Sunday, October 7, 2012

18 Months

Surprise! It's me! {Maybe I should have waited one more month to start again and then it would have been a full year since the last time I posted. I'm not sure where my motivation went. But, I just didn't write. I do want to get back into journal needs some love too. My life may not be very exciting, but I do believe even this needs to be recorded.}

P.S. (I know it's not really where a post-script should be...just go with it) This turned out to be much longer than I had planned. Forgive me.

Every 6 months I attend the annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints along with millions of others worldwide. So, the first weekend in April and the first weekend in October are some of my favorite weekends all year. During the Conference, we are blessed to hear messages from the Prophet, the Apostles and other General Leaders of the Church. It really is one of my favorite times of the year. Every once in a while, a new announcement is made during conference to tell the whole church (and any others tuning in) at the same time.

Yesterday, President Thomas S. Monson made the historical announcement that the missionary age is being lowered starting immediately.  Young Men may now begin service at the age of 18 (previously it was 19), and Young Women can now begin their service at the age of 19 (previously it was 21). I almost cried. It was so exciting to me! I think this change will bless so many lives and I feel that it is the right time for it to happen.

I don't think there has ever been a time when the world needs more messengers of truth than now. And I don't think there has ever been a time when more young people need the foundation serving a full-time mission brings than now.

10 years ago, at the age of 21 1/2, I left on my mission. September 25, 2002 was the exact day I landed in Sao Paulo, Brazil and entered the MTC (or CTM - Centro de Treinamento Missionario as it is called there), and began an 18 month adventure that changed my life.

I had a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ before then, but it grew exponentially in my time there. I knew that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was Christ's ancient church restored to the earth, but it was confirmed there.

I knew God knew and loved me and played a part in my life, but I left knowing just what that meant in my daily life, not just in the "big" things. I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that he saw God, the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, but I left with an unshakable faith that that experience changed the world and could change anyone's life, no matter where they began or what poor choices had been previously made.

I developed habits of journal keeping (which I need to repent of now), scripture reading, and constant praying that continue to bless my life. And, perhaps most importantly, I knew before it was important to serve others and to serve my God with all my mind, might and strength, but I left knowing that nothing is of greater worth.

My life is constantly blessed because of my time as a missionary. I am so much stronger now. I know I will be a better wife and mother because of it. I believe I am a better sister, friend, daughter, employee, and servant.  I owe it all to 18 months of full-time service to my God.

And so, I'm excited for so many others to serve. Excited for the fun they will have, but also for the hard times that will strengthen them. Excited for them to go out street contacting for the first time in a language they are just learning and meeting someone who wants to argue with them. They don't want to argue, and they don't know a lot of what to say, but they can say with full conviction, "But I know that this is true". (true story)

Was I a perfect missionary? Far from it. There have been so many times since I've been home that I have thought, "I wish I had known this as a missionary". But, I believe I went at just the right time for me, and so I can't regret what I didn't know then.  The Lord never asked us to know everything to do His work, he asks that we only have the desire:

Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;

For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; 
(Doctrine and Covenants 4:3-4)

As I was driving around between sessions yesterday, I found myself thinking, "what would I have been like as a 19 year old missionary?" I think 21 was the right age for me. I was still very shy at 19. I needed to go when I went. And it made me thank my Heavenly Father once again for a renewed witness He knows us individually, so perfectly. But, I hope this lower age helps more sisters to serve and receive that strength. We will all be blessed by it.

1 comment:

Jasmyn said...

Yay for posting! :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts on missionary work, Trulie--I'm so excited about these new changes too!