My Decision to Serve

Well, my story doesn't start when the age change was announced.  In fact when I heard that I still didn't even think twice about my decision to serve, I was too scared and told myself I didn't have the right personality to serve, there was no way I could ever go up to some stranger and start talking about religion, that just wasn't me. 

Lets go back even a year ago and if you would have told me I would be preparing to serve a mission now, I probably would have laughed at you and said 'thats a funny joke'.  So you can get the sense that this is not what I had planned for my life.  I was planning on being done with all of my schooling in 3 years, getting married sometime, and doing study abroad's.  But that was not Gods plan for me. 

Back in November of 2013 I remember having a conversation with one of my friends who was preparing to serve a mission and I asked her what made her want to serve.  She explained her experience to me, and then she told me something that someone else had told her.  That was that "God wouldn't let you miss out on anything if you serve a mission, you won't be punished."  Now this may seem like common sense to a lot of people, but it really hit me.  I realized that I would still have all the life experiences I had planned, even if I served a mission.  I wouldn't miss out on the chance to meet the man of my dreams and get married, or on the chance to graduate from college if that is what I am supposed to do.  So I got home that day and called my mom and told her I was going to serve a mission, and she didn't take it seriously.  She started telling me that a mission is hard, and that it would be very hard to leave everything for 18 months and to put off school.  She didn't discourage it at all, she just helped me see reality.  So that was put off, and I continued with school. 

Fast forward to February of 2014, I had decided I was going to try and transfer to BYU because all of my friends at BYU-Idaho were going on missions, so why not go somewhere new?  Long story short, I applied and got in.  Pretty soon I had to make the decision which school I would go to, and neither of them really felt right.  I wanted to stay in Idaho cause it was familiar to me, but I had always wanted to go to BYU and that is where my family was.  I was in quite the dilemma, I didn't know what to do.  But I decided I would go to BYU, so I got housing there and registered for classes, still unsure about my decision. 

In April of 2014 I had the opportunity to go on a humanitarian trip with my parents to Honduras.  We went with a group called Smiles for Central America.  Pretty much they go down and transform a church into a dental clinic and we help all of the youth with their dental/physical work to fill out their mission papers.  I was going simply because I needed hours of experience to apply to Dental Hygiene School, and because I had heard how awesome of an experience it is.  Little did I know it would change my life the way it did. 

I remember the second day of being in the clinic I saw some of the missionaries interacting with the youth of the ward, and I thought that was so special.  It gave me a glimpse into what being a missionary is, it isn't just talking to nonmembers, you really get a connection with the members too.  But I didn't think much about that, just that it was cool to see them interact and see the influence these missionaries had on these young kids.  That night I went home on an earlier bus back to the hotel than my parents because I was really tired.  Truth is I was planning on laying in bed and watching Pretty Little Liars on my laptop, but I got on my laptop and somehow got sidetracked into reading profiles and different talks on missionary work.  Don't ask me how I got to that, because I really don't know.  I am just glad I spent my time doing that instead of watching tv.  That night I kind of got the impression to ask if I should serve a mission, so I prayed and asked if I am supposed to serve.  I thought I knew the answer, because I had prayed about it before, but I was wrong. 

I will forever be grateful for my trip to Honduras.  

The next day was Sunday, and because we were with an LDS group, we had the opportunity to go to church in a ward down there.  About half way through one Sacrament meeting talk, I realized 'oh my goodness, they have all talked about missionary work, and I can relate to every one of them', it kind of scared me.  Then that night we had a fireside with all the youth we were helping.  Granted we were there helping these kids get on missions, so of course it was focused on missions.  And the group leader had told us previous that they weren't going easy on these kids, they were going to lay it out how it is, and that is that they need to serve a mission.  We had the opportunity of hearing from Elder Ochoa of the second quorum of the Seventy, and Elder Carlos Amado from the first quorum of the Seventy.  Elder Ochoa was going through all of the excuses as to why people say they can't serve missions.  This is when it hit me I am supposed to serve.  One point he brought up is people say "I don't like to read" implying they can't read the scriptures or preach my gospel.  If any of you know me, you know I HATE reading.  I do read my scriptures, but thats about it.  So it hit me then, that he was talking to me.  He told us that even if we hate reading, you have to start somewhere and to start by reading Preach my Gospel.  That fireside changed my life, and I just sat in awe the whole time, thinking 'I can't serve a mission, there is no way I can do that!'  I kept trying to forget that I had that feeling that I needed to serve, but it wouldn't go away. 

The day that changed my life.

I didn't tell my parents for a few days, because I didn't know how to bring it up.  My dad had asked me if I wanted to serve a mission multiple times before and my answer was always "it would depend where I got called too" that is how I knew I wasn't ready to serve, is because it would all depend on where I was going, but not anymore.  I had been down in Honduras and seen the happiness the gospel does bring people, even when they don't have anything.  I had also seen the difference in people who did and didn't have the gospel, there were so many people that I wanted to help, I wanted them to feel the joy that the gospel brings to me.  It isn't about where you serve, its the people you serve. 

So a few days later we were sitting on the beach (after the work part of the trip was over), and a couple we were with was eating lunch with us.  He ends up asking me how I liked the trip and how its changed my life.  He asks if it had given me a desire to serve a mission, and in my mind I was thinking 'oh crap, I have to tell my parents now'.  So I said "Ya it actually has", and my dad just kind of looked at me like WHAT?! And that was the end of the conversation, and it wasn't brought up again for a few days.  Then we were sitting at dinner and my mom was asking me about BYU stuff, and I just said "I may not be going to BYU, I may be going on a mission instead", and they talked to me about it.  They were supportive of me and any decision I would make (well almost, it took some time for them to get used to the idea of me serving a mission, and they may have tried to talk me out of it ;) ). 

So we got home from the trip, and I started to read Preach my Gospel, like the speaker had said, and there was just something about it.  Suddenly I didn't care to watch Netflix every night before I went to bed, I wanted to read Preach my Gospel and learn to become better.  I talked to a few friends who were preparing and they gave me advice.  But I still was very hesitant, I hadn't told anyone else in my family.  I felt very inadequate and felt like I couldn't represent Christ, like I wasn't good enough, but that was just Satan getting to my head.  The quote "God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called" (or something along that matter) relates to my experience very much. 

A few sundays later, when my whole family was out of town, I decided to take that leap of faith and get my appointment set up to start my mission papers.  I was a nervous wreck, but as soon as I stepped into the Bishops office, all my fears were set aside and I knew that this is what I was supposed to be doing.  2 week later my papers were in and I finally told all of my family. 

I have been called to serve in the ENGLAND LONDON SOUTH MISSION and I couldn't be more excited!    I know that I was called here for a reason, and I can't wait to get out and be a representative of Christ!

Looking back now, it all makes so much sense.  I had such a hard time even up until I was putting my papers in trying to decide if I should go to BYU-I or BYU, but now this makes it so much clearer.  I wasn't supposed to go to either, which I think is why I couldn't make up my mind or get a clear answer as to what I was supposed to do. 

If I have learned anything from this experience, it would be that sometimes your life plan isn't what it is supposed to be.  My plan was to go to Jerusalem next summer, and post on social media about it and have the time of my life walking where the Savior walked.  Foolish me, of course that isn't what my plan is.  Yes I am scared out of my mind and still wonder how I am going to go teach the gospel, when I don't feel like I know it enough.   But I know that with the Lords help I will be able to accomplish what I have been called to do.  I know it won't be the easiest 18 months of my life, and there will probably be times when I wish I was I would have just stayed in school, but that is not what I am needed to do right now.  This is what I need to do, I need to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 

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