Hello, friends! My name is Amanda Ward, and I have recently been called on an 18-month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I will be serving in the Mexico City West mission and report to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah on September 17, 2014 — just a few days before I turn 20! As I am preparing to leave, I decided to start a little blog (which will be updated while I am in Mexico) to document this insane and exciting adventure! Hope you all enjoy!
To start, here is just a little information regarding missions and what exactly I will be doing for the next 18 months:
What does it mean to be a full-time missionary?
Well let me tell ya! Full-time LDS missionaries dedicate a certain amount of time to provide service and teach others about Jesus Christ and His love. Typically men (elders) serve for two years, and women (sisters) serve for 18 months. You have most likely seen two young men or women wearing formal clothing and small black name tags, usually riding bikes and talking to people on the streets? Yep, that’s us! It is a volunteer-based system, so we fill out an application called our “mission papers,” are assigned an area in which to serve, and then report to a training center on our assigned day. There are 406 missions throughout the world, and over 83,000 missionaries currently serving (and I’m about to be one of them!)
~Here’s more about missionary work if it tickles your fancy! http://www.mormon.org/values/missionary-work
What made you decide that you wanted to be a missionary?
Ooooh this is a good question! To tell you the truth, serving as a missionary was not always in my plans. I grew up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and always knew that serving a mission was a possibility. The age that young women could serve had been 21 for as long as I could remember, so I told myself that I would wait until I was 20, then make the decision depending on what was occurring in my life at that point– it seemed so far away!
However, in October of 2012 ( the beginning of my senior year of high school) the Prophet of our church announced that the age requirement had been lowered–men could now serve at 18, women at 19. Sooo that decision came a lot sooner than I had anticipated! I was still unsure about serving, so I attended Brigham Young University for a year, which was a wonderful experience. BYU is owned by the church, so naturally most of the students are LDS, and many of my peers were preparing to serve missions. After attending BYU for a few months, I decided not to serve a mission, mostly because that’s what a large number of my friends were doing. I thought it would appear as if I were merely following the trend, and was afraid “people” would think that I had only decided to serve because several of my close friends had made the same decision. I was also very nervous, and while I firmly believed in the principles I would teach as a missionary, the idea of talking to complete strangers terrified me! Plus, I HAD to stick to my five-year plan! (Hahahahaha)
But for some reason I couldn’t get the idea of a mission out of my head. I finally realized that I was basing a very important personal decision on the opinions of other people, rather than my opinion of myself and God’s opinion of me. So, I put my stubbornness aside and decided to approach the idea differently! I began discussing with friends and family who have served missions, and spent a lot of time asking God where He needed me for the next few years. The more I learned and prayed about missionary service, the more I wanted it to define the next chapter in my life. I ultimately came to the decision that serving a mission is the right path for me, and submitted my papers. I am so glad I did not give up on the idea because I can already feel such a strong love for the people of Mexico City! So here I am, writing this rambly blog and preparing to leave for the MTC in less than 30 days!
The inevitable question: “Are you excited?!?!”
Hehe. Yes! I truly am excited to share something that has brought me so much joy and peace with the people in Mexico. I cannot wait to dedicate this part of my life solely to my faith and to helping others. Am I scared to death?? Absolutely! Can I speak Spanish? Hahaha, nope… Am I going to miss my family and friends? Very much! (So email me, muchachos!) But! Even though I know that it is going to be very difficult and I will most definitely get homesick and frustrated, I know with all my heart that it will be worth it!
“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” ~Joshua 1:9