Sunday, April 14, 2013 , , , , 8 Comments

Except for Stake Conference today, I basically haven't been out of my room since I opened my mission call Friday afternoon.

Life is good. I've been pretty quiet on the blogosphere lately, which is in part because of my impending call. I couldn't really focus on anything else, or say anything different than what I've already said, but now I've had some time to let it sink in and I think I'm ready to talk about it.

I have been called to serve in the California Carlsbad Mission, English speaking. I leave June 19th. (Read the 'before' or watch me open my mission call)

I never would have guessed or picked any of these things for myself, which is part of the reason why I know that it is perfect for me. When I read the call, I didn't have any thoughts, positive or negative. Instead I was filled with emotion, most of it excitement and built-up anxiety, and that happiness that sometimes signals the presence of the Spirit. I was happy. I was assigned. I belonged somewhere.

It took a few hours for it to start to sink in, that I had finally, finally received my call.

I won't lie to you. Once my friends left and the shock wore off, I felt a little bit of everything. I was ecstatic, heartbroken, doubtful, angry, and everywhere else in between. I'm not proud of that, but I know that I'm not the only person who has felt doubt concerning their call.

I was happy for a long time, in the best way. I knelt down in a patch of sunlight in my room and thanked Heavenly Father for my opportunity to serve. I kept crying and reading through the packet that they give you which covers the basics of mission life. I posted a status on Facebook, put up the video that someone took of me opening my call, and started googling Carlsbad and other cities and towns within my mission boundaries. I checked the weather in California.

After a while, though, the excitement and the adrenaline wore off and I found myself troubled. My heart had been hoping, beneath all of the truth I knew that where you go matters very little, that I would go to Europe, where everyone else seemed to think I would go.

I started feeling upset, then unqualified, as if the reason that the Lord hadn't sent me somewhere that I really wanted to go was because I wasn't good enough.

You see, as much as I can preach about these things, when the time came and I was in the thick of it, I fell into the exact way of thinking that I already knew was warped. I wanted to know why, why the Lord decided California, of all the places in the world, why English speaking and why I would be leaving so soon.

After being frustrated with myself I started to get angry. It was unfair. I deserved to go somewhere that I wanted. I deserved to go to Europe. I deserved to learn another language. I deserved to have a few more weeks of summer at home. All of the positive energy I had felt while reading my call disappeared, and I was left alone in my dark thoughts of inadequacy and unfairness.

At the base of it all was a crippling fear that I wasn't good enough, and Satan was using that to twist my thinking. He made me think that it was because I wasn't good enough that I wasn't being sent to where I wanted. Because I couldn't handle the pressure, I was called to preach in English.

I forgot everything I knew and just cried.

I cried a lot. I tried calling my mom and dad but they didn't answer. I kept crying for at least an hour.

The night before I opened my call, I read Alma 47 as a part of my personal reading. It's the story of Amalickiah, who tricking his way into becoming king of the Lamanites. The Lamanite king gave him dominion over a group of men and sent him to go retrieve Lehonti, captain of a dissenting army of Lamanites.

Amalickiah was told to battle Lehonti's army and beat them into submission, but instead he sent a messenger  to Lehonti to have a meeting with him. Lehonti was stationed on a mountain and refused to go down to meet him. Amalickiah came up to where he was and asked again, and this time Lehonti agreed to meet. Amalickiah and Lehonti joined forces, and later that night Amalickiah had Lehonti poisoned, giving Amalickiah possession of Lehonti's men.

Between my fits of anger and of pain as I contemplated my mission call, I recognized that I had allowed myself to take that step down the mountain. Satan doesn't need you to commit a crime in order to take hold of your heart. He had mine with a tiny sliver of doubt that found its way into my thoughts, and from there blossomed into deafening negativity.

I knew I had to find a way to force that sliver back out, so I turned to The District. I've already watched all of the episodes, and I knew that the second series features missionaries in California, so I started the first episode to drown my brain out.

And it worked. I stopped crying and started listening. I realized that those missionaries were real people, just like I am, who were called to serve in the same state I was. I paid attention to the sisters as they taught the Robles family. I realized, for the ten hundredth time, that what I wanted, more than anything else, was to connect to other people. I saw how connected the sisters were to the Robles family, and how all of them was blessed by that sweet experience. I saw how grateful the Robles were that the sisters had sought them out and brought light and goodness into their home. I started feeling the Spirit again.

That is what I want, I decided. Not a fun, all-expenses-paid trip to a European country, not the ability to speak another language, not a beautiful foreign culture to experience. I wanted what every missionary, no matter where they serve, deserves to have: the light of Christ in their life and loving relationships with God's children that are an anchor in hard times.

And I know that no matter the reasons why Heavenly Father is sending me to Carlsbad, I will get that if I do my best to work hard. I know that somewhere within my mission bounds are hearts that have been softened and preparedin fact are still being preparedfor me to connect with them and love them. I know that rich experiences and happy times are in store for me, as well as challenges and heartbreaks, but that when I am on the Lord's time, He will make all things bearable.

I know that He is not sending me there because I don't deserve to go to Europe or I am too unintelligent to be able to pick up a foreign language. He is sending me because I belong there, whether I understand that yet or not.

I have been prepared for Carlsbad, and Carlsbad has been prepared for me.

I am not special or important by serving in a foreign country or learning a foreign language. As it says in my patriarchal blessing, "in your obedience and service to your God you will not lose your individuality...obedience will cause you to shine like the stars in the heavens." By trusting in the Lord, by being obedient and serving where He asks me, I will be refined until I shine like a star.

I'm grateful that I'm speaking English and leaving in 66 days. It just means that I will be working and forgetting myself even sooner. I am that much closer to falling in love over and over again with the sweet, searching hearts that were meant for me to find.

It means that I will be able to speak to those hearts directly and clearly about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation. It means that I will be able to tell them how much I love them and how much the Lord loves them confidently, without stumbling for the right words.

It means that on June 19th, I will report to the Provo MTC and receive my badge, and I will officially begin my one year, six months, forever.

And I can't wait.


  1. I love that you were so honest while talking about your emotions in this post. One thing I was reminded of when you said you felt like maybe you weren't good enough to go somewhere else, somewhere you really wanted to go and that you were going someplace that was "less than" was this: Elder Richard G. Scott gave a talk called "Now Is The Time To Serve A Mission". In it he says "I have observed how some of the strongest, most capable elders and sisters are called to the United States and Canada to keep the roots of the Church strong here." This is something I came across the other day while I happened to be thinking of different missions and how a lot of people tend to glorify foreign missions (I realize you've thought it out, I'm in no way patronizing you for thinking those things at first). This is just something that helped me feel even more important and realize my role in this Church as a missionary. The Church MUST remain strong HERE. You are needed where you're needed. Another piece of advice I've picked up along the way is "Every mission is the most important mission." That is one of the truest statements I've ever heard. Just some friendly rambling. I admire you a lot and I love your love for the gospel. You'll be an amazing missionary. :)

    1. Kenzie, thank you so much for this. Really.

      I agree that foreign missions are glorified, and it's such an unfortunate thing. When it comes down to it, the work is the same wherever you are called. Just because you need a passport to get there doesn't make the field any more important than a domestic one.

      When you mention how important it is that the US stays strong, as the roots of the church, it reminds me of something in my patriarchal blessing, which means that I think you're right. :) It's impossible for a plant to grow without strong, healthy roots.

      Before I got my mission call, I was talking to my mom and she said basically the same thing. Whenever you get out into the field, you are surrounded by missionaries who received the same call that you did. You focus on your mission and it becomes the most important mission in the world, because it is the mission that you are working in.

      Thanks for your friendly ramblings! You're welcome to ramble any time you want. :)

  2. You don't know me, but I stumbled across your blog from the Facebook sister's page, and I just wanted you to know that your story is amazing! I've noticed in my life that the struggles make each experience even sweeter in the end. And, not gonna lie, Carlsbad is BEAUTIFUL. One of my favorite places in the world :-) You're gonna LOVE it!

    1. Thank you, Emily! I've noticed that, too. It makes you appreciate the goodness more when you've experienced the bad, too.

      It's funny, one of the things I remember thinking right before I opened my call was, "wherever this is, Lord, please just let it be beautiful." And seriously, all I've heard since is how beautiful Carlsbad is.

  3. I'm so glad you posted this. I was called to Bakersfield California almost 3 weeks ago, and I've had similar experiences. Initially I was really excited. But then I had the same feelings of doubt and disappointment you have. I received a letter from my brother serving in Vladivostok, Russia. He told me how he was sometimes envious of the stateside missionaries because they had the opportunity to baptize so many more people. And then it hit me. When I decided to serve a mission, I wasn't signing up for a study abroad. I wasn't going on a mission to have an extremely different cultural experience. I was going on a mission because I wanted to serve the Lord, and I knew He needed me to be an instrument in His hands somewhere in the world.
    Basically, I want to thank you for sharing your experience. With the ridiculous "stateside" stereotype, I feel like a lot of girls experience doubts and are disappointed like we were. It's great to see that someone is in the same boat as you are, and that you're not alone. :)
    Best of luck to you in Carlsbad! It sounds like you'll be a fantastic missionary.

    1. EXACTLY, Sami! It's been hard for me to separate my general jealousy of anyone who gets to travel (because travelling is one of my very favorite things) from mission calls, which is I think part of the reason there is that "foreign is better" stereotype. Travelling to a foreign country is an incredible, incredible experience, but missionaries are not called to vacation or explore another country. Every missionary, everywhere, is called to serve the people of their area and work hard. The place is only important because it is where the people you need to fall in love with are.

      Thanks so much, and good luck to you in Bakersfield! There is a girl in my stake who's currently serving in Carlsbad, and people tell me that she is so busy. She's always teaching and baptizing. I think that Southern California is going to be a wonderful mission!

  4. oh my goodness, i just got home from school (byu idaho) last week, and my roommate served in your mission! how cool!

    1. That's awesome, Cassie! I've found a lot of connections to Carlsbad lately, which is really neat. My uncle served in the area before it was split from the San Diego mission, and my grandfather has family in the area, which I guess makes them my family as well.

      This is why missionary work is great. It connects us all!