Monday, November 25, 2013

Called to Serve

On Saturday I received my mission call in the mail! I had spent the whole day in Nashville and had a feeling that it was anxiously awaiting me back at home. Sure enough, it was!

Currently my family and best friend are a little spread out (my parents and one sister are in NYC, my best friend is in DC, and the rest of my family is in AZ) ,so I knew I wouldn't be able to open it right away. It was just important that they could Skype in and see on Sunday.

I was elated to have my call in my hands, but I did not feel too curious. After all, with the study abroad programs I have done, I have gotten used to being uncertain about where my travels will take me next. I simply set the call on the counter and headed to bed knowing I could open it the next day at 6 pm.

Well, I was thoroughly surprised when I woke up on Sunday super early with a locked up jaw. Apparently I had not slept well and clinched my teeth all night. Overall I was more excited than I realized. Of course, Sunday seemed to drag on, but it was worsened by the fact that not only did I have to fulfill my calling as Sunday School teacher, I had also been asked to give a talk. I was nervous, clumsy, and jittery as I stumbled through my talk on (of course) missionary work. Later I went to Sunday School and checked the clock every five minutes, so I would be sure to end exactly on time.

Finally it was time to head home. I invited over some friends from the YSA ward to watch me open the call, so from the instant I walked in the door I was in work mode trying to prepare dinner. At last, everyone arrived and was the family was all connected via Skype and the opening could begin!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Small Thoughts


I recieved news today that my mission papers for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have been processed and that my "call" has been sent out. In just a few days, I will have that big white envelope that tells me when and where I will be going to serve and teach.

A mission was never something I planned on, and actually for many years I was vehemently opposed to going. Sometimes people at church would ask about it during a sunday school lesson or my friends would bring it up in conversation, but my answer, even from a relatively young age, was always a stern No.

It wasn't until about a year and a half ago that the thought of a mission entered my mind in a positive light. It just popped in, clearly inspired. It shocked me. It excited me. It was a small thought that said, "in a year from now I could be worthy to go on a mission". It was simple, but it stired something inside of me.

I started to get my life in order, not really giving any attention to a mission. The thought never really returned. Several months passed and new activities and friends and experiences filled my life.

Then, one day, another thought popped into my head, again shocking and probably inspired. I was sitting on a bus in Nicaragua on my way to who knows where when I glanced out my window and saw an older man struggling to walk in a straight line along side the road. He was clearly drunk and even stumbled a couple of times into a shallow ditch. I remember looking at him, seeing him struggle and just thinking, "wouldn't his life be easier if he were Mormon? He needs the gospel". This simple, seemingly fleeting thought astounded me. That small thought came to me over and over again several times while in studying in Nicaragua. (read about one other time here)

By Spring semester of 2013, I was pretty sure I was going on a mission. My life had been crazy. If life where a series of frequency waves, I was difinitely in the trough trying to climb my way out. However, that thought of serving a mission came back, and I grew more and more asure that I wanted to serve.  I debated when I would go since some days thoughts of graduation and study abroad programs seemed more appealing. Nevertheless, I eventually decided to continue with the Tennessee exchange program and then put in my papers.

In September, I was finally able to start the process. It was pretty simple really: a few doctor appointments, an online application, and two interviews. The process was all complete and submitted a week ago on Novemeber 11th to church headquarters in Salt Lake City. All I had to do was wait.

Today, as I recieved the great news that my call had been assigned and sent, another small thought entered my mind,  "I AM going to serve a mission!!" It's a thought that even as a preteen would have been unthinkable. It's a thought that in my late teenage years was not possible. But today its a thought of excitement, possibility, and pride. How grateful I am for those series of small thoughts that lead me to this moment.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rocky Top Tennessee


I remember the sheer giddy I felt as I got off the airplane in Knoxville Tennesssee. I was elated; the months that laid ahead of that moment were full of possiblities, and I could not wait! Walking through the airport, my wide grin probably revealed the my inner goof ball and my over excitement.

Since that first day in the airport (close to three months ago) that grin has remained. I never knew why I dreamed of living in Tennesse, but I think now I do: its awesome!

My weeks and weekend have been full of activities and advetnures. Of course, there is always school and class, but I try not to focus on that so much:)

I love the greenness if Tennessee. It was the first thing I noticed during the drive home from the airport. Everything was so green. Since that day, I have been able to go on a few incredible hikes through the Smokie Mountains and admire all of the beauty.

I love the attitudes of people here. The common phrase of "southern hospitality" seemed liked a joke when I thought about it before arriving. I wondered how people could be more caring and loving than in Arizona or any other place that I have been. But it is true. There is sincerely more hospitality here although I do not know quite how to describe it. I have been told several times, that if I need anything I would be helped, and that has happened so many times. People are willing to open up about their lives and struggles, and that is refreshing.

I love the school spirit! I feel like I am going to a school that people are proud to call their university. Probably about half of the students are always sporting some sort of UTK attire each day. Now I love the relaxed atmmospere at my home university of NAU too, but the change is nice. GO VOLS!

Most importantly, I love the friendships I have made here. After moving around, it feels like constantly since high school graduation, I was really worried that I was becoming too callous. I started to see each four month semester as a fleeting moment that would not matter once finals were taken. I felt myself not connecting with people and experiences around me simply because I knew it would soon come to an end. However, things have been different in Tennessee, and for that I am grateful. I feel like I have connected with so many people and really created a strong base of friends. I love being social and planning little outings and events. I love feeling like I have friends to turn to when I need to be cheered up or listened to.

I have enjoyed this semester even more than I thought possible, and the best is that I have still have one month left!