10 years ago today i entered the missionary training center and began my 18 month mission for the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints. i can't believe it has been 10 years! seriously, i am starting to feel old ;) i can honestly say serving a mission is one of the best decisions i have ever made. before i went on my mission i was promised in a blessing that my mission would be a blessing in my life and a source of strength and joy that would bring dividends.(with suzi just before going into the mtc. and my camera date was wrong because it was the 5th!)
i've been thinking about those promises a lot today. the things i learned weren't necessarily new to me, but i began to understand them in a more real and personal way. it was on my mission that i really learned to recognize the promptings of the spirit and i saw how the lord can lead us. i learned with unshakable assurance that god knows us as individuals and hears and answers our prayers.
i caught a glimpse of the love that god has for his children as i served those around me. i felt god's love for me in a real and unmistakable way. i learned that watching others exercise their agency can sometimes be frustrating and heartbreaking (oh the tears i cried on my mission).
(the other 3 sister missionaries in my district)
and i was reminded that you can't give someone a testimony. you can't convince them to believe. you can only testify (and oh how amazing it was to bear testimony all day, everyday) of the truth, and then they must choose to find out for themselves and act on that knowledge.
(the classic mtc picture with my district)
i was reminded of the joy that comes from the gospel and from being obedient to god's commandments (and that there is no other way to find true joy). i learned that jesus christ is my savior and that his atonement not only allows me to become clean again, but enables me to do and be more than i ever could on my own.
(one of the greatest cities. seriously, go there!)
i learned the joy that comes from service and building the kingdom of god. and that it is hard work and tiring :) man being a missionary was hard, hard, hard!
(president and sister taylor. they are the best and i love them!)
i learned that few things in life can compare to the feeling you have when someone learns the truth for themselves and accepts the gospel of jesus christ. it is the most amazing feeling! talk about joy!
(melanie donahoo, my trainer)
i was also promised in my setting apart that i would serve with eternal friends and that couldn't be more true. i created amazing bonds because of our experiences and service together.
(liz thomas. i have no idea where we were)
(sally lambert and kimber donohue)
(andrea lewis, my last companion)
and it is no doubt the things i have learned have blessed me with strength and joy in life and have brought me dividends, because i have had to draw on them constantly over the past 8 and a half years since i got home. i especially find application right now in my calling and as i navigate this great adventure of motherhood and creating my family. who knew the lessons from a mission would help so much in motherhood?! yea for the ctem!
and i just have to say, these pictures are not cute! i actually can't believe that i am posting them on here, but i'm doing it for the sake of preserving memories. at least i know that people listened to me because of my message and definitely not because i was nice to look at! :)