An excerpt from my journal on February 1, 2015...
I submitted my mission papers on January 14, 2015. My assignment was made January 21, 2015. I received my call in the mail yesterday, January 31, 2015, after ten days of increasingly impatient waiting...I have been called to the Japan Fukuoka Mission! As in, I'm learning (and teaching the gospel in) Japanese! Japan was truly the last place I expected to go. My sister guessed it yesterday right before I opened it, and I straight-up laughed. I felt like I'd considered everywhere in the world...I can't believe it. I'm going to Japan.
I am learning what it means to rely on the Lord. You can't think too much about it or you'll overthink it. Take a prompting from the Spirit and run with it, never looking back. That's what I'm doing. I submitted my papers without analyzing every possible outcome. If I had, I would have scared myself out of it. I just DID it. And now [in four days] I'm going to the MTC, hoping that the language sticks and just go DO it.
I know that the Lord will help me. As Grandpa told me many times, I will touch lives not only by being able to speak the language, but also by showing love to others and sharing my talents.
...I don't know the first thing about Japan.
Serving a mission has always been a desire of mine, especially after seeing how missions have blessed the lives of my family and friends. I have been blessed with opportunities to grow in my faith through service, study, and observing and interacting with others. While the mission will be a time of incredible growth for me individually, that is not my primary motivation to serve. I am serving a mission because I want others to experience the joy and peace that comes from living the gospel.
Eighteen months is a relatively long time for a college student. I will not receive any academic credit or be compensated by any other means for my time. I will return to school with six more semesters to go in the spring of 2017. I will communicate through letters and emails, skyping my family on Christmas and Mother's Day. I will learn to eat suspicious foods with chopsticks. Ride a bike in all-too-familiar heat and humidity. Wear a skirt always. Speak a new language. Teach in a new language. Love strangers. Study the scriptures with more purpose and fulfillment. Increase my love for and testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ as I share the gospel with a few of His "other sheep."
The gospel is true: it was truly restored by the power of God through a prophet, Joseph Smith, in these the latter days, and the principles and ordinances within are equally inspired and true. The Book of Mormon is the "most correct of any book on the earth," detailing history of God's people in the Americas and prophesying of things which have and will come to pass. I don't take anyone's word for it, I believe it independently. And because of that, I happily put my life on hold to help bring that message to another corner of the world.