Hello, dear friends!
Some of you may be wondering: “Wait? Isn’t this the girl who said she wasn’t going on a mission?”
Let me explain:
I have a tremendous love for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to do my best to let others know of His love and light in every way that I can.
I don’t have to be a full time missionary to do that.
The title of this blog post is actually a song from the primary song book (or children’s song book if you are unfamiliar with that title.). The song talks about the desire to serve the Lord by going forth and spreading his gospel to the world. My favorite part is the third verse. It says: “I can be a missionary now. I don’t have to wait until I’m grown. I’ll live each day the best that I know how and they’ll see I have a testimony of my own.”
(If you want to listen to the entire song, you can go to www.lds.org and look around for the music. Or if you have a smart phone, you can look up LDS hymns/children’s songs in the App Store or android market.)
I can be a missionary now.
A few weeks ago there was a world wide broadcast (you can also find this at lds.org) on missionary work. This and many other experiences in my life in the last few months have renewed my desire to share my love of this wonderful gospel with those around me.
In a way, I guess this is my own personal conversion story. How I received my own testimony that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is Christ’s true church and how I have become closer (and continue to become closer) to my savior.
My father comes from a long line of LDS saints. One of his great grandfathers joined the church and came to America after listening to missionaries in England a long time ago. My father served a mission in Brazil. (I love it when he sings hymns in Portuguese sometimes still.) My mother’s story is slightly different. Her mother was the first member of the church in her family. My mom was just a baby when my grandma listened to the missionaries.
From a very young age, my parents taught me that I was a child of God. Although they were my earthly parents, I had a Heavenly Father who loved me. When I learned to read, I learned by reading the scriptures with my brother, Andrew. Throughout my time in nursery and in primary I always was the one eager to learn and to teach others. When I was in the Young Women’s program, I worked hard to earn my personal progress medallion and I was usually the one with some answer in Sunday school. Now that I am older, I realize that I still have so much to learn.
My last year of high school was a difficult, yet exciting year (My last year of high school includes all of 2011, since I did not follow a “normal” schedule). I had many choices ahead of me, but I felt like I was okay with where I was. I loved being a part the little Little Elm ward’s young women and I just thought I would stay there until I went to college. That’s when an announcement was made that I can see changed my life.
One Sunday at church we were told that the Stake president had asked all senior aged youth, boys AND girls, to attend a mission prep class that was being held in the singles ward. At first, I did not want to go. I did not want to serve a mission and therefore did not need to go to mission prep. Seems like a logical decision, right? Well, that lovely little thing called the Holy Ghost told me I should check it out.
That being my new decision, the very next week I went to mission prep.
It was in a different building than I was used to, so I felt a little uncomfortable going there for the first time. When I first walked into the building, I had no clue which room I should go to to find the elusive mission prep class. When I asked one of the members of the singles branch who was out in the hallway where it was, he looked surprised when I asked where mission prep was being held. He pointed me toward the chapel, and I thanked him as I went on my way. I opened the doors quietly, since I was late, only attracting the attention of the teacher. He smiled at me, but continued on with his lesson. As I surveyed the room, I noticed that all of the persons attending mission prep that day were wearing suits. Expecting this to be the case, I found myself a little nervous, but laughing at the thought of what the reactions would be to their new classmate. As I approached, the teacher smiled at me again, this time with a look that I read as “she will realize she isn’t in the right place soon.” Since this was not the case, I kept going forward and I smiled back. Sensing that I was not lost, but in the right place, the teacher said “Hi!” I responded with a cheery “Hi!” of my own, that prompted the entire room to turn around to see the female attached to the voice. As I explained that I was there for mission prep, the teacher became excited. He welcomed me to the class and continued to teach when I sat down. One of the things he said that really stuck to me that first class, was that mission prep could also be called temple prep in a way, because as missionaries we also needed to be worthy to enter the temple. Thinking about it that way, I realized that I really was in the right place at the right time.
Since I had started attending the mission prep class, I had received a lot of inquiries about whether or not I would serve a full time mission. At the time, I was almost 18 and the age that a sister missionary could serve was 21. I had some time to think about it, but overall my answer was probably not.
I learned a lot by being in that class and it also was the way that I became comfortable with the idea of leaving the family ward to be with members closer to my age. The most important thing that I learned is that being a missionary isn’t a scary thing. It can be tough, but it can be done. It can also be fun.
When I left for college, I no longer attended a mission prep class. (The wonderful thing is that when I did leave, the class went from a bunch of guys and me, to having quite a few girls attending as well!) I no longer had people asking me if I was going to serve, because that wasn’t something in my immediate future. Then came another announcement that changed a lot of lives.
In the October 2012 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson made an announcement that the age of new missionaries was to be lowered. Young men would no longer have to wait until turning 19 to serve, because they could now go at 18. The biggest part of this announcement was that sisters could now serve at 19.
As my family and I sat in the conference center when this historical announcement was made, there was so many different emotions and thoughts flooding my mind. I was happy for all of my friends who could put their papers in immediately, but I was also very scared. I knew that I didn’t necessarily want to serve a full time mission, but I was willing to go if the Lord wanted me to. For a while, I was afraid to pray about it, to know what my path should be. When I finally had the courage to pray about it, I felt like I got my answer pretty quickly. I didn’t have to go.
Since then, I have had many more people ask me if I am going to serve and even some that expect me to serve. Even in the past few weeks I have been struggling with this decision. After the broadcast, I wondered if maybe my answer had changed.
It was tonight after home evening and a chat with a dear friend that I realized that my decision to continue my education right now and not to go on a mission is the right decision for me. I have a testimony of my savior and of his atonement. I know that Christ died for me, so that I may become clean again every time I fail. I am imperfect. I sin. I have trials and temptations just like everyone else. And the beautiful, wonderful part is that I can repent through the atonement. And so can everyone else. We are are children of a loving Heavenly Father. And he wants us to do good things on this earth. We have a responsibility to our fellow men to share the love that God has given us. To help each and every person know that they are important. That someone out there cares about them and knows that they are not alone. (Look up “The One” by Audrey Bandley on YouTube)
I have that desire. Because I have felt His love in my life, I want to help others know that same love. We all deserve to know that we are God’s children and that we are worth it. I guess, in a way, I have always known that this was the true church. Sometimes we just need reminders. Being converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ is a process. I don’t think it’s ever possible to be truly converted, because there are so many things we have yet to learn. And I am excited to learn those things, whatever they may be. I am still learning and I am still growing.
Which is why I want to be a missionary now. And I don’t have to wait until I’m grown. I can share His love by being the best that I know how. And hopefully I can help the spirit bring others unto Christ through my association with them on a daily basis.
You are important. You are loved. Never forget that.