Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Decision to Serve the Lord

There have been a few times in my life where I can distinctly remember wanting to serve a mission and to have all of the experiences that a mission brings. When I was 15, I had the opportunity to go to EFY--a church program for the youth. During the week we attend spiritual classes, activities, service projects, dances, etc. The counselors for this program are in their 20s. Well, at the end of the week at one of the firesides, one of the female counselors was called up on stage. She had just received her mission call in the mail, and her family drove down and brought it to her to open. She decided to open it with everyone there and read it aloud, and as she did the Spirit was incredibly strong. I wrote in my journal that night that "I would love to serve a mission one day and to feel the same Spirit I felt tonight when I open my own mission call."

Over the summer I was in Germany for two weeks. The second week I took the kids to church while the parents were on vacation, and that Sunday, one of the sisters gave a "welcome-home" talk from her mission. She served in Chile, and the spirit that I felt as she talked about her mission and the people she met and the many ways she was able to serve was so strong. I wanted to be able to touch others' lives like she was able to, and to come to better know the gospel as she had. Later that night, the Shields' oldest daughter Aubrey asked me if I was going to serve a mission, but I had no idea.

More often, I can recall times and moments where I've thought about serving a mission, but really had no idea what I would end up doing. It seems to have happened a lot more lately. Last semester I went with the missionaries to teach a lesson and I thought about it. I thought about it often as I contemplated my major for school and whether to go to medical school. I think about it often when I hear from my cousin serving in the Philippines. On October 6, I was in Pennsylvania for a Regatta for crew, and I was talking to one of my good friends, Kavya, about school. In some ways, the two of us are very alike: very driven, motivated, school-oriented. Then there are ways we are completely different: she knows without a doubt that she wants to go to medical school. In fact, she already has a guaranteed spot and wants to becomes a neurosurgeon. Anyways, we were talking about the rest of our undergraduate study and where to go to medical school after, and I brought up the idea of serving a mission rather than continuing right away with any more school.

That night, I walked into my house around eleven after we got back from the regatta, and my Mom asked me if I had heard the news about the missionary ages that were announced in General Conference. I hadn't been on the internet at all or gotten a chance to watch any of conference, so I had no idea what she was talking about. I quickly hoped on my Facebook and many of the girls I had met throughout the years at EFY or church or girls camp had posted about the new age: rather than leaving for a mission at age 21, girls were now able to leave at the age of 19.

So for the past few weeks, I've been thinking, pondering, and praying a lot about serving a mission now rather than waiting until I finish out my undergraduate degree. I sent a few emails to some of the administrators at VCU to see if I could leave at the end of this school year and still keep my scholarship when I return. Surprisingly, they were extremely cooperative, and agreed without much question to hold my scholarship until the Fall of 2015. I will be dropped from the Nursing School simply because they cannot hold a spot for so long, but my adviser told me that it will not be hard to pick it back up. I just need to apply for readmit for formality's sake. I think my adviser and some of my friends think I'm crazy, but oh well.

With everything worked out, I have decided to serve an 18 month mission, and I am so excited. I can't wait for this school year to be over now, but I'm definitely grateful for the time I have to prepare before I actually go. I think of all the people I wanted to tell about my decision, I was most excited to email my cousin, Elder Kemmey, in the Philippines. I emailed him Sunday night, and when I woke up Monday I had a reply from him: "I'm really happy that you've decided to serve. The work needs someone like you no matter where you are assigned. Be a disciple of Christ and your mission will be a success and will shape you and prepare you for the rest of your life. I can't wait to email you as Sister Kemmey!!" Now that I've decided to serve a mission, I won't actually see Jacob for two MORE years, but when I do, it will definitely be exciting.

I know without a doubt that serving a mission is what I should be doing right now. So I'm submitting my papers in January, will be ready to leave in June, and cannot wait!

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