To my sisters as they prepare to serve missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
To my dear sisters,
First, you need to know that I love you and that I'm proud of you for having the courage to serve.
I know that it's not easy. It's not easy to make that decision. Believe me, I know. And as I've watched your stories unfold, I know it hasn't been an easy decision for you, either. We all have different stories on why we choose the mission--and we all have our stories as to why we stay.
Hold on to your story. Remember why you chose to serve--remember the struggle, the questions, the fears, the answers, the peace. Remember how God works in pieces: line-upon-line, precept-upon-precept. Remember how He answered you. For everyone's story will be different. I loved listening to the sisters' reasons as to why they chose to serve. It was always one of my first questions that I would ask a new companion: "Why are you on a mission? What's your story?" Some people knew right away. For others, it was a struggle. Some had been planning on serving their whole lives, while others resisted those undeniable spiritual impressions, urging them to start the mission process. But each girl knew that God was mindful of her, and that He had answered her pleadings in a very specific way--just for her.
We love telling our stories.
You'll meet so many people on your mission, all with their own stories. Some people will unleash their deepest fears and greatest joys to you. Others will be timid--they will hold back until you gain their trust. Still others won't even acknowledge your existence, and will hid their hearts, or sneer at yours.
Love them anyway.
All of them.
That is why you are called to serve. You are called to be a representative of Christ in all aspects. Without His charity, you are nothing. Pray to love others, especially your companion . . . and especially yourself. Be a healer, like Christ was. Reach out. Lift. Shine. Give direction. Do the will of the Father in all things. And love, love, love. It is the reason we do this work, because God loves His children. And because God loves you, He is letting you be a part of His work and glory. Love--charity--is the answer to everything. It is central to this work, and it is the overarching theme of the Father's story.
For His story has always been about love. He is our loving Heavenly Father. God loved us so He sent His Son. How great the wisdom and the love. We might not understand the meaning of all things, but we can know He loves us. And you are telling His children of His love. That He has reached out again in love to His children. That there is a Restoration of all things. God speaks. He loves us. And He will never forsake us. It is a message of hope, peace, and love. How this world needs it.
And you need it, too.
There will come times on your mission when you feel broken. Alone. Discouraged and frightened. Overwhelmed with the injustice and cruelty of the world, or disheartened by the behavior of those who should know better. Sooner or later, everybody breaks. But don't give up. Hold on. Remember that God loves broken things, and that He will mend your soul. He will mold you into the woman He needs you to become. It will hurt. It will hurt so much at times. But let Him mold you, shape you, and refine you. Be willing and humble enough to walk into that refiner's fire--because He'll be with you every step of the way. And as you walk through fire, you'll come out alive. Better than alive. You will grow and deepen. You will find that you've become more like Him. But only if you let Him. Only if you decide to let His love work in you and change you.
Because that's the miracle you're preaching. This miracle of love. That the Atonement of Christ works. That Christ has the power to heal and save. But we have to want it. We have to be willing to make those changes and come unto Him. God will force no man to heaven. We have to want it. You have to want it. The desires of our hearts matter more than I think we even realize.
And your desires are pure. I am so grateful to call you my sisters. I have faith in you that you will work miracles through Him who is mighty to save. He lives. This is His Church. And you have the privilege of bearing His name right by your heart for the next 18 months.
Always remember Him.
Love, love, love,