I wish with my whole heart that I could remember what was said in the conversation that night. It was the night that changed the course of my life, but it wasn't the deciding factor. Just the final nudge to send me over the edge, and onto a decision that will alter the very details of my eternity.
As I've come to realize, it was the plan all along. And He knew I was going to need a good push. So set one up, He did.
As I found myself in the living room of a complete stranger in California, ready to spend the night while on my "Disneyland Sister Trip", the conversation turned more serious. She looked deep into my eyes and asked if I would be serving a mission for the LDS church. It was the thousandth time I'd been asked, and the second time within a few hours. What was I to expect, being 21? I stared at her for a while. More like stared past her. Immediately my mind rushed to three days prior, where I was in the room of the Christus in Salt Lake City. I was approached by two young women with tags, and was asked the same question. There was something different about that time. It was like I was hit by a sudden jolt of electricity, and my eyes filled with tears before I could even think twice. It felt like I was on the edge of a high dive, and getting ready to jump. Before I was able to rattle off my normal, "Ahh, you know. We'll see. I'm not really planning on it, but I'd love to go....",
I said, "I really don't know."
Reality set in, and I was back in the living room, and found myself using the same answer.
She kept her intent stare, and quietly whispered, "But you know you need to."
Before the words left her mouth, I was in tears. These weren't your friendly tears. It was a battleground of teardrops that were just waiting for this moment. They billowed from my eyes, and I was in sobs before I realized what was happening.
I could remember back to Primary when the bishopric member would say, "Okay, now who wants to serve a mission?!" And all the kids would jump up with their hands waving in the air, and I'd be sitting down with my friend and would exchange looks, "HECK NO."
When I was a young girl, no more than ten years old, my father asked our home teacher to help him with a blessing because I was so sick. Afterward, the two of them went out to the porch to talk. When my dad came back in and told me that my home teacher said, "When we were giving her that blessing, the only thing on my mind was that this girl is going to be a great missionary someday."
For whatever reason, that has never left me.
Through the years, through the heartache, through the trials, it's always been in the back of my mind.
Last August on one of the hardest nights I've had to swallow, I collapsed on my couch at 1am and bawled. I read from a page of personal scripture, and the words had never been more clear.
You will serve a mission.
I wrote down many impressions that came that night, but it shocked me so much that the next day I wrote another entry, basically overriding everything I'd felt the night before. Justification is a tricky thing. I wrote how it could mean many different things, how maybe it was my "Mission in Life" that I was talking about.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who's done this.
Once I regained my composure to a "stable" level, all I was able to do was nod my head and keep the tears to a minimum. This woman told me that from the moment I walked through her door, she had the distinct impression that I would be a missionary.
Few discussions have ever impacted me more than the one that followed her original question. It was as if the Spirit of the Lord was whispering into her ear all the things that He needed me to hear. My spiritual ears were listening, and there was no denying the feeling that engulfed me as I sat on her couch, sobbing up a storm.
Three weeks later, I was sitting on my parent's couch, finally ready to tell them the news. I made a special trip up just to talk to them, and was more than emotional. I began crying before the words even came out, and as they exchanged anxious looks I finally disclosed,
"I think I'm going to go on a mission."
The look of relief that came over their faces was enough to frame. Don't ask me what was going through their mind when they knew I wanted to talk, but you can bet they were more than thrilled to hear about my decision.
I'd been preparing from a young age for the day that this would happen. The idea has always been there, and the Lord always knew I would go one day. I had a hard time trusting in the Plan that has been set out for me, and the amount of nudging it took for me to finally wrap my mind around the idea is less than something to be proud of. Being set in your ways is not always the greatest.
It's always a good idea to be prepared. I never really expected to make the decision to serve, but my entire life has been leading up to this point. I know that it's what I need to be doing at this time. However hard it is, and will be, the Lord is with me every step of the way.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
― Joseph Campbell
It's coming fast.