How many of us remember dreaming of far off places and new adventures as little children? I know I did. I have always wanted to go out into the world and meet new people, learn new things, and have new experiences. Now, I have been blessed with exactly that opportunity... Times a hundred! I will not only be able to learn a new language (which I have wanted to do since I was a child), go somewhere I never would have been able to go before, and see things I never would have seen otherwise... But I will also have the opportunity to teach the gospel! To share a wealth of information to the world. Something so incredibly fantastic that I'm not entirely sure I can process the very idea of it yet.
Before the age change, I wanted to go but didn't expect to as there are so many variables to life that would have become a factor by the time I was 21. This being the case, I didn't recognize the fact that the Lord was preparing me for this that whole week before conference. Every day that week, I was noticing a feeling that I needed to do some kind of service. Every movie, every song, every conversation i had was oriented around this idea. I even found a new favorite song by Alex Boye during this time... :) I had already decided to find some service oriented club or organization on campus. Little did I know exactly what kind of service He had in mind. As my mom shared in her post, I was unable to listen to Thomas S. Monson's announcement originally. I found out about the change through a text message as I was just managing to pull up the very end of his talk. You know, when he was basically saying he was done talking... I have never had a more life changing text message in my lifetime! ;) I was shocked, overwhelmed, and really excited. All of these emotions and some I don't even have names for were flooding over me. I have to admit to the fact that my first reactions were not overly spiritual. In fact, they were pretty worldly. I was worried about school, family, and a million little things that really should have no sway over my decision at all. I recognized this fact, however, and decided that this was not the right way to make such a decision. So, i began to clear my head. I spent twenty four hours fasting, reading my scriptures, and praying with a very clear question in mind: "Does my Heavenly Father want me to go on a mission?" I can not express in words the fantastic nature of the emotions which flooded out every worldly thought that day. I was immersed in a feeling of gratitude, love, and peace. And one 'coincidence' after the other bore witness to me of the fact that the Lord had me in mind to serve him. (I should probably insert here that I don't believe in coincidences, everything has a purpose unto God.) I ended my fast by reading the fourth section of Doctrine and Covenants, or the missionary scripture, and a prayer. I then proceeded to watch the talk given by Thomas S. Monson in which the announcement had been made. I knew then, with out a kernel of doubt, that I was to serve a mission.
Now, all that was left was to actually do it... Little did I know all that that curtailed. I had to have paperwork done by the ton, SHOTS, and so very much more! I never would have been able to get it all done with out the help of my wonderful mother. She was by my side for every shot (although she refused to bribe me with ice cream like she did when I was little... Bummer :), every new piece of information, every paper, and every emotional response. I have been very blessed indeed. Finally, after a long and drawn out process, we received the call. It came at a very hard time in our lives, as my Aunt Shell had passed no more than two days before. Another testament of God's love for us. He knew we needed some kind of uplifting news at that time in our lives. We gathered the family together in the living room... And proceeded to ask everyone where they thought I'd go. All I knew was that it had to be somewhere it got cold... But there were quite a few theories thrown out there. Britain, Australia, Natchitoches Louisiana, and so on... But Mom and Dad were both in agreement with their guess: South America. As it turns out, they were right! I have to say I am still a bit in shock over this. I have never been further away from my family than Florida, and that was only for three days and I cried myself to sleep every night. However, I know that God will be there to comfort me, and that this is what is needed from and for me.
I am so very excited to learn so much about a new people and about the gospel. I know that this is right, and I know that it will bless so many people in more ways than I may ever know. I will miss my family, there is no doubt. And this will be the toughest thing I have ever done. But it will also be the greatest. And it will be worth it.