The hipster deep within me says, "No....Kaela...don't blog about missionary work...that's what everyone is doing right now..." And then the other hipster within me is saying something like, "except, you've been getting excited about missionary work since one year ago today, so I guess it's okay." The truth is, I have been getting excited about missionary work for the past 12 exact months. Excited, and scared. Pretty much the way I'm feeling now, really.
Thanks to Nick Walton, I already knew about the announcement before it was made....but that only slightly lessened the shock of it. The truth is, I literally cried until I ran out of tears. I wanted to keep crying, but it was actually physically impossible. I don't know why I was crying, exactly. Lots of reasons. I know a lot of it was fear. But deep down, I know it was because I knew this was the answer to my prayers.
Why am I choosing to serve a mission? Well, right after the announcement I just got really excited and knew it was for me! I didn't even have to think about it, or pray about it, or anything! I just knew! I mean, they may as well have made it mandatory for all girls to serve, because let's be honest, who doesn't want to serve a mission?? If you don't want to serve a mission, geez, you must be some sort of heathen.
My dear, wonderful, fellow female friends. Listen to me. NOBODY IS JUDGING YOU. You are loved! You are loved by your friends and family and Heavenly Father and your decision whether or not to serve a mission is between you and the Lord, and I hope you understand that and knows that everybody else understands that too. If you have never felt the desire to serve a mission, then by all means, don't go. If you are starting to think that a mission may be the thing for you, then I encourage you to prayerfully consider that and seek counsel from your family and friends and leaders. But that is totally, completely, 100% up to you. I really, really want every girl out there right now who is feeling judged or hated because of this announcement to know that this announcement was not intended to make you feel that way. Do not be angry. Do not feel hurt. There is simply no need and no place for that. The miracle of missionary work was never designed to make anyone feel second class. Also, this blog is not an attempt to persuade anyone to serve a mission. I wouldn't do that. The purpose of this blog is to explain why I, personally, am choosing to prepare for and serve a mission.
With that, I want to make a plea. There are those of us who have chosen to serve a mission, and I promise you, it is not to conform to a hype. This change in ages is a miracle, a miracle that is going to further the growth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Missionary work is not a "new fad" that everyone is just going to "get over it" and life will go back to normal. If you have been thinking that way, I am going to bluntly encourage you to stop thinking that way...right now. Up until a couple days ago, I never thought I was going to serve a mission, but after LOTS of prayerful consideration, tears, and thinking so much it felt like my head was going to explode...here is why I decided to serve a mission.
Alma 29:9 - "I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy."
I have a strong, firm testimony of missionary work, and nothing makes me happier than seeing people being brought into the light of the gospel! Nothing would make me happier if I could devote 18 months of my life strictly to the Lord, and bringing more of His children into the gospel.
Second, I was watching Elder Holland's talk from the October 2011 Priesthood Session, "We Are All Enlisted." He was talking about senior couples being an example to their children and grandchildren...I'll admit I wasn't paying that close of attention, but there was one thing he said that struck me: "In this family, we serve missions." I realized that's exactly how I want my future family to be. I want that to be a standard within my family: "we serve missions." I know the dynamics of missionary work within families are going to change in the coming years, and when I raise my children I want to be an example to them. If my daughters choose to serve missions, I want to be an example to them and be able to help encourage them with my own experience.
But most of all, 2 Nephi 25:26 - "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."
I want everyone to know about Christ. Simple as that.
There are about a thousand other reasons, but I don't think I'm going to share my life story on this blog. I hope you all know that this is an individual decision that I considered very, very carefully. And so I'm going to ask one more favor...I need help. I can't do this on my own. I need your support, and prayers. I need advice and counsel. Right now I'm more scared than excited but I know that I want to do this.
With that, there are some people I want to thank. First, Elder Matthew Woodruff, thank you for being the best example of a true missionary there ever was. You've been showing me what it means to be a missionary for longer than just the few months you've been gone. Watching you serve has given me so much courage and strength.
Second, my wonderful leaders, of which there are too many to name, but you know who you are, who have always encouraged my spiritual growth, and encouraged me to never give up. I miss you all so much and you better believe I'm going to be calling you up for some serious life counsel!
And most of all, my loving family. Thank you for letting me stay at home over the weekend and crying with me and giving me all of your wonderful advice. Dad, thanks for being a worthy priesthood holder so you could give me a blessing when I needed it. Mom, thanks for talking to me and giving me comfort and advice, and for being a great example. Stockton, I hope you're still cool with us putting in our papers at the same time!
If not for all of these people, I don't think I would be where I am today, and I definitely wouldn't be choosing to serve a mission. Whew! This is big. I'm scared, but I know it'll be worth it.
In advance, thank you for all of your support and prayers. And, bear with me, because this is all I'm going to talk about for the next 9 months.