a woman is prayingWomen are not expected to go on missions and because of that I found myself asking if I really wanted to go or not. It wasn’t a question about my desire to serve. It was about choosing between two great opportunities.

I was studying in an amazing university, dating a returned missionary, and having awesome experiences when the thought of going on a full-time mission came to mind. I’ve always wanted to serve and I’ve been planning on it my whole life but things have suddenly changed and I wondered if it was a selfish decision not to go. I was scared that by choosing one path I will entirely miss out on a greater opportunity the other path has to offer.

I believe there’s a lot of you out there who find yourselves in the same situation I was in a few years ago. It’s a major decision in life and I know how overwhelming it can be. Allow me to share a few things about my experience as a full-time missionary that will hopefully help you in your decision to send that application paper or not.

The decision to serve is between you and the Lord. Your friends, family, and Church leaders will give you plenty of support and advice, but in the end it is YOUR decision and YOU have to make it. Always remember that whatever you choose to do, the Lord will respect your decision. He wants you to be happy and if you’re happy with your choice, then it means you won’t have any regrets later on. Developing a relationship with the Savior helped me understand His respect for my agency and gave me the courage to take that “leap of faith” to leave everything behind and serve as a full-time missionary.

Serving a mission is not for the fainthearted. Being a full-time missionary is hard. You work all day, you have to do things you’re scared of, and you’re always being stretched beyond your limits. When you think you’ve figured it out, you get transferred. You have to deal with difficult people and sometimes it’s the person you have to be with 24/7. The point is, you can’t go on a mission half-heartedly. It’s all or nothing. You can’t complain or just go home when it gets really hard because, after all, it’s your decision to be there.

Rejection galore! It is humiliation and heartbreak to a totally different level. I never knew people could be so mean. There are people who go out of their way to make you feel insignificant and unwanted while there are others who are more civil about it. There are also those who pretend you don’t exist even when you’re literally in front of them. People are interesting like that and you have to be emotionally ready for those kind of experiences.

You’ll feel like you have bipolar disorder. Your emotions reach extreme levels in the mission field.  One minute you’re so happy because your investigator finally decided to be baptized, the next minute you’re so depressed because your scheduled appointment got cancelled. It’s like that every single day. You become emotionally vulnerable and you end up extremely exhausted. That’s probably one of the reasons why 8 hours of sleep feels like 30 minutes. But seriously though, you feel so many emotions on your mission and it makes you aware of Heavenly Father’s love and His capacity to forgive and provide comfort. There are moments when you feel like your heart is going to burst with happiness and those are the times that will get you through the hard days.

Mission is like life in a nutshell. You will see and understand Heavenly Father’s plan in a whole new perspective. You will have experiences which will teach you the meaning of the Atonement and its power to change people. You will face challenges that will bring you down on your knees and make you question you’re purpose of being out there. But there will also be moments of extreme happiness that will fill your heart with warmth and love. Being on a mission is like experiencing life all at once with all of its joys and sadness. It’s overwhelming, scary, nerve wracking and amazing all at the same time. It’s just wonderful.

I could not possibly tell you everything you need to know so that you can make your decision. But I hope that with the things I’ve shared you will understand that serving a mission is not something you do just because you feel like it. You need to figure out your reason why you want to go. That reason will help you overcome the most challenging experiences in the mission field. It will be your constant reminder why you chose to be out there.