many people (especially sisters) struggle with the decision of whether or not to serve a full-time mission. Totally understandable! You are trying to choose between staying home and continuing your life as it is going, or to leave behind your family, friends, schooling, and other opportunities to begin an 18-month life as a missionary. It’s a really difficult decision.
This is how I made my decision to serve.
I went to EFY (Especially For Youth–a week long summer camp for LDS Youth that focuses on the Gospel) the summer before my sophomore year of high school. I became good friends with my counselor. On the last day, I remember her looking at me and saying, “Have you ever considered serving a mission?” I was surprised by her question, because I actually had never considered one before. I wrote down what she said and thought of it from time to time.
A couple of years later, halfway through my junior year, my seminary class co-president Jeremy challenged our whole class to go home and sincerely pray about whether the Lord wanted us to serve a mission. I took him up on that challenge, and was surprised to find that I felt very strongly that I was supposed to serve a mission.
That answer remained at the back of my mind as life continued. As I time after time tried to tentatively come up with a life plan, things just didn’t seem to include a mission. Serving when I was 21 didn’t make sense. It didn’t feel right. I felt my life would be in a different place at that stage of my life. I began to wonder if I actually would serve a mission or not, because I was confused by how right serving a mission felt, yet how wrong serving at 21 felt. I prayed about it from time to time, and I always felt the exact same about both. Yes, mission, but not 21.
Fast forward to General Conference, Saturday Morning Session, October 2012. President Monson stood and made the announcement that would change my life, as well as countless others’: eligible young men may serve at 18 instead of 19, and eligible young women with desires to serve may serve at age 19 instead of 21. I couldn’t believe it. The excitement and joy that filled my heart, and I cannot even describe. The second he announced it, I knew I was going. I’d already prayed for years about this decision, and finally I understood.
After the session, after the crazy text messages between my entire group of friends who were all now eligible to go, after running up to the Bishop’s house where all the youth in my ward were watching conference to freak out, and after going for a run to calm my extremely excited mind, I went into my bedroom and knelt down to pray, and to ask one more time, when the stage of my life where the decision needed to actually be made had suddenly arrived at my doorstep, if I was supposed to serve a mission.
The second I began my prayer, the most incredible, overwhelming peace entered into my whole soul. And I knew. I knew without a doubt that I needed to go.
I made my decision.
Everything else–school, a potential relationship, whatever else that was on my mind–became arbitrary. But I knew with such surety that I never looked back once the decision was made.
And at the end of December, my papers were completed. Two weeks into January, they were submitted. January 31, I finally received my call to serve.