A couple weeks ago, I received an email from a girl named Jesse. Her story was her own, but so many pieces of it reminded me of mine. The time has come, dear friends, to tell you how I decided to go on a mission.
When I was five, my parents were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I grew up.
I was baptized.
I went to school.
I went to work.
I made friends.
I fell in and out of love with boys.
I lived my life.
During all of these adventures, I planned on serving a mission.
That was until I turned 20.
I was living in Orlando doing an internship in 2009. I would be turning 21 that summer.
One morning, I knelt in prayer trying to figure out where my life was going. Suddenly, like a jolt of terrible lightning, God decided to remind me that I was almost old enough to serve a mission and should seriously consider submitting my papers.
Panic. Sheer, unfiltered panic.
I thought I had already decided this. At one point in my life sure. But now? Um, no thanks. I wanted to get married and have a family.
I couldn’t deny that prompting. But I was really good at pretending I could.
One thing I learned though, is that God has a funny way of getting you to do something. Suddenly, the very act you are trying desperately to avoid penetrates every detail of your life.
Boom. Ward missionary.
Boom. Dear friends embraced the light of the Gospel and were baptized.
Boom. Elder Holland came to Stake Conference and spoke to my age-group about consecrating our lives to the Lord. #goonamissionsisterbuchanan
Boom. Everybody that has ever lived started asking me if I was going to serve a mission.
Boom. Sister missionaries got put into my home ward 2 weeks before I moved home.
Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom.
Good thing the Lord is persistent because I am the most stubborn person on the whole planet.
Well not too long after my 21st birthday, in a moment of surrender, I started my mission papers. Never had I felt the spirit so strongly and I wept as my shaky hands typed in information that would eventually transform me from member to missionary.
I continued living my life. I told people I was going on a mission. Their enthusiasm for me was encouraging, but in the long run, completely paralyzing. I began to doubt my decision. My roommates were starting to register for the Fall semester at school, and the comfort and security of a “known” future was looking more and more tempting.
I started applying for classes. I felt peace about that too.
“Well great! God is just going to let me choose! I choose NOT an 18-month unknown adventure I feel totally inadequate for.”
It was settled. A mission just wasn’t in my future. It would have been nice, but I really needed to focus on school, which was a good, righteous desire too, right? Right? Somehow, I couldn’t quite convince my heart.
I left Florida. I moved home to beautiful Northern California. My second night home, my mother (bless her) invited the sister missionaries over for dinner. #cornered
“Are you thinking of serving a mission, Emmilie?”
“You know, I’ve really thought and prayed about it. At first I thought yes, but… I’mgoingbacktoshcoolandIfeelgreataboutitdon’taskmeanymore.”
(That last bit would always come out in a jumbled mess.)
The truth was, I was unsettled about NOT serving a mission. And that 1. terrified me 2. infuriated me.
Well Sister Mecham and Sister Hurst were inspired. They didn’t say anything more about my service, but did quietly ask me to come to a lesson or two with them the next day.
Sighing a deep breath of defeat, I agreed.
The next day is forever burnt into my memory under the category of “life-altering moments.”
I experienced nearly everything I could have expected a real missionary to.
• Tracting: Doors slammed in our faces? check. The most incredible experience with a woman named Stacey who had always wondered why God had never called another prophet to the earth? check.
• Appointments falling through? check.
• Testifying of the plan of salvation to a less active member? check.
• Fumbling over my own words as I bore humble testimony of the reality of the Atonement? check.
• Watching in awe at the power the two sisters in front of me taught with? check.
It was the whole spectrum. It was incredible.
The car ride home was the clincher.
Sister Mecham and Sister Hurst were Godsends. Every fear that I had, they had themselves before their mission. But they still went. They gave up 18 months of their lives to serve.
I sat in the back of their white Corolla just as the sun was setting trying to fight back tears. I knew what had to be done.
They dropped me off, not knowing how much they had impacted the entire course of my life.
I walked back to my bedroom, closed the door, dropped to my knees and began to cry.
“Fine!” I yelled at the Lord. “Fine, I’ll go!”
More tears and more fear.
This story suddenly began to play in my mind.
I calmed down, and continued to pray. I told the Lord that I would do whatever He asked me to, but he would have to help me. I didn’t think I had enough faith to serve a mission.
It didn’t come all at once, dear sisters, but it came. Line upon line, the strength of the Lord transformed my life and prepared me to serve.
I got up from that prayer and went on the longest run of my life When I returned home, I quietly told my family my resolute decision. My parents wept. They knew I was serious this time.
I met with my bishop and completed my paperwork in a week.
I went back to school.
I got my mission call.
I entered the MTC.
I walked the dusty back roads of Montana.
I trusted God.
He trusted me.
And I’ve never been the same.