Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Why I Decided to Serve a Mission- and How I Was Completely Wrong

I am a Mormon- LDS- a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. From a very early age, I would often be asked, "Are you planning on serving a mission? You'd be so great! You would make an awesome missionary!" or some variation to that effect. I took these comments as an insult. My personal image of female missionaries was far from positive and I took no pleasure in others grouping me in with them. So, needless to say, I hadn't the slightest desire to serve a mission. Very near to my 21st birthday, my heart and mind seemed to be softened somewhat to the idea. Not entirely- but just enough. As I thought on serving a mission, I heard a The heart of this talk was good vs. better vs. best. What I walked away with after listening to it was to consider a mission in those terms. In my life at present, what was a good thing a could do? A better thing? The BEST thing? And after debating with myself, I concluded that serving a mission would be the best thing I could do for a number of reasons.
talk that resonated with me.

-In no way would it prevent me from my other future desires. I could still finish my degree in college, get married, have children, travel, and do anything else I wanted in life, so, clearly, it would not be an inconvenience.

-I had the means (through generous parents) of serving a mission without worrying about funds.

-I had been given so much- certainly I could give back. I had an understanding of the gospel. I had a strong, outgoing personality. I was friendly. I had no problems sharing my testimony. I understood the scriptures. I could perform hard physical labor. I was easy to live with. I could cook well. I took care of myself. I just knew that I would put a good face on the church. I learned languages quickly.Surely, if the Lord had blessed me with so much, it wouldn't kill me to share some of my blessings back on his behalf for a mere 18 months?

And that was where I ended up being dead wrong.

I was called to serve a mission in Tokyo, Japan. I served my 18 months honorably and excelled at the language and working with the people. I felt I had accomplished what the Lord had sent me to do and that we was well pleased with me. I had done exactly what I had set out to accomplish on my mission. I had blessed the church and the work of the Lord through my talents.


Never, when I left on my mission, did I realized how much I would receive! Never! My thoughts has, pridefully, I'll admit, been only on my own talents and gifts and how I would be able to give back to the church. I was woefully unaware of the huge amount of blessings that I would receive. More than I had room to receive! And undeservingly!

It can be compared to volunteering abroad with a program where you paid your own way. You used your time, your funds, your talents, and were totally fine with giving on behalf of a good cause. Then, when you returned home from your non-profit project, you found out that several million dollars had been transferred to your bank account, non-refundable, for the work that you had done. And what's more, the cash continued to flow into your account, millions a year, for the rest of your life. Surely the work you had done was not worth so much- and yet, you continued to receive.

That was how my mission has been for me.  Want specifics? Here goes.

FISCALLY. Because of my mission, I have been able to be a stay at home mom. I certainly had the desire to stay at home with my children as soon as I became a mother, but my husband didn't make enough money for that to be a possibility. However, on my mission, I learned Japanese and now work as a Japanese translator- work that can be done at home, during nap times, and has always been enough to cover our expenses so that I can stay home.

EMOTIONALLY. A mission will try your strength of heart, mind, and soul in a way nothing else in your life quite can. From that grows a strength in balancing your own emotions.

MENTALLY. I had been a hard-working, high- scoring student for my entire life. Learning to study the language and the scriptures on my mission boosted my mental capacities to a heighth I didn't realize was even possible. I had the ability to study, learn, and apply principles far more effectly than ever before.

SPIRITUAL MATURITY. Naturally, I grew spiritually to a great degree. But more than that, I learned true charity and what it feels like to work under the influence of the Spirit. Not the infrequent, far-between experiences I had had before I left on my mission. But what it felt to be truly guided by the Lord in my actions. Being able to recognize that as a missionary has allowed me to know when it is missing from my post-mission life and has shown me what I need to do to regain it.

HUMILITY. I clearly had no lack of confidence before my mission. Grossly seeping into pride. Recognizing my own weaknesses, however, has helped me gain humility and the ability to trust in the Lord.

PATIENCE. Sometimes companions are difficult. Somtimes members are difficult. Somtimes the days are difficult. I have learned to be much more patient, a trait that has blessed me over and over again in life.

PARENTING. I can recognize on almost a daily basis how serving a mission has allowed me to be a better mother than I would have been had I not served. I have greater patience for my children's antics. I have greater emotional control when they test me. And I have a clearer mindset for what the most important things are for my children to learn, something that is very dear to me. They must know that I love them, that their Savior loves them, and that he is available to them always. Certainly something I knew before I ever served a mission, but something that is indelibily inprinted in my mind now in a way it never could have been otherwise.

WIFING. I don't know if I could even count the number of times I have recognized a marital issue and then handled it better because of things I learned on my mission. This heading alone would have been reason enough to serve. Being married isn't easy, but oh, my, how much easier and more rewarding is it because of my service.

Allow me to interject a single example of how one experience blessed me for years and years to follow as a wife.

I had difficulties with one of my companions. They were unkind to me and it was difficult to not show a growing resentment. During this time, however, I read this talk by Elder Holland. In it, I felt extremely impressed to not allow a single word of unkindness come out of my mouth. Again, this was a trying time for me. But almost miraculously, through prayer and an increased ability from the Lord, I never voiced unkind words for this companion, regardless of their actions towards me. This was an incredibly difficult life skill to master, but I have used it time and time again in my marriage to bite back angry words. And nearly every time I do, a day or two passes, and I re-visit my unkind thoughts and can only thank the Lord that I did not speak them to my husband because, guess what? When I'm angry, I think mean things that I truly don't mean! And it kills me to think of how I could have potentially hurt my dear husband merely because I hadn't the ability to bite my tongue. This skill alone was worth serving a mission.

I have so many more blessings and examples that I receive from serving my mission. Almost countless. And so in that I was wrong- I thought that me serving a mission would be a great boon to all who came in contact with me. Instead, I was blessed, loved, and continue to be blessed in far greater measures than I could ever have imagined.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wall Art

Here's an easy one- go to a thrift store, buy some picture frames, then paint them to match your decor. Next, hand those frames, empty and without glass. Next time your child creates a masterpiece, you can temporarily 'frame' it by simply sticking it to the wall with a piece of tape. It's an exciting thing for your kids to see their art 'framed', and it's a bit more stylish than papers on on the fridge. Easy!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Simple 4 Ingredient Strawberry Vinaigrette

This salad dressing is simple to make and light and fresh to the taste.

*1/4 cup soy sauce
*1/3 cup rice vinegar
*1 cup of sugar (less if you prefer)
* 3/4 cup strawberries, sweetened

All you have to do is throw all for ingredients into a blender, pulse it a few times, and you have a fresh compliment to many a salad. This is an especially tasty dressing for salads with bitter greens in it, like arugula or mustard greens.