“Dear Sister Hammock
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Alpine German-Speaking Mission.”
These are the words I read when I received my mission call on September 6th 2012 and I report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) on February 6th 2013.
I have planned on going on a mission from the age of seven. In Sunday School our teacher gave a lesson on the importance for boys to serve a mission at 19. I was the only girl in the class and I was not about to let any boy do something I couldn’t. And so I decided to become a missionary.
Now, fourteen years later, after many bumps in the road and unexpected occurrences, I am finally serving a mission!
I cannot describe exactly why I want to serve a mission so earnestly now. I know it’s more than the dream of a little girl, but those emotions are far to complex to be articulated into words that would be understood. Perhaps there is a language out there, somewhere in the world, or in all of the worlds that God has created that would allow me to tell you how I feel, but I do not speak those languages. Because of the lack of language capability, please excuse any clumsy comparisons that you might read while I try to explain why a mission is so important to me.
Perhaps my desperation to serve was born from the desire to share everything about my life. I have never been shy about sharing my life experiences or the things I’m going through. In fact, I’m happiest when engaged in a conversation concerning philosophy, morals, or a problem that has been presented. I’ve never shied away from an exchange of ideals on other religions or viewpoints and I’ve always sought out those opportunities.
Perhaps it is the feeling I get whenever I share a little bit of this gospel that I love. It seems that, without fail, whenever I answer a respectful question about my religion asked by a friend or family member, I’ve always felt a glowing sense of happiness that seems to consume every bad thing that seems to be interrupting my life, or brings clarity to my own muddied questions. That feeling that accompanies the moment when you share your testimony with a friend is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever encountered.
There was a moment, once, when I felt the overwhelming sense of rightness when I shared my testimony with a friend that I will never forget. I had been desperate to find a way to show this person why the gospel was so important to me. I wanted him to know the joy and the peace that can come from the gospel, but each of my attempts had failed and I was discouraged.
In a last-ditch effort I begged the Lord to give me an opportunity that would let me show him what I so desperately wanted him to understand. I felt discouraged and confused, but decided to trust in the Lord to let me know when the opportunity was right. I had no idea that the moment would present itself so soon.
I cannot tell you the words I said that day, for I cannot remember them, nor can I tell you what my friend thought about those words. I only know that he listened and that afterward, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy and peace and happiness that will always be remembered. After this experience, I gave thanks for receiving the answer to a prayer that I had desperately wanted, but I was surprised at the physical exhaustion I felt after the experience.
In retrospect, I feel that this experience may have been more for me than my friend. After this I knew I was supposed to serve a mission. I couldn’t deny myself the beauty of those feelings that accompanied my testimony. But this absolute decision did not mean I had paved the way through self doubt entirely.
A side-effect of this wonderful feeling, a feeling that I’ve come to think of as my soul rejoicing, in conjunction with the Spirit, are gut wrenching, heartfelt tears that, on occasion, prevent coherent speech.
In one of my meetings with the Bishop, to prepare for submitting my mission papers, I found myself overcome by tears again, going through several tissues before I was able to express my distress over the situation I found myself in each and every time I tried to share my testimony. I will never forget the Bishop’s words:
“Lillie, you have been blessed with the ability to speak and persuade, and the Lord will use that, but that feeling, those tears, are going to convert.”
The only definitive answer I can give you as to why I want to serve a mission is simply that I want to continue to feel these wonderful things and I want to help others feel it as well. And the Lord has decided that the people of Southern Germany, Lichtenstein, Austria, Switzerland, and Northern Italy need my crazy, emotional, feeling self to teach them. And I am grateful for his confidence.