A year ago today I would have never thought I would serve a mission. People would ask me over and over again if I thought about serving but I would ignore the thought and just say no. In fact, it frustrated me that the lowering the age for missionaries caused so many people to almost expect girls to serve. About 650 youth from my stake at BYU alone had submitted their papers to serve this past year. But because of this huge wave of missionary work, I decided it was okay for me not to go and I knew that just because everyone else was doing it, didn’t mean I was supposed to. I would continue my education to become a nurse and eventually get married and raise a family and then serve a mission with my husband when we were older. Howeverrr, then October came and the plans I had for my future began to change. People stopped asking me if I would serve a mission. And I no longer wanted to do nursing.
Each Sunday up at school I would go tunnel singing with a couple of my friends. Tunnel singing is where a bunch of students go sing hymns together and people who received mission calls announce their calls at that time as well. It was always a great way to start a new week. One night, hymn 97, Lead Kindly Light, really stuck out to me. Part of the first and second verses say “the night is dark, and I am far from home, lead Thou me on. Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see…. I loved to choose and see my path but now, lead thou me on”
I realized that I didn’t know my future anymore but I knew I still really needed to move forward in the direction God would have me go even if it meant not knowing what my future would be. I would have to be sure to put all my trust in God and have faith that He would lead me to where I needed to be. I decided it was time to actually think about serving a mission. Faith, prayer, and gratitude all played a huge role in not only helping me decide that a mission is in fact, for me, but also in helping me prepare to serve.
Because of faith, we can all learn so much about ourselves and our Heavenly Father. As Alma 32:21 says, “And now I said concerning faith-faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.
Jesus Christ knows each of us. Sometimes it may be difficult to understand why we have certain guidelines to follow, but through faith in Jesus Christ we can know that what He leads us to do is right. He will not lead us astray. “Faith in Him means that you trust Him and are confident that He loves you. Faith leads to action, including repentance, obedience, and dedicated service. When you have faith in Jesus Christ, you trust the Lord enough to follow His commandments-even when you do not completely understand the reasons for them.” As a missionary, I know that I may not fully understand why I can or cannot do certain things, but through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I know that it will be much easier to be obedient to all rules.
However, as James 2:17-18 says, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea a man may say, thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” There is a quote I keep up on my bulletin board that says, “The Lord says this arm of mine is His arm. This mind, this tongue, these hands, these feet, this purse-these are the only tools He has to work with so far as I am concerned. … So far as you are concerned, your arm, your resources, your intelligence, your tongue, your energy, are the only tools the Lord has to work with.” It is up to each of us to not only rely on the Lord to help us each day, but to do our part to get to the point where He can help us. In fact, He WANTS to help us. The Lord isn’t at the finish line yelling for us and cheering us on, but rather He is running the race with us. He is carrying us on His back when we let him and helping us through the trials and tribulations that we experience along life’s journey.
Dallin H. Oaks once said, “Faith in the Lord is trust in the Lord. We cannot have true faith in the Lord without also having complete trust in the Lord’s will and in the Lord’s timing. As a result, no matter how strong our faith is, it cannot produce a result contrary to the will of Him in whom we have faith. Remember that when your prayers do not seem to be answered in the way or at the time you desire, the exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is always subject to the order of heaven, to the goodness and will and wisdom and timing of the Lord. When we have that kind of faith and trust in the Lord, we have true security and serenity in our lives.”
Faith in the Lord is so important in preparing for a mission as well as being everyday missionaries. 2 Nephi 4:34 reads, “O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.” It is important to put our faith in God because he knows who is ready to receive the gospel. He knows more than each of us and He will help us if we do our part.
As I continued to have faith in the Lord, I prayed for comfort and peace in my decision to serve since I was getting so worried about whether it was the right or wrong choice. That week I remember every single thing going right. I was happier than ever and I felt so strongly that I needed to serve.
There is a poem that I love about prayer. It is titled the difference. It goes like this:
I got up early one morning
And rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish
That I didn’t take time to pray.
Problems just tumbled about me,
And heavier came each task,
“Why doesn’t God help me?” I wondered.
He answered, “You didn’t ask.”
I wanted to see joy and beauty,
But the day toiled on gray and bleak;
I wondered why God didn’t show me,
He said, “But you didn’t seek.”
I tried to come into God’s presence;
I used all my keys at the lock,
God gently and lovingly chided,
“My child, you didn’t knock.”
I woke up early this morning,
And paused before entering the day;
I had so much to accomplish
That I had to take time to pray.
Prayer really can make all the difference in our lives. God wants to help us but we have to do our part and ask. “If you don’t have time to pray and read your scriptures you are busier than God ever intended you to be.”
I love the saying “don’t pray to Heavenly Father, talk to Him.” By making sure our prayers aren’t repetitive, we can get so much more out of them. One way I like to be sure I am putting a lot of thought into my prayers is by praying out loud. This helps me to really think about what I am saying and reminds me to thank God for all He does for me.
Prayer is something each of us can always work on. As we communicate with Heavenly Father through prayer, we can become closer to Him and create a better relationship with Him. We can always try a little bit harder to be a little bit better.
“As we pray with faith, sincerity, and real intent, we will see Gods influence in our lives. He will guide us in our daily lives and help us make good decisions…He will forgive our sins. We will feel closer to Him. We must learn to recognize His influence in our lives. We must learn to listen to the still, small voice of the Spirit.”
Lorenzo Snow once said “I pray to God, in the name of Jesus, that you and I may try every day to keep a little more faithful, that we may try to be a little better today than yesterday, that we may try and have a little more love and affection toward our neighbors, as we are told that upon this hangs the law and the prophets, “to love the Lord, our God, with all our might, with all our mind, and with all our strength, and our neighbor as our self.” This is a great goal we can each strive for.
Gratitude: The third thing that has really stuck out to me the past year is how much the Lord has given me. I love the hymn, “Because I have Been Given Much.” The third verse says, “Because I have been blessed by thy great love, dear Lord. Ill share thy love again according to thy word. I shall give love to those in need, ill show that love by word and deed: thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.” Growing up in the church is something I probably took for granted too often. We as members are so lucky to have the gospel in our lives and all the blessings that come with it. If I didn’t share the knowledge I have with others, I would be ungrateful.
Our beloved prophet President Thomas S Monson once said, “I have found that, rather than dwelling on the negative, if we will take a step back and consider the blessings in our lives, including seemingly small, sometimes overlooked blessings, we can find greater happiness”
The Lord has given each of us so much. The place we live, the family we have, food to eat, cars to drive, love and support from others, beautiful scenery like the beach we are so lucky to live by, and most importantly, he has given us agency and the ability to repent. I love the quote, “An innocent man was found guilty at an unfair trial so that guilty men could be found innocent at a fair trial.” He has given each of us more than we can ever give back. Everyday we have so much to be thankful for; we just need to recognize it in our lives.
Up at school my roommates and I had a tender mercy wall. Each day we would write one thing good that happened that we were thankful for. Many days we would write multiple things too. Eventually the wall got to be huge. As the semester came to a close and I began taking down each tender mercy, I was again reminded of how much the Lord gives me. Maybe it was an unexpected letter from a friend on a mission, or hug from a roommate after a hard test that didn’t go as well as planned, or ice-cream from a friend that showed up in the freezer after a long day of studying. Each tender mercy that was given to me, whether it was big or small, meant so much.
Taking time to share the gospel is tiny compared to all the Lord has given us. Sharing the knowledge we have with everyone else as well as serving them not only benefits others but it also shows that we are willing to give back to Him. One scripture that I have loved for quite some time now is Mosiah 28:3. It reads “Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.” It is incredible to think about being the kind of person that quakes and trembles because someone is not on the right path towards God.
As I look back, I know that the Lord was preparing me to serve all along. Whether it was in the strength I was given to stand up for what I believe in and not watch that R-rated movie that my friends would be watching that night, or when a leader said the exact words I needed to hear. I know that the Lord blesses each of us everyday and He has a plan for each of us whether we see it yet or not.
Preparing for a mission requires a lot of work. One thing I really noticed is how much more real Satan became once I had my call. Luckily for me I had been warned over and over again that that would be the case. Because of this, I made it a goal to go to the temple every single week after that. I am so happy that I was able to have family and friends who supported me in my goal and would attend the temple with me. I was able to do a session in over 10 different temples and every time I have been able to feel of my saviors love and know that what I am doing is right. I know the temple can bring peace and comfort in times of worry and inadequacy just as it did for me.
Marianna Williamson once said, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, attractive, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
D&C 100: has brought me a lot of peace as I have been preparing as well. Sometimes I get nervous thinking about going to teach someone and not knowing what to say. But versus 5-8 read, “therefore verily I say unto you, lift up your voice unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts and you shall not be confounded before men. For it shall be given you in the very hour what ye shall say. But a commandment I give unto you; that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things. And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.” I know that as long as we have the Spirit with us, we will be able to teach others about the gospel.
Now to finish my story about serving a mission I wanted to jump to when I received my call. So as I read the lines “you are assigned to labor in the New York, New York North mission” my thoughts went all over. I was excited of course, but I also thought about how just a year before I was in New York City with my family and had said that I never wanted to live there. When I was talking to my friend the day before, she guessed New York and I said “I can see myself there, but I pretty much hated the city so I won’t go there.” About 12 other people guessed New York as well so I for sure thought I wouldn’t serve there. Sure enough, New York City is in fact in my mission, but now I absolutely love everything about it. I am so excited to go meet the people of New York and to serve them. I love them already and I can’t wait to see what is in store for me there. And I know it is true that “you are not called to serve in a place; you are called to serve in place of the savior”
This past conference Elder Richard G. Scott talked about missionary work. One thing he said was “We must be sure to sincerely love those we want to help in righteousness so they can begin to develop confidence in God’s love…giving them confidence in your love can help them develop faith in God’s love.” I love the saying, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I know that as I listen to the Lord, He will guide me to where I need to be and as I do my best and work hard, he will help me be the best missionary I can be. I really do believe that sometimes on the way to a dream, you may get lost and find a better one. I know that New York is where I need to be for the next year and a half. I know that it is important to love the people I serve.
I also know that while I am gone I will miss my family so much. They have been so kind to me and they have truly taught me so much. D&C 100:1 has brought me comfort when I have these thoughts. It reads “your families are well, they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good: for in me there is all power.” I know that my family will be watched over as I am serving in New York and I am so thankful for that knowledge I have. I love my family so much.
Testimony…….In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen