Friday, January 6, 2017

Maybe I'm Not Going on a Mission

Due to circumstances and his own personal reasons, my dad decided not to serve a mission. From his experience of judgement, guilt-tripping, hatred, and contention, I've made the personal decision to not be bothered by other's decisions, because that is their life. And as someone who loves those around her, I've chosen to support people in their decisions. That being said, if they're doing something harmful to themselves or others, I will step in with their best interest in mind. Otherwise, I love and support the person, whether I agree with the decision or not (it's none of my business).

So when the seven words: "Maybe I'm not going on a mission..." came out of my best friend's mouth (yeah, the one who wanted to serve a mission ever since she was a little girl!), I couldn't understand why it didn't sit well with me, and why I couldn't bring myself to truly love and support her decision. She was my best friend. I should have been able to let it go and support her. But, for the next couple of days, I couldn't shake off the feeling that she wasn't making the right decision.

So one night, after we'd finished helping at and attending a concert, we were sitting in my truck and I just had a powerful feeling come over me to talk to her about it. I brought it up to her and as we talked, I became frustrated with myself and the situation as a whole. I knew that I wasn't getting the right message across, but I couldn't figure out any other way to word it. I felt very strongly that she was to serve a mission, but I couldn't help her see it for herself. Then, these profound words that absolutely did not come from me came to mind and just flowed out of my mouth.

"Best Friend, I want to tell you what I envision you doing when you're on your mission. And I'm going to talk to you like you're going on a mission, alright?"

She nodded, watching me intently but a little apprehensively.

"I envision you somewhere with little children, playing with them and teaching the simple yet so profound truths of the Gospel. I see you touching a little girl's heart by your message that Christ lives, and because of that, she will touch the lives of her siblings, and her siblings will touch the lives of their parents, and their entire family--from past to future--will be eternally blessed. All because you chose to serve a mission and allow Heavenly Father to use you as an instrument in His hands.

I see you with the elderly, serving them and loving them, whether they accept the Gospel or not. I see an elderly couple looking you in the eye, tears streaming down their wrinkled cheeks, grateful smiles stretched so far that you can see their dentures, because you gave them the message that they'd been searching for their entire life. All because you chose to serve a mission and allow Heavenly Father to use you as a tool to build the foundation for them.

I see you with a young couple, and by bringing the Gospel into their lives, they will be baptized, receive the saving ordinances in the temple, and be sealed in the temple. And because of that, their unborn children will be born in the covenant, which you and I both know is a wonderful blessing to have."

By this point, she is in tears. All reservation and apprehensiveness has melted away and replaced by the sweet Spirit of Truth.

"Best Friend, I know that you want to sight-see. But the greatest sight you will ever see is your investigators being baptized and going through the temple for the very first time. And I know that you want to learn a new language, but the best language you will ever speak or hear will be those saving words pronounced in the temple of the Lord. It's not bad to have those desires in your heart; you just need to make sure that your first priority is to teach the Gospel and serve your fellow brothers and sisters. And I know that's in you heart. I know you're supposed to go on a mission."

She laughed and smiled through tears and told me, "That's what I want! I want that so bad!"

She's going to put her papers in sometime this month and probably be out of here within the next three to four months. I know that Heavenly Father had a message for her, and I'm so blessed to be the one to deliver that message. While I was apprehensive to share the message because of the personal vow I'd made to myself, I'm glad that I intervened.

To my best friend, you'll be a wonderful missionary. You're going to touch people that no one else could, and you're going to be a successful missionary. Go with honor and return with honor. <3

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Dear Sister Huber

As a wee one, I'd never even thought about a mission. I'm sure I sang, "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission," in primary as well as "Called to Serve," "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go," and a bunch of other songs that talk of missionary work. In my toddler and adolescent brain, a mission hadn't even crossed my mind! Not even when the age change occurred. I was sitting on the couch, reading a magazine, and then President Monson announced that young men could serve missions at 18 and young women at 19. My heart stopped at the revelation, and I thought, "Wow! That's so neat!" and continued on with whatever I was doing.

Gradually, the idea of serving a mission crept into my mind. I had a best friend who told me how she'd always wanted to serve a mission, ever since she was a little girl. I thought that was so awesome and that she'd make a great missionary, and then I started to think of my own missionary service. I don't even think I had a proper conversation with anyone or myself about the idea, I just decided that, "Yeah! I'm going on a mission!" And that's what I told people for most of my high school years.

Then it hit me, that maybe I should ask the Lord if that was in His plans for me. I wasn't (and still not) much of a pray-er. I'd pray to Him at night and in the mornings, I'd have a prayer in my heart throughout the day, but I didn't actually talk with Him about anything. I wasn't treating Him like the Father that He is to me. In my mind, to complain or talk of the problems in my life was not okay! Because He was an Almighty God Who wanted me to be grateful and pray for others. And while that is true, it's also true that He is my Father, and that He wants to hear about my day and to know what's going on with me, and to know that I trust Him enough to tell Him all of that, despite the fact that He already knows. He wanted a personal and open conversation, and I didn't realize I could have that with Him.

Anywho, I decided one night to pray to Heavenly Father about it, determining that I already knew the answer because, why wouldn't He have me serve a mission? It was a righteous cause, I thought my heart was in the right place, and I was doing His work. There was no way He would tell me no...right? WRONG. As I knelt in prayer and talked about my mission, I had this void in my heart, telling me no (not right now). I kind of shook it off and got into bed, deciding that maybe I was just too tired and hallucinating or something.

That next Sunday was Fast Sunday, and I got up to bear my testimony. Somehow, in the round-about-way of talking, I was suddenly talking about my experience that night. It finally hit me that I might not be going on a mission like I'd hoped, and when that answer settled in my heart, I just started bawling at the podium. Hopefully those in my ward thought it was the Spirit, but it was really just me accepting Heavenly Father's answer.

After that experience, I really buckled down and started to study just about everything. I studied my scriptures, I prayed, I looked through articles in the Church magazines about sister missionaries. I went to Mission Prep classes and tried to take every opportunity to talk about and defend the Church with those around me. Basically, I participated as much as possible in anything Church and missionary related, trying to really determine what it was that I was going to do after high school.

Through all of my study, I began to understand why Heavenly Father had told me no that night. My heart wasn't in the right place for a mission. My top priorities were to sight-see and learn a new language, to get away from home and go somewhere new. At the bottom of my priority list was service and sharing the Gospel. Upon this realization, I decided that, before I would reconsider a mission, I would get my heart in the right place. So, I did it. I continued participating in Gospel activities and I continued to focus and get my heart in the right place. And I'm so glad to have had that experience, because it allowed for me to see what I really wanted, and later on, it allowed for me to help my best friend (yeah, the one who wanted to go on a mission ever since she was a little girl!). You can read that story here.

Upon getting my heart in the right place, with my priorities being: sharing the Gospel, service, going somewhere new, learning a language, and sight-seeing, I reconsidered a mission. I didn't get a straight answer from the Lord, which was good and bad. Good, because I wasn't getting a no; bad, because I wasn't exactly getting a yes. With this new confusion happening, I couldn't decide if a mission was it! When people would ask me, "So, you're going on a mission?" I would stare at them blankly and just say, "I really couldn't tell you."

I'll save you the long and boring details of all that went through my head that summer following graduation. Bottom line, I was basically freaking out about what I was going to do. My first semester at college was coming up, which meant I needed to decide then and there that I was going on a mission. I decided to take an online mission prep class to hold my spot at BYU-I, so that I could work and save up for a mission (or college, if that was my path). During this time, I had filled out all of the paper work and was waiting to be within 120 days of my availability date. The day I had my interview with my bishop (who is totally BOMB), I expressed my fears to him. His words struck me, along with a passage in a book I was reading beforehand.

"Emma, college will always be there. And the Lord isn't going to make you choose between marriage and a mission. Just because you go on a mission, doesn't mean you won't get married." And that passage said, "Be anxiously engaged in a good cause [while you wait for blessings of marriage]." So there it was. We sent my papers to the stake president (28th Aug. 2016), the stake president sent them to Salt Lake (6th Sept. 2016), Salt Lake received them (9th Sept. 2016), they were assigned (14th Sept. 2016), and I received the letter (24th Sept. 2016)!!! After the papers were sent off to Salt Lake, I had a distinct feeling of excitement and peace fill me, twice within a week of each other. I knew that I had made the right choice, and that Heavenly Father had trusted me to make that choice by myself.

That wonderful morning on the 24th, I received a text from my dad with a picture of my letter. Totally dying on the spot, I texted my bishop, called my friends (who were away at college), and called my home teacher all at 7 a.m. (I don't think they were too thrilled either). They, along with my sister and her family and my parents, were all going to meet me a the temple to open my call at 5:00. I was heading off to work, when my dad stopped me in his postal vehicle and handed me my letter. I literally just sat there and bawled my eyes out. My call was finally in my arms, safe and sound, and I was really, truly going on a mission.

As you can tell in the video, I was not expecting to go out of the country and learn a new language, let alone to México (not that you can ever expect where you're going). I had made it a point to be very open to wherever the Lord sent me, but subconsciously I was preparing for stateside, because that's normally where a lot of missionaries don't want to go. I just really didn't want to be disappointed or upset, like I'd heard other missionaries being. I wanted to be grateful and happy to go wherever! As it turns out, it was my parents to "jinxed" it. They'd said that they would take me any place, except México...

As I promised myself, I would be happy to go wherever. And my wherever happens to be in the México Villahermosa Mission! :) <3