Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Change Is Good!!

The inevitable part of serving a mission is the fact that there will be lots of changes. You will change. The areas you serve in will change. Even the people you know back home will change (on a completely unrelated note, I saw a picture of my brother on Facebook today and I didn't recognize him, so that was just great).

Change is pretty much a universal fear among the human family. But sometimes it's exactly what you need!

One of the changes that will happen on a mission is transfers. Every 6 weeks a new transfer begins. There are two things that can happen to you during a transfer, either you stay in the same area or you get transferred to a new one. I survived four whole transfers in the same area. It was the biggest blessing of my life! I have spent the past six months in the Highgroves YSA ward. It feels like home. But as the next transfer came creeping up I could feel a change coming. I have been called to serve in a family ward in Apache Junction, Arizona!

This change is hard. Highgroves is home, I have made so many wonderful friends here, and I have learned a lot about myself and how to be a member of the church when I get home from my mission.

But I know that I am going to learn so much in my new area! I know that the knowledge and experiences I have gained in Highgroves will bless me and help me in my work in the Ocotillo ward. I know that Heavenly Father called me to my new ward because there are people I need to meet and things I need to do there.

So thank you Highgroves. Thank you for all the fun times and opportunities to grow. See you on the flip side!

Ocotillo ward, you better be ready, because this sister missionary is ready to take on Apache Junction.

When things change, don't worry. That's how Heavenly Father works. He knows what is best for you and He has a plan for you. Trust in Him and rely on Him in everything that you do.

Sister Sparhawk

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Where Did I Come From? Why Am I Here? Where Am I Going?

Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? If you or someone you love has ever asked any of these questions then this is the blog post for you!

I am so blessed to have a knowledge of the plan Heavenly Father has for me! It's all thanks to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that I know that I have a purpose in life.

And your Heavenly Father has a plan for YOU too! As His children, God wants the best for us and has set us up for success in this life. I have such a strong testimony that God has organized this life and our experience here to lead us back to Him.

But first of all: where did we come from?? Well, we lived with Heavenly Father before this life. He created us as His spirit children and we dwelt with Him. But... we didn't have bodies. God has a body and He wanted us to be just like Him so we could enjoy all the blessings and experiences that He does.

So God had Jesus Christ create the Earth and place Adam and Eve on it. Adam and Eve, at that point, were still in God's presence. They were in total innocence. But eventually Satan tempted them to sin and they were cast out of God's presence. Because of this their bodies became mortal and subject to pain and disease. But they could have children and experience happiness and progress.

But that leads to why WE are here!!

"Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy." 2 Nephi 2:25

Men are that they might have joy!! Doesn't it make you happy just to know that the reason you exist is to be happy?? When I think about my purpose in life and know that God wants me to be as happy as possible I think about all the experiences I've had in my life, both bad and good, and know that all those experiences happened so I can be happy.

So HOW can we be happy in this life? Obviously we are all imperfect and experience less-than-happy things during this life time. But I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can find true joy in this life. Because of the sacrifice that Christ made for all of God's children, you can be wiped clean of all mistakes, all pain, all heartache, and experience true and everlasting joy.

So now that we've covered this life, where do we go after this? We go to the spirit world! We are waiting for Christ to come again and after we experience physical death we go to a waiting place until the Second Coming (when Christ comes to the Earth for a second time).

"And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubes and from all care, and sorrow."
Alma 40:12

When Christ comes again we will all be resurrected! It is an amazing gift we are promised, that our bodies and our spirits will be reunited again. Because Christ overcame physical death for us, we will be able to live again with the same body we have now except it will be glorified and perfected, like God's body.

We are all promised this gift of immortality, and depending on how we used our time in this life, we may be granted the gift of eternal life. If we followed the gospel of Jesus Christ by having faith and repenting, being baptized and confirmed, and enduring to the end we will be permitted to live with our Heavenly Father once again in the celestial kingdom!

I know that I want to live with God again. When I think about being able to be in His presence I know that I would do anything to receive that gift. And I have come to know that that gift is available to me and to everyone on the Earth who is willing to put in the work for it.

I am so grateful for this plan that Heavenly Father has for me. I know that through keeping the commandments, learning about and following my Savior, and sharing the good word I can live with God again someday and experience eternal happiness.

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: ye shall have eternal life."
2 Nephi 31:20

Here's my family, enjoy. I'm glad I get to be with this crazy bunch forever :)

Sister Sparhawk

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What Really Made Me Decide To Go On A Mission?

Ok everybody, we're about to get candid. You're about to get the inside scoop on how I got to where I am right now!

As missionaries we get asked how we decided to come on a mission ALL THE TIME. Here's the full story with all the details in all their glory. Enjoy.

Let me tell you a story about the moment that changed my life forever...even though I didn't realize it until months later.

October of 2012. I was living in Rexburg, going to school, enjoying life, and making plans for my future. It the first weekend of October and I was sitting in my living room with all my room mates watching General Conference. We had all settled in ready to hear the prophet and apostles impart great wisdom upon us.

Then it happened.

The prophet, Thomas S. Monson, in his routine "Welcome to Conference" address stated; "I am pleased to announce that effective immediately all worthy and able young men... will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19.... As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21."

Something inside me stirred.

It was shocked silence in between me and room mates at that moment. We looked at each other and listened to the audible gasp that resonated within the conference center straight through the TV. One of my room mates was about to get married, another already had her mission call to Taiwan and was leaving in a few weeks. But two of my room mates and I were under 21 and visibly shaken by this announcement. (Spoiler Alert! All three of us are on missions or have a mission call now!)

President Monson cheerfully carried on with his address as if he hadn't just changed the history of the church forever, meanwhile I had to leave my living room and call my mom so I could cry for some reason unbeknownst to me (the Spirit!).

The weird thing was... I had never wanted to serve a mission. It had never been on the table for me. My plan went something like this: graduate from high school, go to college, get my degree in five years (take a year off to travel), get engaged sometime during my senior year, get married right after graduating, get a career started, have kids, live happily ever after. Seems like a good plan, right? Well, Heavenly Father had something entirely different in store for me.

I went on through the rest of the semester thinking about why President Monson decided on that moment, when I was 18, to change the age requirement for sister missionaries. But I got busy, you know, school stuff, and that stirring left me. I went home for Christmas break entirely intending on coming back for the Spring semester.

Boy, was I wrong!

I got home, got a job, got all settled in. I was living the life in Boise! But there was always that little something tugging at the back of my mind.

Finally, February of 2013 I needed to put an end to my questioning. I needed to know what I was going to do for the next step in my life.

Fast forward through days of fasting and prayer

"Nevertheless, after much tribulation, the Lord did hear my cries, and did answer my prayers, and has made me an instrument in his hands in bringing so many of you to a knowledge of his truth." Mosiah 23:10

Oh my Holy Nutella, I'm going on a mission!!!

Within a few months I had my school deferment, I had a doctor tell me I was healthy enough to serve in Africa (ha ha), I told my boss I would be leaving soon, and I had my wisdom teeth yanked out of my head! I was ready to go!

Fast forward a few weeks of overly stressed out impatient waiting.

Oh my French Fried Potato Chips! My mission call is sitting in my mail box!!!

Fast forward a few hours of waiting impatiently for everyone to be home from work and all the phone lines ready for friends and relatives.

"Ok, can everyone hear me? Are you recording? Ok, here I go.... (tearing open the envelope) Dear Sister Sparhawk: You are hereby called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You are assigned to serve in the Arizona Mesa Mission"

Clapping and cheers all around! Lots of tears on my part!!

(I have the video of me opening my call, don't ask for it, you won't get it.)

Oh my Chocolate Dipped Turkey Bowl!! I'm going to Mesa!!!!

(Yes, I'm just making these exclamations up as I sit here at the computer, don't judge.)

But really! I am being entirely honest with you when I say my initial reaction to being called to Mesa was pure joy. I knew that it was meant to be. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was where I needed to spend 18 months of my life. Satan tried to tell me that was a boring place to get called to, but he couldn't over power the happiness I felt for finally knowing where I belong!

And so commenced the shopping and packing and saying good byes!

(This is me and 3 of my best friends! Going from left to right we are serving in: Georgia, California, Arizona, and Honduras!)

Fast Forward these past 5 months...

These have been the best 5 months of my life! Also the hardest! I have been so blessed on my mission, and I'm still just getting started! I have met so many amazing people, made some great friends, grown exponentially, and hopefully made a small difference in the area that I am serving in.

I can't even begin to express my gratitude to my Heavenly Father for sending me to such a wonderful place. But for now I will settle with telling you that my life will absolutely be blessed for eternity because I listened to the Spirit and decided to serve.

I know that Heavenly Father loves and protects His missionaries. I know that He knows us all individually and places people and experiences in our lives to benefit us.

Sister Sparhawk