Growing up I always wanted to serve a mission but felt caught up in the where you get your call part of the mission. I felt as a kid that going stateside (Staying in the US) was not as cool and exciting and felt bad for the missionaries who had to serve in lame ol’ North Carolina for my ward or branch. 🙂 To me I thought, I’m going to finally leave the US and travel somewhere “cool” and far and distant and probably subconsciously thought that would impress people when I told them where. For me I wanted to serve a mission for the right reasons, but where was not for the right reasons.
When I turned 21 and started to put my papers in the concern of where I was going really worried me. In my mind I had lists and lists of places I did NOT want to go like Russia because it’s too dang cold or a Visitor Center because I thought I would be bored out of my mind. Did I mention I was a little bratty? Sorry I am being honest about how I was. But seriously this is how I thought. So I knew I couldn’t open my call until my heart was softened and prepared to go anywhere the Lord wanted me to. My best friend got her call a few weeks before to Spain and I remember her saying something to the effect of, she knew she would be called somewhere awesome because she had traveled so much. Would I be uncool if I got called stateside?
So I started to pray. I knew my thought process was not of the right mindset and my Mission Prep teacher told me once I got my call to come talk to him if I was still struggling. I didn’t want to be like that, I wanted to go where the Lord wanted me to go and not just go because I was called there. I prayed for months. I prayed that I would be happy to go where I was called and love it and love the people. As I was preparing for this time I had a lot of friends tell me where they thought I would go and it was always outside of the US. I wanted that more than anything. I wanted to speak a foreign language (hopefully spanish!) and be immersed in a different culture. I knew I was spoiled and took for granted the wonderful things we are blessed with in America and I figured God wanted me to be humbled and go foreign too so I would be more appreciative.
As the time came closer to getting my call I started to pray harder. I was worried because I had struggled with depression and I knew they sometimes didn’t send people who had those difficulties to a foreign country. I took a test and had to see a counselor and he told me I was fine and I laughed when he told me that with the things I had been through he was impressed how great I was. He told me there was no reason I couldn’t serve anywhere and that was a huge relief to me. So of course I started to think, I could go foreign and I will!
The week of getting my call I was so concerned about my feelings of where I was to be called. Some kids don’t think about their mission their whole life the way I had. I’d had it planned out since I was 2 in nursery that I wanted to go. The first time I sang “I hope they call me on a Mission” I knew I would! But now this was real. I didn’t want to be bratty and selfish.
It wasn’t until the day I got my call that I think my heart was finally softened, and I was ok. I was sitting in the temple next to my friend who told me she thought I would go to South America and I smiled and before I could realize what I was saying I said, “No, I think I’ll go Stateside.” I shocked myself by saying this! But I was completely content with it. It felt right and ok and inside the temple of course, I knew everything would work out just fine.
So after the temple we headed back to my Aunt’s house where I was living and I opened my mission call. I have spoken about this moment before in another blogpost and it is very sacred to me. It was a moment I reflect on often because it was so powerful and so wonderful all at the same time. My hands were trembling when I opened my call. I started to read the words and my voice was shaking as well. It said the words, California Santa Rosa mission and in that moment I felt the most intense feeling of peace and love fall over me. This was it, this is where I was supposed to go. In that moment I felt so much love for the people of California that I didn’t even know yet. I was excited and surprised because California wasn’t even on my list at all! I had never ever thought I would go there so I had no preconceived stupid feelings about it. In that second I thought well I wish I was going to learn spanish, but that’s ok! And then I read down further and it said I would be called to speak Spanish and um..I started screaming haha. I was FREAKING OUT. I had wanted to speak spanish for so long and had tried in school and to learn with native speakers but had never caught on. I even got my first F in Spanish! This was so cool to me. Even though I was completely content not speaking spanish, it was pretty incredible that I would be. Everything was perfect. I just sat down on that couch and started at my call smiling, in my own little world. I just soaked up that moment as much as I could. This was it.
I was so happy looking back, that I was ready to go anywhere. I was so happy that I had felt that amazing feeling when I read those words. I was so grateful that I was excited and ready to serve there. I didn’t care at all what anyone else in the room thought about my call. I no longer thought about where I was going, but I started to think about the People I was going to serve.