One of the most exciting things for me is learning about friends who have decided to go on a mission. There’s something about people you love experiencing wonderful things that makes you feel closer with them.
A week or so ago, I found out my friend Katie Ardmore had decided to serve. Katie and I worked together on our school newspaper at BYU-Idaho. She is very talented, and a loyal friend. She will make a great missionary.
I will admit, I was surprised when I heard her decision to serve. Pleasantly surprised.
But what surprised me even more was how much her simple, unyielding faith recharged me this morning.
Thank you, Katie, for sharing your story and for sharing the gospel.
I’ve been telling my friends and family members over the past year that “a mission’s just not for me,” “I can’t really see myself going on a mission,” and “I just don’t really want to go on a mission.”
It wasn’t until my brother started nagging me to pray about it a couple weeks ago that I really thought about a mission.
Here’s a description of me before the mission decision. I was a journalism-minded 20-year-old. I was spiritual and had a strong testimony, but I would rather go out into the world with a press pass and notebook than with a missionary badge and Book of Mormon.
Not only that, but I was a headstrong, independent woman. I didn’t want to be tied down to some other person all day every day. In fact, one of my favorite pastimes was driving through the nearby farms blasting my Elvis Presley CDs. I like my thinking time, my “me” time.
It’s only been two weeks since I changed my views on serving a mission, and I already feel like a completely different person. “I was lost, but now I am found.”
It all started a couple weeks ago when my brother, Dan, texted me: “hey katie, can you go on a mission to England please…”
My brother likes to joke around, and I thought he was just referring to the dream we both share of living in England one day. I didn’t really think much of the text. Then later that night he sent me another text: “but seriously, you better pray about going on a mission tonight, k?”
I told him I was feeling kind of down and not too spiritual so I would pray about it when I started feeling better. I had been feeling lost and hopeless lately because graduation was coming in December, and I didn’t feel right about any of my post-graduation options.
A few days later, he asked if I had prayed yet, and I said no. A few more days went by and, he said: “you better pray about going on a mission today or else…” He was just teasing me, but I knew he was serious because he had now brought up the subject four times, and he just doesn’t do that.
I put it off all night, but I felt this nagging feeling I should pray. So, at midnight, I knelt beside my bed. I started thinking of a mission, and all the fears I had felt before came rushing into my mind: I don’t get along with people, I’m not a persuasive speaker,, I wouldn’t be able to call my family, no one would have time to write to me, and many more doubts ran through my mind. I felt anxious and nervous, just like I had every other time I had thought about a mission.
But I put all of those thoughts aside and prayed: “Heavenly Father, I don’t know that I really want to go on a mission, but there must be a reason Dan has been telling me to pray about it. Please help me to know what to do.”
“Father, I feel lost and don’t know what the right path is…”
I finally got the courage to say: “Should I go on a mission?”
Immediately, that sick, anxious feeling disappeared. My fears and doubts no longer seemed to matter. I felt good. But I wasn’t convinced yet.
“I will sleep on it, Father, please help me to know what’s right.”
I ended my prayer and stood up. I suddenly felt a strong prompting to go find my hardcopy scriptures (which I haven’t opened in months because I just use my digital scriptures on my smartphone now).
I found my scriptures, and my fingers found a bookmark from where I had left off reading about six months ago. It just happened to be at D&C 14, and I read the verses: “Behold the field is white already to harvest; therefore, whoso desireth to reap let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts…Seek to bring forth and establish my Zion.”
I turned the page and read the next passage. I felt I should replace the subject’s name with my own while reading:
“Hearken, my servant, [Katie], and listen to the words of Jesus Christ, your Lord and your Redeemer… And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father.”
This hit my heart, and I knew. For the first time in probably a year, I knew exactly what I needed to do.
I talked to my bishop the next day and started filling out the papers. I told my parents and they confided that they had also been prompted to talk to me about serving a mission but that they didn’t want to pressure me. My brother’s wife had felt prompted to tell him and then he felt like he should tell me. It didn’t matter how stubborn I was, Heavenly Father was going to make someone tell me.
My parents also told me that they had recently switched health insurance companies and were now saving $500 per month. They will use that money to pay for my mission. That was just another confirmation to me that Heavenly Father was supporting my decision.
I’ve since completed my papers, and I’ll be meeting with my stake president within the week. I no longer feel down or lost. I feel like I’m going exactly where I need to go. I’m blessed with the Spirit more because I’m finally doing what God wants me to do.
Since I made the decision, I’ve thought about the past year and wondered what its purpose was. I recently got out of a year-long bad relationship, one that made me and him miserable.
I’ve spent the last week wondering why Heavenly Father allowed me to stay in that relationship. Why didn’t He stop me from dating him? Why didn’t He just tell me then to go on a mission?
Tonight, I watched a recent Mormon Messages video called “Wrong Roads” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNQC-_srxH8&list=PL4E784EC0770935C0)
In the video, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared a story about him and his son driving home from a trip in the desserts of Utah. They came to a fork in the dirt road and weren’t sure which way to go. They prayed about it and felt right about going to the right. They drove that way and soon realized that the way they had chosen was a dead end so they turned around and went the other way.
Elder Holland’s son asked why Heavenly Father would tell them to go the wrong way. Elder Holland concluded that sometimes Heavenly Father wants us to go the wrong direction for a short time because he would rather have us know without a doubt that the other way is the right way rather than just travel on without knowing for sure.
I realized that this is exactly what happened with that relationship I was in. If I hadn’t come to the conclusion that I was on the wrong path with him, I would have second guessed my decision to go on a mission. I might not have known without a doubt that going on a mission is the right choice for me.
But since I went through that trial and I’ve seen how empty life is when I take the wrong path, I now know exactly what I need to do, and I’m not so grateful to be worthy of my Heavenly Father’s spirit and guidance.
As I have more meaningful prayers and study the “Preach my Gospel” manual every day, I feel more at peace and closer to my Heavenly Father every day. I can feel him molding me into a missionary, and I know I’m no longer the last person you would expect to go on a mission.