Friday, February 8, 2013

Sharing a Memory -- Mission!

For my entire life, the eligible age of missionary service in our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has ben 19 for young men and 21 for young women.  I ALWAYS wanted to serve a mission because I loved Jesus and I loved the gospel.  Once when I was about 7 years old, my dad came home with treats for all of us kids:  a Tootsie Roll bank!  We got to eat the Tootsie Rolls, but the deal was that we could now have an allowance (which we'd been asking for).  Tithing must be paid first, and it would go directly into tithing envelopes to give to the bishop.  After that, we must pay into our savings, which was that little bank.

Since there were four of us, there were four banks.  When we received them they were labeled:  Brant - Mission; Derek - Mission; Gavin - Mission; Aundrea - College, Marriage, etc. 

Oh, boy!  Did that little bank make me angry!  (I guess I was a feminist clear back then.)  I was absolutely adamant that I was going to serve a mission!  And that was ALWAYS my plan.  I even knew that I would leave on my mission and come home to one more year of school before being a kindergarten teacher and spending my summers travelling the world.  :)  (I didn't think I would actually get married and have a family, so...)  I remember talking to my friends about this, letting them know that for that year they would have to find another roommate because I absolutely would not be there.

When we graduated from high school, the next logical step (and yes, part of the plan) was to go to college.  I was excited to go to college, but honestly, it wasn't that big a deal.  First of all, I started off at a community college, and I lived at home.  Anyway, school was just what you did when fall came around.  No biggie.

My dad came into my bedroom one evening shortly after graduation.  He asked me if I would consent to attend the YSA ward in our stake.  I looked at him like he was crazy (I thought he probably was).  I told him that I had no desire to do that.  That was a place for people who wanted to get married.  I just graduated high school, for heaven's sake!  I was still just 17 years old, and I had pretty definite plans for the next four years.  Daddy explained that the stake was trying to build the YSA ward; that I was a leader among the youth so would really be setting a great example; and that the first goal of a young woman was to be married and raise a family.  He said, "I know you want to serve a mission, and if that is how things go, we will support you all the way.  But if the right young man comes along you should not postpone marriage for a mission or anything else." 

Finally I sighed and said, "Fine.  I'll go.  BUT I AM NOT GETTING MARRIED."

I turned 18 on a Sunday while we were on vacation in Utah, and the next week I began attending worship services and activities at the Citrus Heights 6th (YSA) ward.  I opted to attend the missionary preparation Sunday School class, because duh!  That's where I planned to be!  And within a very short time, many of my friends and school classmates were working on mission papers and receiving mission calls.

Oh, how I wanted to be the missionary!  I was going to college, I had my first job, I was dating more than I ever had--but all of that was just normal.  It was just regular life.  While the "guys" my age were embarking on this great adventure (attending the temple and serving as missionaries), I was just continuing the life I'd always lived.

I asked the bishop numerous times if we could just bend the rules so I could go on a mission.  I KNEW a mission was where I belonged, and it was definitely where I wanted to be at that time.  He was always kind but always firm and always amused when I'd ask.  I didn't think it was amusing at all.

Well, you know the rest.  I met a wonderful man and we were married.  My guy friends were all still on their missions.  But I still really, really want to serve a mission, and I hope I can go on a proselyting or service (like, Third World) mission.  Ironically, we will not be eligible for that for another 21 years or more.

The fact that two of our children are now serving as missionaries for our church is a blessing I can hardly explain.  I am righteously jealous (is there such a thing?) of their opportunity to serve; and I am probably the highest bar they can measure against.  I know they are fabulous missionaries because they wouldn't want to come home and report to Mom that they had been anything less.  :)

Now check this out.  I would be tender about it anyway, but add to it the fact that we have children doing this, and I have joy beyond belief for these wonderful young people!