Guest Post: Sister Deanna Nielsen

Monday, March 25, 2013 , 0 Comments

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t think it would be cool to serve a mission. Even while I was in Primary I always admired the Sisters who had served missions and thought it would great if I could serve one too. I’ll admit at the time I usually didn’t expect that I would; I thought I would live out every girl’s dream and get married quickly after graduation, but then my Junior year of High School came and I realized my perspective had changed.

Junior year was a particularly trying and amazing year, trying because of all the changes that had taken place in our FFA chapter + a Pre Calculus Math class I was struggling in, amazing, because despite all these things, or maybe BECAUSE of all these things, it was also full of spiritual experiences and growth. This was the year my friend & I received our Patriarchal Blessings. It was the year I had many conversations with the same friend about the gospel. She has never been particularly active in the church. Around the time she turned 8 her parents and she went to church a few times just so she could be baptized. From that time until she was about fourteen she only went twice a year. By eighth grade she was beginning to attend church, by herself, more regularly and attend Young Women activities. I don’t think she has really ever truly developed her own testimony, and by this year she was really struggling in the church. Time after time I bore my testimony to her and answered her questions; I tried to help her see the light and understand. I would even go to seminary with her during Lunch, since she wasn’t taking it that year. 
This year we happened to be studying The Book of Mormon in Seminary. When we came to Mosiah 28:3, “Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.” I realized that I felt as the Sons of Mosiah did. I thought of my friend as I read that verse over and over again. That is when I knew that I truly wanted to serve a mission and that if I ever had the chance to do so I was going to take it. So naturally when President Monson made the announcement in October, I heeded the call. It wasn’t quite as easy to make the decision as I thought it would be, but because I had already made up my mind three or four years earlier, it was a lot easier.

When I graduated high school I had a plan, I was nervous and I wasn’t sure about it, but I had a plan… which of course ended up falling apart. My senior year I applied to Utah State University, and only USU. I didn’t want to go in state and I procrastinated too long to apply to BYU-I. I was accepted, yay, Go Aggies! And I received a $9,000 scholarship. But it didn’t cover all my expenses and just before my orientation that July I found that my federal loans would still leave me $5,000 short. My parents made too much for me to qualify for more, but they had more expenses than would allow for them to help me out. So after skipping orientation, visiting with family, and pulling out of school, I came home.

For the next year I worked on getting my driver’s license (story for another time- but I’m actually a good driver) and obtaining a job. Well, by July 2012 the only thing I had accomplished out of those things was getting my license. And I was frustrated and worried about my future. I hated not knowing what I would be doing next semester, it terrified me. By August or September my mind was brought to think about a mission again. I had a year and 9 or 10 months until I was 21. That only gave me a year to go to school, since I needed those extra months to save up money for school and other expenses. What was I supposed to do? I mapped out what I wanted to happen between now and then as best as I could see it working. According to that plan I wouldn’t be going on a mission until I was 21 and half, possibly 22. The whole thing bothered me and I gave up trying to figure the future out, it only made me more frustrated. So I continued to look for a job, had a few interviews, but nothing. Then General Conference came.

The announcement about the new missionary ages totally took me back-- not because I couldn't believe or understand why they would do that, not because it surprised me, but because all too suddenly that opportunity was knocking on my door, an opportunity I wasn't expecting for another year and a half. So of course all the rest of the Saturday morning session (and all the following sessions for that matter) that was all I could think about. My dad asked me before the session was even over what I wanted to do in regards to a mission. That just made me contemplate the possibilities even more. Following the first session I immediately went to a quiet, more isolated place in the house, to study out what it was that I both desired and felt I should do. I came to the conclusion that I truly needed to serve a mission and that I ought to have my papers done by about the first of the year. I then took my decision to the Lord, expressing what I felt I was supposed to do and asking if it was indeed what I was to do. Before I even concluded my prayer, I received my answer. I had often heard and read the scripture in D&C where, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord tells Oliver Cowdery that you must "study it out in your mind... and if it be right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you" but I had never before experienced spiritual confirmation in that manner... until I prayed about serving a mission. I scarcely finished asking if this was what I was supposed to do, when I began to feel that burning. I was filled with peace and joy and a growing desire to act. I knew in my heart that my Heavenly Father loved me and everything that had happened in the past year and a half had led me to this point. I knew in my heart & mind that this was what I needed to do and that everything would work out as I strived to do what the Lord asked of me.

Sure enough, before long we saw the Lord’s hand helping me get on a mission. Because I hadn’t had a job I had very little money to put towards a mission. My parents were going to be paying for it, but they weren’t entirely sure how. The Friday after the week of Thanksgiving, my mom sent me to the store for a few groceries. So I got in the car, drove 10 minutes to Fry’s, and bought the groceries. This time I had more than just a gallon of milk or one bag, so as I walked to the car I contemplated putting the groceries in the trunk. But as I thought about it I felt impressed to put them in the back seat, and that’s what I did. There were two routes I could have taken home, as I made my way out of the parking lot I went with the Pecos Rd. route. The road was surprisingly busy. As I waited to be able to turn right at my light I was rear-ended. The vehicle who hit me didn’t brake and pushed my car into the one in front of me. All but the passenger airbag, in my car, deployed and the car was totaled. Luckily there was little damage to either of the other vehicles and everyone was okay. It was ruled that the driver behind me was solely at fault and my car was declared definitely totaled. This turned out to be a huge blessing. 1) all of the groceries but a few yogurts where okay, because I headed the prompting to put them inside the car instead of the trunk, which ended up being completely smashed in. 2) the only injuries I sustained was some bruising on my left arm from the steering wheel and airbag & 3) we would no longer be making monthly payment on the car, which just so happened to be about $400 a month- the same amount I would need each month for my mission. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

I got my papers all done and submitted to my Bishop, in January. Nearly four weeks later I finally received my mission call! I will be serving in the Indiana Indianapolis Mission, English Speaking. I report to the Provo MTC on April 10th!

As I have prepared to serve my mission I have found two things, 1) The closer April 10th gets the harder and the more effort I have to put in to keeping a good missionary-like morning and evening schedule and routine 2) my testimony, understanding, appreciation, and love of the gospel, missionary work, prayer, the spirit, and the atonement have increased and been strengthened. I have found that the days I study in the morning like I would in the field, always go smoother and I have more peace on those days. The best advice I have heard is to enjoy your mission as much as you possibly can, because when you get home you are going to want to go back and you can’t. If I could give one piece of advice to other sisters preparing to or thinking about serving a mission it would be, trust the Lord in Everything and always do your best, even if it doesn’t seem like much. Oh, and TAKE MISSION PREP, and put your whole soul into it. You will be blessed as you do. It helps you so much, to prepare to teach.

I am SO excited to serve a mission, and I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to serve Now. So many things have led me to this moment and as much heartache and worry as some of those things caused me, I am grateful for each and every one of them. I don’t think I would be as ready to serve right now as I am, or have the testimony that I do, without them. I love this gospel! It gives me hope and direction in this crazy rollercoaster ride, called life. I want to share it with others, that they might know the truth and have that same peace and hope in their own lives. Living the gospel blesses lives.

I have three weeks left! So much to do, so little time. But I am very happy I don’t have to wait long. I plan on making every minute between now and the time I get home count! Good luck to all of you Future Missionaries! The church is true ;-)