Saturday, September 24, 2011

Part 1: The Decision

Last summer I had the opportunity to study abroad in Berlin. For the first time I was living on my own in a foreign country, with very little contact with my family. I was immersed in a foreign language, learning and adapting to new customs every day. While in Berlin, I went to Institute with the German young adults. One of the class options was a mission preparation class. I thought “Hey, that sounds fun” and started attending the class. Sitting in the small library of the German ward building week after week, I started to think more and more about what it would be like to be a missionary. I started to envision myself wearing the black name tag, talking to people and teaching them the gospel. For the first time, going on a mission was not something just for the men. I could imagine myself, as a woman, being a missionary. After all, I was living successfully on my own in a foreign country, which made a mission seem less intimidating. When I came back to BYU that fall, it was with a new curiosity about going on a mission.

Despite having my interest piqued in Germany, I didn't act much on my inklings until the next winter. One of my good friends was preparing to go on a mission, and I told her how much I had been thinking about it. She told me that if it was occupying my mind that much, it probably meant I should seriously consider it and start praying about it. Over the next few weeks, I earnestly consulted with my Heavenly Father. It seemed to me like going on a mission was the right decision, and I asked Him to give me some confirmation that I had made the right choice. I had faith that at some point, Heavenly Father would let me know whether or not I was supposed to serve a mission.

It took a few weeks, but I can remember the exact moment when I received the answer to my prayer. I was sitting in Doctrine and Covenants class. The teacher read a quote that said something like “If you are going to give the Lord something, give Him your best.” The words seemed to pierce me right to my very core and the Spirit testified to me, right in that moment, that I was to serve a mission. All doubts flew from my mind, and I knew for a fact that I had made the right decision. I almost broke down and cried right there in that classroom, the Spirit was so strong.

What I realized that day was that serving a mission was all about my testimony of the Savior and my relationship with Heavenly Father. Yes, I want to share the gospel with others, but more than that a mission should be an offering to the Lord of all my time and talents. I want to give the Lord my best. He gave everything for me, and because I love Him, I can put my life on hold and go do His work. Even though my offering is small in comparison to His, all I have to do is be sure to serve Him with all my might, mind and strength.

Looking back on it now, I can see how the Lord prepared me for this moment in my life. It was a huge turning point for me to go from not even considering serving a mission, to where I am today, having submitted my papers and eagerly awaiting my call. I am the kind of person who has to let a decision marinate over time, and that is exactly how Heavenly Father led me. The whole process started over a year ago, back when I was in Germany. I thought about it for months and months, and then started praying to know more clearly the will of my Heavenly Father. The confirmation I received from the Spirit settled my mind, and I have felt at peace with my decision ever since.