Saturday, May 18, 2013

I Went Inside Today

One of my favorite primary songs is I Love To See The Temple. The song starts out with the words "I love to see the temple. I'm going there someday." Ever since I was little I have loved looking for the castle on the hill (AKA the temple). And always I've wanted to go inside. Well today I was no longer going there someday. I was going there TODAY!

I was a little nervous, but most people are. In Preparing To Enter The Holy Temple it says, "If you are going to the temple for the first time it is quite normal for you to be a little unsettled. We are naturally anxious about the unknown." It's okay to be nervous. There are a few things you can do to prepare yourself and make the experience a little more enjoyable though. These are a few of the things that really helped me and a few of my friends.
  • Read Preparing To Enter The Holy Temple by Boyd K. Packer
  • Take a mission prep or temple prep class
  • Read Moses 1-5
  • Read Exodus and study the Plan of Salvation
  • Read your patriarchal blessing
  • Talk to your parents or someone close to you about the temple
  • Go with an open mind. Don't expect anything specific because it most likely will be nothing like you imagined. But it will be awesome, I promise!
  • Be calm. Don't worry, one of the cute little old ladies in the temple will ALWAYS be there to help you.
  • When you get there, just focus on feeling the spirit and enjoying the peace of the temple. You do NOT need to remember or understand everything you learn the very first time.
  • Go back again and again. Though I obviously haven't been back yet, I've been told it gets better and better.
  • Also re-do some of these things you did to prepare because after you have gone through they make a lot more sense!
I love the temple and I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to go through today! I know the things taught in the temple are true and that it truly is the House of the Lord. I love the peace I feel there and I can't wait to go again! I can't wait to teach this glorious gospel to the wonderful people of the Philippines so that they too, can have the blessings of the temple. I am so blessed :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Called to Serve

Being called to serve requires a lot of waiting. Waiting for the mail person. Waiting for your roommate to get home from work so you can drive home. Waiting for family and friends to get there so you can open it. And finally waiting for it to sink in.

Dear Sister Brown,
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Philippines San Pablo Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months. You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, July 3, 2013. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Tagalog language. Your assignment may be modified according to the needs of the mission president.

I was in shock. Let me tell you how it happened. I put the letter behind the booklet and other papers so I couldn't see where I was going to go. But then the paper on top was an application for a U.S. passport. What? I was sure I was going stateside! Then I started reading. After the first line I pulled it up just a little too far and saw San Pablo. It must be Spanish-speaking. Then I saw July 3rd. I changed my availability date from August 1st to July 1st because everyone was getting calls that were a month or 2 after their availability dates. I didn't actually think I'd leave that soon! Then my eyes, which clearly weren't reading this thing in order, went back to the Philippines. Whoa, really? The Philippines? Then I saw tagalog. Um, what? That's definitely not Spanish. This was all happening in a matter of seconds and somehow I managed to actually read it out loud and in order while my eyes and my mind were darting all over the page. There were audible manifestations of surprise and of course, cheers. But then there was this moment where I just stood there. Did that really just happen? Is this real life? The Philippines? Tagalog? And everyone else just sat there too. They were probably thinking the same thing. Finally my mom came and gave me a hug and life continued. We had brownies and ice cream and everyone started googling San Pablo.

Here are the first things I was told prior to opening my call:
"You're going to have to eat a balut (boiled fertilized duck embryo)."
"Mr. Dick went there. He got shot."
"You're probably going to get a parasite."
"The flight there is terrible!"

Comforting, right? And then there were the thoughts that went through my mind throughout the night:

"I don't even know where the Philippines are."
"How do you even say Tagalog?" 
"I've never even been on an airplane! I can't fly half way around the world!"
"Heavenly Father, are you sure you didn't mean to send me somewhere in the states?"
"So... I'm terrified."
"July 3rd is in 2 months. 2 MONTHS!! How am I possibly going to get everything done?"
"I hope there are monkeys there."
"What was I thinking?"
"Do I really have to eat a baby duck?"
"Breathe. It's going to be alright."

These thoughts continued for a couple of days but always I was comforted by the more important thoughts that were always there: "Heavenly Father called you to the Philippines for a reason. He needs you there and He is going to help you. This is right." I am so excited for the adventure that awaits me! I might be a little nervous, I may never have flown on an airplane, and I may know nothing about Tagalog, but I find comfort in the fact that this is a part of a plan that is much bigger than me and in the fact that my Savior is going to be by my side every step of the way. I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to serve our brothers and sisters in the Philippines and to teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I can't wait to get out there and serve the Lord and the wonderful people of the Philippines!

Mahal Kita <3

The Decision to Serve

Should I serve a mission? The question so many sisters struggle with. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not put every worthy and able young woman under the same mandate as every worthy and able young man to serve a full-time mission. Therein lies the struggle. Sometimes a sister just knows she has to go, but that is not always the case. I know how difficult the decision-making process can be so I thought I'd share how I made my decision:

October 6, 2012. The day that the course of the lives of many of the young women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints changed.

That beautiful Saturday morning I sat down to watch the semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I had written down a few questions hoping to hear an answer in one of the sessions. Among these questions was should I serve a mission? It was written as an after thought. I mean, I couldn't even go until I was 21 and that was 3 years away! Then this happened.

I was so excited that I was laughing and crying at the same time and my roommates surely thought I had lost it. For some, this announcement alone was their answer. I'm a little more stubborn. I knew that I wanted to go, but I needed to know that I was supposed to. I mean this was a huge decision and I needed to know that it was absolutely the right path for me.  

And so it began. I fasted and prayed, I studied the scriptures, I started going to the temple more often. I read every talk about missionary work known to man, and watched every mission-related video on the internet (and developed a slightly unhealthy addiction to mission call videos). I even signed up for mission prep! But no matter how hard I tried, I just didn't feel like I was getting an answer.

After 3 months I decided to talk to my bishop. He gave me a copy of Preach My Gospel and a Missionary Handbook and advised me to continue doing all of the things I was already doing. He told me that I was choosing between 2 good things: education and a mission. Heavenly Father wasn't going to tell me what to do. I had to make a decision and ask Him if it was right. Maybe both of them were right and it was going to be up to me. I can't say I loved that idea at the time. I wanted an answer! Heavenly Father knows everything, not me! Why would He let me make the decision? I was also given a priesthood blessing in which I was promised that if I studied it out and made a decision and then fasted about it, I would receive a sure answer, and here's the life-changing advice, I was told that once I had made the decision and received an answer, I should stick to it and not look back, just keep going.

I left that meeting confident that I would receive my answer and that it would be something that I could not deny. I think I was expecting something like a vision or a pillar of fire or maybe a nice email from God himself telling me whether I should or should not serve a mission. Unfortunately, none of those things happened. Rather the answer came piece by piece, through some advice from a friend, inspired words in sacrament meeting, a perfect scripture every now and then, the death of a loved one who never had the gospel, and feeling the love of God in any number of instances in my life. Heavenly Father didn't tell me that I needed to serve a mission, but He showed me just how important the gospel is in my life and He helped me to realize that I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to have what I have. Everyone deserves to have the peace and joy the gospel brings into my life! So I said to Heavenly Father, "I'm going on a mission. If that isn't what you want me to do, stop me."

I still wasn't completely sure it was right when I finally started my papers almost 2 months after talking to my bishop, but as I've been preparing to serve I have truly come to know that this is what I am supposed to do. I don't think that Heavenly Father would have minded if I stayed at the University, but He definitely doesn't mind if I go out and teach the gospel to some of his children either. I want everyone to feel the joy and the peace that I feel. I want them to know that they have a loving Father in Heaven and a Savior who atoned for their sins and who knows exactly what they're going through. I want them to know what I know. I have had my doubts, believe me. But every time I think that I might be going down the wrong path I hear the words of my bishop, "Stick to it and don't look back. Just keep going." And so I do.