I remember vividly being asked once in Young Women’s, “Do you want to go on a mission when you grow up?” to which I solidly replied: ……………. “I can’t handle that kind of rejection.”
Anddd.... here we are!
But for a year and a half of my life, I got a lot of scrutiny about my decision to serve a mission.
Nobody believed I had the will-power or the drive to both wait for a missionary and BE a missionary. What tired me most of all was that I could not explain myself to those people, because I didn’t know why I had been called to the work. I was inspired that I would go on full-time mission with full-faith in Jesus Christ, but I didn’t see how that was possible. I wasn’t even sure if He and I were understanding each other-- our plans seemed to drastically skew in opposite directions. How could He ask me to tack on another year and a half when I didn’t even want to wait for two? I struggled to have faith, but I wanted to be obedient.
Over time I was assured that I was missing the whole point. I could go on a mission blindly, just because it was asked of me. I could knock on doors, I could ride a bike for a really long time, and I could be rejected a million times, just because He asked me to. But it would mean nothing to me had I not learned what I did in those times of utter loneliness. I was so focused on the why that I neglected to acknowledge the who. The man that died for me had asked me for a year and a half of my time, and that was all.
I was never asked to give up getting married one day. I was never asked to do what Christ did. All that has been asked of me is to love my neighbor inasmuch as Christ… loves… me.
And after a year and some months after I had received such explicit counsel, the day came where everything made sense. I had been praying continually asking if I should continue preparing for a mission, each time I was reassured that I should. Elder Hammer seemed to get all the same answers, and he made sure I knew that he supported me. I had waited, and he was willing to do the same.
He then asked in a letter three months before conference, “Monica, if somehow the age requirement was lowered and you could go early, what would you do? Would you go?” I thought about it some, and knowing it would never happen, responded: “I suppose would go.”
I'm now convinced that missionaries in the field have a direct phone line to the first presidency office.
As I turned on the television to hear conference in October, I never imagined what would be said within those first few minutes. As President Monson announced the age change for boys, I knew in my heart that my faith had not been in vain all this time. My mouth dropped and my eyes streamed with tears. I excused myself for a moment to get a tissue and returned completely out of sorts. I knew in that moment that my Heavenly Father knew me personally, that everything I had learned as a child was true, and He had heard my endless prayers concerning: “How would I accomplish this thing which I am not currently able to do?”
I called my mom. I told her, “Mom, I don’t know if you know this, but the church is true. I know I grew up this whole time in the church, and I’ve known, but I’ve never known so much as I do today. I’m ready to go, Mom. Now.”
She replied, “That’s great. …. Go where?”
There was a bit of miscommunication. Apparently she had just barely turned on conference and missed the first 3 minutes, so we had to take a step backward in the conversation. But once we were on the same page, my parents assured me they were right behind me.
But the person I felt the most support from was my Savior. Had I not had that time to discover my relationship with Him, and grow in patience and trust in Him, the moment of joy when my wait was over would not have been so meaningful to me. Above all I learned that I cannot go through life without Him. Sometimes we forget that the first great commandment is simply to love Him. If we took the smallest moment to acknowledge his hand, to give thanks in the small things, we’d realize how close the living Son of God is to us. We’d desire to share that love with everyone that would hear.
We’ve been given a lifetime of opportunity to find our way back to Him, and our desire to do good comes with our desire to be like Him. Isn’t that the message and invitation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? To become like Jesus Christ? How better to exemplify Him then say what He would say, and do what He would do? Sure, I could stay home. Somebody else would do my work. I could say no. But the Lord didn’t refuse when He was asked to give His life.
He died because He loves us. He knows every heartache we will have in this life, He knows them perfectly, because He suffered in Gethsemane so that one day He could help us by taking some of the burden. His sacrifice was never about Him, it was never about the glory. It was about giving us an opportunity. He died, so we could live. All He asks is that we love Him in return. That we don’t forget Him. But some people don’t even know that He exists. It pulls at my heart at how lost they must feel.
We are not the only people on this earth that suffer grief, heartache and trials of hardship. Christ needs someone to tell their neighbor that, “In every change, He faithful will remain.” He needs disciples-- and He needs them now. He needs people to speak truth to those that have never had a reason to hope. They need to know that He lives.
At times in my life I have felt very small. How could the Lord of the cosmos and creator of an innumerable amount of worlds and space, see me sitting on a curb with my face in my hands?
Reassurance comes from my favorite scripture of all time. In 1831, Jesus Christ gave these words to Joseph Smith in a revelation, “Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me; and none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost.”
So for the next 18 months, I have been given the privilege to communicate to the people of Thailand that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that He loves us. He has the power to do all things, and should we trust in Him, He will never let us down.
We have so much joy knowing the truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We have the keys to return to a Heavenly Father and meet with His Son again, and we invite all to join us. Everyone deserves the truth. Our lives are continually blessed, and it is because of the hope and trust we place in the Savior who is loyal to us.
But we must be loyal in return—for where much is given, much is required, and “it becometh every man who hath been warned, to warn his neighbor.”
“It may not be on the mountian height or over the stormy sea,
It may not be at the battle's front my Lord will have need of me.
But if, by a still, small voice he calls to paths that I do not know,
I'll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:
I'll go where you want me to go.
There's surely somewhere a lowly place in earth's harvest fields so wide,
Where I may labor though life's short day for Jesus, the Crucified.
So trusting my all to thy tender care, and knowing thou lovest me,
I'll do thy will with a heart sincere: I'll be what you want me to be.”
I know that this church is true. It is the restored church that Christ himself originally organized so long ago. I know that He lives. And I know that He loves.
I’ll see you all again in a short 18 months. Until then, God be with you ‘til we meet again.