Sister Sharon Andersen asked me to share part of my letter with you all. I had asked her how her mission has changed now that she is SO close to her half way point. This is what she told me...
*WEIRD FACT* Just because you are a missionary does not mean you are perfect! I am still the same person, I just now represent someone that is perfect. That is one of the reasons I wanted to serve a mission. When I was able to see friends returning from missions; I could tell they had changed and were different. Now I know that it was a change of heart. I realized that I SO wanted that! I was so lost where I was at in my life. I did not know what to do, or really what I wanted in life. I mean, I was not doing anything bad (I was working, going to school and going to church) but I was just hitting a brick wall. I was going and doing the same thing every week. I was at a total stand still, not moving forward or progressing. It honestly was not until I decided to serve a mission that I felt "found". I felt like I was doing the right thing; what Heavenly Father wanted of me. I have honestly never felt such peace so strongly as when I decided to serve a mission! It was a clear YES!
Because as you know I was thinking about it for a while. But as soon as I decided to really pray about it... I knew! I was so against it (for whatever reason) and was getting opinions for both sides. It was such a big life changing decision.
One of the things that really made me consider serving was seeing Sierra on her mission. (our ADORABLE Cousin on the Smith side. She served in the San Diego, CA Mission) Seeing how happy and excited she was made me really think more about it. She told me something and she probably does not even remember this... she said "A mission is NEVER a bad decision! You will never regret serving a mission, but you might regret NOT serving one." I have always looked up to Sierra being that we are close in age and just because of who she is! I realized that she gave up SO much to serve, and she did not regret it! That got me thinking... WHAT do I have to lose!? But HONESTLY I have gained SO MUCH for my service already. I did not lose a single thing! I love my mission so much! Not saying that is is easy, because it soooooo is not... There are days that I want to give up and just cry... but there are days that I am the happiest I have ever been!
There is nothing I would rather be doing. Nothing else would fit! I just wanted to take a second and thank everyone that supported me! So THANK YOU!!
Even YOU Melissa... haha. "Mrs. I am on the fence about you Serving". You have been so great helping me. I love hearing from you! I really do feel like you are my number one fan! ha ha! Also Sierra: you are the one that got me praying about it. When I was praying I got the feeling that I needed to read my Patriarchal Blessing. It says point blank in black and white that I will have the desire to serve a mission! My first thought as I read that through my tears was "OH CRAP! Now I have to go!" In that moment I know I could not deny it! I was where I was needed and I knew what I was supposed to be doing. I may have questioned myself from time to time but I always got the same answer. I need to go.
I want to bear my testimony that I know this church is the true church with all my heart! I have a testimony of it's truthfulness! I know I have a Heavenly Father that loves me and knows me by name. He knows my weaknesses and helps to strengthen them. He wants to help us ALL return to live with him someday. For that very reason he has provided his son as our Savior! I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know that he died on the cross and payed the price for each and every one of us! He did that so we can be forgiven of our sins. He has shown us the way by his perfect example. My testimony has grown and has been strengthened by representing him as a missionary. I have gained such a great love and appreciation for the priesthood. It has amazing powers and our living prophets show us that power today! I know they are called of God to lead and guide his church. I know I was called to serve in the Tampa Florida mission for a reason by a prophet of God. The Book of Mormon is true! It is another testament of Jesus Christ. It is a witness that he lives and loves us. I know Joseph Smith restored the church that Heavenly Father and Christ established. When he was her on earth, this was Christ's church! I know it! I live it! I love it! Amen.
~She told me not to put this up if I thought it was "too churchy" but I think it is a wonderful example of true missionary work. Of course she is serving the Lord for others; but I love that SHE is being strengthened while doing the work! Thank you all for supporting my baby sister! She is so precious to me and I am so happy to be a part of her journey. She teases me about "being on the fence" because I was a pregnant emotional person when she left. I broke down while saying goodbye and told her not to go. It was because of selfish reasons, and I knew I was being irrational so I tell her I am sorry for doing that in almost every letter! Now that I have had the baby and am "back to normal" I am so happy that she is serving! Matt and I had been pushing her to go for a while before she made her final decision so I promise I DO want her to serve! WE LOVE YOU SISTER ANDERSEN!!