Thursday, December 26, 2013

Why am I serving an LDS Mission?

I’ve grown up in the LDS church my entire life. As a child, I would follow my parents examples and go to church and say my prayers. For the first part of my life we lived in Ithaca, New York, and then Orem, Utah. When I was in Middle School we lived in New Canaan, Connecticut. It was there that I first gained my own testimony, instead of relying on my parents.

There were about 5 other Mormons in my grade, which was a big change for me having been raised in the Utah "bubble." I found myself answering questions about my beliefs to others often. I also had to learn to say no to certain activities I knew weren’t in line with my standards. I noticed there was a difference in the kind of “happiness” the world partakes in, compared to the joy and peace the Gospel offers all who come unto Christ.  I invited friends to come to mutual with me, and I tried my best to live my life in a way that they could look to me as an example of what a member of the LDS Church would do.

From 8th grade to my Senior Year I lived in Orem, Utah. And while I was once again part of a big group of Mormons, I still felt a desire to build my own testimony. I made my best friends during the 8th grade, and we have stayed best friends to this very day. Those girls, more than anything else, have been my strength. While going through those critical teenage years, with them by my side, we were able to help one another stay on the straight and narrow path.

Currently, two of them are serving missions right now. Bailey Gunther is in Charlotte, North Carolina. Moriah Gamble is in Quito, Ecuador. I am the next one to leave in January to Hamilton, New Zealand. Then, Hailey Harris will leave to Washington D.C. Alisa Bench is currently working on her papers.
The missionary-age-change was announced by President Thomas S. Monson while I was at the Shakespeare Competition with my high school’s Dance Team, during October 2012. We were taking a technique class and heard the good news through many texts and phone calls from friends and family. Now, boys have the opportunity to serve at age 18, instead of 19, and girls can serve at age 19, instead of 21. That moment was hard to describe. We just sat together and talked about how this opened so many new doors for each of our lives.

With the majority of the guys in my grade receiving their calls during the second half of Senior Year, it was easy to become excited about missionary work. However... I found myself become depressed during those months. Possibly a mixture of “Senior-itis” and knowing how graduation would change my life dramatically… But nonetheless, I was facing a lot of darkness and discouragement.    

It wasn’t until July that I began to feel better. I decided it was time to pull myself out of whatever was holding me down. I began reading my scriptures for an hour a day in order to fill my life with more light. During the time I spent reading the Book of Mormon, a calm came over me like one I hadn’t experience in a while. I began to feel a duty, or responsibility, to bring that same peace to others. I felt a growing desire to serve a mission.

After a few weeks of constant prayer seeking for a confirmation about whether I should definitely serve a mission or not, I began to feel afraid that I would make the wrong decision.  Then, one day while I was reading in 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon, I had a simple thought come into my mind, “why are you afraid to make the wrong choice?”

It was then that I knew Heavenly Father trusted ME to decide.  And I trusted that He would guide my path. He will never lead us astray; if something is wrong, we will feel the Holy Ghost’s warning. If we are to make a choice between two good things, whichever one we pick will open up more opportunities for good.

Sometimes, we cannot receive a confirmation until further down the road. While I did have promptings in the direction of choosing to serve, it was not until after I made a final decision that I felt the stronger confirmation come.

Sometimes it’s not a, “Should I do this, or should I do that?” But a “Heavenly Father, I have studied it out in my mind and in my heart, and I have chosen this.” The spirit will then either confirm through a reassuring, and calm feeling of its truthfulness, or it will communicate through an unsure, or unsettling emotion that it is not right.

I can testify to you that my decision to serve a mission has been the right thing for me. In my conversion process through out my life, coming to know Christ line upon line, I have found that this Gospel is true.  

Many members of the church have sacrificed so much in order to bring about the building and strengthening of The Kingdom of God upon the earth. I want to do my part. I want to do everything I can during my life to bring others unto Christ. I want nothing else than to serve Heavenly Father faithfully, and to show Him that I love Him, and His son. 

That is why I am serving an LDS Mission.