The Savior

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I have been called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Jackson, Mississippi

Monday, May 27, 2013

My Choice to Serve

Since I absolutely refuse to talk about my decision to serve in my farewell talk, I figured I should mention it here so that those who are wondering (which I imagine are few) can know.

Several years ago, a family in my ward was called to serve as mission presidents in the Oklahoma City mission. I distinctly remember their farewell and saying my goodbyes for three years. They had a daughter who was three years older than me, my brother Tyler's age - 19. She is a very sweet and kind girl, one whom I always looked up to. At the time, if a mission president's daughter was 19 years old, she was allowed to serve a full time mission (my theory was that the missionaries serving in that mission won't fall in love with the mission president's daughter). So this young woman submitted her papers and made the life changing decision to serve an LDS mission. At 19 - unheard of. 

Somehow, I knew that would be me. I knew that I was going to serve a mission at 19. Heavenly Father was preparing me, I believe. Quickly after their daughter left, I began to dream of my parents being called as mission presidents - the only way I could serve so young at the time. I just knew. Soon, dreams started pouring in. In these dreams, I was called to serve a mission at 19 in the United States. These dreams persisted for quite awhile. 

With all my heart, I firmly believed I was to serve a mission at 19. I did not know how I would, but I just knew. There was not a doubt in my mind. Then, during the fall conference last year, I found out exactly how I was going to serve at 19.

Fast-forward to my Freshman year at Utah State University. The day before I went up, I was so excited. I had all my boxes packed up and my clothes neatly folded. Finally, I was moving out and starting my life as a college student - something I had looked forward to for years. The next day was a whirl-wind, I was exhausted by the time I went to bed that night.

After the new student glow wore off, I realized something wasn't right. I felt anxious and out of place. There was no longer a desire to attend USU. At first, I thought it was just nerves talking and I swept it under the rug. Yet, these feelings persisted for months. Never before in my life had I felt so disconnected from everything - I felt sick to my stomach and knew that I wasn't supposed to be at Utah State.

I began to make plans to leave after my freshman year was over (at this point, I had written off the 'serving at 19' prompt). Hours I spent pouring over other schools, looking at study abroads  and thinking about potential jobs. I didn't know what I was supposed to do the next year, but all I knew was that I wasn't returning to Utah State the following fall. 

Then, everything fell into place at the October 2012 General Conference.

Our beloved Prophet Thomas S. Monson made the announcement that shook my generation that day - young women could serve at 19, starting immediately. People were shocked, flabbergasted. Lost for words. Texts were flying and girls were screaming. What was I doing? Sleeping.

My dear friend, Nate, was the one who informed me of the age changed. I woke up that day to a text from him saying, "Sarah, can you believe it?! Girls can serve missions at 19 and guys can serve at 18! That means I can leave on my mission now!" I didn't believe it at first. He was very well known for his pranks so of course I was doubtful. 

Determined to prove him wrong, I slowly pulled myself out of bed and went downstairs to find my computer. I practically slept-walked into my family room, where my older brother and father were turning on conference. Figuring my family would know, I asked, "Was there an age change in the missions?" Both of them started laughing and told me that Nate was probably pulling a joke on me - a mission change was impossible. Evidently, none of us heard the announcement.

Wanting hard evidence that Nate was just joking with me, I pulled up the LDS Newsroom website. And there it was. Splashed across the screen. The mission age change. My heart stopped and my eyes widened. No. This couldn't be. I glanced to my father and weakly told him it was true. Tyler and my dad rushed over to my laptop and saw it for themselves. Our family room was dead quiet and I could feel everyone's eyes on me.

I couldn't breathe. My eyes began to well and my heart started to pound. My chest began to burn and the back of my neck was tingling. Young women could serve at 19. I could serve at 19. After all these years of believing I was to serve at 19, it became a reality. Heavenly Father knew this age change was coming. He warned me and prepared me several years before. He affirmed to me several times when I was just a mia-maid that I was to serve a mission at 19. He then made it clear to me through my discomfort up at Utah State University. Heavenly Father told me that I wasn't going back there because I was going to serve Him instead.

It is near impossible to describe what I felt that day when I read those words. In that moment, I knew that this was Heavenly Father answering all my prayers. For months, I was on my knees, begging for revelation about certain aspects of my life and what to do about it. And here was my answer. Serve a mission.

Overwhelming peace engulfed me. I was to serve a mission. The anxiety that had been gripping my heart for months let go and my mind was at ease. I was to serve a mission. At 19. And somehow, I knew this all along. 

I was to serve my Lord. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Temple

When I was 16 years old and newly licensed, I took off to explore Salt Lake City for a while. I'll never forget the rush - windows rolled down, music blasting, cruising down the streets. I hadn't realized how quickly the time had flown until the stars came out and the city started to scare me a bit.

I locked my doors and headed back home, towards Bountiful. Yet... I didn't know the streets of Bountiful then. Before long, I was completely and utterly lost. Tears started streaming down my faces and various scenarios played in my head. Then I looked up.

There, shining like a beacon in the hills, was the temple. I knew, I just knew, that if I got to the temple, I would know my way home. So I journey upwards - toward the temple. I never allowed myself to lose sight of it. I kept on and eventually, got to the temple and was able to return home.

Without realizing it, I learned a valuable lesson that night. By keeping my sights set on the temple, I was able to return home. If we spiritually set our goals to get to the temple, we will enter through those heavenly gates and be welcomed with loving arms back home. The temple is where we make sacred covenants and learn how to see our Father once more.

This last Wednesday, I finally made it to the temple once more. Only this time, I was going inside to make my own covenants. For the first time in my life, I was able to see what the temple was truly like - I was able to see what everyone had been talking about.

The instant I handed them my recommend and walked in, I knew something was different there than in any other building I had ever been in. It wasn't the elaborate furniture, the gorgeous detailing, or the elegant crystal chandeliers that adorned the ceiling. It was something else - the Spirit. I was completely overwhelmed. Never before had I felt something so potent.

It seemed to take over my whole being. I was seeing the world with new eyes. My heart burned with love and my soul cried out from joy. This was where I was supposed to be. All those heartbreaks, all those difficulties, all those struggles that I brought with me? They evaporated - the pains and burdens I had been carrying vanished and I was able to breathe, for what seemed like the first time in a long time. My mind was at peace and my heart felt free. Answers came to my questions. And I just beamed. 

Nothing else in this life brings someone so much joy as the temple does. It has the power to heal the broken hearted, council the weary, and answer the questioning. With all my heart, I testify that what is performed in the temple is true. It is sacred. And it is powerful. As dear President Thomas S. Monson stated, "As we touch the temple and love the temple, our lives will reflect our faith. As we go to the holy house, as we remember the covenants we make therein, we will be able to bear EVERY trial & overcome each temptation."

Make it to the temple. Bring loved ones. And savor the joy and blessings that come from the House of the Lord. 

All my love.