Saturday, July 27, 2013

I Love to See the Temple

This was a week of miracles. One of the biggest struggles I've had this summer is trying to balance out college life and getting ready to leave on my mission, and trying to make it so the Spirit is always with me. It's very different from home, and I'm trying to find new creative ways  introduce the Spirit into my everyday life.
One of the ways I've done this in the past few weeks has been to make it to the temple before one of my best friends leaves on his mission to Oaxaca, Mexico. He's been pushing me to get it done ever since my call came, and I wanted to get it done while he's still here. 
So, I pushed through temple prep, and I got my temple recommend, and I assumed it would be easy enough to just schedule an appointment with the Bountiful Temple this week since it's the temple closest to my home. And then things started happening. For one, Pioneer Day is kind of a big deal in Utah, so of course every temple was closed. Then, someone chose to inform me that the Bountiful Temple was in fact closed all week for yearly maintenance work, and it doesn't open again until August 5th.
Luckily, other temples in the area were still open, so on Tuesday, I called the Draper Temple, and set an appointment to go through on Thursday, and continued to get everything ready to go. Here was the first miracle; just minutes before the temple called me back to confirm my appointment, someone else called in to cancel their appointment. If that hadn't happened, it likely wouldn't have even been possible for me to go through this week.
The next miracle came Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. Late Wednesday, the Stake Clerk in my home stake called to say that they were having difficulties in locating my records. Although I'm home every week to meet with my bishop, all of my records are apparently with my YSA Ward at BYU, and this created a problem on Wednesday when they told me I might not be able to go through. I jokingly told a friend with all my usual sass that I would be going through the temple Thursday night, but I really did mean it. It had been a goal for the past month to get it done, and I knew that going through the temple was something I needed to do ASAP. So, I kept a prayer in my heart all of that night. The next morning, I rolled out of bed and said my prayers, pleading with my Heavenly Father that I would be able to enter His house that evening. I nearly started crying when I opened the door of my bedroom to see my mom walking down the hallway to tell me that she'd just gotten off the phone with the stake clerk and that I would be able to go through the temple that night. My Heavenly Father knew it was what I needed.

And it was exactly that. I will not pretend to understand everything about LDS Temples, and I'm grateful to have a lifetime to come understand them a little bit better. But there is one thing I do know, and that is that there is a spirit unlike anything else inside the temple. Going through, two things truly struck me: 1) God has created a beautiful world for us to live in. It is meant to test us, to break us, and to reform us into something more than we were before. It is a blessing to be here, and it is a blessing to know that we have the ability to become infinitely more than we could every hope to be on our own through Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. 2) God loves us. Of all the things I have a testimony of, I think this is one of the most important. God loves us, and he wants us to succeed; he didn't place us here on this earth to fail. There were moments inside the temple that I could feel such love that it brought tears to my eyes- yes, moments, as in multiple times.
The temple is beautiful both inside and out, and it's truly representative of all that God desires for us.
I'm grateful that I have another 67 days until I leave for the MTC; it means I'll get many more opportunities to go through and come to know my Heavenly Father better each time. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go

I'm a planner. I like to map out my life and know exactly where I'm headed. On Friday, October 5, 2012, I was going to the University of Utah as a Dietetics major, and a mission was a vague possibility in three more years. But apparently, my Heavenly Father had another plan for me, and he completely changed my plan in under 10 seconds on Saturday, October 6, 2012.
I can still remember what was going on when President Monson made the announcement that men would be able to serve missions at 18, and Sisters at 19. My sister and I had just started painting our bedrooms, and she had about five boys in her room helping her to tape up the floorboards. As a general rule, 16-year old boys are loud, and always talking over each other. But when the announcement was made, my sister's room got dead quiet. I swear, I had never heard those boys be that quiet before the announcement, and I haven't heard it since!
I instantly realized this meant that I had less than a year until I could go. Unfortunately, I can't say I was one of the girls who instantly decided that I would go when I was 19. Instead, I waited for a few days, reasoning out in my mind that I could still go when I was 21, but I couldn't quite shake  the feeling that I needed to go on a mission. So, I met with my bishop, started mission prep, and began preparing to turn in my papers in May.
I still remember one day in mission prep, I had the feeling that I would go to Sweden. Until that point, I was secretly hoping for England, but the more I thought about Sweden in my mind, the more I liked the idea, and I very quickly gave up on England.
However, I'm a diabetic. Diabetics don't serve missions outside the US. It's unheard of! So I tried to make myself give up on Sweden too. But then, in April, my endocrinologist had to go and tell me that a few diabetics had been called out of the states. I was so excited that I texted my best friend on the way out of the doctor's office to tell him I might go on a foreign mission. And the secret hope that I would go to Sweden lived on.
I had convinced all my friends and leaders that I wanted to go to the East Coast- because that was as far out of Utah as I thought I'd get! I only briefly mentioned it to my stake president and one of the counselors in my ward bishopric that I thought it would be amazing to go to Sweden.
There was nothing normal or expected about the manner in which my call came, or where I would be headed. I was out with a friend the Monday after my call had been assigned when my dad called to say my call had arrived. I thought he was joking, but I rushed home anyways. Living in Utah, it's pretty predictable that mission calls come the Wednesday or Thursday after they've been assigned, and maybe later than that, but never on the Monday after it's been assigned! 
I'm glad my dad wasn't just trying to tease me; if it hadn't really been there I might have smacked someone. The rest of that day, I couldn't get Sweden out of my mind. I remember several prayers that no matter where I was called, I would feel it was right, and where I was meant to go.
The is no real way to express the shock and/or joy I felt when I opened my call and it said that I would be going to the Sweden Stockholm Mission. I had no problem in being excited for where I was going. In the past few weeks since my call has arrived, it has proved to be such a special blessing in my life. This truly is a remarkable time in the world's history. The Lord is preparing the way for His work to come forth, and I'm grateful for the privilege I have of being able to serve and progress the work. I am going where the Lord wants and needs me, and while I don't know what struggles I will face in the next few months and years, I can hardly wait through the next 90 days to enter the MTC and begin my mission!