I remember clearly when the Prophet announced the age change for sister missionaries. I was 16 years old and visiting another ward with my family. When we heard about the announcement my mum and I stepped out of sacrament meeting so we could search online for the official announcement. It shocked me because previously I felt that 21 was so far away and I would be well into university and dating seriously so a mission was the last thing on my mind. But when I heard 19 was now the new age for sisters, I knew I would serve a mission. This announcement changed everything for me. Suddenly a whole new path opened up.
The next three years I prepared to serve a mission. Finishing seminary, working full-time to save money, studying at University to develop good habits and working to keep myself unspotted from the world. My father and three older brothers had all served missions so I felt some pressure and I wanted to be certain that I was going to serve the Lord and not to impress my family. One night as I was reading the Book of Mormon and pondering over my decision to serve I had an epiphany – 2 Nephi 16:8.
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said: Here am I; send me.” This scripture spoke directly to me as if the Lord was asking me: who will go for us? And I could, now, wholeheartedly reply: Here I am: send me. And send me He did to the Fiji Suva Mission for 18 months to labour with the beautiful people there and make lifelong friends with the sisters who would help me through this time.
I grew up in the church and earned the right to a testimony. I know the church is true and these are the words I wrote, in various ways, every day in my journal. Each day the statement “the church is true” would vary according to how my day had gone and the experiences I had had for the day. Reinforcing a fundamental truth, I have held dear all of my life. It’s a simple phrase: The church is true but held so much strength and motivation for me during the challenging but wonderful 18 months of my life.
I remember watching my first convert, Sala enter into the waters of baptism. It was as if I got a small glimpse into the love Heavenly has for His children. I wrote in my journal that night:
Saturday April 2, 2016
“I am very emotionally, spiritually, and physically drained today. One of Heavenly Father’s special daughters took one step closer to Him, and yet again the Church is still true.”
This phrase helped me to remember what my purpose was:
Friday August 19th, 2016
“I know that serving others is something I want to continue doing for the rest of my life. The church is very true today.”
I wrote the phrase again when I felt love and concern for the welfare of others.
Monday September 12th, 2016
“I love my family so much. When a family does not want to take the lessons anymore it really hurts me because I want them to have an eternal family like mine. Everything will be okay because the teachings of the Church will still be true tomorrow.”
Again, the phrase fit so perfectly in my journal entry about growth and self-improvement:
Thursday December 15th, 2016
“It’s such a blessing getting to learn and grow each day. Even when it gets hard, I know I can look back and see my life change and hopefully the lives of others too. I can’t believe I only have 6 more months to go. I have so many things that I still want to accomplish but I know there is no better place to learn and grown than in the true church.”
In times of doubt and inadequacy, this phrase always brought me the most comfort:
Wednesday April 19th, 2017
“I wonder if I am being too hard on myself? I wonder if my service is the best it can be? I can’t seem to connect with others lately. I just want to do well and make Him proud. Even when I don’t feel that I am good enough – the church will always be true”
Even in my last weeks of serving as a full-time missionary, this phrase I had come to love gave me the peace and comfort I needed:
Thursday June 1st, 2017
“I can’t believe my mission is coming to an end. I am excited about the new life I will be starting when I return home. I have learned so much from this experience, I love the Lord, and whether I’m here serving a mission, or I am at home – the church will always remain true.”
This statement is one of the fundamental parts of my testimony which I loved to declare each day and be reminded that the church is true, Jesus is the Christ and this is His restored gospel. President Monson was the living prophet and the Book of Mormon is true.
The Church is True: that was my declaration and my comfort and it kept me going. It continues to be my declaration and my comfort and will keep me going through the days ahead.