missionary is pretty long.
In the pages and pages of questions,
they DON'T ask the applicant where he would like to go.
They ask what your heritage is.
Garrett wrote: "Italian, Finish, English".....and who knows what else
They ask if you have taken a foreign language, for how long and what type of grades you received.
Garrett wrote: "Spanish, 5 years, A-"
They ask you if you are interested in learning a foreign language:
5 - Very Interested, 4- Interested, 3- Somewhat Interested, 2- Not Very Interested or1- Not Interested.
Garrett marked "5."
They ask where any members of your immediate family (including grandparents)have served missions.
Garrett wrote: Milan, Italy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Church Family History Library and Rome, Italy.
Then they ask if you have any immediate family members (including grandparents) serving right now and where.
Garrett wrote: Grandparents in Rome, Italy.
Those are the only questions they ask that have anything to do with exactly where you will serve.
And those don't give you a lot of hints, do they?
Of course, there is the 3 page medical history. If you have any health problems, that will affect where you go. There are the recommendations that your church leaders write. But the prompt doesn't say anything like, "Do you think Garrett would be a good missionary in Outer Mongolia or should we keep him close to home?"
So, how do they decide?
Of course, they have a list of missions where they currently need missionaries.
Of course timing comes into play.
But the bottom line......despite all of the responses to the above questions......
mission calls are issued by inspiration.
The mission committee makes sure applications are complete.
They present the applications to the General Authorities of the Church.
Elder Ronald Rasband gave talk an described in a General Conference talk in April 2010 how this process works:
He said, "With the encouragement and permission of President Henry B. Eyring, I would like to relate to you an experience, very special to me, which I had with him several years ago when he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Each Apostle holds the keys of the kingdom and exercises them at the direction and assignment of the President of the Church. Elder Eyring was assigning missionaries to their fields of labor, and as part of my training, I was invited to observe.
I joined Elder Eyring early one morning in a room where several large computer screens had been prepared for the session. There was also a staff member from the Missionary Department who had been assigned to assist us that day.
First, we knelt together in prayer. I remember Elder Eyring using very sincere words, asking the Lord to bless him to know “perfectly” where the missionaries should be assigned. The word “perfectly” said much about the faith that Elder Eyring exhibited that day.
As the process began, a picture of the missionary to be assigned would come up on one of the computer screens. As each picture appeared, to me it was as if the missionary were in the room with us. Elder Eyring would then greet the missionary with his kind and endearing voice: “Good morning, Elder Reier or Sister Yang. How are you today?”
He told me that in his own mind he liked to think of where the missionaries would conclude their mission. This would aid him to know where they were to be assigned. Elder Eyring would then study the comments from the bishops and stake presidents, medical notes, and other issues relating to each missionary.
He then referred to another screen which displayed areas and missions across the world. Finally, as he was prompted by the Spirit, he would assign the missionary to his or her field of labor."
Some day in the next couple of weeks,
a Genera Authority will sit in an office and this face will be in front of him -
and he will say, "Good Morning Elder Cox! How are you today?"
And then in just a minute he will set the course for the rest of Garrett's life.
It could be Mexico, Guatamala, New York, Texas, France, Japan, the Phillipines, Louisiana, Utah, Toronto, California, Russia, Spain or Montana. It could be anywhere.
And he will go!
And it will be hard!
And he will love it!