Where did the time go? It seems like just yesterday I was opening my mission call, and now I can officially say I'm leaving on my mission next month!
TIME FLIES YA'LL.
So, what have I been doing with all that time? I should say I've been adjusting my sleep schedule....
But hey, I HAVE been exercising! For those who know me, your face should look like this right now:
I hate exercising. Woof. But now I'm the one dragging my brother out of the house to go on a bike ride around town every night. Progress!
He made me go uphill the other day though. I wanted to die.
I sure hope there are no hills in Kentucky.
Anywho, I've been browsing Pinterest for all things sister-missionary, and the most helpful things I've found were the blogs sisters post in preparation for entering the mission field. And now I get to join the club!
I want to share some advice about what I've learned from personal experience in preparing for the mission. As I'm preparing, I often feel like I'm not ready, and in a lot of ways I'm not, but as the date continues to creep closer, I'm working harder to improve myself.
The hardest parts of preparing for my mission so far are:
1. Adjusting my sleep schedule
It honestly feels like summer vacation for me. The first day of school is just in the middle of October. I thought that when my sister started waking up for school again, I would naturally start waking up earlier.
Alas, that never happened.
I sleep in late and stay up too late, and every night as I lay there thinking about absolutely eeeeverything, I tell myself, "Tomorrow I'm going to go to bed early and wake up early!"
And then tomorrow comes. And there you are again, staring at the ceiling at three am, trying to get your brain to just.be.quiet. This is something I'm going to start working on.... tomorrow.
I've never liked exercising. I used to be involved in organized sports in elementary and junior high, but I was never coordinated enough or interested enough. Geeze, I used to lay on the bases during tee ball. (My coach even created a new position for me: the outer outer field.) But now my brother is forcing me to go on bike rides with him, and I actually like it! This is a part of myself I'm actually trying to work on but still have a long way to go. I found this cute sister missionary blog where she makes this awesome "Sister Missionary Survival Guide" (adapted from another girl's book), and a section of it is full of exercise ideas. I'll be making one before I go.
3. Finding clothes
THIS has been an adventure. I love clothes. And when I have a little money, it inevitably goes towards more clothes. It's been interesting shopping for JUST missionary attire though. It's easier living in Utah and all, but skirts and walking shoes and cardigans and appropriate shirts and accessories and all that jazz aren't exactly cheap. It's fun figuring out my style, however, and being able to focus on one type of clothing.
My favorite stores to find this stuff at:
- Target (I got a messenger bag and cardigans on sale there a couple months ago!)
- Ross (THE BEST. I got most of my skirts from there and a lot of cute shirts for cheap.)
- Seagull Book (They restock their skirts every week, so there's always a new selection. I found a few of my skirts there. They're a bit more expensive, but occasionally you can find really cute ones that are a great length for sister missionaries.)
- sammydress.com (HOLY MOLY, unbelievably cheap and cute stuff!!)
I will be hitting up Nordstrom Rack and Forever 21 next week to hunt for my final items. YAY.
The easiest parts of preparing for my mission:
1. Going to the temple!
Going to the temple is the BESHT. And I'm not just saying that 'cause everyone else says it. It really is wonderful. I received my endowment on June 29th in the Las Vegas, Nevada temple, which was the temple I "grew up" with (I was baptized in 2009 and had only been to that temple before I moved to Provo for college in 2012), and I love it.
The temple endowment is a wonderful thing. Before you go in, you have people left and right telling you about their first times going through. Things like: "It was weird" or "Watch out for the animal sacrifices!" or "I had no clue what was going on."
My advice: don't let those things distract you when you go through for the first time.
Go in with an open mind, eager to learn and willing to accept the things Heavenly Father is going to teach you in the temple. He teaches you wonderful truths that will not only help you more fully appreciate your purpose as a missionary, but also truths that will get you through life and back to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ someday. The temple endowment is just one fantastic step closer to getting there. The things taught in the temple make complete sense and will help you see things more clearly. I have those "Ah-hah!" moments all the time now. I have been endowed for just over two months, and each week as I go back I learn something new and am able to apply it to my purpose as a missionary and the things I will soon be teaching the people of Kentucky. I draw my strength from the truths taught in the House of the Lord.
Point: GO TO THE TEMPLE! You won't regret it!
2. Feelin' the love for the people of Kentucky
It's easy to get hung up on the cons of your mission. It's humid, I won't be able to say Louisville correctly (I've been told to say "Lovel" ... still working on it), people will be offering my moonshine more than they will water, and if I don't die of any of those things, the chiggers will definitely get me.
(Thank goodness I have a strong testimony of the Word of Wisdom!)
Despite all these things, I think I'll make it. There are other missionaries who have gone before me, right? Besides, I've met several people since I received my mission call who A) are from Kentucky and love it, B) who have friends who have served in Kentucky and loved it, and C) who watch basketball and love their basketball team at least.
Point is, I've learned to love Kentucky already. I was thrown off when I read I would be speaking Spanish in Kentucky, but I haven't had a doubt for a second that Kentucky's the place I need to be. It's funny - since receiving my mission call, everyone and their cousin are from/have been to Kentucky and have been able to give me all sorts of great advice about it. My Relief Society president at BYU this last year was actually from Kentucky, AND she grew up in a Spanish ward out there! How lucky am I!
3. Praying for help
Before receiving my mission call, praying was pretty easy I thought. There were hard times I prayed to get through, and they all seemed to work themselves out naturally.
These last four months have been HARD though. I can't bold/italicize/underline that enough. Satan really works hard on you when you're preparing for a mission. Suddenly everything seems to be going wrong, your emotions go haywire, and he's telling you to do something, anything besides going on a mission! And for whatever reason, you hits you blind out of nowhere. I can't explain how confusing that is!
Satan will try to knock you off course. He doesn't want anyone out there telling God's children about the truth when he could have them all to himself to torture and make miserable like himself.
If there ever was a jerk, it's Satan.
But you know what I've found these past few months works? Praying. It's been a faith-building and eye-opening experience praying for help and miraculously having windows opened these past few months. It helps me to remember this:
And He most definitely does. If you have the desire to serve, He will not only call you, but He will shape you into someone qualified to carry out His work. It's an intimidating charge, but if you have His help. It's wonderful!
Whatever worries you have during these months leading up to your mission, pray for His help and He WILL open a window for you. I have sat back in awe several times these past months at the way He has answered my prayers - everything ranging from dental work to money problems to finding motivation.
He cares about you. And if you need a way to get where He needs you, He will certainly be happy to get you there. Just ask for His help.
Joseph Smith said it perfectly: "When we understand the character of God and know how to come to Him, He begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to Him, He is ready to come to us."
Preparing for a mission is a learning process. I am learning how to trust God and how He works, and I am learning how to discipline myself for the schedule He will be having me on while I'm in Kentucky. In the end, you need to remember He is sending you where He needs you. Isn't that cool that He trusts you to teach His children and carry forth His Gospel to them? Kind of intimidating but awesome at the same time.
Heavenly Father loves us! He wants all His children to know the truth, and He will do whatever it takes to get that Gospel to all corners of the earth, even if that means sending young people out to preach it to them. I have been lucky enough to know the truth at such a young age. I know Jesus Christ died for us and atoned for our sins so we may return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father again. I know He restored the true Gospel in its fullness in these final days through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know He sends us prophets still to guide us and lead us in righteous ways. He loves us enough to do all these things for us and still answer our individual prayers and needs. He is in every aspect of our lives, and though we may not always see it, He's there anyway.
I love this Gospel. Kentucky, here I come!