The Biggest Decision

From deciding to serve to receiving a call….

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The Book of Mormon is true.
God is our Heavenly Father.
Jesus Christ is our Savior.
Our families can be together forever.
Death is not the end, and birth is not the beginning.

These are things I know to be true. Because I know and love these truths, I haven chosen to serve an eighteen-month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For many people the hardest part about receiving a mission call is the decision to serve, but for me that was the easy part. What happened after I decided to serve stretched my limits and prepared me in ways I couldn’t imagine.

On October 25, 2015, I excitedly sat in my Stake President’s office waiting to submit my mission papers that I originally planned to submit on September 6th. I had gone to the dentist, the doctor, this emotionless psychologist, a therapist, the doctor and dentist again. I’d taken a million different application photos and scanned my passport five different times, and my impatient heart wanted more than anything to submit my papers and be done with the whole process. As my stake president and I discussed the different items on my paperwork, he became concerned, mentioning that because of some emotional issues in my past, there was a possibility that I might have to wait another six months to go on a mission. We submitted my papers anyways.

I sobbed three days later when I received the text saying that the church sent my papers back with a note saying to wait until March 15th and then submit them again. I walked to my Missionary Preparation class at BYU that morning full of disappointment, despair, and bitterness as the implications of this road bump set in.

I had to go to Winter Semester.
I had to keep living in the dorms.
I had to wait even longer to serve a mission.
I wouldn’t see my best friend for an additional six months.
I couldn’t go through the temple yet.
I couldn’t be a missionary.
Etcetera.

Eventually I came to terms with all these things, but when I came back to school after Christmas Break, it was obvious I did not want to be there.

On the evening of March 15th, I entered my Stake President’s office for a second time with a little bit of trepidation, fearing the possibility of being turned down again. Thankfully I passed the interview, and my papers were never sent back!

And then I began a different kind of waiting, which was almost equally emotionally tolling. Generally, people wait about two to three weeks to receive their mission call, but my paperwork, ever the special case, spent four weeks just being processed, which means my papers kind of just sat on a desk up in Salt Lake while I was dying back in my dorm trying to figure out whether I should register for spring semester, find a new job, or start looking at missionary shoes.

When my call finally came, my parents were out of town for the whole week, and there was no way I was opening it without them there. So I waited three extra days with my call in my hands to find out where I would be going.

But I had my mission call in my hands. The fact that I made it to that point seemed like a victory to me. It meant that I was worthy to serve a mission, and even more importantly God, who knew exactly why I had to wait those extra 181 days, thought I was ready and worthy.

Back in October I would’ve told you I had no idea why I had to wait until just recently to receive a mission call, but today I can look back and say that I do have some answers to why I stayed. There were things I needed to learn here in Utah (mostly patience). There were people I had been called to serve in my Young Single Adults Ward. And to be honest, I probably wasn’t emotionally ready to go to a strange place for eighteen months without my family and serve with all my heart, might, mind, and strength; however, my mission for that time was to be in Provo. I could very well have opened a mission call letter back in August that said,

“Dear Sister Hong, 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 BYU Campus mission.”

Because that’s where God needed me. And that’s where the girl typing this today needed me to be.

I affectionately call this whole process my “first mission,” because in those eight months I began to internalize my missionary purpose—to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. On my first mission, I learned first hand how much power the Atonement truly has and what an awesome gift it is. I fell in love with the Sacrament, because it was my way of accessing that power that I needed so much every single day. I tried so hard to love and serve everyone around me, because that’s what a missionary tries to do!

Now my mission is right around the corner, and I couldn’t be more excited!