I was probably 15 or so and for the first time that I can remember we had sister missionaries in our ward. They ate dinner at our house one night and a tradition we have in our family is to ask new missionaries why they decided to serve a mission. I honestly have no idea what they said, but whatever it was made an impact.
I remember going up to my room after they left and just cried, because I think I knew then that serving a mission was something deep down inside I wanted to do. Being a human, I let fear in and pushed it out of my mind and from then on convinced myself that under no circumstances would I go. Obviously that has changed.
So I guess the second time I decided was at College. I went to BYU- Idaho for a year and when you attend a church school you are surrounded by prospective and returned missionaries. It’s infectious. So while all of my friends started their papers and got their calls, I waited and watched, still too afraid to start anything. The last thing I wanted was to go on a mission because all my friends were or for the attention.
For girls, it’s not asked of us to go, so it is completely our decision, which doesn’t mean it’s easier or doesn’t come with any pressure. In hopes to avoid that, I decided to wait until the end of the semester in April. I came home and that fear came crawling back in. So I put it off another two months until I gave in, pushed out the fear and started my papers. Best decision I have ever made. Since that day I’ve felt so close to my Father in Heaven and strive to have the Holy Ghost as my constant companion.
I decided to serve a mission because I have been so blessed by this Gospel and I can’t imagine what life is like without it. I know that I have a Heavenly Father who knows and loves me. I have a brother who died for me, so that one day I can be with them again. I am going to help people remember Christ and to come unto Him. We all knew Him before we came to earth, some of us just forgot, so that's my mission, to help others remember Christ. I have this knowledge and need to share it. Sharing the Gospel does not come naturally or easily to me, but I know that the Lord strengthens our weaknesses.
It took 3 weeks for me to get my call, which is normal time but it feels like forever. I remember opening my call, almost not wanting to read it because all the possibilities of where I could go would end. I had already decided in my heart that I would accept wherever I was sent, it did not matter to me. “I’ll go where you want me to go” I said I trusted in the Lord that He would place me where I needed to be.
I was surprised when I opened my letter and it said I have been called to serve in the California Roseville mission and that I should report to the MTC on November 11th. Accepting this became a challenge to me not because of where but because of when. I had an extremely difficult time digesting the fact that I had 45 days to prepare. That’s a month and a half. I felt everything. Inadequacy, fear, unworthy, that I would go and fail, that it was too soon and I just could not do it. It was impossible. I became enveloped in self-doubt. I prayed for feelings of peace and help accepting my call but I didn’t feel any different. I remember driving to work one day and just thinking “I can’t do this, I just can’t do it.” It was then when I heard it, like you learn about in primary, a still small voice. He whispered one word, “Alone. You can’t do this alone”. I instantly knew that the Lord knew me, loved me and supported me. I had never heard him like that before but the Lord knows us and knows what we need to hear. I knew I made the right decision. I am grateful for the power of the Holy Ghost, I am grateful for his companionship during this hard time.
I know that He is the only way I can be an effective missionary. In Alma 26:12 we read, “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.” I am just a vessel. The Spirit does it all, I just have to be prepared and worthy to receive it and act on it.
Preparing has been difficult but I am grateful for the blessings that come from being diligent. I am especially grateful for the blessings of the Temple. I never feel so much love than I do when I’m at the Temple. It is such a beautiful and sacred place and I’m a grateful we have one so close. It truly is the house of the Lord.
I have learned that the key to being strong in the gospel is the primary answers. Going to church, saying our prayers and reading the scriptures. They are absolutely necessary to growing our testimonies and keeping the commandments. By studying the scriptures and communicating with our Heavenly Father daily, we are putting on the armor of God. We prepare ourselves for whatever temptations may come or struggles we may have.
I am grateful for primary and my experience in it as a child and as a sunbeam teacher. Those little ones know who Jesus is, they know He died for them and that He loves them. Primary helps plant the seed of faith that nourishes and grows as we learn. I am also grateful for seminary and my teachers who patiently taught me. I definitely took for granted having a class where you learn the gospel and feel the spirit daily. You don’t realize how awesome and important it is until you’re old and have to do it yourself, which is really hard.
I am anxious and excited to see what the Lord has in store for me. I want to bare you my testimony that I know this church is true. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and restored the true church that is on the Earth today. I am thankful for our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, who he leads and guides us as directed by our Heavenly Father. I know that Christ knows us and loves us each personally. I have a testimony of the priesthood and am grateful for the blessings that I receive from it. I am grateful for my family, for there never ending love and support, that although I will be away for a short time, I will be with them forever. I love this gospel with all my heart and I am so excited to share it
I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.