Tuesday, July 30, 2013

MY Mission Story

Tomorrow I will join the enormous fleet of young women invading every corner of the earth to teach about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm so excited, you guys! So here's how I got to this point. Sadly I will have to take a small (okay 18-month long) break from this here bloggins. You can follow my mission blog here: hermanaglazier.blogspot.com

And each of us has a different story, don't we? Well if you haven't heard enough yet, here's another story of how I went from somewhat school-focused 18-year-old to an excessively emotional and unfocused 18-year-old with a mission call in hand.

October 6, 2012. I was eating pancakes with my roommates, ready for another inspiring conference. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that what would follow was shocking. The excitement and response could never have been foreseen by any of us. I'd heard rumors that the age for missionary service was going to be lowered - but I didn't expect they would take effect soon enough for it to affect my decision. Of course, I was wrong, and for once, the rumors were true.
When President Monson announced those fateful words, the words that would significantly alter the face of our entire generation and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, my heart quickened. Have you ever wanted to scream during a church meeting? (not because of that person who doesn't realize they are preaching false doctrine or using the pulpit as an inappropriate outlet for much-too-personal narratives, but because of excitement and happiness). This was definitely a first for me. We all felt bad for the following speakers. Facebook was fun that day.

There was an IMMEDIATE and ENORMOUS response. So many girls were and are ready to serve. Ready to get out into the world and share what makes them happy. I also saw some ecstatic boys - boys that were young for our grade, who could now serve at the same time as all their friends. Who were itching to go but had been previously constrained by their birth date. Such a beautiful and inspiring thing to see people my age, so brave, so ready to change the world for the better.

But then, as always, there comes a negative connotation with such a huge wave of people doing the same thing. The inevitable "bandwagon" label creeps out, contaminating the beauty of the spiritual wave sweeping over the world. The idea that people are joining simply for the sake of joining makes it a little less sweet. The idea that people feel social and familial pressure to submit their mission papers, the idea that girls are breaking off engagements when they never had planned to serve a mission before, the idea that girls are about to sacrifice 18 months of their life for the sake of joining a bandwagon, makes it less exciting.

I wanted to be sure I wasn't going on a mission for the sake of joining a bandwagon.

Prayer. Scripture study. Soul searching. Reflection.
Yep, I'm really supposed to go. I'm supposed to go THIS SUMMER. I'm supposed to leave before my brother gets home from his mission, supposed to sacrifice . . .
well, that's the thing. As soon as I decided that I needed to serve a mission, it didn't feel like a sacrifice. I toyed with the idea of just waiting until my brother gets home in September so I could at least see him before I leave. But it just didn't feel right. The Lord knows when he wants me to serve, and I shouldn't toy with that. He knows everything. And while it would be contrary to the idea of agency to assume that He orchestrates every detail of our lives, I know that missionary service is something He cares about very much. I know that every call is inspired and every call is extended for a reason.

Mostly I just knew that serving a mission was right for me, and that the mission age change answered a lot of my questions.

For example, I had always wanted to serve a mission. I really did. Both of my parents did, a lot of my aunts and uncles did, most of my cousins older than me did. Most recently, my two older brothers did. But whenever I pictured myself at age 21, I couldn't picture myself serving a mission. For some reason I just didn't see it. It was unsettling. Equally unsettling was my inability to imagine what the next school year would bring. Last fall semester I would try to think about where I wanted to live or work or what classes I wanted and I couldn't picture it at all. I couldn't come to any conclusive goals or even ideas of what I would be doing with my life. The announcement that I would be able to serve a mission explained everything perfectly.

I would like to believe that I was rewarded for trusting in the Lord's timing for me to serve a mission. Opening my call was the most enormous flood of emotion I have ever felt in my entire life. For one thing, I had been anticipating it for what felt like ages. I had submitted my papers the exact day I was eligible to. Then, my call came while I was on a trip with my friends in Las Vegas. We were gone Thursday - Saturday night, and my call came Thursday. I was FLIPPING. OUT. I tried to convince my mom to open it and tell me on the phone, but it's a good thing she didn't. I wouldn't have believed her without seeing it with my own eyes. See, that same week, my dear cousin left for a mission to Concepción, Chile. We grew up together and have always been best pals. When I opened my call and read that I would be going to the SAME MISSION as my dear best cousin, I was overcome. I started screaming before I could even read it out loud. (I'm sorry, family, I know that was cruel). And ever since then I've been so incredibly excited that focusing on anything has been difficult

It's strange how distracted we can become when we know what we should be focusing on. I think Satan tries to work against us more than ever when we are preparing for a mission, because he doesn't want us to serve, of course. The last few months have been quite a struggle. But I made it this far, and I'm [almost] ready to go. The whole packing thing, well . . . let's just say it's . . . coming. Ha.
I think something that made it hard to focus is that I didn't know precisely when I would be leaving. Soon after receiving my call, I did an oral Spanish test which placed me in the advanced program for the MTC - that means I'll only be there for 2 weeks! This made it necessary to change my arrival date. This is the evolution of my MTC entry date over the course of a few weeks:

July 3, Provo
June 19, Provo
June 19, Mexico
May 8 instead of May 22 (????), Provo
July 31, Provo

It took me a while to accept that July 31 was my REAL date. They kept calling and emailing with new things and I was so confused. The fact that they haven't changed it again (yet...) is reassuring.

People, this doesn't seem real! How can I be so excited about something, yet it feels SO unreal? I don't even know what to say anymore. I love you all, miss you all, be good while I'm gone. Hopefully the Internet will still exist in 18 months am I right? Ha. ha.

See ya later! (NOT goodbye).

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