In case anyone is out of the loop or cares to know, yes I am going on a mission. An 18 month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
To start off with, if anyone is offended or is befuddled as to why they're just finding out now that I've gotten my mission call, I'll just clarify right now. I told no one about this decision except for my mother and Bishop when I decided to go at the end of November. Not even my siblings knew of my decision to go until recently. I did that for a few reasons:
1.) There is always and I mean always a stigma that accompanies a girl who tells everyone and their mom that she's 'going on a mission.' I didn't want to disclose that information mostly because I didn't want to hear from my guy friends who had gone on missions (which are many) about their terrible/disastrous/awesome/dim-witted/crazy/amazing sister missionaries in their district/zone. I didn't want to hear any of the bad or good stories because I didn't want to be swayed either way. This was something that was extremely personal to me and something that I wanted to handle by myself for a while before getting feedback from others. I didn't want to be influenced by everyone. I wanted to be influenced by the Spirit and myself.
2.) I had doubts the entire time I was putting my mission papers in. Up until the day I received my call I still struggled in thinking this was the right thing to do. I doubted my future, I doubted if I was even worthy enough to go, I doubted if I could afford to go, I doubted if I'd be a good missionary (or at least as incredible as my brother and sister were), I doubted how my family would really feel about it, I doubted what my friends & family would think who aren't affiliated with the Church about it, I doubted I was even ready. Having said this, with all my doubts that seemed to crush me time and time again and ravaged my sleep, I didn't want to publicly announce what I was going through. It was a self-preservation tactic. I didn't want to run the risk of looking like I was wishy-washy or changing my mind in case I decided not to go. Which I did contemplate several times.
Still, once I had met with the Bishop & Stake President, things began falling into place suddenly. Within several days of posting my car on ksl, it was sold, my bosses were completely supportive about the possibility of me going home, I was able to receive financial help from the Bishop & many of my siblings became inspired as to what to say to me when I finally told them.
So, after answering why I kept this a secret from everyone, I'll move on to the more pressing question which is:
Why do I want to go on a mission? I'm 23 years old & obviously not getting any younger. When I get back I'll be 25. I'll be leaving a really good job at UVU that could possibly turn into a career, I'll be leaving co-workers I love at both Barnes & Noble and UVU, I'll be leaving my friends who've impacted my life so much in Utah for a year & a half, and I'll be leaving my family and especially my nieces and nephews who I'd give my life for. So why? Why now? A few people have heard me say things about me wanting 'an adventure' or a 'completely different experience' and they wonder why a mission? Why not go to Europe like I've always talked about?
Aside from all of the intensely personal feelings and revelations I've received, and my patriarchal blessing that I can't share here, I'll just say this:
When I was in Europe, me and the kids from my BYU-Idaho group went to a little church in Paris, France one Sunday. (Strangely enough, I saw Elizabeth Smart. She apparently taught in the same area as the church we attended.) I had felt disillusioned with Paris (to be fair, the Rodin museum was well worth the trip but that's beside the point); the Eiffel Tower didn't impress me as much as I thought it would, there was pornography on newsstands everywhere, & it was just a dirty, ghetto city. But while I sat in the make-shift chapel where we took the sacrament and as I listened to the missionaries translate the service for us, there was something so incredibly peaceful and there was such a different spirit that I hadn't felt before in a long time. Afterwards, our teachers told us that today was a special day for the people of France. That Sunday they were doing a country-wide fast and prayer for a temple in Paris. Almost instantly my eyes filled with tears of their own accord. The faith of the Saints in France seemed overwhelming and suddenly Paris didn't seem as dismal and amoral as I'd thought.
I think about that experience a lot, and I've gone back to it several times in my mind. Yes, I do want an adventure, and yes I do want to be out of my element for a while; to push myself and become a stronger, better person, but the real reason I decided to go was that experience I had in France with people I didn't even know. I realized how much I could love complete strangers and the desire I had to help them, to serve them. Even if I never teach a single discussion or never tract, I won't mind. I'll be more than satisfied with raking a lawn full of fallen leaves, helping a little family move into a new home, opening a door for a little old lady struggling to carry her groceries. A mission is an opportunity for me to do that everyday, without worrying about being late for work or running this errand or that--that is my job, that is my errand. To be there for others who have no one. To help someone in dire need of a confidant, a friend, a smile.
So there, in the most convoluted way possible is my explanation for why I've all of a sudden decided to leave everything behind and give my life to this for 18 months. I know it's crazy. I know it won't make much sense. I know some of you don't really understand exactly why, even now. But this time will fly by so fast, and I'll be faithful in writing to all of you. I'm so grateful for the support and the words of encouragement all of you have shown me. I really desperately need it, now more than ever. The next year and a half will be the hardest of my life. I'll experience more spilled tears, more frustrations, more disappointments, more sleepless nights, more blisters and swollen feet, more heartbreak, more exhausting hours and more hunger than ever before. And yet, at the same time, I'll also experience more sweetness, more selfless love, more incredible spiritual experiences, more unrelenting strength, and more compassion then ever before. & I'm okay with that trade off.
Sister Megatron (has a nice ring to it don't it? ;)