May 15, 2013

14 days.

With only 14 days until I go on my mission, I thought I'd share my journey that led me to this decision.

When I was 13 years old, my ward held missionary month. We had an activity where we watched a video about missionary work. As the video finished up, I knew I was going to serve a mission. Every time someone talked about missionary work, I perked up. Every time someone spoke in church, in stake conference, in general conference about missionary work, that feeling was renewed and I knew that somehow, someway I was going to end up with a little black name tag bearing Christ's name.
I'll never forget that feeling.

In October of 2012, President Thomas S. Monson made an announcement.

I was at my apartment, sitting next to my roommate on our couch in the living room when he said these very words. I threw my hands in the air and screamed as tears of disbelief and joy streamed down my cheeks. I looked at Molly and said, "I'm going! I know I'm going!"
I'll never forget that moment.

A few weeks later I met with my bishop to talk about starting my mission papers.
He asked me to write a one-page paper on my testimony of Christ and The Atonement, and the Book of Mormon to an audience of 400 missionaries in the MTC. I didn't know if I could write a whole page. But I began, and this is what I wrote. 

The Book of Mormon.
   It's true. I never had a Joseph Smith moment. I've yet to see the face of God. But when I take the time to pour over its words and study their meaning, I'm filled with joy and happiness. I'm filled with the Spirit of God.
   Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and taught him how to restore The Church of Jesus Christ to earth. I know that through the power of God, Joseph Smith was able to translate the Book of Mormon.
   I know that this book, with the Bible, teach of our Savior and teach us how to return to our Father in Heaven.
   I know that the teachings held within are true and that they bring me peace and joy. I know that when I take the time to study the Book of Mormon, Heavenly Father blesses me and inspires me through the Holy Ghost.
   I know that the promise stated in Moroni 10 is just that, a promise to each person who prays about the Book of Mormon.
   I'm grateful for this book. I'm grateful for the joy it brings me and for the blessing it is in my life. I can't wait to share it with others and to bring them to the Gospel.
   I say this in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Christ and The Atonement.
   Christ is my Savior. He died for me that I may return to my Father in Heaven because He loves me. When I do what's right, when I take the sacrament, when I try to see others as He does, I can feel my Savior.
   I know that when I'm feeling sad or discouraged or tempted, He understands and knows hoe I feel because He has felt that. He has felt each of my pains and sorrows, He suffered of each of my sins. When I focus on Him as I take the sacrament, I"m reminded of His sacrifice and love.
   I know that I'm not perfect. I know that no matter what, I will never be able to make it without Christ by my side. I strive to live worthy for His love and redemption. I wasnt to try my absolute best so that when I stand before my Father, Christ will gladly step in and say, "she did her absolute best. And where she fell short, I suffered. Through Me, your daughter Ashley is made perfect." I want to be able to accept His mercy by doing my best.
   This knowledge of Christ gives me hope. He gives me hope that I will return home with honor. He gives me joy through His perfect and infinite love.
   As I'm leaning to apply the Atonement on a daily basis, I'm blessed and have found a more true and full joy.
   I love my Savior. I'm grateful for all he's done for me and I'm excited to be an instrument in the Lord's hands to help bring others to the same joy I have found. Its the best thing I can be doing with my time.
   I know that alone I will never be ab adequate missionary. But I also know that I'm not alone and where I will fall short, Christ will be there to fill in.
   I love Him, and I say these things in His name, even Jesus Christ, Amen.

As I read these words to my bishop, I was reminded of the truth of these principles. I felt peace. I knew I was supposed to go.
I also knew that Satan was going to try everything in his power to stop me from going. I opened up a document on my laptop, entitled it "Why I'm serving" and began to write. As the months have passed and as things have gotten harder, I have reflected on that document and I know that I'm supposed to serve.
On February 1, 2013 I opened my mission call.
I've been called to serve in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission and I report to the MTC on May 29th.
I was excited, but this is my journey, and every journey has some setbacks.
Mine was the language.
I'm so excited to be serving within the country. Heavenly Father knows that I wouldn't have been able to handle a foreign mission. But I wanted to serve Spanish speaking. Yes, it sounds silly, I know it does, but it was so important to me. Spanish is a beautiful language that I've always had a love for, and I would be using English on my mission.
I told myself that I was grateful because I'd rather use music than Spanish to share my testimony.
I told myself that I'd be able to express myself so much easier with English.
I told myself that there must be a reason...
but it's still hard.
The adversary knows this is my weakness and still uses it to discourage me.
But I had an experience that has helped me overcome.
I was having thoughts, "You weren't called Spanish speaking. You were called English. You were called stateside. What if you weren't called foreign because you can't handle it? What if you were called English because you're not good enough to learn a language... a language that you already know?"
And for the first time in my life I said, "NO! No. I have been called to serve a mission because I am good enough. Because I'm worthy to serve. And I will serve. I'm going through with this no matter what you try and throw at me. Because I'm worthy and I have Christ on my side."
And with that, I continued on to class with a burning in my heart, and I was once again assured that this is what I'm supposed to be doing.

I am a child of God, and I can't wait to help bring others to this knowledge.
With 14 days to go, I'm excited.
With 14 days left, nothing can stop me.

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