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Sunday, November 30, 2014

The House of the Lord

I am going to copy what I wrote in my journal after going through the Temple for the first time:

"Because I have received my mission call, I was also able to take out my endowments today from the Idaho Falls Temple. What an amazing/unique/overwhelming/spiritual/sacred experience it was! I barely remember anything because there was so much. I will definitely have to go back many many times! One thing I do know is that the temple is the House of the Lord, and the work that is done there is His work. It is very real, very sacred, very important, and very different from anything I have done in Church! The Spirit is so strong and brilliant. I challenge anyone reading this to seek after the special blessings that await inside the Holy Temple. The gospel in more tender and dear to me now that it has ever been. I believe in Christ. I know the atonement is real and necessary for not only our salvation, but also our happiness. I love the Lord and my God, and I am so blessed and excited to live so close to His house - that I may visit it as frequently as I like. I testify of these truths in the Savior's name, Jesus Christ, Amen."
A few weeks later I was able to return to the temple with three of my friends that are also serving missions! It was such an incredible experience, and I am so grateful for the wonderful examples I have in my life.

My Young Women's leaders gave this to me, and I hung it on my wall until it was time to use it for its real purpose! My temple dress.

Grateful for exemplary family members that could go through the temple with me!

Grandma is also one of the exemplary family members! :)

Dad - what a great guy!

So grateful I have such an incredible mother that could be my escort through the temple!
My great friends that are also serving missions! Brandon: Rome, Italy; Graham: Minneapolis, Minnesota; ME!: Ventura, California; Brooke: Lubbock Texas

The Day We Had All Been Waiting For!

So I went to a Scout Camp called Cedar Badge. There were two other scouters at the camp with me who had turned in their papers after me. They both received their calls the Wednesday while we were there, so when my mom told me my call hadn't come yet, I didn't believe her until I came home to see that it actually wasn't there.

 The next Tuesday, my bishop called saying my call had been assigned, so I got it in my mind that my call was coming that Wednesday! I waited and waited for the mail, and even took off work so I could open my mission call! When the mailman came, he had no call in his hand. So I immediately wrote on the chalk board outside of our front door, letting the mailman know that I really wanted my mission call. It must have done the trick, because the next day it came!

On August 14, 2014 I learned that the next period of my life would be spent in the California Ventura mission! As I read California, it was like I already knew I was going there. Kind of like I had forgotten, and just needed reminded. I then read that I would be leaving on December 17, 2014 to the MEXICO MTC! I knew that meant I would be speaking Spanish! I had been telling Heavenly Father almost every night that I would love teach in either Spanish, or American Sign Language. I have had the desire to speak Spanish from the moment I was little and my dad taught me how to say, "Feliz Navidad" like a real Spanish speaker. :) He served a mission in Guatemala and I thought him speaking in Spanish was just about the coolest thing a dad could do. I have also always wanted to learn ASL because my brother cannot talk, and we only know basic signs. This was my desire, but I did not expect it, because I knew it was the Lord's will, and I was willing to teach in whatever language he needed me to do it in. I was again overcome with the feeling that Heavenly Father is very aware of our prayers and the desires of our hearts as I read that I would prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language. I knew at that moment that God was aware of me, and loved me very much. 

The Announcement That Changed My Life

I remember vividly sitting at the kitchen table with my mom as we began watching General Conference in October of 2012. Every conference, the prophet makes announcements for the church, such as temples that will be built. However, never in my life have I heard such a powerful and personal statement made by the prophet of our church as I did when President Thomas S. Monson stated, "Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy, young women, who have the desire to serve, may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21." As this was announced, tears streamed down my face as I knew the plan I had for life was being changed for the better. After this announcement, I continued to pray to my Father in Heaven for a confirmation that my decision was the right choice for my life. I prayed about this for a very long time. Many months later I was preparing to take the ACT, and asked my father to give me a Priesthood blessing. In that blessing (even though I had only asked for this blessing because I desired comfort as I was about to take this test - I'm not a good test taker) I was told that my Father in Heaven was pleased with the path I had chosen for my life. I then knew this was the right decision for me. I also learned that Heavenly Father answers our prayers in his own time, and in his own way, but he always answers. After waiting about a year and a half, I was finally able to turn in my mission papers on July 17, 2014!

What Made Me Decide to Serve as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints??

I went to BYU's Especially For Youth (EFY) program every year I possibly could from the moment I turned 14. This was my third year attending the camp, and it was the first time they decided to incorporate Preach My Gospel (The study guide missionaries use) into the program. We were asked to spend time studying a lesson with our "companion" out of the first chapter, which talks about the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith. After a few minutes of study, we were then asked to get together with another group of mock missionaries, and take turns teaching the lesson to each other. This was the first time I was in a role-play situation where I had to teach a lesson as a missionary would, and I felt so strongly the desire to teach real investigators of the church in the same manner. This was the first impression I had that I needed to dedicate 18 months of my life completely to the Lord by serving a full time mission. This moment seemed small at the time, but as I began to really ponder if I should serve a mission, it stood out in my mind as an answer from God. I am so grateful for this experience, and the inspired people that decided to bring Preach My Gospel into the EFY program!