Friday, October 11, 2013

GUESS WHAT! I'm going on a mission.

When I was growing up my family never took "cool" family vacations.  While my friends were off at Disneyland, Wisconsin  Dells, and our nation's capitol, I was boarding yet another plane destined for the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.  My mom was born and raised in Mesa and was the only one of her siblings to flee the valley, so we took trips to the Mesa area to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins when it was time for vacation.  As the years passed I grew to resent the trips to Arizona because I just wanted to go to Disneyland (finally, just a few months ago, I made the trip to the LA area and spent a wonderful day at Disneyland and California Adventure.  A childhood dream come true).  Adding to my resentment was the hot climate that killed me as a child (and still does).  In moments of exasperation I would declare, "I AM NEVER EVER LIVING IN ARIZONA IN MY WHOLE LIFE.  NO MATTER WHAT!"  When I decided to go to school at BYU, where a decent amount of the student population hails from Arizona, I amended my childhood declaration to include the ending, "UNLESS I FALL IN LOVE AND MY HUSBAND MAKES ME MOVE THERE." Still, I never truly intended to settle in Arizona.  Imagine my surprise when I opened my mission call to the Arizona Mesa Mission.  I'm not going to lie, I'm not too jazzed to spend 18 months in a never ending dry heat, but overall I am extremely excited!  I'm not even just saying that so I don't sound like a brat, I am over the moon about my mission call.  It's hard to not be overjoyed about where you'll be spending a year and a half when you know without a doubt it is where you're meant to be.  I don't know what is in store for me or why I am being sent to labor in Mesa, Arizona, but I do know there are reasons that may or may not be realized by me while I am there.  And if my mission is like everyone else's, I will grow to absolutely love the deserts of Arizona that I have spent so much of my life loathing.  I don't doubt that from this day forward Arizona will hold a special place in my heart.

Right before I opened my call.

Snapchat even got in on this.

My mission boundaries.

My call and information packet.

Now.  Let me give you a top ten list.  Because I know you all love them! And by you, I mean I love them.


10)  Given the extreme heat (okay, I need to make one thing clear, I AM FROM MINNESOTA.  I do cold.  While some may think it isn't that hot in Arizona, I do.  I sincerely do.) I will most likely wear my hair up every day.  This will give me an excuse to get really good at up-dos.

9)  Rumor has it baptisms are super high in my mission and so are meal appointments.  A kid in one of my classes jealously told me that I'll more than likely get a lunch and dinner given to me most days. FOOD.

8)  I am speaking English.  At first I was really bummed that I'm staying in America AND speaking English.  There's kind of a stigma that English speaking, American missions are easier than foreign missions.  My initial thoughts on opening my call were, "Wow.  Heavenly Father must really not trust me, not only am I staying in America, I'm speaking my native tongue," and, "People won't even like me in Arizona.  I'm not holy enough. And Arizona is like Utah Jr., which means it is holy and stuff." The more I think about it the more I am glad I am speaking English.  I am typically a decent writer and speaker in English and I think I will be able to use those talents more fully in English than any other language.  I already have a hard time talking about emotions and serious religious topics with people who aren't religious, now imagine if I had to do that in Korean.  I would be such a hot mess.  Hopefully people will have less of a reason to hate me if I'm not butchering their language.

7)  If I'm lucky I'll get to serve near the temple during the Easter pageant.  I LOVE PAGEANTS.

6)  There are a lot of members of the church in Arizona, so I will have a lot of member support.

5)  I first began thinking of serving a mission two years ago.  I really didn't want to, but felt inspired to do so.  My main reason for not wanting to serve is my extreme fear of tracting.  The idea of knocking on random strangers' doors and asking if they want to talk about religion terrifies me.  Because Mormonism is so prevalent in Arizona people may not like me knocking on their door, but at least they will kind of be expecting it.

4)  Okay. This sounds really awful, but I'm really excited to be serving in America because I don't have to worry about my hair dryer, straightener, curling iron, toothbrush charger, and Clarisonic charger bursting into flames because of power incompatibility.

3)  Mesa is a diverse area, I will get to meet and work with a lot of people from varying ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.  And maybe some snowbirds.  So in addition to learning to love the desert, I'm going to have to learn how to love old people.

2)  I have a lot of family and other connections in the Mesa Mission.  Yeah, it will be great that people in the area care about me, but I'm mainly excited that this may be a way that the Lord intends to bring people to the gospel.  Member/Missionary teamwork, ya'll.

1)  The Arizona Mesa Mission will be the best mission evaaaaaa because it is where I'm supposed to serve.  I know it isn't a coincidence that I am being sent to Mesa.  The Lord is going to use me to touch hearts, build bridges, and share my beliefs with people who need to hear His message from my lips and nobody else's.  I can be proud sometimes, but I am humble enough to know that I am awkward and thoroughly mediocre, but there is a plan for me.  Heavenly Father will open the hearts of others and prove my inadequacies to be enough.

So come January 29, 2014 I will be packing my bags for the nation's 48th state.

Come July 2015 I will be coming home with a potted cactus and a whole host of stories to tell.  And hopefully a picture like this;

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Because my mission won't be complete without a posed picture of my cactus and me.

Oh.  And bonus point.  I am making it my goal to single-handedly make as many people as possible say pop instead of soda in that state.