About 8 years ago a mission wasn’t a plan or even an option in my mind. I wanted to go to college, get married, and have a family. I wanted to be happy. Also around that time, I went through some of my hardest trials. My parents we going through a divorce, which really took a toll on me. Everything that was happy and how it was suppose to be suddenly wasn’t. The next couple years, I made decisions I really wish I hadn’t. Then about 5 years ago I lost a couple people who were really close to me. They suddenly weren’t around anymore. About this time, a dear dear loved one decided to deviate away from the church and its teachings. So about four years ago, my heart was shattered, my family wasn’t all together, deaths of good friends were weighing on my heart, and someone I love very very much to leave the one thing I had as a strong point at that time.
At this point, because so many things were weighing on my heart, I tried to find happiness in other sources, in certain groups of people, in certain media, in all the things I shouldn’t have tried finding happiness in. So that is why a mission wasn’t part of my plan. I wanted to be happy. A mission was hard, I was done with hard things. I wanted a family of my own so we could be happy. I wanted happiness. I was lost.
Although, I questioned continuously what I believed in, I kept going to church because that was what was expected of me. But I didn’t pray daily, I didn’t read my scriptures daily, I didn’t seek for the good things.
My family has a family dinner every Sunday and occasionally we feed the missionaries. This particular Sunday we fed two Sister Missionaries. They were happy, they had this light that shone from their eyes, they loved everyone. One particular one took a special interest in me. She loved me, she treated me like a sister, she bore testimony to me. She probably had no idea where my heart was or what I was feeling when I met her, but she loved me anyway.
This missionary and I grew very close. She was an example of everything I wanted to be. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be a good example to those around me. I wanted a burning testimony. Through the little things she did and talked about I began to slowly pray, not daily, but more often than before. I began to read my scriptures more frequently. I began to go to church to find this happiness she found.
I soon found myself reading everyday, praying everyday, and feasting upon the things being taught at church. I loved it. I found happiness.
In October of 2012, Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or prophet for Jesus Christ, made the following announcement, “As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.” When this was announced, my eye welled up, my heart started beating really fast, and the Spirit was stronger than ever. I knew, for some reason, that this was what I was suppose to do. I was suppose to serve a mission.
That December Sister Melinda Wilkins was transferred. She left Farmington. At that time I wanted to serve a mission because I knew I could touch people’s lives like Melinda did mine. I wanted to serve because I wanted to be more like Melinda.
That next year Satan worked hard. I couldn’t figure out why he was working so hard. But I was constantly reminded of things that I did and temptation I have had. I felt horrible. I started to beat myself up about it. How could I ever be better if I have done these things? I wouldn’t admit any of this to anyone, except my Father in Heaven. I prayed and prayed to be forgiven for these things. I just wanted that. Eventually, I went and talked to my bishop about what I was going through. In that meeting, he looked me right in the eyes, with more love than I have ever felt and told me that I was already forgiven and Satan is just trying to take me down. I was given a blessing in that meeting. Never have I ever felt so much love from my Father in Heaven and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is when I felt true joy.
I now wanted to serve because I knew we can be forgiven. I knew that if I could be forgiven then those I meet can be forgiven from all we’ve done wrong.
Fast forward to 2014, it was my senior year. I had a tough schedule, I was in college and high school, I had about 5-6 callings at all times. I soon became overwhelmed and felt not strong enough to do these things. I couldn’t do all that was asked of me. I also remembered a promise that if we put God first then everything else will fall into place. It still took hard work, and a lot of it. It took late nights and early mornings. It took tears and pain. But it also took reading scriptures, praying daily, attending church each week, and striving to magnify my calling. But I did it. I did the things that were asked of me. From this I learned another reason why I wanted to serve, I knew that through Christ and His Grace we can overcome and get through even the things we didn’t think we could. I wanted others to know that they could do hard things if and when they relied on the Lord. This is when I felt true strength.
During the spring and summer of 2015 I was in a mission prep class. Something that Elder Webb would say all the time was, “When you were in the pre-mortal life, you were with some of your dearest friends and family. Then when the Father was presenting His plan you put your trust in the Savior and so did some of those that were around you. Some however did not. They didn’t have that faith so they were cast out of Heaven because they chose not to progress. Before you came to earth you were talking with Heavenly Father, you learned of the trials you would go through and you accepted. So did those around you. But before you came, you were talking with your friends and family and they turned to you and pleaded with you to find them if they were ever lost, to bring them back to the Savior. You promised them you would do all it takes to bring them back to the Savior.” It was in that class I learned another reason I wanted to serve a mission. I promised the people I will serve that I would find them and I would help them return to Christ. From this I felt responsible.
In June of 2015, I received my mission call. I was to serve in the Brazil Florianopolis Mission. I knew I promised people there I would find them and I would help them feel the redeeming power of the Atonement, I would help them find and use the enabling power of the Atonement, I would help them find their purpose of being here on earth.
In July I had the opportunity to go through the temple to receive my endowment. There was a special moment that I would like to share with you. “After receiving the endowment, Latter-day Saints enter the most glorious room in the temple, the celestial room. This room symbolizes heavenly union with God and loved ones” (http://mormontemples.org/eng/articles/rooms-in-the-temple). When I walked into this room of the temple my family was waiting there for me with smiles and open arms waiting to embrace me. I have never ever felt a feeling like this before. This is what Heaven is suppose to feel like. Being surrounded by family and dear friends. It was the happiest moment. But as I sat there reflecting in the Celestial room, I suddenly felt this gut wrenching feeling. I realized that for some reason (flight issues, work, worthiness issues) my whole family wasn’t there. My heart and soul longed to have them there in that room with me. Feeling the feeling of pure joy and happiness that I was able to feel. I missed them, needed them, and longed for them to be there. Then at that moment I thought of those I will be teaching on my mission. That is why I am serving a mission. I want these people to know that they will see their family again, and they can be with them for eternity through living the covenants made within the temple. Yes, we want people to be baptized. Yes, we want them to be happy. But more importantly we want them to be with their family for eternity. We want them to be forgiven, to move forward and work towards a family that last beyond the grave. A family that is truly happy. That is the moment I also realized where I would find happiness. Where everything that hurt, was hard, or weighed on my heart would and could be made right. It is through the Atonement I am able to be forgiven. It is through the Atonement my family can be together forever, as we work towards it. It is through the Atonement that I will see loved ones after death. It is through the Atonement that I can one day have my own family sealed together forever. It is through the Atonement that I find pure joy.
Ultimately, if you ask me why I want to serve a mission it is so that those I promised I would find, can use and become better through the Atonement. So they can know they will see their loved ones again and that they can be with their family forever. I want to serve because I know it will not only bless these people but people I leave behind will come to know these truths and those that will come after will be able to learn these truths.
“ 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.” Mosiah 28:3
I am grateful for the hard things I have gone through so I can know my Savior. I am grateful for the people who loved me and taught me how to love as the Savior did. I am grateful for the Savior’s Atonement that I have the opportunity to be the best I can, to be truly joyful, and to help others to do the same.