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

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