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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Yep, I'm going on a mission!


My decision to serve:
                Most of you, if you are reading this, are FREAKING out. You didn’t see this coming. You can’t believe it! You thought I had a plan, and that I would always follow it! Most of you, if you are reading this, are thinking quite a few things. Mainly:
1.       WHEN?
2.       How did this happen?
3.       I thought she had a missionary?!!
4.       Does Daniel know?
5.       What did her family say?
6.       WHHHHHAAAAAAATTTTTTT HAILEY?! NO!
I understand you thinking all these things. Heck, I thought them myself! Some of you are hurt you didn’t get a personal email or skype session about it. I understand that, but know it isn’t because you weren’t important. I had so many people to tell, and being in Russia makes it so hard. Besides my family, I decided that this would be the easiest way to tell everyone at once. It’s been coming for awhile, so luckily I have the ENTIRE story for you right here to read.
I will start in order so that we can answer all your MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS THAT YOU ARE DYING TO HAVE ANSWERED right away.
This post is pretty dang long, so I would suggest if you are crunching on time to scroll down to the question you need answered! Or just be really awesome and read the whole thing!
#1. WHEN? My availability date is January 20, 2012. My call can be anywhere around that time or much later.
#2. How did this happen? Or in other words, how did I decide to go on a mission?
                For those of you that are not Mormon, it is probably a surprise to find out that girls can go on missions. You have probably heard of LDS boys leaving at the age of 19, but you have probably heard very little of girls going. The way that the LDS church has always approached missions for girls is like this: If you feel that you need to go, then go but marriage is always the first choice. Girls were allowed to leave on missions at the age of 21. At this age it was hard for girls to choose to go or not. Marriage is common around this age and even before, and no one wanted to give up the opportunity to get married. Many times the decision was looked at as a choice between marriage or a mission.
                Every 6 months we have a special event which we call conference. At conference the leaders of our church speak to us about following God’s commandments and give us advice on becoming better Disciples of Christ. Many times they also make special announcements about new temples being built or different things regarding our church.  This Oct. at conference they made a huge announcement regarding missions. Our church leaders decided to change the ages for missionaries. Boys were changed from serving at 19 to now serving at 18. Girls were changed from serving at 21 to now serving at 19. This was a HUGE announcement! Everyone is so excited and it is now opening up the mission field for so many new comers! But I guess I should get back to how this personally affects me.
                I was at a singles adult activity with all the Russians when I heard about the announcement of the new missionary ages. Because we are 10 hours ahead of Salt Lake we weren’t watching conference, so we heard about it through a text from one of our group members, Jake. As soon as I heard the announcement I freaked out. I was so excited about the change and how it would affect generations to come. I began to cry and felt overwhelmed with excitement. My entire group was so excited and happy, so I thought nothing extra special about it. I had never wanted to go on a mission, and that wasn’t changing now.          
                As the night wore on the excitement continued except that it shifted from being excited for future generations to being excited for me. I was confused. I didn’t just not plan on serving a mission, I was completely against it. I had a missionary! I had a life plan! I didn’t want to give up 18 months of MY LIFE to serve a mission! No way! But I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. At this point I didn’t feel a push to go, instead I felt a push that I needed to do some serious pondering to see if it was what the Lord wanted me to do. I tried to push the thought out. I went out that night with some friends and I laughed and had a good time, but it kept coming to my mind that I needed to do some serious praying. By the time I got home the feeling had grown to knowing that if I didn’t ask the Lord about a mission that it would be not only something I would regret, but it would be betraying myself. I was terrified to ask. I thought, “Why would the Lord have me ask if he was just going to tell me no?” I couldn’t even imagine giving up all my plans. For heaven’s sake, Daniel only had 8 months left of his mission!         
                I decided to start working on figuring out my answer that night. I have always had a hard time with prayer. It’s not that I felt like the Lord didn’t have a hand in my life, but I never really had the “Ah-ha!” moment that I hear so many people talk about, except when I asked I if the Book of Mormon was true. Because of my history with prayer I decided two things #1. That I would not stop asking until I got a clear answer. I knew that serving a mission was hard, and that I needed to clear moment in my mind to hold to when things got tough that would remind me that I made the right decision. And #2. That if I got a yes then I would go without questions and without doubt. That I would start my mission papers immediately, and that I would never turn back.
                It was fast Sunday the next day for my ward so I decided to fast and pray about going on a mission. Sunday came and went. Nothing remarkable happened. I had a few promptings in church, but nothing that was undoubtedly a yes or no. Sunday night I began to feel relaxed. I subconsciously thought that since I didn’t get a big answer than maybe I wouldn’t have to serve, but I decided I had to stick with it until I knew. I began to study it out in my mind. I made a pros and cons list. I realized that the only real con I had was that Daniel would be home in 8 months, everything else went into the pro list. Thinking of adding over a year onto the time Daniel and I would be apart made me want to cry. I’m not a dumb girl. I know that the possibility of us working out was already slim to none with just his mission, but with adding my mission into the equation it pretty much made it impossible. I was so worried and I wasn’t sure how to make the decision not knowing what might become of us.
                I started to look over some different documents in my computer. I was looking at a few things I had written this last year in school and I stumbled across an email I never sent to Daniel. It was about serving a mission and I had written it about 1 year ago. At that time I had met several girls that had served a mission or were serving a mission. It was random meetings and we talked about missions a lot. Sometimes the fact that we were talking about missions was odd. It was almost out of the blue and they would bring up their mission. I remember feeling a big push to go on a mission, but I ultimately decided that since I couldn’t go until I was 21 that I didn’t need to decide if I was going or not.
As I read through this email I felt overwhelmed. This was a year ago! And why did I even have this saved on my computer? I didn’t even send it to Daniel. As I talked to my roommate April she mentioned that maybe I had already made my decision, but that I need my mind to catch up with my heart. I didn’t say anything back to her, because I still couldn’t imagine making such a big decision. I fell asleep that night with many things on my mind.
The next day I continued to think about serving a mission, but I felt more at ease about it. I started to really give serving a mission a thought. I thought about what the steps would have to be, when I could leave, and what that would mean for Daniel and I. As the day went on I realized that I felt at ease about the future. I felt that if I decided to serve a mission that it was going to be okay. I felt that if it meant that Daniel and I wouldn’t work out, than that is what the Lord had planned. I felt that I could now make a decision without the price of him on my shoulders. I went home and began to watch different speakers at conference. I decided to watch Jeffery R. Holland’s talk The First Great Commandment. If you haven’t seen/read that talk you can do so here: LINK TO HOLLANDS TALK.
As I listened to the talk not only did I feel an overwhelming amount of peace, but I felt the spirit so strong. I felt like Elder Holland was speaking directly to me. I felt that when he said that the Savior said to Peter “Peter, do you love me more than all this?” that it was a direct answer to my prayer. Like Peter, the Lord was now asking me “Hailey, do you love me more than all this? Do you love me enough to serve me for 18 months? Do you love me enough to leave your life behind? Do you love me enough to accept the fact that you and Daniel might not work out? Do you love me?”
There are times in my life that I have felt far from the Lord. There are times that I might have done things that I shouldn’t have. There were even times that I questioned if it was all worth it, but as I listened to Elder Holland’s talk I knew without a doubt my answer to that question. Yes Lord, I love thee. I love you more than all of this. I love you enough to serve you for 18 months. I love you enough to leave my friends, school, and my family. I love you enough to put Daniel second, and accept that it probably won’t work out. I love thee.
With that, I made my decision. I got my yes from the Lord, and like I promised I have not doubted it. There have been times that worries about Daniel have crept into my mind, but as I have taken the steps towards serving a mission I continue to be reminded that I am making the right decision. I called my Bishop 2 days after I received my answer, and 3 days after the experience I started my mission papers. Because I am not in the U.S. all mission papers are done by hand. I had run into issues with finding an English speaking doctor and dentist that was cheap because western medicine is pretty expensive in Russia, but the Lord delivered. He found ways for me to get everything that I needed done for my papers accomplished. I found an English speaking doctor and dentist in a matter of a few days. I was able to set up 2 appointments to get 3 fillings done. I was able to accomplish all my medical exams in just one week. It was a great blessing! I finished up my paperwork with my Bishop last Tuesday, and Sunday I was able to meet with the Stake President for my final interview. I can’t believe how quickly everything went! I can’t believe that now my papers are on their way to the U.S. and I will soon have a call!
Now that my papers have been submitted it is just a waiting game. My availability date is January 20, 2013. I am hoping to be called right away, but it is up to the mission office when and where I go. Mail takes quite a few weeks here, so it will be a bit before the mission office gets my paperwork, and once they do it might be a few weeks or even months before I hear back. My mission papers will be sent to my house in Texas. If I get my call while I am in Russia then my mom will open the paperwork, not looking, and hold it up on skype so I can read it off. I am not sure if it will be while I am in Russia or not. The sooner I get the call the more likely that I will be leaving near my availability date, but I am perfectly fine with whatever is decided. As for where I want to go that’s easy. Many missionaries will tell you that they don’t care where they get sent even if it is some place like Provo, Utah. Although I know that I will be sent to where the Lord wants/needs me to go, I really hope that he wants me to go OUTSIDE of the U.S. Of course I will serve where I am needed, but I want a foreign mission badly! We will see though! Any place will be an adventure! Many have told me that they think I will be called to Russia. I would have no problem with this! I would be sad that I would be without peanut butter for so long, but I love Russia! And speaking Russian would be amazing! It will be so great to see where I will be living for 18 months!!!
Now for the next questions #3 & #4: Doesn’t she have a missionary and does Daniel know?
                For question 2, YES I have a missionary! And for question 3, Yes Daniel knows! I told him about 2 weeks after I started papers. For ONCE in my life I kept a secret and told family and friends slowly. I wanted things to be more set in stone before I spouted off about it. Daniel has been out on his mission for almost 17 months now! And he is scheduled to come home in June of next year! Yes, having him and planning on spending all of next summer with him made making this decision hard. VERY HARD. But I knew it was one I needed to make.
                When Daniel left we had one rule: No rules. We would write each other as long as we wanted. We would stay best friends if that’s what we still felt like we were. I would date. I would have fun. And if when he got back I was still single we would see how things were. We might give it a try or we might not. Now, as his mission progressed our relationship leaned towards giving it a try, but we both have always been very aware that that could change once he got home. I love him. That will never change. He is still my best friend and everything I want in a future husband, but if he has taught me anything it’s that putting the Lord first is a necessity in life. For the last 17 months Daniel has done nothing but put the Lord first. No matter how annoyed I got, how upset I was with him not having time to write or not giving me enough attention, he always put our relationship and his calling into perspective. That’s why when I knew that I was going on a mission that Daniel would understand that this was something I had to do because it was the same thing he told me over 2 years ago when we first met.
                The amazing thing about Daniel and I is that we have been through so much together. With all the ups and downs and experiences I feel like I have known him a life time already, but that probably has a lot to do with the fact that I felt like my life didn’t really start until he was in it. Everything about my life has been better since Daniel and I met, even while he has been away and on a mission. We met almost a year before he left on his mission. We tired really hard to do this weird best friend/dating thing because he didn’t want a girlfriend before his mission. Of course with the way we felt about each other that was VERY hard. It was hard to always just be “best friends”. We usually ended up somewhere in the middle trying to straddle the lines between friends and dating. We fought about it a lot. I pushed us towards dating, he pushed us towards dating and then back to friends. But our relationship allowed me to watch him go through the mission process. I was there when he started his papers, and when he FINALLY finished them after me asking every day. I was there when he got his call. I was there for his farewell. I was the last person other than his family to talk to him before he got set apart. We sat on skype and cried, switched to the phone and tried to tell each other what we meant to one another through tears, and texted until he was an Elder. I wrote him every day in the MTC and every week until I left for Russia. We emailed every week too. I got to hear about all his stories, his feelings, and his struggles as he has served. I have been able to see him grow and change. I have seen his love for the Lord in everything he has done. I have gotten to see how his service has changed the lives of his investigators. I have even become best friends with one of the families he helped on their way to baptism.
                Through this all I have gained a testimony of missions and the service that it offers to those that every missionary comes in contact with. Many people joke about our missionaries. Many are offended or think that what we have to share is wrong. I understand that. I understand that not everyone gets it or respects it, but don’t ever doubt our missionaries intent. They decided to leave everything they had behind to go and serve the people in a distant land for 2 years. They don’t go out with friends to hang out. They don’t date. They don’t get on facebook, and they only talk to their families twice a year. They might not always tell you what you want to hear or what you are ready to hear, but they are good people trying to do good things.
                I have often been jealous of all the things that Daniel gets to do. Actually if you ask him I have many times complained to him that he “gets to go off and do all the fun things while I am stuck here going to school and pretending to care about boys I go on dates with!” He has always laughed at this, because I have my own set of adventures and what he is doing isn’t a walk in the park either. Now that I have decided to go on a mission I get to go off and do “all the fun things” for myself. I will have a completely different set of adventures, but we will still have so much to share.
                I am not sure what the future will bring for us. I am not sure if it will bring us together or if we will be taking different paths, but I know that whatever happens will be for the best. Daniel and I will continue to keep our one rule. We will figure things out as we go. Our relationship has changed so much since he left, but it has been so wonderful to be able to share our lives with each other. I expect Daniel to live life to the fullest while I am gone. I hope that he dates and goes out and does all kinds of crazy things. I don’t want to hear about girls he dates or kisses, but I do hope that he has a blast because heaven’s knows I did while he was away. If when I get back we both feel something is there than we will go from there, but it’s not something I can count on. So, like many times before Daniel and I have chosen to live in the present and worry about the future when it comes knocking on our door.
Of course many of you want to know what Daniel said or how he reacted. This is what he said when he found out:
Woah! Way to rock my world. Haha reading your email I was like...yep
she is done. She found a Russian boy and she is going to settle down
in Moscow. First impressions on your sweet choice? I don't know why
but it feels super right. Like I have no doubt that you have received
legit revelation that this is God's will. It clicks. You will change
lives. Do you wanna know something? Honestly, as I have met the sister
missionaries out here the best ones remind me of you. And just a few
weeks ago I was thinking, "Wouldn't it be awesome if Hailey served a
mission?" and then brushed it off. Oh man I am so pumped for you.
Yeah, I probably won't see you for eons, but we didn't meet by chance,
God's will will happen, and you are doing what is right. I really love
you for that. Where are you going to go? I hope Idaho...haha no I
wouldn't wish that on anyone. Maybe Spanish speaking? Or Russian? I
kinda hope you go to Iowa or something so your mission is lots like
mine. IDK! maybe New York City? That would be splendid! But wherever,
you will tear it up. You have a legit testimony. You know what is
right. You understand the doctrine. And your personality will spark
something in people. And best thing! I can give you tips! I love
teaching people. Do you have a preach my gospel? Its online if you
need it. Chapter 3 is where it is at. And Chapter 4. Get the lessons
down, learn the language of the Spirit and you will be miles ahead of
everyone. (Everything is a competition.) I am so happy for you. I
don't even know what is going on right now, but I am almost tearing up
in a public library. (Super ritzy public library. Richest small town
in America). I love you. You have the opportunity to serve the Lord
and change people's eternities. What sweet people you will get to
meet. Ah man. You are the best. As for us? Well, our story just gets
better, whatever happy ending it may have. What are you going to put
for your availability date?

        No worries here. life is good. We picked up a sister missionary
from Temple Square last week. She is serving here for 3 months before
she heads back. We picked her up at the airport. Brought back
memories! :) loved it. You will love the mission. It will be tough.
The MTC is kinda lame, but the field is the best.

Quick story: Do you remember Debbie Shoemaker? She was baptized when I
was in Warsaw. Well, she is in Methodist Hospital down here. 2 years
ago she got a lung transplant and is facing mild rejection right now.
She called me. I don't know how she got my number. But she called and
was crying and was like I just need to see somebody right now. We
drove there and she just held onto me. She is such a great lady. We
laughed and cried and remembered. She said I was an angel. And I will
be forever grateful I met Debbie. And that is what you get to do. You
get to serve the Lord, not to receive blessings, but to be a blessing.
Not to get answers to prayer but be an answer to prayer. Not to have
help from angels but to be an angel. I know that Christ is the Savior
of the world. He is my best friend. As you serve Him, as you are on
His team, you cannot fail despite our human imperfections. I love
Ether 12:27. You will get closer to the Savior on your mission, and as
we come closer to the Light of the World our imperfections are
glaringly obvious. But you have His promise. His grace is sufficient.
I testify that that is true. God our Father lives. You are his
beautiful (inside and out) daughter. He loves you. and i do too!

Hurrah for Israel!

Love,

Elder Wood
                How lucky am I to have someone who loves me so much be so supportive? How lucky am I to have a best friend that knows it will mean that we will be apart, but told me that I should go anyways. How lucky am I to have Daniel in my life? I feel blessed that we get to experience so much with each other. I am so excited that he is so excited for me, and that he gets to share so many tips and thoughts to help me. He really is the best.
Moving right along to question #5. What did her family say?
                My family has been incredibly supportive! I was a little worried when telling them because I knew that my decision was unexpected and pretty shocking. I told most of my family over skype and man was it kinda great to watch their faces! I caught up with them about their lives and finally I just had to tell them. Everyone (except my mom and dad) had this beat in between me finishing my sentence and reacting. Then they did this awkward overreacting thing where they were like “YAAAAAYYYY!!!!” but it was more like a “Yay? Is that what I am supposed to be saying?” and then it moved into a “Wait what?” as it sunk in a little bit. It was great. Wish I could have filmed each one. They asked me how I had come to this decision and when I was planning on going. They were excited for me, and that made me that much more excited. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for a supportive family. They have had my back every step of the way, and it never ceases to amaze me.
                As I told each sibling and we continued to talk about it they would just keep saying “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe you are really going!” Well family, I can’t believe it either!! I did have a bit of a crying moment with Heather, she always gets me going. I started talking about how it was so hard to make the decision and how I am still very sad that I will be missing out of 18 months of my nieces and nephews? lives. Skyping and watching my niece and nephew made it that much harder to talk about. They will be so old when I get back! I will miss pregnancies, births, and Millie won’t even know me although she will be 2. I know that they will become comfortable with me and get the chance to know me when I get back, but it is not the same as being there from the get-go.
                Although, it will be tough I am blessed to have a family that makes leaving so hard. They are completely supportive. They were very shocked, but as it sunk in to them it seemed to make sense. Almost as they saw it as “Well why wouldn’t Hailey serve a mission?” I am glad that at least they have some faith in me. Sometimes I wish I could have just as much! My parents were overjoyed. I’m pretty sure my mom is already planning package ideas. Having a missionary and sending more packages than I can count I’m kind of really excited to be on the other end of the equation.
                Many have asked what my parents in particular said. I wanted to answer that as well, so that this is as complete as it can be. I think my mom and dad both knew that I was going to be going on a mission before I did. I had talked to them about it before I started to pray and they both seemed that their minds were already made up. I’m grateful for that. My parents didn’t miss a beat. I told them I was thinking about going, and my mom said well let’s get on it. She told me that they would be more than willing to support me financially, and that there was no reason for me to get a job or go back to school and then leave. Her exact words were “If you are going then why prolong it?” Because of them and their support it made getting papers in quickly possible. They talked to me about it a lot. For awhile they were the only ones that knew (well beside Kate & Corbs), and my mom and I emailed back and forth daily on the progress. We both were amazed at how well things have worked out. But we are all still a little in shock.
                It’s one thing to say you want to go on a mission. It’s another to get papers started and completed in 18 days. It’s another thing to talk about opening my mission call, or where I will be serving, or when I will be leaving. It’s another thing to talk about going to the temple to get my Endowments out. It’s another thing to be talking about leaving again. I think when we think about all the things that these next few months will bring we are so excited and overwhelmed. So much will be changing! When we started talking about these plans it started to sink in. This is real. This is happening. I’m going to serve a mission, and SOON!
                I love my family. Being in Russia has taught me how much I really need and appreciate them. I have loved getting to know them in new ways as we mostly have emails to correspond, but man do I miss them. I miss calling my mom like 7 times a day. I miss texting Linsey every 30 seconds (literally we text all day), and talking to Angelman. I miss calling Heather and talking for at least 3 hours, and hating Shawn from even afar. I miss Brent’s humor and awkward phone calls or texts, and Lori’s goodness and the way she says “No, flag, bag, and wagon”. I miss Corby telling me inspirational stories that change my life, and Kate’s side comments that no one hears. I miss Darrin’s smile and chicken tacos, and talking with Annie into all hours of the night about everything. I miss my mom’s cooking (can you believe that), and I miss watching my Dad walk in from workout every morning or the way he calls me “Princess or Honey” I miss the random calls from Kyle. I miss making up games with Gavin, holding Millie, watching movies with Tommye, letting Brylee play with my hair, and trying to convince Jaders to like me. I could go on and on about each person, but we would be here all day.
                Being away is going to be tough, but I know that we will all be blessed from it. If there is one thing that my family is good at, it would be sticking together. We’ve been through a lot as a family. Corby’s die-a-betis, Mom’s illnesses, Brent’s grape allergy, and some would say my cancer was tough. I think that 18 months compared to all that will be a piece of cake, right? I’m excited for this adventure and I am extremely excited to be able to share it with my family! I love them :)
Last Question: #6. WHHHHHAAAAAAATTTTTTT HAILEY?! NO!
                Okay guys… this isn’t even a question… But I will answer it anyways. Yes, I didn’t set out in life planning on going on a mission. You have probably heard “It’s not for me” out of my mouth many times. I planned not too too far in advance, but I did plan on being here when my missionary came home, but plans sometimes have to change.
                Right now, I would love to be getting married and thinking about when I wanted to start a family. I would love to be decorating a house and telling girls that married life is just so great, but right now it’s not what the Lord needs from me. Right now I have to put all my other desires on hold and do exactly what I was prompted to do.
                I still get sad sometimes about leaving. I get sad that I will be gone from my family and friends for so long. I cry a lot about the fact that I won’t be here for Daniel’s homecoming. Just because I have decided to go doesn’t mean I am just leaving care free. It is a sacrifice, but it’s one I’m willing to make.
                I wish I could say that I have a complete faith in the fact that everything is going to work out, but I am still learning that. I have days where I worry a lot, but a blessing I have had given to me is that I have not doubted if serving a mission is right. I know with all my heart it’s what I need to do with my life. I am putting my faith in the prompting I had to serve. I am holding on to that and hoping that the understanding and acceptance I need will come along with it. I am praying that one day it will be clear exactly why I needed to go.
                At this point we have about 54,000 missionaries out in the field working to “harvest the crop”. With the age changes the Church is expecting the number of missionaries to cap at 90,000. It is so wonderful to be living in this time and watching so many answer the call to serve a mission. It is so wonderful to be one of the many that is standing up and saying “Yes, I will go!” I am excited for this next chapter and all the adventures it will bring!
                I hope that I answered all of your questions! If you have any more just let me know! I would love to hear from all of you. Thanks for reading and for all the love and support! You guys are the best! I hope this blog post finds you well, as always.
Until Next Time,
Muah!
-Sister Hodgkiss

2 comments:

  1. I knew it. =) Remember our conversation in the WILK last year? Yep.

    Emilee

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are my hero Hailey Hodgkiss. Amazing.

    ReplyDelete