August 17th, 2014
Crescent Valley Ward
I am getting ready to go out and serve an 18 month LDS mission! I will be in the MTC for 10 days and in Raleigh, NC for the rest of that time. That is where I will be teaching those I come in contact with about the restored gospel and all the things we as members believe.
I am not expecting this to be any easy task. Going away from home leaving behind many loved ones, technology, giving up sleep and free time…accepting now that I will look like the lion king with my curly hair out there in the humidity!
But this is something that the church has always strived to do, and has always encouraged its members to participate in, and that is service. There are very many different realms and aspects that service entails. It can be done across the world or like in my case, a mission is an act of service. Serving the Lord. “Christ knows how to minister to others perfectly…” as Elder Uchtdorf says, “when the Savior stretches out his hands those he touches are uplifted and become greater and stronger and better people as a result. If we are his hands, should we not do the same?” We could allow ourselves to focus on our inadequacies and short comings. I could tell myself that I will make no difference and there are others who would fit better in my position as a missionary. But we must not forget that the Lord does NOT call the qualified, he qualifies the called. The church is not a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things or have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings. The church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other as we press on in our journey to return to our Heavenly Father.
I thought I was safe. My time had passed for any possibility of serving a mission. My family is kind of into this, ‘travel far away and do nice things for people you don’t know.’ So in my mind I am telling myself, “You’re covered! You have done your part. If you add up all those times you have totally served for two years." Brothers and Sisters, I was wrong! The Lord knows us perfectly. He has a plan for us, and will find ways to show us where he wants us to go next. I experienced this firsthand and was quite shocked and couldn’t believe that I had been caught. When I told my family as well as the bishop, they had to make sure they heard me right when the word mission came out of my mouth. Before all of this, I had made it quite clear I was never going to serve and dug my heels in HARD. Nevertheless, I made a promise years ago that when the Lord called, I would always answer. And this experience would be no exception. Part of our willingness to give service is submitting our will to our Heavenly Father’s and allowing him to guide us. Along our pathway of life we will observe that we are not the only travelers. There are others who need our help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire and souls to save. Elder Neal A. Maxwell states, “God does not begin by asking our ability, only our availability. And if we prove our dependability he will increase our capability. “
Many of us know the constant demands of life, and have felt the overwhelming stress of trying to fit everything in. At times we wonder how we can find the time to turn outwards and serve when we can barely stay afloat ourselves. But I know that as we give, we will find that sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven, and in the end we learn it was no sacrifice at all. As David L. Beck says, “as you love his children, Heavenly Father will guide you and his angels will assist you. You will be given power to bless lives.”
There are always opportunities to start and then magnify those things we are striving for. What we love determines what we seek, what we seek determines what we think and do, and what we think and do determines what we become. What do you want to become brothers and sisters? Better parents, teachers, to be better understanding, or have better patience? The last 2 months have allowed me to ponder and make goals for myself as to what kind of missionary I want to be. What kind of mission I want to serve and how I will magnify this calling so that it can have a positive effect on the rest of my life. The privilege to work is a gift, the power of work is a blessing, and the love of work is success. The word magnify is an interesting word. It means to enlarge, to make more clear, to bring closer and to strengthen. I assume everyone here is familiar with binoculars. When you put the lenses to your eyes and focus them, you magnify and in effect bring closer everything within your field of vision. But if you turn them around, looking through the opposite end, you diminish and make more distant that which you see. So it is with our actions as members in the church. When we live up to our high and holy calling, when we show love for god through service to fellowmen, when we use our strength and talents to build faith and spread the truth, we magnify our callings. When on the other hand we live lives of selfishness and have our sights set on the things of the world rather than god, we diminish those duties and callings. It may take a while. It will take effort and diligence; but welcome the task that takes you beyond yourself.
For me, I’ve had an eternity to prepare for my mission, and I will have an eternity to reflect on it. But I will only have 18 months to live it. And I will do all that I can to magnify that time in the mission field. It is impossible to fail when you do your best, and when you are on the Lord’s errand. Just as the hymn states, “because I have been given much I too must give.”
I had a chance to go visit some friends down in Idaho this summer and upon telling them where I was called, I got a reaction I wasn’t expecting. Many of their first words were, “Oh, are you disappointed?” My heart would drop- but I would tell them my excitements for this new chapter in my life. But I could not wrap my mind around that one simple question I have continually gotten…Essentially, I saw it like they were asking me if I were pleased or not. Trying to gage my reaction to a state side-English speaking mission, as if its status was not as satisfactory as some other calls. But what I am telling you today is what I truly feel and know. You are not called to serve in a place, you are called to serve in place of the Savior. Why would I EVER feel disappointed knowing that?? When I opened my call with my sweet family, the second I read out loud Raleigh North Carolina, there was peace in my heart and joy in my soul. There was a tangible feeling there- the best way to describe it would be to say that U felt lik a puzzle piece was missing but clicked into place when I read my call. I know that Heavenly Father needs me there. There is a family that will touch me, and hopefully a family I will be able to touch as well. Never have I doubted the influence of the Lord in my life. And now is not the time to start. To close, I found a quote by Elder Ballard that captures everything in which I wish to express about my upcoming adventure. “My mission belongs to the Lord. With all my heart I give my energy and my time to the Master, because I love him. Therefore I’m going to look at every day not as mine, but as his. And I will treat each minute of his time with respect and focus the dedication that it deserves.”
I leave you my testimony that if you put the Lord first, you will receive blessings and strength. He can lift burdens and trials from you and replace them with love and perseverance. The time we put in is so worth the blessings we can have. This gospel is a transforming power; one I will live everyday for. What at first appeared to me as a sacrifice, is now changing into something that has turned into the greatest investment that I have ever made.