I am not one of those girls who has known since they were little that they were going to serve a mission. If you asked me five years ago if I was planning on serving a mission, I would probably say, I have no idea. So here I am preparing to leave next month, and I am so sure about this, I can't believe I didn't know I was going to serve for my whole life.
I was there in the 2012 October session of General Conference when they announced the age change from 21 to 19. There was an audible gasp in the congregation. Chills ran down my body from my head to my toes. Everywhere I turned girls were literally sobbing in the audience, because their dreams were coming true earlier than they expected. The sight was remarkable, and truly heartwarming to see so much happiness come to light in a matter of seconds. I was about to turn 20 when the announcement was made, and it occurred to me that I could leave right then. A mission was suddenly on my mind, when it probably wouldn't have been for another year. But I couldn't go right then, because I had already committed to going to China to teach English in February for four months, so the thought would have to be on my mind for 8 more months.
In the following months floods of Elders and Sisters were scattering around the world to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have never witnessed such an incredible force of good in all my life. The thought of people my age and younger, especially sisters, who love this gospel so much that they are willing to leave behind everything to share it with our brothers and sisters, brings tears to my eyes. Never has there been a greater time in history that the world has needed youth with testimonies that are unshakable, or parents who have the wisdom to teach their kids morals and character. This age change was truly inspired. The bar has already been raised, and now the mission is calling on those who are already firm in their foundation of Christ. The mission needs those who are willing to give everything.
While I was in China, I talked about a mission A LOT. I asked all of my roommates their ideas and thoughts about missions and if there were planning on serving. I had been praying and praying to know if it was something that I needed to do. If I served I wanted to be sure that I was doing it 100 percent for the right reason. I think I knew for a long time that I when I got home I would decide to serve. As I have come to find out recently I am pretty stubborn. I wanted a resounding yes or no answer to my prayers. And I can't tell you how many times, I received a yes answer and I would try to ignore it, but it was always on my mind.
One day I received a letter from my very best friend Ben who was in Rexburg. In it he told me that he felt inspired to tell me that while he was sitting in the I-center waiting for conference to start, a clear thought came to him that said "Jessica would make a wonderful missionary" I never told him how much that impacted me. The following weeks we discussed that there are two types of missionaries. 1) Those who benefit the mission, and 2) Those who benefit from the mission. We agreed that everyone would benefit from serving a mission, but that there were those who were truly converted to the church while serving. The mission doesn't have time for those who are unsure of their beliefs. It is the Lords time, and he needs those who are ready to dedicate their life to Him and to sharing His gospel.
So to make a long story short, I came home from China, went up to school for the summer, and then broke it to everyone that I was going to serve a mission. I could not think of a reason good enough for me not to go. I owe everything I am to being raised in the truth, and I couldn't live knowing that I had an opportunity to give myself to the Lord and teach His children, and I didn't take it. Truly, if you have a desire to serve God, you are called to the work.Alma 30:34 says "And now, if we do not receive anything for our labors in the church, what doth it profit us to labor in the church save it were to declare the truth, that we may have rejoicings in the joy of our brethren?" I read this scripture when I was a senior in high school, and I have loved it ever since. May all of our happiness be found in seeing our brothers and sisters find true joy in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I can't wait to go out and spread the good news!