Being a girl serving a mission is not required but it is appreciated. So that leads to the questions of why I want to give up 18 months of my life to serve? Well, this answer is not simple so let me tell you the story of my decision to serve.
When I was a little girl about 8 years old, I had a great desire to serve a mission. At age 12, I started vocally saying I wanted to serve a mission. At that time, the girls served missions at 21 years old and boys served at 19 years old. I had my life planned out. I was going to graduate high school, get my bachelor's degree, go on a mission, then come home get married and live happily ever after. I also wanted to pay for my mission all by myself.
As I grew up the desire to serve a mission never left. At 16 years old, I got my first job and met a boy. At 17 years old, I started dating the boy and told him that I wanted to serve a mission. He did not think much of that and we continued to date.
At 18 years old right after High School Graduation in May of 2012, the boy and I talked about marriage. That is when I started to question if a mission was right for me. I prayed to know what I should do. I received an answer in the simplest unsuspecting ways. I was sitting in sacrament meeting when a returned sister missionary got up to give a talk. I do not remember what her name was or what the talk was about. All I remember is the first thing she said, "If you are thinking about going on a mission but don't know if it is right for you, go! The reason I went on my mission was for my future children. They need a mom who is strong in the gospel. A mission helped me become strong and will forever benefit my life and my future kid’s life." That hit me so hard. I needed to go on a mission not for me but for my future kids. I then told the boy that I would not marry him or even consider marriage until after my mission, which was still 3 years away. I also told him that I wanted to marry a returned mission for the same reason I needed to serve.
October 2012, I was in my junior year of college. I was 18 months away from getting my bachelor's degree and 4 months away from turning 19. This general conference was going to be one to remember forever. President Thomas S. Monson got up to welcome everyone to conference and said, "I am pleased to announce that effective immediately, all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19. . . .
As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21."
I was in shock! I was 4 months away! I could turn my papers in right then!! However, I was 18 months away from graduating. The boy could also leave right now. Everything seemed be happen so fast I just did not believe it. I decided to pray. It felt like I should stay and finish school before I serve but I never got an answer. So I pushed forward working towards my degree.
In 2013, I watched almost all of my friends receive mission calls and leave for missions. That was hard knowing I have always wanted to serve but it was not my time. The boy decided he was going to serve a mission not because I wanted him to but because he wanted too. In October, he received his mission call to South Carolina Colombia Mission leaving February 5, 2014. That was hard knowing he was going to leave a few days after my birthday and a few days before Valentine’s Day. We both know this was the right choice.
January 2014 I had just began my hardest semester and second to last semester before I graduate. Time was also getting closer to my best friend leaving. My savings was completely used up due to school and I was stressed about being able to afford my last semester of school. I did not want to take a loan out because I had to be debt free to serve a mission. I prayed for help. A few days after my prayer, I got an email about a new summer scholarship for graduating seniors. It felt too good to be true. I fit into ever requirement but two. I applied for the scholarship the same day and 3 weeks later got an email saying I got the scholarship. This was an answer to my prayers. It was just a little more than half tuition and was an answer that I was where I needed to be.
February 5, 2014 I said goodbye to my best friend. That was one of the hardest days of my life. I imagine that is how it is when we decided to come to earth and leave our Heavenly Father.
April 2014 I began to pray to see if I really should serve a mission. School was almost over and I needed to know what direction to take in my life. As my mom and I went to watch the general women's meeting, the opening song hit me so hard. Hymn number 264 "Hark, All Ye Nations!" The chorus was the answer to my prayers. "Oh, how glorious from the throne above shines the gospel light of truth and love! Bright as the sun, this heavenly ray lights every land today." As the choir sang this song, all I could think about is how lucky I am to have the gospel in my life why would I not share it? So once again, I knew I needed to serve a mission.
May 2014 I started my last semester of school. I transferred my records home and met with the bishop. I thought I was ready to start my mission papers and my journey of a mission. Unfortunately, things came up. I postponed my mission for a few months. This was hard for me to wait longer but I knew it was for a reason.
August 2014 I graduated!! It feels so good to graduate debt free. I also got a new job. My first full time job. In 5 months, I will also have enough money to pay for my mission. This job was where I needed to be to be able to afford my mission. All my dreams were coming true. I started my papers and it is finally the right time for me to begin the journey of a mission.
From there I got my mission call to Cape Verde Praia Mission leaving on the year mark of my best friend and speaking Portuguese. I know I need to serve a mission. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had in life to get me to this point. I am also very lucky to have a job making enough money to pay for my mission. I am so excited to finally be able to serve a mission. Cape Verde here I come!!!