When I first found out the missionary age was changed for women to 19, my first thought was "Oh great, my parents are going to want me to go on a mission now". They never persuaded me either way so this decision was completely up to me, which when you read this mom and dad, I am so thankful for! I really decided that a mission was for me while I was at a friend's farewell. Sister Winward shared some amazing thoughts that helped me decide that sacrificing 18 months of my life to help bless other people's lives for eternity was worth my time!
That was during my senior year. Then the debate was, what am I going to do with college? I had the opportunity to get my associates in a year so I didn't know if I would do that or just attend for a semester then prepare to leave on my mission. I decided to go to school for a year. During that year, I also decided that maybe a mission wasn't for me, and so I got in contact with the women's head soccer coach at Utah Valley University to see if there was any way I could join the program as a manager and study to later become a coach! To my surprise he said he would love to have me! So I was set. I was going to head down to Orem, Utah during this next summer and start my future as a teacher and soccer coach.
Then one day, I was laying at home reading my scriptures when I had this sudden realization that I needed to serve a mission. It was a shout from the spirit that I had be choosing to ignore because, in all honesty, I was afraid to serve. But at that moment I couldn't ignore that prompting. So I went to the kitchen, talked with my parents, then called my bishop to get the process started. As I hung up the phone, the realization that I now had to get in contact with Coach Anderson at UVU hit me and I panicked. I had my dream job set up and now I was throwing it away to serve the Lord. That was my thought process and boy, was I wrong. I got in contact with the coach and explained to him that I felt the distinct impression to serve a mission and asked him if there was any possibility he would hold my spot for me. And once again, I was surprised because he said yes! He said that if that was what I needed to do, he would support me and my spot would be there when I got back!
So I went through the mission process, had blood taken while tears were streaming down my face (I have a fear of needles in my body), and sat in three different dentists chairs as they each gave me their personal opinion on my dental work, but now I have been called to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Illinois Chicago West Mission, Spanish Speaking. Never in my life would I have ever gone to Chicago but it is where the Lord needs me and is where I will do the most good, so I am very excited to start my new journey!
After I got my call, and picked the date I would go receive my endowment at the Jordan River Temple, it became a constant battle with Satan to feel the spirit. I always felt distracted, too busy, and frustrated to do the things that would keep me close to the spirit and it really took a toll on me! I felt that I constantly had to fight to feel the spirit and that the pressure I was feeling would never go away, and that is when I decided that something needed to be done. I wasn't going to make it through that temptation to stray from the gospel if I didn't take matters to the Lord. I have never prayed that hard for that long ever in my life. Every time I found myself slipping away from the spirit, I would plead with my Father in Heaven to bless me with the strength I needed to withstand Satan. In the beginning, I didn't recognize a difference, so I prayed harder and more frequently and studied harder. Then I started to go to the temple. The Temple. That is the place where we can be spiritually strengthened to withstand our trials and have the strength to deal with our afflictions. The house of the Lord is a place where Satan cannot be. As I continued to go and serve those who cannot do these ordinances for themselves, I felt myself growing spiritually stronger. Now, I still have my battles with Satan, but I know now that I am strong enough to withstand him if I put my faith in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
What I have learned from these experiences is always follow the promptings of the spirit immediately, put your faith in Jesus Christ, and pray always! While these things may have been things that I have been taught throughout primary and Sunday School, I know now how much power each of these things have in my life. I also know that sometimes we go down paths that lead us to where we are supposed to end up. For instance, I know that during my indecisive times as I toured UVU, I felt that that was where I needed to be, what I am now realizing is that I didn't need to be there this summer. My indecision to serve a mission, while frustrating to those around me, has blessed my life immensely because not only do I get to serve my Savior and learn from some of the best coaches around, I know that if I follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, I will be blessed beyond all measure.
I am excited to be able to go and share my love for this gospel and the strength that it gives me and I am so thankful for all of the people who have been here to support me!