Brother Fowler asked me earlier this week to prepare a talk on how I’ve prepared to serve my mission. For those of you who did not know, I am leaving on a mission to the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission on November 18th. I know that this call was inspired by the Lord specifically for me and I am so excited to serve him for 18 months of my life.
First I would like to share my reason for deciding to go on a mission. As a kid in primary I never expected myself to make this decision. In my mind, only boys were commanded to go on missions so why should I go if I do not have to? I think in the end that’s what made it easier for me to decide to go on a mission. I was not doing it because I felt that I had to, but because I actually felt like I wanted to go. I wanted to teach others and help them come to know the truth of the gospel and the light that it can bring into their lives.
My senior year in high school, I was on the edge of not wanting to be part of this religion. I had too many questions that I felt weren’t answered enough and my testimony had dwindled. As the end of the year was approaching, I knew that I needed to figure out my problems before I left home. I started to study my scriptures and pray again. I stayed after in seminary and asked the questions that made me doubt my testimony. I learned that most of my doubts were only doubts because I did not fully understand the reasoning behind it, once I did I wanted to share it. I wanted everyone to know the solutions to my doubts so that they wouldn’t have them. I would like to compare this to a quote that I found in preach my gospel, “As your understanding of the atonement grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase. You will feel as Lehi did, the ‘great importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth.’” When Lehi partook of the fruit in the Vision of the Tree of Life what is the first thing he wanted to do? He wanted his family to come partake of it also. Like Lehi, I also want to share what I have found in my studies so that they can feel its happiness as well. I believe that serving a mission will help me to do so.
A couple weeks ago as I was walking out of the grocery store with my dad and we saw a couple walking to their car. My dad leaned over and asked me to picture what their lives were like. What their dreams were and their nightmares were. I laughed and said, “I don’t know, they are just people” Then he looked at me and explained, “They are children of our heavenly father. All they want, just like everyone else living this mortal experience, is to be happy.” As a missionary I hope to look at everyone not just as “people” but as a children of God. They all are looking for the truth that the gospel can give them and it is my job to reach out to them and help them find it.
For a long time I prayed a lot on the subject of a mission. I really wanted to go and felt like I should but I wanted a definite answer on whether or not it was the right thing for me to do. I would like to take a few minutes to testify on personal revelation and what I have learned about it though my experiences.
There have been several people in my life that have helped me move toward my decision to go on a mission. The first being my old Bishop, Bishop Miller. I remember one time that I was at his house for a BYC meeting and afterward he was talking to me about his daughter, Jenessa, who had just put in her mission papers. He then asked me if I had thought about going on a mission. At this point I was a fifteen year old girl who did not have any life plans past that next Friday. He urged me to think and pray about going on one. We talked for a while and one thing he told me has stuck with me for years, he said, “There are people out there that are meant to be taught by you specifically.”
About a year later I was with my dad helping our family friend, with some problems she was facing. She had been married once and then divorced later and she was now living alone. She was having difficulties with the thought that we had to be married in the temple or we wouldn’t be able to go to the highest level of the celestial kingdom. She didn’t understand why Heavenly Father would not let her in because she wasn’t married. As my father was explaining to her how she would someday have a chance to be married and sealed I could not get a scripture out of my head. The spirit was telling very strongly that I needed to share it with her, so I did. The scripture was 1st Nephi 3:7 which says, “… I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” After I had read this scripture the stress seemed to leave her and she understood. I testified to her that the Lord would not command her to be sealed in the temple if she would not be able to do it. Later that same visit she asked me if I were planning on serving a mission and I told her that I was undecided. Then she said the exact same thing that Bishop Miller said to me. “There are people out there that are meant to be taught by you specifically.” She then went on to say that, “if any other sisters knocked on my door that first time, I don’t know that I would have been baptized.”
Another amazing set of people that helped me decide whether or not to go on a mission are my Grandma and Grandpa Leavitt. I am so grateful for their service that they put in at their Oklahoma mission and I know how hard it was for them to go. They have been great examples to me, especially while I was living with them during the summer. It was very inspiring to walk past my grandpa and see him studying the scriptures every night and to be a part of their family prayer.
Self revelation can be found through many different ways and it is usually different for everyone in every situation. Revelation is more commonly found when one is keeping the commandments and is asking the right questions. To get revelation through the holy ghost effectively, we must be patient and reverent. In the general conference talk by Boyd K Packer, he explains, “The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear. It is described as a “still small voice.” And while we speak of listening to the whisperings of the Spirit, most often one describes a spiritual prompting by saying, I had a feeling.” It is so important that we stay away from the things that will lead us away from being able to feel the presence of the holy ghost. If we do get distracted and the holy ghost does leave us for a time, we may miss out on some very important guidance.
Heavenly Father will not just give us revelation, we need to do some work on our part. When you have a question the first thing you need to do is ask. In the conference talk The Gift, the Test, and the Promise by Boyd K Packer he writes, “You have your agency, and inspiration does not flow unless you ask for it, or someone asks for you.” This is where the almightily important scripture in Mathew 7:7 comes into play, it says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” There is almost no way to receive personal revelation without asking our Heavenly Father to give it to us, and he will give it to us, but in his own time.
Recently, I have found that a more effective way of getting answers to specific questions can be by answering the question yourself and then asking heavenly father if you chose correctly. He gave us a brain for a reason and we should use it. We are smart and can make our own decisions, we just need him to help us know if they are the right ones.
Once we are given our revelation, we can choose to accept it or we can deny it, we have our agency. If we do choose to deny the feeling, the holy ghost will depart from us and we will not be able to feel him until we are in a state of mind that the holy ghost can reside in. The holy ghost is meant to be our guide and we must treat it that way, there have been many instances where people choose to ignore a warning given by the holy ghost and now have to deal with the consequences.
Revelation can come in countless forms. For me they came through other people saying words that they were prompted to say. I hope that I can continue to live the gospel in a way that the Lord can use my voice to give revelation to others.
I would like to thank you all for your support and help in getting me this far in my life. I would also like to thank my family for driving a long way to say goodbye, I love you guys. In closing I would just like to express my love for this gospel and the happiness that it brings me. I know that this church has been placed on the earth today for us to learn and be guided in our lives. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and the impact that it has on my decisions and I am very excited to share it with the people of the Dominican Republic. I know that serving a mission is the right thing for me to be doing right now and I urge those that are thinking about going to pray for an answer. I know that if we live the commandments given to us by our Heavenly Father that we will be truly happy and Satan will not be able to touch us.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
I will be set apart tonight at 6:30 and from there I will leave to the Seattle airport and stay the night. My flight leaves at 5:10 in the morning tomorrow. I am so excited to get started on my mission and be able to serve the Lord for the next 18 months!
If you would like to email me while I am away my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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