i never wanted to go on a mission. i grew up in south dakota (aka the mission field) and i figured that was enough for me. i had plenty of opportunities to share the gospel and had some great missionary experiences with my friends, but i never felt the need to serve a mission. in the past year i gave it a lot of thought, however. i wanted to be open to the chance that maybe i was supposed to serve. however, i wasn't old enough so i didn't actively pray to know whether or not a mission was for me.
as many of us know, in october 2012 president thomas s. monson announced that effective immediately, young men could serve at age 18 instead of 19 and young women at 19 instead of 21. i felt the power of this announcement, but not directly relating to me being a missionary. this announcement strengthened my testimony. i know that president monson made this announcement based on direct revelation from our heavenly father. i know that missionary work is so incredibly important. and i know that this announcement set the standard even higher. it proclaimed to members of the church, and the world, that we have a message that everyone must hear, and we want to do everything we can to make it available to every soul. the work is hastening, because our time is shortening. i remember sitting alone on my grandma's couch, thinking about this historic announcement and what it meant. i knew that big things were to come for missionary work and for the church.. but i didn't know that it would mean anything to me. (pretty dumb of me, huh?)
since i was immediately eligible to serve a mission, i started asking heavenly father if a mission was in his plan for me. i was reading my scriptures and hoping for an answer, and preparing myself for whatever answer i got. as time went on i didn't feel like i got an answer. i was a little discouraged, but instead of asking heavenly father what i should do, i told him what i was planning on doing. i told him i wouldn't be serving a mission unless he told me differently. and to be completely honest i told him he needed to make it real apparent what i was supposed to do, because i was already so confused.
time went on and i still felt like i didn't get an answer to my prayer. so i decided that meant heavenly father approved- i didn't need to go on a mission. i went on with life and felt confident that a mission wasn't in the books for me. and i was okay with it. i was grateful and proud to say that i went to the lord in prayer, and left my decision completely up to him. it strengthened my testimony and my relationship with my heavenly father.
in february 2013 elder bednar, a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles spoke at stake conference. (perks of going to the lord's schoool. go cougs!) he spoke about the age change, and assigning the mission calls to the thousands of young adults who had answered the call to serve.
now backtrack a little. one reason i never wanted to go on a mission is because i was somewhat superficial about it all. in my head i would tell myself that if i knew i was going to temple square or australia, then i would go for sure. i hated that i thought this and wouldn't allow myself to go on a mission unless i was going for the right reasons, not because i had places i wanted to go or see, or because i basically tear up every time i see the temple square missionaries- they're the cutest things i've ever seen, and i wanted so badly to be one of them.
anyways, elder bednar said something i'll never forget. he said that there is so much hype around where each missionary goes, but does the lord think less of the missionary in montana, but more of the missionary in new zealand? (paraphrasing here..) no. "you are called to serve as a missionary, and you are assigned to a mission." no matter where you go, you are a missionary- a representative of jesus christ. where you go is just the fluff. holy cow i needed to hear that. and after i did, i felt really strongly that i needed to reopen the mission question, and specifically that i needed to talk to my parents.
so i did. but it was awkward to bring it up. this topic was much out of all our minds (at least concerning me), so i just asked my dad, "do you ever feel like i'm supposed to go on a mission?" (right after reminding them that they told me i would get a new iphone for my birthday i might add. of course he wanted me to go on a mission after that.) that night changed everything. i talked to my dad, then my mom, then my cutest cousin ever hunter (serving in italy now!), and my roommate ashley who had recently returned from a mission in argentina. they all said exactly wanted i needed to hear. they talked about it being my choice, but how i had been prepared, and how important missionary work is, and how there is a need for families in which both parents served a mission because the world is getting so wicked, and how a mission is the best thing you can do with your time right now, and how your relationship with christ will strengthen so much as you learn to rely on him 100 percent.. things like that. and it sealed the deal.
the next day i was in my bishop's office, asking what i needed to do.
i'm so grateful for this experience. i know i am supposed to serve a mission, and if i struggle on my mission i hope i will look back on this story and remind myself i'm there for a reason, and i need to figure out why. i'm excited to concentrate eighteen month of my life to serving the lord and preaching his gospel.