Friday, October 11, 2013

My Process on Deciding to Serve a Mission

I've grown up being familiar with missions.  I saw family go, serve and return home, I grew up listening to stories from my dad's mission and my family often had missionaries over for dinner.  There are actually two memories I have about missions.  The first one revolves around my grandparent's serving.  When they left (or came home), they gave all of the grandsons "Future Missionary" tags.  I was not happy with that.  And promptly went and asked my dad why I couldn't have one, saying "girls can serve too."  The second memory I remember is having sister missionaries over.  This was a treat (and it was a long long time ago) as we normally had Elders in the area.  But once, when I was younger, there were actual sisters serving in my ward.
So you see, the seeds to serve a mission were planted young in my life.  Additionally, I have found written in a couple of my journals the desire to serve.  But, remember the age a women could serve was 21.  So when people asked me if I was going to serve, my answer was always one of  "maybe," "we'll see" and "it depends."  Yes I wanted to serve, but it seemed so far off.

I finished high school, and set off for the big wide world.  College was amazing, wonderful and I absolutely LOVED BYU.  A mission was still on my mind, but it got pushed back a little farther as I started the pre-nursing program, and decided that if I did decide to go on a mission, it didn't make any sense to leave once I got into the nursing program.
Since then four of us and received and have
 left or are leaving soon on missions!
  But one fateful day in October my life changed forever.  General Conference happens twice a year, and while I had the opportunity to attend a live session with my dad junior year, I was in Utah and wanted to try again.  I had a couple friends who wanted to go too, so we decided to make it a girl's trip and got up early Saturday morning, drove to Salt Lake and while we didn't make it into the Conference Center, we decided to watch Conference broadcast in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  We found good seats and sat talking about... missions.  About how we wanted to serve, we wished we could serve earlier, how in some countries, elders were serving earlier, different mission stories we had heard.

Conference started and so did technology problems.  First they could get the audio to work, but not the video and then neither worked.  Finally the video feed was working, but we had no audio.  And while we're hoping and praying the audio comes back on, the prophet gets up to speak.  And after he had been speaking for a little bit, the audio kicked back on.  Right about this point....
Perfect time for the audio to come back on, right? I knew as soon as I heard President Monson announce the age change that I wanted to go on a mission, and I wanted to leave as soon as possible.  My dad knew I wanted to serve a mission about 10 minutes after the conference session ended.  Our conversation went somewhat like this:

“Dad! I’m going to serve a mission!”
“That’s great emily”
“No, you don’t understand, I want to leave as soon as possible”
“Can we talk about this at another time?  Like when you come home”
“Fine.  But I’m going on a mission”
“Okay emily”

Through various phone calls and skype conversations my parents and I talked more about me leaving on a mission.  My parents had three requirements before I could start my papers 1) I was to finish fall semester, 2) I was to finish winter semester and 3) I needed to work the summer to pay for part of my mission.  I agreed.  My papers were started in December, and I went tracting with the local sister missionaries for the first time.  Fast forward four months and I'm back home after finishing winter semester.  During those four months, 2 of my best friends received their calls (the Elders I wrote about here) and many others also opened mission calls.  
My goal, once home, was to send in my papers as soon as possible.  All I really had left was the doctor's appointment and my interviews, so I didn't think it would take that long.  Well it turned out to be a lot more stressful than I had anticipated.  I ended up going to the doctor 3 times because sections of the paperwork were skipped, I had to redo my dentist appointment, and at the same time I was struggling to find a job.  One night as I expressed my frustrations to a friend, he asked me if a mission was really want I needed to do with my life.  He asked if what I wanted was in God's plan for me too and if I had prayed about it.  I admitted I hadn't because I wanted to go on a mission so badly, that I didn't want to receive "no" as an answer from the Lord.

That friend then used that opportunity to bear his testimony to me about the truthfulness of the Church and about having/needed the strength to accept the will of the Lord.  And while I ended up mad at him, I knew he was right and I turned to the Lord in all my stress, frustrations and confusion.  Since I was home I also asked my dad for a priesthood blessing.  Doing that gave me the opportunity to talk to my father about what was going through my mind and if a mission was the best thing for me to do. I had registered for fall 2013 classes at byu and didn't know if I should continue with my mission papers or head back to school.   Dad and I talked about how I had two good choices, and if I wasn't receiving a strong prompting in either direction, the Lord was allowing me to choose.  He then proceed to give me a blessing, which brought peace to my mind.  I decided at that point in time to go through with my mission application.

The following week I had my last interview, this time with the stake president.  It was a very nice interview, and it was a relief finishing and submitting my papers.  As I was driving home I had stopped at a red light when I received and answer to my prayers, thoughts and tearful nights concerning whether or not I should go on a mission.  Never have I have I had such peace wash over me.  In once instant, everything became alright.  All my concerns and worries no longer matter.  I knew at that point that I had made the right decision to go on a mission.

Since that night, if I ever get discouraged, I just remember the feeling I had as I sat in my car.  It truly was the Lord's peace that he taught about to his disciples (John 14:27).  That wasn't the only time I received a confirmation that I am doing the right thing.  After opening my call, my increasing excitement testified to me that I was going to the right place.  I received a witness to my decision the first time I mentioned my mission in a talk in church (about a month after I received my call) and little things in my life continue to let me know that a mission is right for me.  

I know that I am making the right decision for me and I know that I'm making the decision that the Lord wants me to make.  I know that a mission will be difficult, but I also know that I will never be along, that my Lord and Heavenly Father will be with me step by step.  I know that I am a daughter of God with Divine potential.  I know that the Book of Mormon is another witness to Jesus Christ and I am so excited to go serve the people of the New Mexico Albuquerque Mission.  It won't be easy, it won't always be fun, but it will be worth it.  And just as I'm grateful for this opportunity to serve, I am also grateful for everything that has gotten me to this point in my life.  It's all part of a glorious plan.  

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