The process of being assigned to a Service Mission and serving in a service mission, has changed a lot over the last few years. I loved my conversation with Sydni Bringhurst who is currently serving as a service missionary. I learned so much from the insights that she shares.
In this episode you will learn:
•Some of the stigmas associated with the service mission and how to address them
•What we can do to better help and support our service missionaries
•Why you might be struggling as a service missionary
•The one mantra that will help ANY missionary stay in a useful headspace, regardless of the amount of time served or type of service given.
Do not miss this episode. It was so eye opening. You will learn so much.
Elder Bednar’s Talk: Called to the Work
Free Training for Preparing Missionaries: Change Your Mission with this One Tool
Free Video Series: 3 Tools to Help RMs in Their Transition Home
Free Guide: 5 Tips to Help Any Returning Missionary
Free Strategy Call: Click Here
Jennie Dildine 0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone, it’s Jennie Dildine, the LDS mission coach and you are listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 59 service missions. I’m Jennie, the LDS mission coach. And whether you’re preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next. Hey, what’s up everyone, and welcome to the podcast. Our family has had the most amazing week, it was super amazing to watch my son and now daughter in law, get married last week. It was just such a beautiful day and the way weddings seem to go, if you can get past the stress, and all of the things that kind of come along with it is it’s just a beautiful time of celebrating family, of celebrating love, of celebrating the opportunity that they now have to go create an amazing life together. I love thinking about life that way that we get to create whatever we want. And my son and my daughter in law now get to start creating a beautiful life together. And they get to make it whatever they want. It’s super fun. It’s full of excitement and hope for the future. So so many congratulations to them. I also had the opportunity to speak at an event last week, Jody Moore, her VIP event, I think many of you were there. Shout out to all of you that talk to me afterwards, I just loved being able to share some parenting ideas with you guys, and loved sharing with and presenting with my friend, Laura Callister, who was also a coach in that program. I learned a lot about myself through that process. But I also learned that I can feel all my feelings and still show up super powerfully for myself. So that is something that I hope that all of you keep taking away from this podcast and learning from this podcast is we’re all going to have like negative emotion, it just will come along for the ride. So especially when we’re about to do something big. So we can just learn how to manage our minds, learn to manage our emotions, and then show up and kick booty. Am I allowed to say that? Anyway. The whole day of the wedding, my brain kept trying to run off to the future, and be like, we should be really worried about that presentation that you’re giving tomorrow. Anyway, I just was like no brain. Let’s come back to this present moment. Let’s love the moment that we have right now. And so, by the end of the night, though, after we’d wrapped up and cleaned up the reception, and all of that it was pretty late. I started running through my presentation in the house. Everyone else had long since gone to sleep. I think it was one in the morning that I was kind of running through my presentation again. And I knew that I was gonna feel nervous, and I knew that it was gonna be my brain was gonna freak out a little bit, but I just showed up anyway. And you can show up to negative emotion doesn’t have to stop you. All right. On to what I wanted to talk about. Today. I have the most amazing guest on my podcast. Her name is Sidney Bringhurst. She’s actually a currently serving service missionary. I absolutely loved this conversation that I had with Sidney. She is so eloquent. She is so well spoken. And she taught me some things about the service mission that I had never before considered. And so I am so excited to share this conversation with you. I hope you get as much out of it as I did. And without further ado, here is my conversation with Sydney Bringhurst. Hey, Sydney, I want to introduce everybody who’s listening today to my friend Sydney Bringhurst. And I’m so grateful that she has come on the podcast today to be able to talk about service missions. How are you doing Sydney?
Sydni Bringhurst 5:00 I’m doing well. Thank you so much for having me.
Jennie Dildine 5:03 Yeah, you’re welcome. So tell us a little bit. Where are you calling from? First of all, where are you serving your service mission?
Sydni Bringhurst 5:10 So I am serving in the Oregon Portland service mission. here in Portland. I live this a little bit outside of Portland with my grandparents.
Jennie Dildine 5:18 Okay, nice. Nice. I’m from Seattle area. So I know Portland pretty well, actually. We love going out to the Oregon Coast sometimes for vacation. That’s so fun. So Did you are you from Portland yourself? And now you’re just kind of living with your grandparents for the service mission? Or are you? Are you from somewhere else and you’re living with your grandparents?
Sydni Bringhurst 5:43 I am actually originally from Reno, Nevada. That’s where I sort of did my high school experience. And that’s where my immediate family lives right now. Okay. And so as part of my service mission, assignment, or call I was assigned here.
Jennie Dildine 5:59 Oh, okay. Awesome. I love that. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself. And this is all going to be super educational. For me, it’s something I wanted to learn more about is about the service mission. I know we have more and more of our friends who are serving service missions. So I would love to just hear about your story about how you came to become a service missionary. All of that good stuff. What’s that process? Like? Every question.
Sydni Bringhurst 6:30 It’s a very exciting process in a lot of ways parallels the teaching mission process. So any missionary fills out the same mission paperwork, that same mission portal. So I started that process. In January of 2019. Believe, I knew I wanted to serve a mission that was something that I wanted to do for a really long time. Growing up, I felt like that’s where I needed to be in something I wanted to do. As I grew up, though, I started, there started to be some concerns that I had, as I thought about the circumstances of the teaching mission, I wonder how I would do in that environment. Mental health is a big part of my journey. In this life. I’ve come super far learning how my mind works, and how to navigate different challenges that come up. And I recognize that some of the tools and sensitivities I have need things to look a little bit different. And so as I’m bearing that in mind and thinking about mission process, I met with my leaders in Utah at the time, I was going to BYU in Provo, and I met with my bishop and I just talked to him about some of my concerns. I said, you know, this is something I want to do. This is how I’m feeling. These are some of the things that I’m experiencing. What do I do, and my worship was incredible. He was routed me on the hallway. And he, he was really open about both opportunities, both a teaching mission and a service mission. And he fully believed he said, you know, if you feel like a teaching mission could be a good fit, let’s run for it. And if you feel like a service mission could be a good fit. Let’s run for that, too. So the first step that he had me take was to do a pre mission evaluation with family services, they have some services. So I went and did that. And it’s basically they just ask you a series of questions that kind of walk you through some of the realities of a teaching mission, the different circumstances that come up, and about some kind of how you live your life now. And where those things match up, where there might be some challenges. And then they issue a recommendation, either teaching or service typically, is what comes out of that.
Jennie Dildine 8:47 And so share that with you right then in that evaluation, or do they kind of just write down what they think and then send it to where it needs to be sent?
Sydni Bringhurst 8:56 So they, it’s a really have a long interview. And so they sit on, they sat on it for I think about a week, she’s the my interviewer, she’s like, you know, I’m gonna pray about it and think about it and look at all the things that we talked about. And then she sent her final recommendation to my bishop at the time, and then he reached out to me when he received that report. The report though, is is very simple. It’s just this is what we recommend. She doesn’t detail all of the reasons why.
Jennie Dildine 9:24 Okay, so your bishop reached out to you once they had come to that conclusion.
Sydni Bringhurst 9:29 Yeah.
Jennie Dildinde 9:31 And then what happened?
Sydni Bringhurst 9:33 So then from there, I actually started having hip issues. I my hip just started breaking down as I started to struggle, the walk. And so I, I put the mission process on pause, as I figured that out, and it would turn out that I would need hip surgery. Oh, wow. Uh huh. Yeah. So then, all of this kind of happened and then COVID hit so good on COVID Yeah. Oh, the best. Yeah. So only for missionaries. Yeah, exactly, exactly. So I went home and start and shifted all my Well, I still worked on my mission paperwork with my bishop in Utah for a little while until it was seeming like I would, you know, the world was still going to be on pause for a while. So I stayed in Reno and I got hip surgery a couple months later in August, when surgeries opened back up. And that added another layer of complexity to that mission process. Yeah, because now you have that physical examination. And there are now a whole slew of things on the physical examination that I would struggle with. Yeah. Yeah. So I still met with the doctor there. And I knew he was a member of the church. And he kind of explained my situation. And we did a couple of tests. And he gave his best recommendation for a set of circumstances that I was in. And it took about four months before I was kind of functional, again, walking again, and then probably about six was I really living my life. So I turned in my papers while I was still in that recovery process, because I figured, you know, they can, they can put me out as far as they need to as far as when I would start my mission. You bet. There are some steps in between there. So we had that pre mission evaluation, and we have those physical examinations. And then you have those interviews with your bishop and your stake president. Mm hmm. And so I went ahead and did those in Reno shifted my papers over and start a meeting with that bishop and State President, in the mission paper process, there is no box to check of, I think I would be a good candidate for a service mission. Or I would prefer not to do a teaching mission. There’s not a section about that. Okay. There is, however, one question in there that just says Is there anything else that you would like the brother into know the mission department to know as they prey on on this decision? Mm hmm. And so in there, that’s where I included some of my thoughts and feelings, which ultimately were that I wanted to go wherever the Lord wanted me to go. And if that meant a teaching mission, I’d make it happen. And I would make it work. And if that meant a service mission, I would make it happen. And I’ll make that work. That being said, I had some concerns about staying at home, typically, service missionaries live at home with their immediate family. And I, I have a, I have a super supportive, great family would have been wonderful. And Reno is has a lot of computer history for me. And so I worried about how that might impact my service. And I have a big family, lots of kids. And when I moved out for college, they moved me out. So I didn’t really have a space. And so there, I just felt like there would be some complexities with that. So I did some research. And my bishop in Utah said, you know, the main thing that they want you to have is family support, they want you to have a support system, while you’re serving as a service missionary. So maybe put some feelers out there and see if you have some extended family that would be willing to join you in this process. How do you live there and serve there. So I reached out to my grandparents here in Oregon, and they were super open to it, which I’m so grateful for. And I also reached out to the service mission leaders here in Oregon and and started talking with them had the interviews with my bishop and state president, which they do have a portion in their recommendation that they send to recommend a missionary for a service mission or a teaching mission. I believe my bishop recommended me for a teaching mission. And my state president recommended me for a service mission. That’s mostly me speculating based on the conversations that we had. Okay. Okay. So I think there was both thrown out there. And then it took forever to get my call. It took about four or five months before I finally got my call letter, which is not standard.
Sydni Bringhurst 14:31 Typically, it is a faster turnaround, even for service, a service mission call. And there are a couple of things that happened that helped me understand maybe why that happened the way that it did, and I think it was the way that it needed to. But eventually, I got my call and it was set to have me start just a month later. So really short turnaround time as far as starting my mission, which I’ve seen is pretty common for service missionaries. Okay. And It the call letter reads that I would serve in my local community. So from there, I submitted that acceptance letter that they have you signed in. And then my parents, my grandparents service, mission leaders and ecclesiastical leaders all submitted a statement back to church headquarters, recommending that I receive a transfer of sorts to Portland. Okay, and then that was approved. And so then that’s how I ended up in Portland.
Jennie Dildine 15:35 That’s really great to know. Because one of the things that I have heard from some service missionaries that I have talked to is that that can be one of the big challenges is living at home. That that can be really a hard thing. So I’m, that’s so cool to know, that process. And I don’t think we said this, you guys, all of you listening. But Sidney sister Bringhurst is on her mission right now. Like she’s serving a service mission right now. So it’s so fun that we get to talk to her and pick her brain while she’s actually in the middle of this experience. So thank you for sharing that process. I, I really loved the insights on kind of what those questions are and what it might look like and the process that you went through. I really appreciate that. So one of the questions that I’ve had, and I think that some of these stigmas might be changing, as more and more people are serving service missions, but what do you think that some of those stigmas or ideas about a service mission that are kind of out there that you’ve heard?
Sydni Bringhurst 16:44 One of the big ones that I feel is present? Is this idea that there’s something wrong with you? If you’re on a service mission, there must be something wrong? What are you in for type thing? Why are you here? Why are you not on a teaching mission? There must be something wrong. Other ones that I can think of or that service missions are not real missions, that they’re just a way to pass the time? I guess they’re just they’re not real. I hear that one a lot. Oh, you’re not a real missionary. You’re not a regular missionary. People actually say that to you. Yeah, unfortunately. Okay. And I’m not I’m not alone in that. And other things I could think of what there is a, I don’t know if it’s a stigma so much as a misconception that service missions are not full time. service missions are absolutely full time. And we receive a call from the Prophet just like a teaching missionary. So those are some of the immediate ones that come to mind for me.
Jennie Dildine 17:50 How would you address each one of those like misconceptions? What would you say to each of those?
Sydni Bringhurst 17:55 Sort of my mantra, as I’ve gone throughout my mission, is that this mission is necessary, valid, and important. I really believe that. And one of the things that I look to ours, the scriptures, and I think about this calling to be a representative of Jesus Christ. Because that’s the same teaching and service, we are representatives of Jesus Christ. And the difference is the way that we do that the way that we assert the assignment is different, the call is the very same. And other Bednar, I believe, gave a really great talk about that. The difference between the call and the assignment, right, I remember that talk. Yeah, I think it’s powerful. And I feel that it doesn’t just apply to different areas that you’re assigned to. But this assignment, this core assignment of teaching versus service. And when I look in the scriptures, more and more, I see that so many of Christ’s teaching, moments opportunities are preceded by an act of service, a miracle some some way that he served. And so it starts to make a lot of sense to me, that we need both teaching missions, full time teaching and sharing, and also service missions full time serving with their hands, because we need that many people doing full time both things because Christ was perfect at it perfect at doing both things. So we need armies, so to speak, is doing both. So I guess that that’s that’s the core of it for me that this is real. It’s a call from the Prophet. And it’s important work.
Jennie Dildine 19:47 That’s amazing. What were the three words you use that it’s valid? Are those three necessary, valid, and important
Jennie Dildine 19:57 some beautiful one? A way to think about it and you guys, Sydney, sister Bringhurst, is the niece of one of my really good friends who’s also a life coach. By the way, my friend Amber Heard, shout out to her. On the podcast, of course, and I’m sure some of what you’ve heard Amber maybe talk about is the role that our thoughts about our circumstance play in the way that we perceive our circumstance and the role that it plays in the experience that we’re having. So when we have this thought that this mission is necessary, valid and important. What kind of feeling does that create for you? What kind of emotion does that evoke inside of you?
Sydni Bringhurst 20:48 It gives me a lot of confidence and a sense of purpose. And helps me show up the way that I want to, even when others may not see it the same way. I love the phrase or the concept of of letting people be wrong about you. Right. So that that first stigma of this What what are you in for, there’s something wrong with you? You know, people can think that. And I know that I’m I’m okay, I’m doing just fine. And I guess I didn’t address that one very much. I talked about breaking down those stigmas. It’s a it’s a delicate one, because the First Presidency has stated that first and foremost, missionaries are considered for a prosiding mission. And so then how do you reconcile that? How do you feel? How does that how does that work? That’s still complicated for me, how can I both be confident that this is where I need to be and that there’s enough thing wrong with me? And recognizing that? There’s this sort of, oh, well, we considered you for this. And we felt like this was a better fit. I guess that’s the terminology I’ve started using this was a better fit for me. This is a place where I could thrive and not just survive.
Jennie Dildine 22:05 Mm hmm. Yeah, that’s so good. Because even I’ve seen, you know, some missionaries that are serving like across the lighting mission. And then they decide to go to a service mission. And some of them who I have actually worked with as clients, there’s kind of a lot of like disappointment there. A lot of shame there. And so I do think it’s fascinating what you’re bringing up is this kind of duality that it’s like, well, here’s this, does that mean, this is like second place or second choice or something like that? Was that a mindset that you had? Did you go through any sort of like a disappointment process?
Sydni Bringhurst 22:44 Yeah.
Jennie Dildine 22:46 What was that process like to come to where you are? Now?
Sydni Bringhurst 22:50 That’s a wonderful question. I definitely think that there’s a natural mourning process you I grew up singing, you know, I hope they call me on a mission called to serve and the mission looked one way in my brain. Yeah, for a long time. And so there, I think that there’s a natural mourning process that comes with seeing your mission a different way that it looks different than you then you once thought it would, I feel really blessed with the way that my process went, I feel like I had a lot of time to wrap my head around it. Because I said, I started that process probably wait, fall of 2018 into January of 2019. And then I didn’t start my mission until April 2021. So I had a long time to, to think about it, and wrap my head around that and come to love this assignment and love this call. And I’ve seen that in my peers as well, fellow service missionaries have. And you know, I envision this knocking on doors and, and sitting in members homes and sharing messages and, and eating dinner with with members and all these things and having living companions and the bonds that come with that. So I think that that’s natural. And I’ve also worked with missionaries that have I’ve gone through that transfer process of being out prosiding and coming home service and same thing, then vision, the mission looking one way and now it looks different. So that’s definitely been a process. And I totally when I first started, I was so curious about everybody’s Why Why are you here? Why are you here? Why it’s becoming so we’re so fixated on that. And that’s really gone, by the way for me and I just, I believe that heavenly Father knows exactly where we need to be. And this is what we need to be doing.
Jennie Dildine 24:48 So powerful thought, I love that so much. It’s really a testament to you and your faith and your strength and your trust and God’s plan. See how you’ve been able to kind of wrap your brain around it and really take ownership of the way that you want to think about your experience? It’s, it’s really, that’s amazing. I’m really impressed by you.
Sydni Bringhurst 25:13 Thank you. I appreciate that.
Jennie Dildine 25:15 Yeah. The other thing that I think you point out so beautifully is that, of course, it makes sense that when something goes differently than we expect, there’s going to be some emotion associated with that. And I think it’s important for all of our listeners to really understand the difference between being like, oh, that didn’t go the way I thought it was gonna go and feeling that kind of disappointment. Versus that didn’t go the way I thought it should go. And so I’m disappointed in me. That’s a big a big distinction that I think we want to be able to point out, and I think it’s perfectly normal to be like, oh, yeah, this isn’t what I expected for my mission. This isn’t what I pictured all those years. And so maybe I’m gonna be a little sad. Or maybe I’m gonna have a little mourning period, like you suggested. But as long as we can keep that sort of perspective, that it’s different. But it doesn’t mean it’s bad. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong, it doesn’t mean I am bad, or that I’m wrong, or that something is wrong with me. I think that’s really, really key. And really, really important. And I think your your one thought like God knows what he’s doing. He knows where I’m supposed to be really just encapsulates all of that. So well.
Sydni Bringhurst 26:36 Absolutely. Yes. Where are you? What are you going to make it mean? And? Yeah, that’s all important.
Jennie Dildine 26:43 Good. Okay, so what are some of the things that you find challenging about a service mission? I mean, we know that there’s challenges wherever we are in life, but what what kind of Heads Up would you want to give us about some of the things that are tough?
Sydni Bringhurst 27:00 Totally, I felt like you hit on one of them earlier, this living at home. I, I live away from home, but I’m still in a home setting. I’m still a family and, and living at home without a living companion, we have, at least every service mission is a little bit different. In in this mission, we do have companions, you don’t live with them, because you’re each living with your with your family. And so you’re on your own a lot. And that’s tough. It’s tough for a number of reasons. One of the main ones I think being to stay motivated, how do you keep yourself accountable, to do your personal study, to do companionship study, to go to your assignments on time to get up and get moving? How do you do that without somebody, they’re also doing all of the same things? That can be really tough. Mm hmm. And I think in that same vein, one of the things that I I’ve been out on my mission about 15 months now, and I feel like I’m still working on is how to really be present in the mind of a missionary, I am a missionary, I’m not working a part time job. I’m not doing something on the side. I am a missionary, and what does that look like? And what does that feel like? And how do I want to carry myself while I’m at home as well, this my grandparents, we have a handbook and we have different rules and guidelines. And there is a lot more openness, though, and a lot more that I have to hold myself accountable to to really encourage and embrace that spirit of being a missionary.
Jennie Dildine 28:40 That’s good. I appreciate that so much. It actually probably takes more self motivation, more grit and commitment for you to get out of bed in the morning than it would if you I remember my son telling me that one of his companions said, because he wasn’t he was having a hard time getting out of bed and he told my son, he’s like, if I’m not out of bed by 630, I want you to go get a bucket of water, a pitcher of water with ice in it, and dump it on me. And so I remember my son Nathan, he was like, Okay, are you I don’t think you ever had to dump it on him. But definitely that would propel you to get out of bed where you’re just kind of doing it on your own.
Sydni Bringhurst 29:31 Yeah, I think that’s sort of another stigma is that service missions are easy, because they’re a walk in the park. Yeah, at home. Yeah. It’s gotta be fine. It comes with a whole other set of challenges. One of those main ones being to be motivated like that.
Jennie Dildine 29:50 Yeah. And I can see how the mindset thing would be a bit of a challenge to just trying to stay in the right headspace. I don’t want To call it the right headspace but it when you’re not just like, engulfed in it when it’s not, you know, when you don’t have that companion, I can see how it would be more challenging not only to try to stay in the headspace you want to be in, like, what would a missionary think? What would a missionary feel what would a missionary do? But you might even have a tendency and you can correct me if I’m wrong to kind of judge yourself even more harshly if you’re not in that headspace? Oh, absolutely,
Sydni Bringhurst 30:29 I was reflecting on that just recently that there’s sort of that fine line between wanting to encourage myself and encourage this growth, and then just tearing myself apart, and sort of this constant underlying doubt. Like, well, am I doing enough? Am I really doing enough? And I think lots of missionaries teaching and service both feel that way. I’ve just I’ve noticed that more and more as I’m trying to live in that headspace that I would like to sometimes I think I edge over to the other side of just of never quite being satisfied. And and always doubting. Well, am I really? Oh, well, did I really do that went well? Am I really there? And that’s tough.
Jennie Dildine 31:13 Yeah. And what I would say is that our lower brain right? I don’t know if Amber’s talk to you about this, but just this idea that that’s kind of always gonna be there. It’s a part of like our existence, it runs 24/7. Just that always questioning, is it enough? Could I do more? Could I be more? And you’re exactly right. I hear the same story from missionaries who are out in, you know, out doing a proselyting mission. So being able to hold space for that question and keep moving. Right? That’s the power.
Sydni Bringhurst 31:47 Yeah, absolutely.
Jennie Dildine 31:51 What are some of the very best things about a service mission? Now that we’ve talked about some challenges? What are some things that are so amazing about it?
Sydni Bringhurst 32:01 The people, the people that you get to meet both the missionaries, the missionaries that I’ve met are some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. There’s a special spirit, I think that comes with being a service missionary, because you’re having to sort of battle these stigmas. At the same time, this tenacity for the gospel and this belief in purpose and desire to be a missionary. And it’s incredible to watch. And then also the different service assignments that I serve in people that I’ve met, we really try to have each missionaries scheduled be a balance of within church functions and in communities, but then also out in the community with other denominations. And so getting to learn about other belief systems and and get to know people who are so strong in their faith is an amazing.
Jennie Dildine 32:54 That’s awesome. So that’s something that’s very intentional, then on a service mission is because I’ve heard of like people serving in the temple and, and kind of doing desert industries type of service. But what I hear you saying it’s very intentional, that we do some stuff that’s kind of church base, through our faith through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and then some stuff that’s more like community based or other faith based.
Sydni Bringhurst 33:20 Yeah, it is sought to be intentional, it reminded me of the service missionary purpose, and I’d love to read and Yeah, please. So the service mission purpose states, our purpose is to help others come into Christ by serving them as the Savior, would we serve voluntarily in charitable organizations, church functions and within the community, we will minister in his name to the one just as he did, expressing his loving kindness. Oh, it’s written right in there, that we’re both serving within the church in places like desert industries, Bishop storehouse in the temple, but also in charitable organizations outside of the church and within the community.
Jennie Dildine 34:05 That’s amazing. Thank you so much for reading that. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before.
Sydni Bringhurst 34:10 It’s fun. My favorite things very good things about serving a service first. And I think it’s a beautiful purpose.
Jennie Dildine 34:15 Yeah, we need to just all our service missionaries keep that in their pocket and pull it out and look at it, like every day. That’s so awesome. So yeah, once you got to where you’re serving, tell me what that look like. Are they like, Okay, here’s the things you’re going to do, or here’s a choice of some things you can do. Tell me about that. And then I’d love to know kind of what your day looks like, each day.
Sydni Bringhurst 34:41 Okay, so when I first started, I met with my service mission leaders, I guess I should clarify. So teaching missions have prophesy missions have a mission president and wife couple there and a whole support system, and then service missionaries have separate Leaders, so I don’t serve with the mission presidents of the Oregon Portland teaching mission. I have service mission leaders, elder and sister Laughlin, who function very similarly to mission presidents as far as presiding over all the missionaries, helping us build our schedules and supporting us with conferences and whatnot. And then the keys of each missionary, though, are with their individual stick president. Hmm. So that’s there’s that little distinction there. So then any worthiness concerns or check ins, things like that would be with your State President rather than with your service mission leaders. Okay. So when I first started, I met with my service mission leaders, and we just kind of talked about some of the things that I enjoy some of my strengths, and then also things that are challenging for me things that would stretch me. And then from there, once I got to Oregon, they took me on a tour of sorts of couple of different organizations that they had had existing relationships with. And to give me an idea of what was out there, some possibilities of places that I could serve some different things that I could be doing. And they told me right from the get go, we want you to have assignments that feel very comfortable, and things that make you excited and feel like your strong suit, and then also things that are going to stretch you and challenge you and maybe not be your favorite thing ever. And to have a balance of both of those things. So they walked me through those, and then they gave me an opportunity to kind of pick and choose of those different assignments, which ones felt good, which ones felt like a good fit. And then I’ve also always, they’ve always given us the opportunity to seek out other opportunities as well. Oh, okay. Via just serve or eat as we’re serving sometimes people that oh, you serve full time, like, let me tell you about this organization that I’m also a part of, oh, right, right. And then we just have to get those opportunities approved, make sure that they’re safe places for us to be serving, that there’s an understanding of what we’re doing there and whatnot. But it’s a really cool process, honestly. And then that service assignment schedule can change throughout your mission. It’s not one that you commit to from the beginning and then never changes. You can swap out assignments as you as you feel are necessary or feel inspired to do so.
Jennie Dildine 37:28 Okay, great. So what do you what are you doing right now? What are you involved with right now?
Sydni Bringhurst 37:34 Right now, I serve a lot with the Salvation Army in Portland. I help run their sack lunch program. So every Monday we make anywhere from 500 to 1000 lunches, wow. Some of those lunches go to the Salvation Army there may help with that outreach. And I’ve had the opportunity to be part of that outreach. So we walk around downtown and handout lunches and offer prayer or conversation with anybody who’s, who’s feeling that feeling a need for that. And then the bulk of the sandwiches go to a county office downtown that then get distributed to different organizations that also go and do that outreach process of handing out lunches. And other times we’ve handed out waters or cooling supplies. Every once in a while we get a really hot week. And it’s not entirely used to that. So are handing out ponchos on extremely wet weeks, or socks, things like that. And then I also serve in the temple. And my assignments there have changed throughout time when I first started, I was on the landscaping crew helping with the grounds of the temple, which was a blast and had a really unique spirit. And then I started serving in the laundry, the clothing rental, I helped with that process. And then I’m currently serving as an ordinance worker. That’s been a real blessing. And then I’ve served with the bishop storehouse in the past. And I also serve at a place called the Good Neighbor Center, which is over in Tigard, Oregon, and it is a shelter for families experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. And I help them with both their childcare and processing donations that come in organizing their different storage spaces. And then I also serve at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in their pediatric ICU.
Jennie Dildine 39:31 I just am having this overwhelming just awe of anybody who says that a service mission is not a real mission or is not making a difference that just That’s not true at all. I don’t know if you guys can feel what what SR Bringhurst is, is sharing with us but like anyone who says that 1000 lunches. Don’t make an impact and and don’t represent like what The what the Savior would have done is wrong. There’s, I think this necessary and valid and important is is just when you describe it this way and tell us the things that you’re doing that rings. So, so true. That’s amazing what you’re doing.
Sydni Bringhurst 40:21 Thank you, you know, one of my favorite things about being a service missionary, because the opportunity to share about these experiences and to share about the mission. That’s one kind of informal assignment I have right now I tour with my mission leaders around the mission area. And we talk with different words about this opportunity about what a service mission entails. And I’m finding that as people open their hearts and listen to the amazing opportunities that are here, and the bridges that are being built, mean Salvation Army, once upon a time, there was not a relationship there at all. And now it’s built into something really beautiful. And so as people are hearing that and opening their hearts to that, I love to see that wall come down and like, Oh, yes, this is real. And this is important and valid. And I do feel like education is one of the biggest things that that can help break down these stigmas. Because, like you said, I think it’s hard once you hear and see the good that’s being done to say that it’s not worthwhile.
Jennie Dildine 41:29 Yeah, 100%. So good. What advice would you have for someone who is getting ready to, to serve a service mission?
Sydni Bringhurst 41:38 So many thoughts come to mind, there’s so much, so much. I guess the first thing that’s coming to mind is to not I don’t know if this is going to make sense, but to to not be afraid to be wrong and to grow. And the example that I came up with a couple of months ago that I’ve enjoyed playing with is the example of changing your major when you’re in college. So, say I started out as an engineering major. And I go, I start taking those classes because I really thought I wanted to be an engineer, and I thought it would be really great. And I realized really quickly that it is not a good fit for me, I’m not feeling it, like these, like is not my brain and this major is, ooh, you know all the tough feelings there. And beyond just being hard, it’s just, this isn’t gonna be a good fit. It’s not something that is going to help me become the person that I want to be any of those questions that come up. When you’re thinking, Why am I in this major, it’s, this isn’t the right one for me. And so then meet with an academic advisor or even on your own depending on where you’re at in your schooling, and you switch it into something else, maybe you decide you want to go into education. I find more often than not, when you change your major in school. People are pretty supportive. Right? That’s great. I’m so glad you realized. And you felt early on or later or right now that that wasn’t a good fit for you. And I’m glad you found the thing that feels better and can help you grow and feels true to who you are. And all those things. It’s often largely supported by peers and things like that. I like to view the different assignments much of the same way teaching or service. And understanding that it just it might need to shift, you will have so many people ask you about your mission from the beginning. And I remember before it you know, before I even started, I got my call and everybody wanted to know about a service mission. And I was like I I haven’t started I don’t really know, what it’s looking like and what it’s doing and, and some of my verbiage has changed the words that I like to use the ways that I like to approach this to be more inclusive. And so just to not be afraid to change your mind to be open to that change your mind about how you’re feeling, change your mind about the circumstances about what a service mission is like, it’s okay, it’s okay for that to evolve. And I would even go as far as to say it can be really good for that to evolve. And that can be a really good thing. I also think having some ideas about what kind of structure that you would like, what kind of rules that you would like to have for yourself to be brainstorming about that. How would you like to work on your personal study? How would you like that to look for yourself? How what kind of rules would you like for yourself as far as media submissions, I think are more specific with what they permit and what they don’t. When I first started here, it was pretty open. So how much access Do you want to have to social media? How do you feel about that? What kinds of media are you going to consume? Every service missionary is different. I’ve enjoyed reaching out to missionaries that I found on social media and you know, what, what’s your process what worked for you, and also allowing that to change over time. It’s okay for that to change and, and evolve. And to be confident in your purpose. Oh, rereading the missionary purpose, I think can be so important. And rereading your call rereading your call letter, I think can be super helpful.
Jennie Dildine 45:24 Awesome. So those standards for media and that kind of thing? Are those rules that then come from your state president? Because he’s the one that holds the keys? Or would that come from your mission coordinator service mission coordinators? Is that what their title was? Mission service coordinator?
Sydni Bringhurst 45:44 Yeah, they can be called service mission coordinators or service mission leaders.
Jennie Dildine 45:48 So were those kind of standards come down from them the same way it would a mission president? Or is it all kind of up to you there’s a, there’s some guidelines in your handbook. And then from there, you can just decide
Sydni Bringhurst 46:03 there’s a combination. So we do have a handbook, missionary standards, for disciples of Jesus Christ service missions. There are some there, a lot of it is pray about it, and I’m follow the spirit. And then my service mission leaders, that’s a three are calling for them. And so over time, they’ve seen things that they feel are helpful. And so they will meet with us and establish new rules and standards to help further the work and help us be more focused and things like that. And then my one on one meetings with my stake president, we’ve also had times where we’ve just brainstormed about things, or I’ve talked about, okay, here’s what I’m feeling. And here’s what I’m doing. What do you think? And then they’ll say, Well, let’s try this. This is something that teaching missionaries do. Let’s see if it works for you in this context, and so kind of a combination.
Jennie Dildine 46:53 Gotcha. And are you meeting with your stake president? How often would it be every transfer the way that teaching missionaries do or like every six weeks or so as long as needed basis?
Sydni Bringhurst 47:06 Yeah, yeah. So the goal is to meet with your State President every month, so about every transfer, and we do have every six weeks we rotate companionships. Okay, so we won’t we don’t have that same transfer experience. We’re not moving homes or even necessarily moving assignments, but every bar every six weeks, we switch companions. And then every month you’re supposed to be meeting with that steak president.
Jennie Dildine 47:30 Okay. Awesome. And how much contact do you have with the service mission leaders?
Sydni Bringhurst 47:37 Oh, my goodness, they’re basically my parents out here. They’re there. They’ve become some of my best friends. So I, we meet with them a lot. But we have mission conferences twice a month via zoom. And then we have one in person meeting as a whole mission with them as well, which sometimes includes interviews with them. Other times, it’s just a bonding meeting. Yeah. Yeah. So we see them pretty often.
Jennie Dildine 48:06 I love that. I’ve heard in the next six months, I was kind of chit chatting with my stake president about this podcast, and you know, some things about service missions, because I do think that my son, actually, my third son will likely be serving a service mission. If he serves a mission at all, we’ll see. But, um, anyway, so I just kind of picking his brain. And it sounds like there are some changes kind of on the horizon, and the next six months that they’re doing some pilot programs and things around to hopefully help with some of these challenges. So, so good, I love that. I have a couple of last questions for you, sister, Bringhurst. How do you think a person would know if a service mission was right for them?
Sydni Bringhurst 48:54 I think prayer is super key, praying about it, and reflecting on it. Something that I felt was really pivotal in my process was looking beyond sort of the first few things that come to mind when you think about a mission, the things I mentioned earlier about sitting in the living room and bearing your testimony. And I can sit in a living room, impair testimony, I can say that with confidence, I can do that. And that would feel good. And that would be wonderful. And I needed to look and ask myself the hard questions about walking potentially walking miles upon miles a day and stairs with my hip. Right? How’s that gonna look? Thinking about the emotional toll some of the different challenges that I have in that environment and when you get that tough companion out in the field, or when you’re feeling, you know, really homesick or just just the the circumstances that a teaching mission provides and asking myself those questions about okay. You But what’s that gonna look like for me? And can that be a healthy option? Is that something that can be healthy? And so really having those honest conversations with yourself, and I think that the permission evaluation can be a great opportunity for that. And if you’re out teaching, I think that that’s still a conversation that you can have with yourself. Is this, is this healthy for me right now? Are there changes I can make out here that can help it be healthier for me? Or do the circumstances need to change? Does does this assignment need to shift for this to be a healthy opportunity to grow in the Spirit and to be representative Jesus Christ and all those things?
Jennie Dildine 50:39 Yeah. And I love this word you’re using healthy. I want you to kind of expound upon that, because I think you kind of alluded to this earlier. But we understand that missions are hard. We understand that service missions have challenges and can be hard. It’s hard just being a human. Right, amen. But like, what’s, like, what do we mean by healthy? When you say that, like, Can this be a healthy experience for me to change here and have kind of heart here are a healthy experience at home? You know, even if someone who decides to just come home early, or, you know, all of that kind of thing? What do you what, how do you describe that word healthy? What does that mean to you?
Sydni Bringhurst 51:28 One of the things that I have really latched on to is this idea that Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ want us to thrive and not just survive. And there is sacrifice, and there’s, there are hard things. And those are, that’s valid and important. And I think there’s a point where it goes beyond sacrificing and now you’re sacrificing more your, your health. For myself, at least I think about physical, emotional and spiritual. And I want to sacrifice and I want to give my my willing heart and open mind to my heavenly Father. And I want to be mindful and aware of what circumstances can best allow me to do that. So that I continue can continue to be an instrument in his hands. And that maintenance process of of that instrument is, is I think up to me, it’s up to me to be aware of, of what kind of things I need to do to be in better shape to be that instrument.
Jennie Dildine 52:32 I love that is sort of the word that came to my mind as you were talking is like the difference between like sacrifice, which is sometimes hard is sometimes challenging. But the difference between sacrifice and suffering. Yeah. And I think that there is a lot of needless suffering that we put ourselves through, which then takes a toll on our health. Whereas sacrifice I think of Yeah, it’s hard, but it’s going to continue to help us grow and move towards the person that Heavenly Father wants us to be. I’m thinking about this out loud. But um, that’s kind of what came to mind. And I’m sure it’s not a catch all way to think about it. But that I think that is to me, health is sacrifice. And we’re gonna we’re gonna make some sacrifices, but maybe we crossed the line when we put ourselves and punish ourselves with suffering, either spiritually, mentally, or physically.
Sydni Bringhurst 53:40 I would agree, I think that’s a great way to articulate that. Thank you.
Jennie Dildine 53:44 Yeah, you bet. You bet. It just kind of came to me the suffering part. What do you want people to really understand about a service mission, that maybe they don’t understand right now.
Sydni Bringhurst 54:01 That it’s necessary, valid and important. I go back to that always. Also, that it is a call from the Prophet. I think that that’s important. I also want to add a thought on onto that, that call process the way that a service mission functions right now came around in about January of 2019. service missions did exist before then. And it was a different process. It was more of an application through your state president and an assignment that way. And I just wanted to say that that mission is also necessary, valid and important. I don’t want to discount any of those experiences just because the program has changed. So I want to throw that out there as well. I have noticed that people have sort of met to service missions at different stages in that development. And so talking with service missionaries that are around you right now is a great opportunity. Every service Michigan is is looking so different. Like you said, there are some different pilot programs out there right now, I think this opportunity will continue to evolve. That’s another distinction that this is an entirely different program. It’s all within the missionary program. And it’s just a different assignment, a different opportunity. Those are some of those, those things I like to put in there. Other thoughts would be to love and support or service missionaries, just like you’re teaching missionaries, something that I don’t know, would maybe come to mind quickly for people. We’ve sort of created this very glamorized process of mission call openings, opening your mission call. Yeah. And ever, you’ve got that big map, and everybody’s putting their their pin on the map and, and where are they going to go? And what language are they going to speak. And at least, you know, for me, as I knew a service mission was a possibility. I opened my mission call from my bed, in my pajamas, with my with just a couple of my family members, just my mom, my sister and my brothers. And it’s kind of tough. It’s kind of tough. I know of at least one individual who it wasn’t on their radar. And they had that big process. And they open their call. And it was a service mission, and they were serving locally, and it can be tough to process. I so appreciated, the people that just embraced me and showed me so much love and support and asking questions is great and wonderful. I would just encourage you to do it with gentleness and openness and, and try and recognize if there’s any judgement in some of in some of your questions that can be hard to do. But being open to understanding new things about service missions, and what that person’s process is going to look like. Understand that there are a lot of challenging emotions that can come with it, including being very excited, of course. Those are some things that come to mind for me.
Jennie Dildine 57:04 So good and such good reminders for all of us. I think, let’s all go have the service missionaries over for dinner is that allowed?
Sydni Bringhurst 57:11 It’s totally allowed. My ward actually started doing that. And it has meant so much to me. They a couple months into our mission, they said we realized, you know, we have this calendar for the teaching missionaries, why don’t we have a calendar for you too. And those have been some of my, some of my favorite experiences totally, you know, reach out to your your service mercenaries. And when you have a missionary that comes home and from a teaching mission and decides to transfer into a service mission, that is the process right now is that it’s a transfer. Yeah, from from one mission into another. You don’t need to ask them why they’re home. You don’t need to do that. If they want to share that with you. I think that that’s great. But just being welcoming, welcome home overwhelmed. Tell me about your next steps. Tell me what’s up, you know? Yes, love and all things lead with love.
Jennie Dildine 58:00 That’s a great, that’s a great motto. And, and of course, what I teach here is that, you know that love is generated, by the way you think about someone. Absolutely. And so I think that that’s really something doable, we all can do. And then of course, that love is going to drive a certain set of actions. If we come at it from judgment, like our action line is going to look a lot different than if we come at it from love. Or like if we come at it from like suspicion or something like that. Yeah. But if we come at our action line of talking to someone with love is gonna feel so different, first of all, to me. And second of all, it’ll feel different to you. So good. All right. Any last thoughts, Mr. Bringhurst, that you would like to share with us?
Sydni Bringhurst 58:56 I would like to share a thought that an A fellow missionary shared with me. It was in her start of mission talk. And she was originally assigned to the service missionary. And in a lot of ways, I feel like our journeys are really parallel. So it’s, it’s been fun to watch her grow. She started just about three months ago. And she gave some different examples of the scriptures of, of times that challenges of of different figures were sort of taken away. tongues were loosed, burdens were lifted. And it’s like that. She shared some examples, you know, could could heavenly father have done that for me? Could he have? So in my case, could he have magically taken away all of my hip pain and it just would have been gone? Sure. Could he have taken away some of the different thoughts and struggles that I have with my mental health? Sure, he could have He’s capable. We’ve seen that in the script. yours. And that’s not the miracle that he intended for me. That was her thought. It’s not the miracle he had intended for me the miracle was this opportunity, a mission that would allow me to serve in the best ways that I know about how the best ways that he knows how. That’s the miracle. And so, even if the miracle wasn’t what we thought it was going to look like, this opportunity is a miracle. And I’ve been pondering on that a lot. And realizing that sometimes I think we put our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in a box of what miracle they need to extend to us, right? What what we think that they should do for us what’s going to be the best miracle for us, when they they know what the best miracle is? They know what it is. And if we keep our hearts and minds open, we can start to see what that is. And we might be surprised to find that we’re living in it.
Jennie Dildine 1:00:59 That is a beautiful thought. And I was actually just sharing that sort of same, same sentiment and same thought with a client I was just working with is like, we think a miracle is going to be one thing. Something usually we expect it, like a change or something. But instead, the miracle is us. The miracle is the growth. The miracle is is this gift that we’ve been given to grow and change, to become more like them. That’s miracle. It’s beautiful. You said it so eloquently. Well, thank you so much for joining us, Sydney, and for sharing all of your wisdom, you are beautifully well spoken, super eloquent. And I appreciate all of the insights that you shared with us today. I know it’s gonna help so many people. So thanks for being here.
Sydni Bringhurst 1:01:58 Thank you so much for the opportunity.
Jennie Dildine 1:02:03 Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. Listen, if you are learning a lot from this podcast, and you like what you’re hearing, you will absolutely love hopping on a free strategy call with me. That’s where you and I meet up one on one and talk specifically about what is going on for you. I love teaching young adults the mental and emotional tools that they need to overcome orient anxiety, serve the successful missions they’ve always dreamed of and navigate their post mission experience with confidence. So go to Jennie dildine.com, and click on the work with me link. I would love to meet you. And I would love to get you some helpful tools and strategies to help you fully embrace whatever is next for you. And in the meantime, no matter which part of the mission experience you are involved in. Just know that Jennie, the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day.