I hope this column finds you readers refreshed from Memorial Day weekend. I spent yesterday rushing around the county taking pictures of the various services. My heart was stirred in greater appreciation for those who have valiantly and selflessly served our country throughout the years. I always seem to find a renewed sense of patriotism on Memorial Day and even more so than on the Fourth of July. Perhaps it is because we can so easily find and relate to still-living people who have served. It makes their sacrifice more real to us and enables us to connect their actions to feelings of love for our country. I am thankful for the veterans and those currently serving.

I'm also thankful for you readers. You have patiently waded through each of the 16 columns I've thrown at you. Don't you worry, more will be sure to follow.

It occurred to me recently that I haven't really explained why I named my column "On a Mission." The title represents a lot. It ties in with who I am, who I'm trying to become, and what my beliefs are. It also explains why I'm writing for a newspaper when I could be at the University of Minnesota. I've received comments and questions from people as to why I'm here, so allow me to explain.

I knew I was supposed to come up with a column title, but the harder I tried to think of the perfect name, the more my brain wouldn't piece it together. "Ramblings from an Ancient Youth" was too long and "Unedited" would be a plain lie. The lady who takes your phone calls at the Republican-Leader office, Janet Brevig, randomly stuck her head into my office as my brain was about to explode and said, "You know, you could call it, "On a Mission." Right when she said it, I knew it was the right title. So for those of you who thought I cleverly thought of it myself, you were wrong. I'm not that original.

Here's why it worked.

Beside the fact that I am currently on a mission to cover the news in and around the Bluff Country area, I am literally preparing to serve a mission. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and single male members are encouraged to serve a two-year domestic or abroad mission during their early adult years. It is optional, so I can choose if and when I want to serve. During a process involving much prayer and thought, I felt like I should prepare to serve. At the time of my decision, I was attending the University of Minnesota. I completed my Fall 2012 semester, moved back home, and started working in order to raise the rest of the money I needed for my mission.

I felt taking a leave of absence from my formal education was necessary in order to gain more perspective, understanding and skills that will help me in my mission and beyond. Spiritual preparation has also been a very important focus of mine during this intermediate time before I leave. I knew it was the right decision before I left and I still know it was the right decision. It is evident every time I hear another person's story.

In order to serve, I will submit an application to the Church's headquarters and later receive a letter in the mail stating where I will be sent. I plan on leaving in October, although plans have changed before. While on my mission, I will try to help people both spiritually and physically: the former, through teaching about Jesus Christ, and the latter, through giving service to others. I will be sharing what I know is true and helping others come unto Jesus Christ.

This is the most important way I will be on a mission in the near future. However, I will always be on a mission, whether it be in finishing school when I return, finding a career path I love, or preferably both. I'm on a mission to become a better person. Being on a mission in various ways has allowed me to understand the purpose in everything I do. It helps me keep grounded, prioritize and recognize what is actually important in life. I think everyone can be on a mission in some aspect of their lives. It could be in school, in work, in service, or in anything positive.

We are all called to be the very best version of ourselves.