My mother is a convert to the church. The sister missionaries in the area had the impression to walk down one last street and the house they walked up to was my mom's. Without them, she probably wouldn't be here today and I probably wouldn't be a future sister missionary.
My mom grew up in a state called PENNSYLVANIA, in a little place known as Lewistown. Lewistown is literally situated a couple hours west of my mission home, just barely outside the mission boundaries. My mom's family still lives out around there, and they are non-members. I don't know the exact reason I've been called to serve in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia mission - not yet anyway. But let me tell you a story.
As I was preparing to submit my paperwork and go through the interviews with my Bishop and Stake President, I had this nagging feeling that I sort of shrugged off every time it'd come up. Every missionary I know has been called to serve somewhere completely foreign to them (not necessarily out of the country). They had no connection to the place that they knew of. They'd go, come home, and share their experiences. As a younger person, you think that's all there is, that going on a mission means teaching people about the gospel and getting baptisms and sometimes you have fun. But now I know that every one of them knew they had been called to their specific mission for a reason and they knew what that reason was.
I kept wondering about how you can actually figure out why you are called to a specific mission. I sort of was having doubts if that was really possible. I'd never doubted things when it came to the church, and I felt a little ashamed that I was having these kinds of thoughts. So I'd shrug it off and tell myself I'd just figure it out later.
Well, when I opened my call, I knew it was possible to figure out why you were called to serve in a specific mission. Heavenly Father had placed me in an area that was rich with this country's history, our church's history, and my family's history. Okay, that's not much to go on. It's just cool at this point. But let me tell you what's happened since.
I don't know any of my mom's family, not really. We went out to visit a couple of times, but I was really young and don't remember anybody very well. I know some of their names but I can only match a few of them with faces. My mom stays in touch with some of them and when she told them I'd be serving my mission out there, they thought that was pretty awesome and asked if I could maybe visit them sometimes. All I could think of was. "They don't even know me and they're wanting me to come visit them? They're so nice!"
Another thing: if you've been following this blog, you'll know that my Stake President encourages all future missionaries to attend the temple 30 times from the time they get their temple recommend to the time they leave. At first I went because I had nothing else to do - not being in school and not having a job opens up a lot of time. I also knew that going to the temple would help me prepare for my mission. I've said before in one of my posts, temples are all about families.
I've been able to take a lot of family names on my mom's side to the
temple and do their work for them.
A couple weeks ago I realized that the thing I've been going back to more than anything else, is the temple. I've been feeling like it's the thing that has helped me most to prepare. I'm reading the Book of Mormon again and studying out of Preach My Gospel but the temple seems to have some sort of hold on me at the moment.
Last week I texted my Bishop and asked what I would be speaking on the in Sacrament Meeting the Sunday before I leave. Guess what he said: (Wait for it....) "Family history and covenants." I think there's a common theme here. :)
I don't know what will actually happen while I'm out there. But I think I have a lot of learning to do on a certain subject, and what better place to learn about it than where I came from? :)