Monday, May 27, 2013

The House of the Lord


I grew up in a beautiful, small suburb in Kansas called Derby.  Unfortunately, as a Latter-Day Saint, the main draw-back of this town is that the closest temple is about three hours away. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but when the temple is that far away you only get to go twice a year. 

This is the wonderful Oklahoma City Temple that I went to twice a year since I was twelve:
Beautiful, no?

Part of leaving on a mission is that you receive what is called an Endowment. So the endowment is a special, sacred ceremony that we (members of the LDS Church) perform only inside the temple. It is not some sacrificial, demonic ceremony that many people believe it is. Only LDS members who are worthy (ie. have abstained from alcohol, sex, drugs etc.) and who have completely repented of past sins are able to participate in this wonderful ceremony.

So after you receive your call as a missionary, you are eligible to receive your own endowment. Scheduling when I was going to do this presented a slight problem. I was attending BYU in Provo, Utah and most of my family still lived in Derby, Kansas. Because I am not going back to Kansas until June, I wanted to receive my endowment in Utah. However, my wonderful parents flew me out to Kansas so that I could receive my endowment in the temple that I had gone to while I was growing up.  

Not gonna lie, receiving my endowment didn't completely change my life. It definitely made some alterations as to how I see the world. I cannot say exactly what was taught in the temple, and nor would I want to. But here are some beautiful realizations that occurred to me after I received my endowment.

1. God loves us so much more than we could ever comprehend. John 3:16 doesn't even cut it. Not only did he give His Son for us, but He gave us our lives and a beautiful world to live in and literally every earthly possession we have. 

2. Every person is loved by God and should be loved by us. Okay, I knew this already. But, I have realized how important it is to make a concerted effort to LOVE. I get annoyed really easily, and I think unkind thoughts about people. However, since receiving my endowment I have been making real strides in making sure that my actions AND thoughts reflect only love.

3. This world is not about things. Once again, I knew this. How much I actually agreed with it is beyond me. I agree 100% wholeheartedly with this now. My life before was focused on adventures, entertainment and saving for frivolous things. Now, I am more focused on living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, getting an education and preparing to be a mother and wife in an eternal family. Nothing else matters.

Because I love the temple so much, here are some other temples I have attended/visited:
           Bountiful, UT Temple  Mount Timpanogas, UT Temple

Kansas City, MO Temple   Manti, UT Temple

     Nauvoo, IL Temple    Oquirrh Mountain, UT Temple

     Provo, UT Temple     Salt Lake City, UT Temple

Winter Quarters, NE Temple

Finally, the temple I will attend on my mission:
São Paulo, Brazil Temple 

Job 23:10

Sister Abbie Hills 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My Mission Call


To understand my desire to go on a mission, I have to start when I'm 17. At this time, the age for sister missionaries to serve was 21. It was Stake Conference and our visiting General Authority (a member of the highest levels of leadership in the LDS Church)was Elder Shayne M. Bowen. He held a special meeting with the youth of the Derby, Kansas Stake (a unit of members of the LDS Church based on geographical location). He recounted a heart-wrenching story of his service in Chile during the 1970's in a time of political instability. He and his companion (a native Chilean) were arrested and kept in a holding cell by a government that was infamous for having people "go missing." He told us of the prayers and faith he had that eventually, with Divine assistance, allowed him to go free. 

After this meeting was the general meeting. In his talk to the entire stake on missionary work, Elder Bowen said "the best way for a young woman to prepare for motherhood is to prepare for a mission." I don't know why, but that statement change my entire attitude about serving a mission. Prior to this, I had always thought 'Oh I'll go if I don't get married first.' My thoughts then changed to 'I will prepare for a mission, and, if I get married first, so be it.' This conviction wavered a little until last summer while dating a recent convert, whom I had met at a Boy Scout High Adventure Base, who encouraged me to think more seriously about a mission by saying that "[I] remind [him] of the sister missionaries at Temple Square." Really? I reminded someone of a missionary? Even after we broke up, I still had mission on the brain until.....

October 2012

I was still recouping from the aforementioned break-up and I was at my sister, Anika's, house to watch the Saturday morning session of General Conference (a televised gathering of Latter-Day Saints to listen to the General Authorities and our Prophet). The conference started as usual and our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, was giving his "Welcome to Conference" spiel when this happened:  

My world was rocked! Could I really serve the mission I had been preparing for in a mere four months?! I thought and prayed and cried and called my parents. I decided that I would wait until after I was done working at the elementary school before I would leave on my mission. Then, I had four months before I could even submit my mission papers (sort of an application). 

February 2013

It had been an arduous journey of physical exams, shot records and listening to everyone and their dog get their mission call. On Valentine's Day, I was having a party with my friends (we're all single haha) and my friend, Carly, and I get a text from our Bishop. OUR CALLS HAD BEEN ASSIGNED! We pretty much freaked out and everyone stared at us. Two days, later I turned 19. I had a lovely day shopping and eating at City Creek Center with some friends and seeing "Beautiful Creatures" with Zoe.

Flash forward to Wednesday, February 20, 2013. I was enjoying a normal day working at the elementary school. I knew my mission call would probably get there on Friday and I had already made arrangements to gather a few people at that time. Then I got two texts: one from my sister and one from Carly. "Did you get your call?" "Ahh, my call is here!" Umm, WHAT?! I entered major freak out mode, which mostly includes me sweating and looking pleasantly surprised on the outside. After car pool duty, I raced home and called my roommate, Michelle, to check the mailbox. I reached the apartment when she reached the mailbox. 

Then I had it in my hands, which it quickly left to sit on a table. I called my friend, Maggie, over to help her with family history like I had promised. She was making fun of me being so scared of it. She felt it and assured me I was going foreign. (I later realized this is because foreign calls come with a passport application in them.) Still, I called all my family and went down impromptu to my sister, Anika's, house. 

Then it was time. My family in Kansas was on Skype, my sister Cici and brother Tim were on the phone and Anika's family (including my adorable nieces) were surrouding me as I opened my call...

The Call

So, let me preface this. I had been dreaming of where I wanted to go on my mission ever since the previous October. I knew I wanted to use the Spanish that I had learned and I wanted to go to Europe. Thus, I wanted to go to Spain. The longer I waited, though, the more I just wanted to serve. I didn't care where I went. I did, however, preferably not want to go to Idaho or Brazil. Idaho because I thought it was boring (until I found out that my favorite place is in the Pocatello, Idaho mission: Jackson, Wyoming). Brazil because I had met several missionaries who had come back from Brazil who I found really annoying. Neither one of these reasons were really adequate. Eventually I was reconciled with the latter if I could be near the ocean. 

Okay, so my call:

Dear Sister Hills (Sister Hills that's so cool!)

You have hereby been called to labor as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You have been called to serve in the Brazil Sao Paulo Interlagos mission. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Portuguese language. You will report to the Sao Paulo, Brazil MTC on July 17th. 


I was in shock! My mission is by the ocean in Brazil, the one place I had reconciled to go! My brother-in-law, Tyler, was ecstatic! He served in the mission directly to the north of mine. My mom was nervous. Sending the first of her daughters on a mission to Brazil. It's not exactly known for being pleasant. The most pressing thought in my mind over the next few days was: Portuguese, Brazil, BEANS?! Yes, haha, I worried about eating beans. 

I later found out that a guy who I had went to high school with and a guy from my home ward, who I had previously dated, were currently serving in the EXACT SAME MISSION. What are the odds? I guess this mission needs strong missionaries from Derby, Kansas. I am delighted the Lord saw me fit to serve there too!

Job 23:10

Sister Abbie Hills

*Elder Bowens gave a great talk recently
**President Monson's announcement that changed my life