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.....
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).
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...
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!