Sister Thompson during companionship study, telling me what she learned in personal studies--
"And then I studied about the statue of liberty. I love the statue of liberty."
(meaning the title of liberty:))
This week has been pretty emotionally draining, I'll be honest. It was full of lots of fasting. Sister Thompson and I have been sacrificing everything we can think of... Meals, sleep, the hour of free time we have right before bed, even time during preparation days. We've been praying to find opportunities to sacrifice during our days, and then praying for the desire to sacrifice it, and then the strength to follow through. Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven. And here's a little bit of why we're so urgent right now.
Yesterday, we got transfer e-mails. Sister Thompson and I are both staying in Charlottetown. They were the last transfer e-mails of Sister Thompson's mission. The next ones she reads will be the final transfer, meaning she has 4 days left of being a missionary.
For anyone who's been paying attention to my entire mission so far, here's the significance of Sister Thompson going home... 2 of the sisters who came out with her who are going home with her in 6 weeks are Sister Sandberg and Sister Olson, two of my previous companions and some of the ones I've become the closest to. It's surreal that they're leaving, especially because they were still being trained when I came on my mission.
And so Sister Thompson and I have been facing a lot of hard reality this past week. This is the last transfer of her mission and she expects miracles. When her group goes home, I'll be in the group of the most experienced sisters in the mission. We're determined not do "die" (to get trunky and stop doing missionary work), and after a lot of prayer, we've decided that the way to avoid that is through sacrifice.
And it's all a big deal to us because we're completely heartbroken that it's ending. I now have as much time left on my mission as I did when I was being trained at the beginning. I'm in the last few metres of the 100m dash, and I'm tired, and I've sprinted so far, and this is the place where it's easiest to slow down. But I'm not going to because of everything my mission means to me.
So here's the reason it means so much to me.
I remember as a little girl, hearing stories from my dad's mission in Paris--stories about elders doing crazy things, and about baptisms, and about elevators getting stuck between floors, and about flying down the streets on bikes, and about being in leadership positions, and about baptismal interviews that changed his life. I heard made-up bedtime stories about a little rat who lived in my dad's mission apartment, and more bedtime stories about vigilant elders. I heard MTC stories and heard about all the sacrifices my dad made the summer before his mission, and I heard his family's conversion story. So it was no wonder that from a young age, I have old journal entries about wanting to serve a mission. Missionaries were my superheroes, and it was my dream to serve a mission.
Then I got older and started to realize that missionaries required a lot of hard work. And despite receiving a blessing when I was 15 that made it so obvious that I needed to serve a mission, I wondered if I would actually get to. 21 was a hard age to leave--I could be almost done with school, and I had no idea what circumstances I'd be in at that time. I started to be unsure about serving a mission.
I went through high school and at the end of grade 12, my guy friends started preparing to serve missions. And I really am going to respect their choice to serve missions until the day I die, because when I saw them start to prepare, I started feeling the missionary spirit again so strongly. In fact, in letters to missionaries and in journal entries, I started writing about how much I wished I could just leave and serve a mission.
I committed to a university I had no interest in attending. I got a couple of jobs to save up for school. I was disappointed to find out that the school I didn't even want to go to wouldn't let me start school until January. So I had a lot of time to save up for school.
I started to get very frustrated. My friends were either moved out to go to school, or actually receiving their mission calls, and I was stuck, feeling like I had no direction, because I didn't even want to go to school, which was a righteous desire. I was confused and felt like I was in a rut. I lacked purpose and Heavenly Father wasn't answering my prayers for guidance or clarity. I was just working my jobs and waiting around to go to school.
Then General Conference started getting announced in church and I remember realizing that that was probably the answers to my prayers. I remembered my parents and church leaders teaching me growing up to write down the questions I have before General Conference, to pray about them, and watched them get answered. I started prayerfully creating a list of the questions I had. It was quite the list--it took up an entire page. Here are a few of them to give you a sample:
1) What am I supposed to do about school? I don't want to go and don't even feel good about going.
2) What does Heavenly Father want me to be doing for the next 5 months until I leave for school?
3) How will I earn enough money for my semester?
4) What are Heavenly Father's plans for me? What does expect me to accomplish before I leave?
The Saturday morning session of General Conference came, and I obediently sat down on the couch between my parents with my notebook of questions and a pen. The session began.
Before any of the talks started, the prophet got up to speak.
I sat up in my seat a little bit and paid closer attention because I knew he'd be announcing the new temples. He announced which temples have been dedicated, and even announced one to be built in Tucson, Arizona--where I was born! We were all excited.
Then President Monson started talking about missionary work. I was obviously interested. As I kept listening, I realized that it sounded like he was about to change the age that boys could serve missions. Suddenly I got this jolt in my heart that I can't quite describe, and I was filled with an intense anticipation as I leaned closer to the TV.
"I am pleased to announce that effective immediately all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19."
I glanced at my younger brother and was vaguely aware of my family being excited for him, but my eyes were glued to the television screen because my spirit was telling me that there was more. I knew there was more. It felt like deep down inside of me, I was being reminded of something I knew would be a part of my life before I even came here. I could feel it.
I stared at the screen, and I felt adrenaline pulsing through me. I covered my mouth and whispered, "What about the girls? What about the girls?" Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw my parents turn their attention towards me.
"As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve."
"Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21."
I jumped up and was standing in the middle of the room. BAM, the Spirit hit me unlike anything I've ever felt before. I felt it so powerfully I immediately started crying and said, staring at the prophet, "I'm going on a mission!"
My parents stood up and hugged me and were crying too. My phone started buzzing over and over again as my friends texted me.
Before the first talk had even begun, every question on my list had been answered. I texted in between sessions for an interview with my bishop, started my mission papers after my interview that Tuesday, and submitted them on the earliest possible date: November 18, 2012 (exactly 4 months before my date of availability--my 19th birthday).
I got my mission call at the beginning of December to the Canada Halifax Mission. I left for the Missionary Training Center on April 24, 2013.
I met a sister missionary here who was in the MTC when the age-change announcement was made.
The entire MTC was watching General Conference together, and when they lowered the age for sisters to serve, on TV you see the full conference center whispering excitedly to each other. At the MTC, thousands of missionaries jumped out of their chairs and cheered.
And I guess that's why this means so much to me. That day changed my life. And as I enter the last stretch, I remember the way I felt--completely humbled and grateful that the Lord would qualify me to serve Him, and like I was waiting for that announcement to be made.
The Blessings of Heaven We Saw This Week
We finally got a new investigator, after talking to thousands of people to find her.
We finally got someone else on date for baptism, after a very bold lesson.
We got a call from a family of potential investigators we thought we'd never hear back from again, asking us to teach them.
We were able to surpass our goal of people to talk to by 30 (set a goal of 200).
We filled the back of our planners with the names and contact information of people who said they'd like to learn more.
I'm grateful for a living prophet who hears the will of the Lord and listens. I'm grateful for the Saviour who prepared a way for the most simple of girls to be qualified for His great work. I'm grateful that I'm involved in the greatest and most important work. How great is my calling!
|"Sister Lewis? I'm going crazy!" "Why?" "No really. Everything's green and purple." I looked over and saw this.|
|Cow's ice cream|
|Trying Cow Chips for the first time.|
|(Potato chips dipped in milk chocolate!)|
|Making 20 pizza's worth of pizza dough in preparation for YSA conference.|
|Ma collegue missionaire|