A few days before my call came in the mail, I wrote this entry in my journal on May 15, 2013.
By the way, I decided to serve a mission! That’s been a long time coming. Maybe that’s where I should start. When President Monson announced last October that sister missionaries could serve at age 19, BYU pretty much exploded. There’s hardly a few people from my freshman ward that I can think of that aren’t going on missions. Initially, I was so excited to hear about the lowering of the age girls could serve because I knew what a difference it made for Emily. She’s known she wants to serve a mission for a long time, and has even said before that she wished she could serve at 19 like the boys instead of having to wait. So I knew she was going to be ecstatic, and of course I was ecstatic for her. Emily is the best friend I’ve ever had. (That requires another entry of its own.) I just love her so much, that joy of having a chance to serve was something I felt too, as did almost every other girl here in Provo. It was slightly ridiculous. But it was a good excitement, don’t get me wrong. Missionary work is something that should cause excitement.
Anyway, I found myself caught in the middle of that last fall. At first, I thought I wanted to serve too. Why not? I love the gospel, of course sharing it with another part of the world would be a great thing to do and a great opportunity for my life. Then after a little while, reality sort of hit me. Missions are expensive. So is school. So is life. How did I intend on paying for my service? My parents certainly weren’t in a position to help me. What about the rest of my plans for my life? A mission was never part of that. I doubted that I really wanted to stop school, work, dating, and everything else for 18 months then come back and have to start up again. I thought about worldly things–my car for example. Did I want to give it up? I have honestly loved my “college life” experience, and really didn’t know if I actually wanted to serve a mission instead of continuing what I was doing.
Besides my selfish reasons, there was the question of whether or not Heavenly Father wanted me to go. What was His plan for my life? Did it include a mission? Or was I supposed to stay in school and do other things (get married)? Either way, I wasn’t sure at all about what I should do. Going on a mission didn’t really feel “right,” but neither did staying home. I made a very small effort to consult with my Heavenly Father about my decision, sometimes including my question in irregular prayers. I had kind of made up in my head that I didn’t want to go, but I still felt uneasy about that. I’ve discovered that Heavenly Father wants things for my life that are way better than what I want. I truly have faith that He can make something of me better than what I can ever imagine being; but that requires submitting my will to His. My problem was that up until this point, I didn’t remember ever feeling that my will and His will were so out of line. I think all along I knew serving a mission was something Heavenly Father desired of me, I just couldn’t let go of all the reasons I thought I shouldn’t.
The question was on my mind and in my heart for months. If I was going to serve the Lord by being a full-time missionary, I wanted to do it for the right reasons. I wanted to do it because I wanted to share the happiness the gospel brings, and because I wanted to please Heavenly Father, not everybody else. I didn’t want to serve just so I could be a part of the wave of all my friends leaving. Something I hate is being typical.
I realize now that all along the way, I was getting little answers. There were a couple times I sat in the temple, a few moments during scriptures study, and some sacrament meeting talks during which the Spirit let me know a mission was a good idea. But being stubborn as I am, I still let the question bother me for a long time without seriously bringing it to Heavenly Father. I talked to other people about it a lot more than I talked to Him.
Finally, April conference was coming and I knew I was entitled to a piece of personal revelation if I asked and was prepared. I had to work on Saturday but I went to the Sunday morning session at the conference center and listened to the afternoon at home with Aya and Kinzie. Having listened to some of what I missed on Saturday, I felt disappointed when the last session ended and I still didn’t feel like I had an answer. I felt even more confused. I was almost mad, as if my prayer and fasting had been in vain. I called Mom and she helped me come to the conclusion that I was just going to make a goal of preparing to go and then see what happens. So I made myself be okay with that.
The next day, I was listening back to more of Saturday’s conference while driving home from school. Sister Elaine S. Dalton was bearing her sweet testimony and I felt overwhelmed with a happy feeling of peace that I’d been asking for. As she spoke, I felt a desire to serve. I didn’t just need to know Heavenly Father wanted me to represent Christ, I wanted to.
Later, I was looking on lds.org at all the information they have about missionary service. I eventually found myself on a church news article about the press conference held after last conference when the age change was announced. Something Elder Holland said really struck a chord with me and solidified my decision. Addressing prospective missionaries, he asked what this means for us. He said, “God is hastening His work, and He needs more and more willing and worthy missionaries to spread the light and the truth and the hope and the salvation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to an often dark and fearful world.” What really hit me was when he continued and told us “This isn’t about you. It is about the sweet and pure message you are being asked to bear.” I had been so concerned with what a mission meant for me personally, but it’s not even about me! Yes, a mission will bring me closer to God, and it will prepare me to be a better wife and mother. Yes, I’ll have to pause school and work and sell my car. But none of that is the point.
The point is, more people need to know about Christ and how they can have an eternal family. I want others to be as incredibly blessed by the gospel as I have. There’s a reason this wave of missionaries, especially sisters, is happening now. How could I not want to be a part of it? A mission wasn’t ever something I looked forward to, but I’m glad it’s something I want now instead of something I’ll think about when I turn 21. I still have a lot of preparing to do, but I can hardly wait for my call to come next week. It doesn’t get easier from here, but it gets better.