Stephen Beus is a gifted 24-year-old pianist who just won the annual Gina Bachauer international piano competition. Not bad for a musician who did one of the craziest things an aspiring professional can do: he served a full-time LDS mission. See the Salt Lake Tribune story for further details.
The sacrifice of giving up two years at such a critical age is a serious one for musicians, athletes, and others in competitive fields. Thank goodness for the courage that some have to make that sacrifice, though it may jeopardize a scholarship or even a career. I’m glad some, such as Stephen Beus, have been able to maintain their competitive edge in spite of the break. It can be done!
For me, “losing” two years for my mission was more than compensated by the rich experiences and education I received in Switzerland. I met so many people from so many cultures – I taught people from 52 different countries while there – and saw so much of life that I never knew in the States. It felt like several years of education compressed into two. No regrets – but I was luckier than average in many ways, I suspect. I honestly feel that I was able to move forward faster in the rest of my life because of the experiences my mission gave. But even if it had been all sacrifice and loss, I think it would still have been worth it to go and serve.