My paternal grandparents have 15 grandchildren. Fourteen served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, except for one. Me! Here is my story. Why I'm writing it down on my blog is beyond me, other than its been floating around in my head.
When I was a Valiant or Merrie Miss, I remember wanting to go on a missionary when I grow up. In fact I can go farther back in my memory, and remember singing, I Hope They Call Me on Mission, when I was in junior primary and being awe-inspired at the idea of going to a mission. It was what I wanted to do all growing up. I remember wondering why I seemed like the only girl I grew up with who wanted to go. In young women's they give you lessons on the importance of temple marriage, only after a mission I thought. (Well until I got older and defiant and I told my leaders I don't want to get married or have kids, but a mission was always in the plans.) A mission and me were where it was at.
Until I was seventeen and went in for my Patriarchal Blessing. I have this nice long lengthy paragraph about this missionary work I will do. But while the patriarch spoke I had this strong impression in my heart that said, "not while you are 21". I thought WHAT? Part of me wanted to be bitter, this was the thing I had wanted to do for the longest time, I never dreamed about marriage as a little girl only a mission. But then I had another impression, don't spite yourself, this is a once a lifetime opportunity. So even though I was upset the spirit told me not when I was 21, I continued to listen and be inspired.
Even though the spirit told me that, I had a hard time letting go of my dream for the next two years, I continued to plan and tell people I was planning on a mission. Except every time I did, my heart felt like I was telling a lie. Before I left for college, I remember meeting with my Bishop, and he asking me what my plans where, and then at one point he said have you ever thought about a mission when you are 21? (I doubt he asked every girl this, but I'm sure I told him a 10 year plan of education.) I said I had, and thought it would be great. He continued on telling me how great sister missionaries were and how they can do work the Elders can't. Once again I felt myself getting bitter, why would he tell me this, if it might not be in my future like the spirit told me? It took me months to reconcile this experience, but then I realized the Lord had already told me what he told me, why was I looking for more signs. It was shame on me not the bishop.
But still I had a hard time reconciling my dream with the spirit. Luckily one day when I was 19, my sister in law asked me if I wanted to go on a mission. I of course responded in the positive. But at this point, I was starting to be confused, I knew it was my dream, but I also knew it probably wasn't a reality. I'm positive my sister in law, recognized some hesitancy from me. I said if nothing else everyone in my family has, look at all my cousins too. Then she looked at me squarely and said just because they did doesn't mean you have to. Just to set the record straight, I never felt any pressure from my parents, grandparents, or siblings to serve a mission. I just always remember wanting to, and as I grew up more of my siblings and cousins kept serving missions. But all of sudden sister in law gave me the power I needed to follow the spirit.
Brent also gave me some help. No its not when he asked me to marry him. I was friends with him, and his friend Justin, long before Brent and I ever dated, and as a young 18 year old, actually almost 19 year old, I said I don't date Return Missionaries, I'm going on a mission in two years. (Let the record be straight, neither of them asked me out, I was just being pushy.) Brent strongly rebuked my forth-rightness, told me, girls are not commanded to go on missions, girls who have not felt inspired to go on missions but go anyway are not always successful. If I boy asks me out I should say yes. His friend seconded him. (Some would say, oh he just wanted to ask you out, but I highly doubt that was the reason for his tirade, considering he didn't ask me out for another 10 months, and he had multiple girlfriends before me.)
And so with that, I started to reconcile my future, but it still wasn't easy. But it made it easier in 11 months when I knew if I continued to date Brent I would get married to him. I would be getting married, before my 21st birthday, before I could send in my mission papers. Even with all this though, it was a hard decision to date Brent, I knew I loved him, but come on my mission. I knew Brent wouldn't wait three years for me, and I knew I wouldn't expect it of him. I knew I wouldn't have waited for a missionary, so why could I except it from anyone else. It was just it was. It was a hard decision to make, but what helped me was the vivid memory of sitting in President Snyder's living room and the spirit telling me "not at 21." Although that was only one thing that made it difficult to get married at 20. Twenty is very young, and no one was more aware of the reality of this than me. Let me assure anyone who wants to knows, getting married young was not a thing my husband and I entered into lightly. It was definitely the best decision I made, then crazy of crazies, I had a kid at 21. I kept thinking this must be my mission. Then funny thing is by the time I hit 23 I stopped being obsessed with the idea that my son was "my mission" But the thing I was worried most about, was how could I know the gospel as well as someone who went on a mission? I wouldn't have two years or 18 months of studying the scriptures, but then I realized I could study the scriptures too, and I could know the gospel as well as anyone. I swore to myself I would never be the mother who said, I didn't know the scriptures, I had to learn the stories with my kids, or I had to ask my husband a scripture story when someone asked me to present one in church. I'm sure this is part of the reason my husband and I have always studied the scriptures together, and individually.
I remember being in an institute class, (after I was married) and the teacher before class, asked a girl who was 21 if the spirit had mentioned a mission to her. She said, I've prayed about it and prayed about it, and I got run for student council. That's the point, not every girl goes on a mission, only if the spirit tells her to go. The spirit told me, I'll have plenty of missionary work just not when I was 21 on a full time mission. And this is the reason my adult life has turned out like it has.
Oh and one more thought: Hopefully this doesn't sound too pathetic. If I didn't serve a mission, at least my husband did, and I can live through him. I have met people from Chile (well at least one), I've skyped with some, and I've become friends with a lot of my husband's companions' wives, well at least three of them. None of them went on missions either, so its a nice camaraderie of women I have who don't know much about Chile, but can pick the conversation up just were we left of last year. In twenty years from now I will not be surprised to if I still see at least two of them every few years.