Sunday, February 23, 2014

Missionary? Who, me?

Hi everyone!

I guess this is kind of my way of announcing to the world that I have officially decided on serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! Surprise! Today I had my first meeting with the Bishop (the Mormon version of a Pastor or a Minister) of my local church and have officially kick-started the process of putting in my papers to be a missionary!

For my friends reading this who are not LDS, I just want to explain what all of this means for me.  In our church, young people are given the choice to serve a mission somewhere in this world and teach others about our religion.  And when I say "somewhere in this world" I literally mean anywhere! I have had friends go to Ghana in Africa, many go to Brazil or Ecuador in South America, lots more go throughout Europe and Asia, and even more spread across the United States.  Men serve for 2 years, while women serve for 18 months.  Now, almost a year and a half ago, there was a huge announcement in our church regarding missionary service!  Before, the age requirement for men was 19 years and girls 21 years.  As of October of 2012, those age requirements were lowered drastically! Well, at least for the girls :) Now, we are given the chance to go out and serve a full two years earlier than we could before! (Age 19 for those of you who don't like math ;) )

I can't even begin to express to you the excitement and happiness I felt when I heard this announcement!  While serving a mission is a requirement for men, it is not the same for women.  It is recommended and put out there as an option, but it is a very personal decision for each girl.  Honestly, I have always felt that I should serve a mission. I remember years ago as a little girl in my sunday school class being asked if I wanted to serve.  The immediate answer that came to both my heart and my mind was YES!!! However, 21 seemed so old and so far away, so I never really thought that it would be possible, that something would come up and make me change my mind.  I mean, a LOT can happen before you're 21!

This is where the mission age change comes in!

When I heard the announcement that women could serve a full two years earlier, it seemed as if my mind had already been made up.  My eyes filled with tears and my heart seemed to swell.  Every time I think back to that special time, those same feelings fill my being and I just know that this is what I am supposed to do!

I know the way that I have described this seems like it was an easy process.  It was! I honestly knew that this was what I was supposed to do, but it was also the hardest decision I have had to ever make in my life.  Missionary work takes a lot out of you.  Not just physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.  It is also a very special and sacred work.  We go out into the world and preach the word of Christ to those who are seeking for truth. Because of the importance of missionary work, there are a lot of forces in this world that try to hinder and destroy our progress.  The week following my initial decision to serve was very hard on me.  It seemed as if everything started to go wrong! School seemed impossible, I seemed to be getting sick all of the time, and I just seemed to lose so much energy and excitement.  It was very, very hard for me.   I started to doubt myself - in my ability to teach and even to talk to people! (If you know me at all, you will know that I am really shy and quiet when you first meet me.)  But then I had a bunch of really special people wake me up from this.  My roommates, friends, and parents were absolutely amazing! I know many of them don't realize what they did for me, but I will always be grateful for the positive influences they have had on my life. <3

So, I guess this is all leading up to my absolutely FINAL decision! I am serving a mission!

These past few months at BYU have been amazing for me.  They have really strengthened me as a person and as a follower of Christ.  My testimony of Him has never been stronger than it is right now and I am so grateful for the chance to be able to share it with others.  Honestly, I know that the topic of religion is kind of taboo in today's world and I know that religion can be considered . . . weird, but I just want to tell you guys how important it is to me.  It has brought me through my darkest days and it has helped me through my hardest times.  This gospel is beautiful to me.  It is pure, it is life-changing, and it is freeing.  It fills me with a light and feeling of hope and joy that I cannot find anywhere else.

If you want to learn more, please visit mormon.org! Or feel free to message/text/talk to me!

<3 <3 <3 Emilie Elkins <3 <3 <3


P.S. This is an amazing video that tells us more about the tender mercies, or the amazing blessings that we have been given by our Father. If you have an extra couple minutes, please watch this! It is an amazing video and definitely made me think more about what I have been given :)