Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Decision: Not When, but Why

I've always been jealous of those girls.  

Those girls who can put their finger on the exact life-changing moment when they knew.

The moment they knew they were supposed to go on a mission.  

The moment the world stopped spinning and nothing else really mattered.  

Because the path of their life had been completely changed. 


I always secretly wished that I had one of those fabulous, mind blowing stories.  You know what kind I'm talking about.  The story of how a mission was never in the plan.  Then one day..... POOF! An answer is received and the course of life is forever changed.  

But that's not my story.  And that's ok. 

I feel like the desire to serve a mission has been woven into my life from the time I was young. I have always just assumed that I would go on a mission if I wasn't married by the time I was 
 Typical right?  

And I DEFINITELY wasn't planning on that.  I had too much to see and do before I got married. Thus a mission was the default. 

But that was pretty much it.  The default plan.  I was kind of planning on it, but I hadn't given it much thought.  


Fast Forward a few years.........

It was April 2010.  

I had just turned 17.... like 2 weeks ago. 

I was on a bus zipping through the lush landscapes of Guatemala headed to Quetzaltenango. 

I had nothing but time.  

Time, a journal, gorgeous landscapes, the old lady sleeping on my shoulder and me.  

So naturally I started pondering life.  I started thinking about what I really wanted out of life. I started thinking about my life goals and where I wanted to be in 10.... 20..... 50 years. I dreamed about all of the countries I would go to.  All of the kids I would have.  I thought about where I would go to school, what I would study.  How I would contribute to society.  Then it popped in my head.  "What about a mission?"

I remember feeling overwhelming peace.  

And Goosebumps

This was not a new idea.  It was tentatively in my plan. But this moment was a tender mercy from the Lord.  Something small to look back on when I wasn't sure. 


Fast Forward another 2 1/2 Years......

It was October 6, 2012

I was an English teacher in China.

And I was on vacation to one of the most beautiful places in the world.  

Guilin, China.

We had spent the day exploring an adorable ancient village (above), hiking up waterfalls, eating street food, and enjoying beautiful Guilin.  And we were exaughsted. 

I decided to skype my family in the Hostel Lobby.  I knew they would all be together since it was conference weekend and I could say hi to everyone at once.  Plus I could get the scoop on conference.  Favorite talks to study first etc. 

Family: "AIMEE,AIMEE! Guess what? You could be on a mission right NOW!"

Me: "What are you talking about? I'm not 21.  I'm only 19."

Family: "They just changed the age! Girls can go at 19! You could be 1/3 the way into your mission already. How does that make you feel?

Me: [Silence and goosebumps]

Family: "What are you going to do? Are ya gonna go?"

Me: [More silence and MORE goosebumps]

I went back and wrote in my journal.  I had always planned a mission into my life.  It was in the plan........ for when I was 21.  Now I had a decision to make.  Not whether or not to go.  But WHEN to go.  What would I do?  Should I start my papers now?  Leave after the semester? After summer? When I was 21 like I was planning? When I finished school? I had a lot of thinking to do.


Fast Forward another 13 months........ 

3 weeks from TODAY I will be set apart as a full time LDS missionary. 
Called to serve in the Fiji, Suva mission. 

I am so excited. 

And I know without a doubt that this is what I am supposed to be doing right now.  

I can't tell you exactly when I made the decision to serve.  But I'm sure glad I did.  


As I have reflected back on all of this "mission business", I have come to realize that it's not so important when I chose to serve a mission.  

What truly matters is Why I have chosen to serve. 

These are 3 of the many reasons. 

[One.] The Gospel will change the world. 

I have always had a huge interest in humanitarian efforts.  

I am fascinated with developing countries.  The Cycle of Poverty.  Recovering from natural disasters. Self-Reliance. Education. Helping people help themselves.  Micro Loans. You name it.  I love studying theories on how to help these countries and their struggling economies. 

 I love the people of this world! I want to learn about each of their lives! I want to help them.

 As I have visited a few of these countries and interacted with people, and thought long and hard about how to truly help them, I have come to realize that the answer is simple.  

The Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

The Gospel is the greatest gift you can possibly give these people.  Greater than a new school or a month's supply of rice.  Greater than even a scholarship to a university or a micro loan. The Gospel changes lives.  

The Gospel gives purpose to life.  Purpose to working hard and gaining an education.  It gives commandments to live by that bless lives.  The word of wisdom. The law of Chastity.  Tithing. It's all because our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. 

The Gospel emphasizes the importance of eternal families.  It blesses and strengthens families.  Strong families in turn help the economy.  And society by teaching children values. The Gospel will improve countries.  Individual by individual.  Family by family.  

The Gospel is the answer.  

{For more on this idea see this talk. It's fabulous.}

[Two.] I am so blessed. 

I have been so blessed to be born into a family that values the Gospel and strives to live it's teachings.

I have been so blessed to have grown up with the Gospel in my home.  To have learned correct principles from my parents and my leaders. 

I have been blessed to have the Spirit to guide and direct my life.  To have the comfort It brings when I have needed it most.  

Blessed to have a knowledge of my Savior.  Of the Atonement.  Of the plan of Salvation.  Of my Heavenly Father's unconditional Love for me. 

Blessed with the purpose that these things bring to my life. 


I want to show my gratitude for these blessings my giving 18 months of my life to the Lord. So that through me, he can bless more of his precious children.  And I know that by giving and trying to repay the Lord, I will only receive even more BLESSINGS! Crazy how that works. 

[Three.] Love. 

I have a desire to serve because of Love.   I love the people of Fiji so much! And just like Lehi learned in his vision..... when we find something wonderful (like a great book, a delicious treat, a great deal, a delicious piece of fruit, or the Gospel of Jesus Christ) our first reaction is a huge desire to share it with those we LOVE!

I think that the Lord does something tricky.  When he calls us to serve somewhere, he almost immediately blesses us with an indescribable and overwhelming love for those people.

 He is real smart.

Love drives hard work and sacrifice and all of those other important ingredients in successful missionary work.

I love the people of Fiji and want with all my heart for them to be truly happy.  I want them to feel the happiness that living the Gospel brings.  And that's why I'm going on a mission.

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