Well, it turns out, I don’t get a farewell talk! Which is not the traditional way to leave for your mission, but I’m not the traditional missionary! So, I thought I would do my “farewell” via blog.
If you would have told me 5 years ago that I would be going on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I would have asked you “what church?? I’ve never even heard of them.” If you would have told me 2 years ago, I would have laughed and said “the Mormon church? Yeah RIGHT. Like that’s ever gonna happen.” And if you would’ve told me a year ago, I would have said “you’re crazy, I don’t have enough faith for that.” But I would’ve been wrong.
I joined the church in December of 2014. December 10 to be exact. And I will have been a member for 16 months and 3 days when I leave to go on my mission. I haven’t even been a member of the church for 18 months, and I’m going to commit the next 18 months to serving the Church and serving the Lord!? I haven’t been a member for very long, but I know without a doubt that going on a mission will bless my life in so many more ways than I could ever imagine.
On December 20, 2015, I was at family dinner with Caleb’s family like we went to every Sunday night since I started going to church. But this time, his grandmother felt the need to talk to me, so she pulled me aside. She asked me if I had ever thought about going on a mission. I told her that the thought had crossed my mind, but I had pretty much ruled it out as impossible and that was that. She told me to think about it again, and to know that if I did decide to go, that everything would work out, she was sure of it.
I went back to my house that night and Caleb was with me. I remember crying hysterically saying that it was impossible, and there was just no way it was going to work out. Caleb (he seriously is the most patient, perfect man, I love him!) listened to me sob for no reason and assured me that no matter what I decided to do, everything would work out. He told me that it’s not impossible and like grandma said, if I want to go and decide that it’s the right plan for me, the Lord will make everything work out. He left and went home and I laid in bed and sobbed some more. I don’t know why this was such a shock to me, the thought had crossed my mind before, but when I thought about my dogs and leaving my family, I just completely ruled it out. It seemed impossible. I have three dogs, and a cat. Where are they going to live for 18 months? Who is going to watch another person’s animals for 18 months? What am I going to do about my job? I just got there and I want to keep that job! It was just impossible, and way too much for my brain to think about. As always, when my life seems to be falling apart, or my heart is just hurting too much to comprehend things, or I need a little help, I got down on my knees and prayed. I didn’t say much about the mission idea, just for Him to help heal my heart. I felt a little better, so I texted my dear friend Christina, who I’ve looked up to ever since I started going to Church. If there was one person that would be able to calm me down about this, it was Christina. So I texted her, at midnight, and told her that I was a little freaked out but just that I would talk to her more tomorrow. Well about 30 seconds after putting my phone down from finishing that text message, it starts ringing. Christina is calling me. I answered and the first thing I said was “why are you still awake!? I hope I didn’t wake you up, I said I would talk to you about it tomorrow!” She said “No, you didn’t wake me up, I haven’t gone to bed yet, and you’re more important.” (I love her, too. Almost as much as Caleb.) So we talked. And we talked. And we talked. I think we talked for about an hour. And she said a prayer over the phone and specifically asked Heavenly Father for guidance for me in knowing whether or not I should go on a mission or not. I jokingly said, “I never get direct answers, just an eh, yeah you could do that.” (Don’t ever say that, it’s like a challenge, I think.) Anyways, we hung up. We went to sleep.
The next day was Monday, December 21. I went to work like usual. I got off work at 5 and was supposed to go straight to the store to pick up white elephant gifts for our ward Christmas party, but I totally forgot. Caleb came over and we were watching Netflix or something. I for some reason asked him at about 6:30 if he still wanted to go to our ward Christmas party that started at 7. (He was shocked, because I was never the one who wanted to go to FHE, he always had to drag me there.) And he said yes. So we got ready, and we went. First we had dinner, and hung out for a bit, and then we started the white elephant game. Caleb and I hadn’t brought any gifts so we were staying out of the game while they were setting up. Christina came over and said that a couple of people had brought a couple of extra gifts so we should join in the game. We did and started unwrapping gifts. The first gift I unwrapped was a little clay sculpture of Mary and Baby Jesus in a Manger. It was beautiful, but since it was such a beautiful present, it got stolen very quickly. To be honest, I don’t even remember what the second gift I unwrapped was, just that I was disappointed that someone stole my cute sculpture. At the end of the game, there were still 4 or 5 presents in the middle of the circle, so everyone got the option of keeping their gift, or trading for an unopened gift in the middle. I chose to get one of the unopened presents, as it couldn’t possibly get any worse than it already was. (Maybe at that point I had a big box of car parts??) Anyways. I went to the middle and something told me to grab a certain package. It was cute and looked like it would be a great gift. AND MAN, IT WAS.
I unwrapped the package and inside, there was a Book of Mormon, and the missionary pamphlets (If you don’t know what these are, they are pamphlets that the church gives missionaries to hand out to people who want to learn more about the church, they are such a great tool!) tied together, with a sticky note taped to the front of it, with the words “Missionary Kit” written on it. I looked down at this present that I had opened and was so shocked, I was speechless. Caleb and Christina being the GREAT friends they are burst out laughing and laughter is contagious so pretty soon, I was laughing to the point of tears. This was my neon light answer. My direct answer. How much more obvious does it get? (See, I’m telling you, don’t ask for an answer and then say you never get any direct answers. Sometimes He’ll smack you in the face with the Book of Mormon. Literally.) Like THIS is what I was hearing. That was my Heavenly Father telling me to go, and that everything would be okay.
Since we were at a ward party, and I was looking into getting my patriarchal blessing anyways, I asked President Dalton if I could set up a time to meet with him. We set it up for the upcoming Sunday and while at that interview, I asked him what I needed to get done in order to start working on my papers. We did my first interview that same day and I started working on my papers that night. I had everything done that night besides linking pictures to my papers and all of my medical and dental stuff. It has been a super short process. Most people take months to decide for sure if they are going, and to fill out their paperwork and send it in. I decided I was going on a mission at that ward Christmas party, and had my medical and dental done, and my paperwork turned in within two months, and most of that was strictly waiting for medical paperwork to be done for me and updating my immunization record (because as if going on a mission isn’t scary enough, they want to make sure that you have all your shots too, so you have to get lots of shots).
I turned in my papers mid February. Caleb left to go on his mission on February 23, 2016, and I opened my call on March 8,2016. I am going to the California Anaheim Mission, English speaking, reporting to the Provo MTC on April 13, 2016!
Even just since I have opened my call, I can already feel the love the Savior has for me for giving 18 months of my life to serve. He is with me daily and I am so grateful for His love and support and guidance. I am not by any means going to say that it has been the easiest road and that it’s all been butterflies and rainbows, but I KNOW without a doubt that the Lord will bless me and look after me in all the things I do on my mission. I know that He will bless my family (even my furry children) while I am gone. I know that this is the BEST choice that I could be making in regards to my future. Going to school would be good, getting married and starting a family would be better, but this is the BEST thing I could be doing. I know that the Lord will look after me and protect me. I know that He will help me to overcome hardships and adversity. I know that He will help me to become whole and that where I fall short, He will step in and build me up and help me to grow into the best person I could ever want to be. He helps me to see the things that I need to improve on, and to help me see the world with new eyes. I know that He blesses me with things that feel like hardships now, but will turn into some of the biggest blessings later. I know that Jesus Christ died for us, that He died so that we may live forever with our Heavenly Father again. I know that He listens to every prayerful heart, that He is always there, if we will just get on our knees and talk to Him. Caleb said something in one of his letters that I absolutely love! He said “Always remember, you stand tallest on your knees.” It is true. We stand the tallest when we are on our knees, talking with our Father in Heaven. He will lift us up and make us better than we can ever imagine. I know that my Heavenly Father listens to me, and knows me by name, and loves me. Just as much as He loves each and every one of you reading this. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.