Tell me who you were in December 2009 when you decided to leave for your mission, and tell me who you are now?
Xavier Su’a-Filo: “Then I was Xavier Su’a-Filo. I had just finished my freshman season of football for UCLA and I was preparing for my mission for the LDS church. Two years later, I’m still the same me. Still the same guy. But the mission experience I did have was one that changed my life and really helkped me in a variety of ways. To be a better man, to become a better person, to be humble. To know how to shape my life better.
Tell me about the moment you made the decision
As soon as I decided that I was going to serve a mission was when I flew back from DC frmo the bowl game to go home. I realized I wasn’t going to go back. It hit me when I got home -like wow man, I am making this decision. I am going to go. I had a lot of support so that made it easiedr. It hit me right then that i had decided that it wasnt that i was giong to do it and i still felt good about the decision
At what point int he journey was it thnak god i did this, had i not done this…
There are a lot of pooints like that. It had its ups and downs. It was really hard. … but it was also fun. We had some rough days. We didnt have so much success. it was challenging. Really pushes you to see how dilignet you could be. then youd have some good days, some success. You’d be able to find somebody or help somebody or serve somebody who was really appreciative of it, and you could see the change in their lives. That made it all worthwhile.
In the beginning,, when i first got there – they send you to a training center before you go to the field – a few weeks into the training center, it really hit me. Man….wow. This is what I’m going to be doing for two years. Various times throughout the mission, i sat and contemplated, thikning this is exactly where i need to be. This is exactly what I need to be doing. Because I wouldn’t have learned…this.”
not what it couldve been, but it is now. two years is done, in the past. Is this the kind of decision do you have thet comntemplative nature or will it hit when your 35, and if i hadnt have done it
I think its already started to do it with me. Just for being faithful that way, we’re promised blessings. Flor a lot of people, thsoe come immediately, 10 years later, 5 years, 30 years. But I’ve already seen a change in myself. Going to class, my study habits, just the eway i talk to people, wat im ablek toi present myself in front of people. Little things I’ve noticed about myself, tiny little disciplinary things that came from serving a mission. I’ve noticed them myself, but People around me have noticed a change. i’m still me, though, obviously. Just the little things. being more organized, being on time for things – things that an 18-19 year old kid out of high school would struggle with. i was able to fine tune thise in a little bit and really really I was able to put things into perspecitive on what was moth important in life, which reflected everything. Now i’m at this stage, it’s school, back in football, my relationships with famjily and loved ones, things that are really important, I’m able to zero in on them, have a balance and really focus. Im able not to be so distracted
parallel between serving two years a mission and prison time. in both ways end up changed. have you noticed those fundamental changes in you? peronality? more patient
No, I don’t think so. Definitley not qiueter. It’s more like, before I couldn’t wait to talk. I listened, but I cuoldn’t wait to say what I had to say. Now I’m still me, I’ll still talk it up. If you ask any of my friends im stil me. But I guess I’m more analytic and listening to people. Really being able to hear pepole. On a missuon you meet people with life’s problems, diff sithch. When you have op to zero in and listen to them. To discen and hear them and figure out what’s going on, that takes a lot of patience and understanding. So if you asked my parents, my friends, everyone if I’m the same me, yeah, i have the same personality. But it’s better. I have the ability to listen. To pay ttention.
thing you do as OL is to open doors. Your job as a missionary was to open doors. Little different, but tell me about the hardest day you had out there, bceause you’re not someone who likes those doors shut.
The hardest day, whew. There are a lot of different ways that missionaries judge their success. Some missionaries unfortunately judge their success by the number of baptisms. Some by the amount of people they talk to, service hours they had. But realistically, success of a mission comes from your personal diligence and your success workings in a companionship, getting closer to from the lord, helping people. When those things are interrupted, it’s hard and it’s easy to think negative.
My hardest day on my mission was probably one day when I was serving in second area, in Foley, Alabama. We were serving in an area with a small community of Hispanics in a trailer park area. There had been missionaries for so long, same old people had been run into . When you’re knocking doors, they already knew who you were. They were not interested. My companion and I were tracting -knocking on doors, which wasn’t the most effective thing to do but was what we had to resort to. earlier that day, two of our top investigators, pepole we were teaching, had dropped us. They told us for whatever reason theyre not interested, they dont want us to come back. It was really disheartening. We could see how much they were progressing, see how much they were changing. for something to suddenly happen without any explanation, they just all at once told us we dont want you to come over anymore. i twas real discouraging, but we kept going on. that was early, around 1. Tracting, meeting pepole, nice to us but not wanting message. Later in the evening, good friend we had met had a heart attack in the hospital who we had met, and she was a very old woman, and it was damaging to her. We went to hospitali, but then later in the evening, we had another person we knew get robbed at their home. They called us, not knowing what to do, kind of almost casting the blame on her starting to meet with us. She thought now she had bad luck. So that whole everything that could go wrong did go wrong. it was raining, too, and we got soaked all during the day. It was just a tough day.
What was the next day like?
Pretty much the same thing…just not the heart attack and the robbery. Lot of days like that, where you try and try and try meet people, and its not happening. Then you wonder sometimes, was it us? Was it what we were doing? Sometimes you don’t have success, there are people out there waiting. God is testing if youre diligent enough. The whole week was pretty bad like that, but on the last day, we got one phone call from a member who gave us a referral. I have a good friend, been talking about the church, they want a copy of book of mormon and they want to meet w you, can you come over? we were like, yeees, we’d love to. We set up an appointment that next week and went over and taught her, and after a whole week of griding through rough and tough hard work, we were rewarded with one call with a referral and a little bit of success. you know what, had we not worked hard eearlier in the week, I don’t know if we would have. as much as it was for the other people, it was for us, too. To really see how faithful we are ourselves.
thats what its supposed to do. why you do that for two years. Do you thikn about what you couldve veen doing instead? Now you’re a 21 year old kjid and youve been through this, at what point do you have to say im keeping that with me or im letting it go and moving on to next phase of life. lot of people become defined byt hat mission for two years and cant let go of the experience
A lot of guys ive met, that;s all they think about. they wish they were back there. But its int he past. Those two years are gone. You have to live life now. you have to go to school, continue on. Its not worth living in the past, living in your mission. Its great to take everything you learned, to remember the hard times and experiences and apply them to life now, but you cant dwell on them. when i came home, i decided with coming back to LA, alrihght my mission was great. I learned a lot of things. it was hard, very humbling, overall a great experience, now what can i take from it good and bad so i can ensure success in college, in life? Obvy i dedicated two years to the Lord serving Him, and I know he’ll take care of me and bless me, but i still have to do my part. A lot of people who do their mission, expect to be blessed and forget to do there part. I know that blessings from God are conditional. As long as you do your part, he’ll bless you. I made the decision right before I came back, I couldn’t sit on the fence. I’d be on one side or the other. Making that decision will effect the rest of my life, and I’m committed to doing that.
tempted to go to byu, utah and to continue
Yeah, I was a little bit. not for a football reason. There were a lot of rumors I guess speculating if I would be back. I always wanted to come back to UCLA. I was a little bit skeptical when Coach New got fired. He was the guy who gave me my scholarship, he was my coach. when he was fired, naturally i looked into other options. Just started thinking about them, if it wouldn’t work out, if UCLA wouldn’t take me. I wasn’t sure if coach Mora would want me. I wasn’t sure.. A lot of people think I’m dumb for thinking that, but it was realistic. I was thrilled to find out when Coach Mora got hired, he still wanted me back at UCLA. I was thrilled I didn’t have to sit out. I can understand after serving a mission, I can see why guys will transfer to BYU or Utah after. I can see they want to surrounded by that. Its a nice thing to have,to be around by those with your with your beliefs. ive actually met quite a few people here who area lready members of the church, and a lot of friends and people have aske