As the topic of mission work seems to find its way into every conversation in my house, the idea that preparation is key is definitely at the forefronts of every one's mind. Spiritual, mental, and physical preparation are all essential to a full-time missionary-in-the-making. But all else aside, an issue that we can't deny is the financial obligation.
From the very beginning, my parents informed me they would not be fronting the cash for my mission. Not because they didn't love me, or want me to serve; but simply because, when I work for something and earn it for myself, I would surely appreciate that much more. I was told that I was to find a job (or two or three) and to raise the money.
My mom said, "Although you should be focused on school, you're going to have to find a job or even two in order to raise the money." I have dabbled in various odd jobs including creating tattoo designs for friends and plenty of "suspect / too easy" job opportunities from members in my ward, such as mowing lawns, helping with home remodels, walking dogs, babysitting, etc. I am grateful for every opportunity and all the creativity that members in my ward have come up with to help contribute financially to my mission fund.
If you've been tuned in from the start, you'll recall my occupation in which I'm making TONS of dough...literally. For those of you tuning in here at half-time, my jobs involves plenty of dough, just not the kind I want to keep in my wallet, or anywhere else for that matter. I'm a teenage pizza boy at Little Caesar's Pizza in Eagan. At first, I figured sure I'll do my thing there for a year or so and raise most of the money for my mission. I had it all figured out. With my $7.25/hr minimum wage, if I worked 5 days a week at about 5-6 hours a shift, I'd be making $217.50 a week, which meant $435 a check, which meant $870 a month, which meant that when I put my papers in, in March 2010, I'd have about $11,300 EASILY. Those of you who have ANY life experience are probably on the ground by now rolling in laughter.
Of course, real life set in. In May, I tore the ligament in my knee playing rugby. That took me out of work for almost 2 months. Graduation came along and quickly following that, adulthood. I must say, adulthood itself hit me like a freight train. All of sudden, my checks were disappearing before I could even get through my singing of "money, money, money, MONEY.....MONEY!! It's a rich man's world."
Medical bills, cell phone bill, school tuition, school books, lab fees, gas, groceries for me and Ferron's weird diets, co-pays for doctor visits. Then there are all the "gifts" mom and dad USE to pay for but now I was on my own - clothes, shoes, entertainment, hanging out with my friends, you know the stuff all teens think are important to be sociable and happening until you see the price tag and realize those items now brought you happy yet fading memories. Oh and did I mention Uncle Sam taking his cut of my checks before the ink was printed on paper? The road to riches was accumulating plenty of potholes with quite a quickness.
This is where the principle of tithing kicks in. Give a tenth to the Lord, and He lets the blessings rain down. It's a beautiful thing. It's a 100% guaranteed return on investment. Returns unheard of and illogical in these financially unstable economic times. So here are some blessings that come from implementing some basic Gospel principles in my own life:
1 - Have Faith. Believe that our Heavenly Father will guide your life. You just have to follow.
2 - Honor thy mother and thy father.
3 - Honesty in paying my tithing.
4 - Be honest and diligent in the work you do. It's NOT what you do, but how you do it.
5 - Educate yourself.
"true education seeks to make men and women not only good mathematicians, proficient linguists, profound scientists, or brilliant literary lights, but also, honest men, with virtue, temperance, and brotherly love. It seeks to make men and women who prize truth, justice, wisdom, benevolence, and self-control as the choicest acquisitions of a successful life." President David O. McKay
For the past few weeks, my manager has been asking me all kinds of weird questions about things in the store, and bringing up random hypothetical situations to solve.
"How many ounces of cheese go on a large pizza? How many pepperoni's go on a deep dish? How many ounces of dough do you use to make cheese bread? How much would it cost me, with tax, if I wanted a pizza with mushroom, black olives, and onions?"
Eventually, he got around to asking whether I'd be comfortable being more than a team member. Of course, I excitedly replied yes. Then, he told me that the regional manager was going to be coming in to interview me for a key staff position. Key staff, although having a cooler name, not to mention the dazzling orange shirts as opposed to the normal black ones, was not much more than the day manager or "Number 1 Team Member". I was still excited though. I felt like at least my hard work was being recognized and that's always good.
I threw on a clean apron and straightened up my name tag in preparation for the 'big boss' to be impressed when he comes to interview me. It was the snazziest look I could muster up since I had to be in work attire.
It's 5 P.M. It's the middle of our dinner rush and in walks a man holding a clipboard and file that read "Eagan Mgmt. 013". I greet him with a smile and firm, steady handshake. I make eye contact and was sure to compliment his shoes. He told me about how he started out just like me working at McDonald's straight out of high school and eventually progressing to how he and his business partner now own all of the Little Caesars' in the Twin Cities Area. Of course, a few corny jokes were shed on both sides, which kept the mood pretty light.
Then he started talking to me about the Key staff position and all the responsibilities that go along with it. He said that they don't usually give out management to kids in school for the obvious reason that school should probably there first priority. But, in one simple sentence after 45 mins of talking about all the roles of a key staff, he said..."We're not going to give you the key staff position." For a moment, all my hopes and aspirations, most of which were pertaining to my $2 and change pay raise were completely shut down. I swallowed the lump in my throat and still a bit confused ... he then continued to say, "We're just going to bypass that altogether and make you a manager."
Sure it would not be an impressive accomplishment to some big shot in corporate America, YET, but we all start our humble beginnings somewhere. I try to apply everything I learn from church daily and I have been rewarded for it.
This has definitely been a testimony builder for me as far as applying our Gospel knowledge and knowing that FAITH and DILIGENCE rewards. I asked faithfully and our Heavenly Father provided. I pay my tithing honestly and I am rewarded abundantly for it.
1 Nephi 3:7
"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them"
I have opened my heart to be filled with gratitude for blessings, small and many. Always constant and when I need them and often when I don't expect them. Heavenly Father grants me humility through daily vicissitudes as I prepare to do His work.
1 year ago