On March 25th, I'm going to be leaving on an 18-month proselyting mission for my church. I will be serving in the Canada Vancouver Mission, which includes most of British Columbia. It may very well be the hardest thing I ever do and I am so freaking excited.
In other words, I am giving up a year and a half of my life in service to my Lord. I don't often talk about religion--as for right now, I'm going to break that silence. I know some of you don't agree with my beliefs, but I want you to know that I respect whatever your beliefs are (truly, I do) and I hope you can respect mine.
Here's the backstory. I've planned on serving a mission my entire life. When I turned 21, I spent a good deal of time deciding whether or not it was something I should do. The idea scared me to death and I couldn't deny that I'd probably miss out on some good opportunities. Ever get the feeling that you need to be doing something? I knew a mission was what I needed to be doing. Once I graduated from college and found a job, I started my "papers" (a.k.a. the application process) and went through another crisis of "Wait, is this really what I want to be doing?" It took about three months of hemming and hawing 'til I finally pulled myself together. Again, I knew this was what I was supposed to be working towards. Through November and December, I took the steps to turn in my papers and I've anxiously waited for the last three weeks to receive my assignment.
And here we are now. The call arrived at 2:30 this afternoon, but I had to wait until tonight to open it. (Brief explanation: Mission calls are assigned by a member of the Quorom of the Twelve Apostles based on inspiration and the needs of the missionary. Therefore, you have no idea where you're going to go and it's quite a big deal.) Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to hold that white envelope in my hands and not rip it open the minute I got home? So difficult, but worth it. At 7 P.M., we had friends and family gather in our living room and it was a tad overwhelming to realize that all those people where there for me. If you were there, thank you so much. That meant the world to me. I read the letter out loud, through a mess of tears and my voice faltered more than once. Here's part of the letter...
Dear Sister [Last Name],My dad took video of me reading it, but I'm a complete wreck, so that'll never see the Internet. I'll spend three weeks in the Missionary Training Center and around mid-April, I'll leave for British Columbia. While I longed to be assigned to Paris or New York or Spain, I can't even begin to say how right Vancouver feels. I've been to British Columbia once before and it left a definite impression on me. The beauty, the coast, the climate. It's perfect. The 2010 Winter Olympics are being held in Whistler, BC and the temple is being dedicated around that same time. How exciting is that? Vancouver is metropolitan, yet outdoorsy; foreign, yet comfortable. The town has an awesome history of science-fiction. Even the motto of BC is wonderful: "Splendor Without Diminishment." I have no doubt that this is where I was meant to go.
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 Canada Vancouver Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months. ... Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children.We place in you our confidence and pray that the Lord will help you become an effective missionary.
Going on a mission will be a huge sacrifice for me--I know that. I won't be able to use the internet, I can't read the books I want or watch the TV I so dearly love. There's no contact with males except in the context of mission work. I have to put off grad school for another couple of years. I have to be with a companion 24/7 and socialize with people I'm not comfortable with. I have to wear a skirt and nylons for 550 days in a row. Heck, I have to live in CANADA. Yet in the grand manner of sacrifice, I'm giving up something important to get something even bigger in return....
While I'm of course going to preach the gospel, I'm also going to learn more about myself. I need to learn to become less self-serving and more humble. I'd like to figure out what my goals are in life and I want to learn to be more obedient and faithful. Part of me is terrified that I'll lose my sense of humor, but deep down I think I'll learn to sharpen that sense as I'm placed in new situations. In short, this mission is something I need to do for myself and for my God.
Now, I know what you're all thinking. What about the future of this blog? (Okay, maybe you're not thinking that. But I've been thinking about it. A lot.) Right now, the plan is to have my parents update it once a week with portions of my letters. I'm also trying to get an email system set up if you'd like to receive the full e-mail. I'll keep you updated. And I'll for sure be around until the 25th. And after my mission? You couldn't keep me away from blogging. (Confession: I seriously hope twitter's still around.) But I really couldn't be more thrilled to be going, so thanks for letting me share this with you.
If you have any questions about my mission or about the LDS religion in general, let me know in the comments or by email and I'll do a whole FAQ post.