Seventeen years ago this month I began my 2-year LDS mission to the New York New York South Mission. It is hard to believe that it was that long ago that I left my family to go and serve the Lord.
I entered the MTC (Missionary Training Center) on August 25th, 1993. Here is an actual excerpt from my mission journal:
The drive to Provo was a long and quiet one. I really had nothing to say at all. In my mind I was contemplating what was ahead and what I was leaving behind. Was this the right decision for me? I don't know, and that is scary. My mom and I arrived at the MTC and we were ushered into this large room. After a very short presentation the parents were asked to leave, and the missionaries were instructed to follow someone else. That was it, time for my mission to begin. My mom went out one way and I went out a different way. I tried not to cry but I admit that I did. I found my room after being inspected from head to toe. I also got my dork dot (a large green sticker on my name tag) on my mission tag and it shined brightly to all other missionaries letting them all know that I was an idiot and a newbie.
After finding my room, I really didn’t know what to do next so I decided to go back downstairs and poke around, hopefully finding some sort of instruction. Coming down the stairs I met some guy coming up with his luggage. He had a goofy smile on his face and really long hair. “Please don’t let that guy be my companion.” I thought to myself. After I returned upstairs from a short jaunt that same guy was in my room and he asked if I was Elder Platis. Sure enough, this guy was my new companion, his name was Elder Powell. The first thing we did together was go get his haircut.
Elder Troy Daniel Powell is from Rexburg, Idaho. He was born just two days before I was. He seemed a little cocky at first but you really cannot judge someone that has been thrust into a new situation like this. One of the first pictures we took of us together was with the camera lying on the ground face-up and we would lean over it. This trick would happen a lot more times on the mission. This did break the ice pretty quickly.
Look how young we are!
I can’t believe that I have started my mission. Leaving my mom was sad but I can cope. There are a couple of other missionaries that lived close that were going to New York as well. We were put into a district with 6 other Elders, (4 of them going to NY) and 2 sisters with one of them going to New York too. Tomorrow we have a ton of meetings to attend and I hear is the hardest day for new missionaries.
Alphabetically Elder Powell and I were put together as a companionship. But it was inspiration. We served together in the MTC for a month and we were the only companionship that got along. Later on in my mission I got the opportunity to live with him even though we served in separate areas. Than we were lucky enough to be companions for a second time and I served 4 months with him. In total, we spent right about six months together.
Elder Powell was my best friend in the mission. We were extremely close and worked well with each other. We had a lot of things in common. Elder Powell influenced me quite a bit. I don't think I would be the same man as I am today without his influence. He taught me to be outgoing and to be friendly and to have fun. When I joined Facebook he was the first guy I looked up.
One of my favorite stories of Elder Powell was this one when we served together in Elmhurst.
After our meeting we called Judy and she came and picked us up and we had our usual dinner appointment with her. Elder Powell sure makes me laugh. I wish I could be as witty as he is. We went to Judy's for our dinner appointment and she was not in the mood to cook so Elder Powell said he would make dinner. I sat myself down on the couch and played poker with Judy and talked about her job. Powell called us in for dinner and Judy and I sat down to eat. Judy then asked Elder Powell to bless the food. You know how in some prayers you say the same things automatically? Well, Elder Powell did that tonight. He got to the part where he normally says "and bless the hands that prepare...". He got to that part and paused, knowing it would be silly to say that since he was the one that prepared the food. But that didn't stop him so he continued. "And please bless the hands that prepared this... ...bless them with strength, wisdom, courage, patience and love." I about died laughing, Judy was not pleased with it as much but she laughed anyway. After we said "amen" Judy reached over and slugged Powell in the arm. I sure hope God has a good sense of humor.
Sadly this was the last time I saw Troy when we left the mission field.
Thanks Troy for being a part of my mission and being an example for me. I still reflect and laugh when I think about serving those times with him. Good times indeed.