There are many things that could be said and observed as a missionary, in the service of the Lord for these two years. The mission can be learned from carefully observing a simple thing, that all missionaries have in common, a small little possession, a missionary nametag. It is more than a nametag nicely situated on my left-breast pocket on a clean, white dress shirt. There are many things that can be seen, that my eyes have often overlooked on this familiar nametag. So, I am now starting to take note of these things, which I am becoming better acquainted with in the mission field.
One of the most common things to first grab my attention, is the title of Elder, followed by my last name. Both words are large and capitalized. In ordinary print, capitalization is used to draw attention, it stands out to the normal eye. I’m someone important with something important to share with all.
Elder is a special title that I was given when I was set-apart for two years. In the mission it is often asked what does Elder mean, as missionaries, our response, is generally quick, and often not carefully thought out as some say it means missionary, but it is more than that; it is a title given to all worthy holders of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood. This response adds more, to just an ordinary missionary, it’s the title of one who has the divine power and authority to act in God’s name.
Following the title of Elder, is my last name. It gives me an identity and singles me out from all the other missionaries. I’m an individual that has a special character and my own teaching skills. I carry my last name with pride not only because I am a representative of Jesus Christ, but also I am representing my eternal family who are thousands of miles from my presence. In some cultures, the act of one individual, not only reflects on the individual themselves, but also on their entire family. What I may do or say in the mission, does indeed, reflect on my family, as well as the church, and also my nation.
The word Elder and my last name are impacted. It’s a symbol of how both the mission will have an impact on my life as well as the impact I will make on a family as I teach them, baptize them into the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and watch them go to the temple, or perhaps it could be an impact of simply planting a few seeds for future missionaries.
Elder and my last name are together on the same line. This shows me how my companion and I can work together in unity to accomplish a great work. Where there is one, the other is always at the side. Both of us have an important job and responsibility that we accomplish as we work together. We both strengthen each other.
Labeled upon my nametag is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The title of the church is written in a foreign tongue, which shows, the true church of Christ knows no bounds, in regards to nationality, race, language, etc. This reminds of the church’s progress from a small humble beginning from a small little cottage membership to a world-wide membership of more than 12 million people.
The bold, white lettering is strongly displayed over a black background. The color white often times is thought of as a pure color, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is indeed a pure church to which follows pure doctrine taught of Christ. The interior of this missionary nametag is also white, with the exterior being black; it is symbolism of the light of truth desperately fighting its way forth through the darkness of these days to help lighten a soul that hungers to know the truth.
Upon breaking down the title of the church, I have learned more of what I am exactly representing in the mission.
THE CHURCH is derived from the Greek word, Ecclesia, which means an assembly called together.  This is what we do every Sunday; help assemble members and investigators together, “to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel”. It is a grand privilege, helping others come unto the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
JESUS CHRIST is the most important word that is on my nametag. Being bigger than the rest of the words in the church’s title and being on its own line, His name is a testimony in what and whom we believe in. With Jesus Christ’s name on my chest, it reminds me in every action and word in which I say, whether big or small, that I am both an example and a representative of Jesus Christ. Our Savior, Redeemer, and Elder Brother is whom we strive to teach as “the perfect example”, and how I strive to live every day.
LATTER-DAY SAINTS is what exactly we are, followers of Jesus Christ in these Latter-Days as prophesied with a restoration of the true church of Christ in the fullness of times. In some South American cultures the people look at Saints as people that are very special and sacred so we are someone that the people can view as a special, sacred servant of Christ.
I have also noticed the rounded corners on my nametag. This shows how I will smoothen the rough edges as I help others begin to live the principles of Christ’s teachings. The soften, four corners also show in the four corners of the world that people are softening their hearts to the gospel of Jesus Christ and that we are accepted in many corners of the world and among many cultures.
With the reflection of the light, there are several scrapes, scratches, and smears. It shows work and dedication through joys and sorrows, acceptances and rejections, trials, and faith. Every mark had made a difference, large or small in my life and the lives of others.
The last thing I have noticed, the back of my nametag outstretches the front. In the mission, we are always pushing, and stretching ourselves to be better servants. We are always perfecting ourselves in the Lord’s work. We accomplish the Lord’s work through the help of our companions and by goal setting. Symbolically I am the smaller part in front; the larger part in back is my companion, which I am always teaching, the things that I have learned, so that he will be a better missionary than myself. That he may accomplish more than I have accomplished.
As a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I am thankful for everyday I have to learn more of my calling. Observing my missionary nametag has helped me learn more about myself and what I represent. I know with more time and experience I will learn more of who I am and what I represent.
-Elder Nathan R. Somsen
Argentina Mendoza Mission
September 2004 – September 2006