Two minutes ago, I listened to my cousin Lehi Kakiva announce (over speaker phone) that he's been called to serve a (LDS) service mission in New Jersey. Not gonna lie, my immediate thought was visiting him between fist pumping nights out at Jersey Shore... haha. But as I congratulated him on his call and choice to labor for our church, I was struck with how long Lehi as been attempting to serve a mission.
I first became acquainted with Lehi as he lived with our cousins in San Jose. I was living in the Bay Area and would visit frequently. Lehi was hoping to prepare for his mission while living with our cousins as his own family struggled with the church. This was in 2005. Lehi was 19.
I moved to Hawaii in 2007. Lehi was living in Maui with our Aunt. He was helping care for his grandma and working with an uncle. We talked occasionally and I continually asked about his progress towards serving a mission. He said it was his goal and was trying to save up money as a 2-year mission is costly. In 2008, I moved to Salt Lake City and Lehi followed suit months later. In fact, we lived together with our uncle. We instantly developed a brotherly bond. While living with our uncle, we cleaned and completed chores together, worked part-time jobs and cycled through various fitness regimens. I moved out two months later but continued to remain close to Lehi until he moved to Los Angeles in 2009. We kept in touch and he always spoke about going on a mission to which I joked that he would never go since so much time had passed.
I did not serve a mission. Instead, I decided to pursue an education. To this day, I have always wondered how different my life would have been had I gone a mission - an expectation for all worthy men in my church. And while I still have an opportunity to go now, I thought that my adult life did not need a two year hiatus. My career, wife and family could not wait that long. And I shared my rationale with Lehi.
Earlier this year, Lehi moved back to Hawaii with his family. He's helped them immensely, both financially and spiritually. When he called me this afternoon and that he wanted me to hear him announce his mission call, I felt incredibly proud and yet slightly ashamed for mocking his goal earlier. In the last 5 years, Lehi slowly maneuvered himself into this position. He's the turtle with the slow and steady pace. As our own choices lead us on pathways to various rewards, I know Lehi will be rewarded for his efforts. He can overcome any obstacle as a battle-tested servant. Good luck Elder Kakiva! Because I know you won't, I'll say it for you:
Told you so.