Growing up I always thought that girls that served missions did so because they couldn't get married. Back then the mission age was 21-years-old and I was planning on marrying right out of high school or within my first year of college. And then in the October 2012 General Conference, the age was dropped dramatically to 19! I remember hearing the news and all I could think was, "Hey! I could serve!"
That spark didn't last long and the consideration of going on a mission was put on the back burner of my mind. It wasn't until the summer of 2013 after graduating high school that I really thought about it.
I thought long and hard about this life-changing decision and I struggled a lot. I just wasn't sure. So I read my scriptures everyday. I even started a journal! And I prayed (a lot!). To be honest, I was getting a bit frustrated at this point. I wasn't getting my answer.
Soon I started to notice little "nudges" from the Spirit that pointed me towards a mission.
One that stands out to me was a very humbling experience. One Sunday we had the missionaries over for dinner, Elder Lowe and Elder Sanchez! I was taken back & very inspired after hearing their stories.
I remember the first time I met them and all I could think was, "Man, I don't think these guys are good missionaries." I judged them without getting to know who they were and where they were coming from.
As it turns out, Elder Lowe suffers from depression & was denied the first time he put his papers in. With the help of a good friend & a determination to prove that he was able to serve a mission, he re-entered his papers & was called to Texas.
Elder Sanchez suffers from anxiety. There were a few people in his home ward that judged him harshly and said that he wouldn't make a good missionary. That night Elder Sanchez was proud to report that he was on his 16 month mark and was doing just fine!
These young men are AMAZING! They had a determination to serve their Savior and despite all that they had going against them, they did! They then shared D&C 4 with our family. That night really got me thinking. Did I have a desire to serve? If these two elders can give up 2 years of their lives to serve, even with all of their trials, so can I!
The more I read my scriptures, the more I noticed "missionary nudges." Scriptures that stuck out to me included 2 Nephi 2:6-8, 2 Nephi 8:9, etc. My parents also helped me through this process. They prayed for me constantly and always told me that a mission was MY choice. My father told me that I would never regret serving a mission. I would only regret not serving if I felt that I should have. My mum was always sharing little revelations she would receive.
Well I was still praying and I wasn't getting the shove I needed. I was only getting nudges. I knew a mission would be good for me but I wanted a direct answer to my prayers, just to make sure. It wasn't until 8/13/13 that I received my answer. I was watching an episode of "The District" (the video is called "The District: Saved for a Reason") on YouTube with my mum. There was a scene where an investigator, Nue, was speaking the missionaries about the sacrifice of Christ. She told the elders that if He suffered so much for us, the least she could do was to take the step forward to change her life. As she said this, an incredible feeling came over me and a distinct phrase entered my mind: "You NEED to serve." I later found out that my mum had the same feeling during the same scene! Crazy, right?
I knew this was my answer and I booked it up to my bedroom. I knelt down on my knees and I prayed for a long time. I thanked Heavenly Father for everything and opened a fast. After that, all I felt was supreme happiness! I wish I could describe to you what this kind of happiness felt like! I could feel the Spirit surrounding me. The sky was bluer, music sounded better, and I was even patient with other drivers (which can be hard for me!). I felt like I was catching a small glimpse of heaven. I felt unstoppable.
So that's how I knew. I learned that constant and sincere prayer MUST be coupled with patience. The Lord may not come when you want Him, but He will come when you need Him most. Since that wonderful day I've had my fair share of doubts and trials but I can testify to you that the Lord knows what He is doing. If you're waiting for an answer from God, be patient. Keep your faith strong! Having a strong foundation in this gospel is the only way to find true happiness and it will help us through the hard times that come in life.
I'm so excited to be serving the people of Costa Rica! I'm at exactly 20 days on my countdown!