Guest Post: Sister Katie Swenson

Thursday, March 28, 2013 , 0 Comments

So, missionary work is a cool thing. I grew up in a house of five girls, so I always thought that the only mission stories I would really experience or hear would be from friends, my dad, and my future brother-in-laws and my future husband. It’s not that going on missions wasn’t encouraged in our home, I just always had this assumption that we would all grow up and get married and start families. CORRECTION. As the youngest, I will be the third daughter to put on that black nametag and be a representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! And I’m so excited! I can’t wait to have my own experiences and see first-hand how the gospel can bless the lives of so many.

Originally, I didn’t know if serving a mission was what Heavenly Father had in his plan for me. After President Monson made the announcement in October that sisters could go on missions at age 19, I knew that I needed to really pray and figure out for myself what I was supposed to do. I did a lot of scripture reading, read my patriarchal blessing, and talked to some good friends. At this point, I had this A-Ha! moment. 

 Before we came to this Earth, we did everything we could to prepare for the things that we would face in this life. The same should hold true now – in this earth we should be doing everything in our power to better prepare ourselves for the day that we will meet our Savior and our Heavenly Father. Wouldn’t this include a mission? I can’t think of any better way to grow closer to the Spirit and to gain a stronger testimony than to live the Gospel and bring it to the lives of others… 24/7 for a year and a half. We are so blessed to have the knowledge of the Gospel in our lives, and there are so many lives who are waiting for these same blessings!

When I got my call at the end of January, June seemed like a long way away. Still does, actually. But getting ready for a mission can seem like a daunting task! So many scriptures to read and know, lots of lessons in Preach My Gospel to be familiar with, crazy languages to try to get a grasp (even a small grasp… Bulgarian is hard… who knew) of, and lots of things to buy/renew/send in. And to make it all harder, Satan is right on your tail trying to get in the way of it all. It’s like he knows what a great influence you will be in spreading the Gospel and will do anything to prevent the furthering of the work. My advice:

1. Write in your journal about the moments you feel the Spirit and can feel Heavenly Father’s hand guiding your path towards missionary work.

2. When you’re having hard days or feel Satan trying to work on you, go back and read these entries in your journal! I have had several experiences where I went back and read in my journal about the very moment I knew that serving a mission was what I was supposed to do or the day that I opened my call. We need these reminders! That’s what journals are for.

3. Read the Book of Mormon! I know it’s been said lots, but there’s a reason for it. There is so much truth in that book! It’s impossible to memorize every scripture and know every little detail, but I know the more we study it, the better missionaries we will be! Every little bit counts. Not only should you read it, gain a testimony of it. Read it with the purpose to gain a testimony and draw closer to Christ and to learn how to be a better missionary.

4. Pray. Pray lots. One of the coolest/best pieces of advice I’ve gotten from my dad (a pretty knowledgeable guy when it comes to the church) about missionary work is that prayer is so important! He said that before he left on his mission, someone told him that he should get calluses on his knees from praying so much. He told me that he still remembers the day that he reached down, touched his knees and felt the calluses built up where he had knelt down to pray time and time again. Don’t ever forget the power of prayer in every situation.

We are so blessed to live in this time when the Gospel truly is flooding the Earth and the Gospel is growing faster than ever before. Thanks to social media, we can watch complete strangers opening their mission calls and read great blogs, such as this one, about missionary work that is going on throughout the world. But more than hearing my advice and reading this blog post about why I decided to serve a mission, I want people reading this to be able to feel the spirit and know of the testimony that I have. I want people to know that I know this church is true. I know that my Savior spent his life serving others and building up the Gospel, and ultimately giving his life so that I can return back to my Heavenly Father, washed free of all my sins and sorrows. I know that true happiness comes only through this true gospel. The only way to experience true joy is by coming to Christ and putting all trust in him. I know the Book of Mormon is true, brings peace and comfort, and answers my prayers. I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet who restored the church so that we could have the fullness of the gospel again on this earth today. I know that we have a living prophet today who is constantly receiving revelation to Heavenly Father’s children here on this earth today. I am so grateful for the chance that I have to serve in Bulgaria. I know that this calling is of God. The Gospel’s true. I know it.

(Sister Swenson has been called to serve in the Sophia, Bulgaria mission.)