Growing up, my dad had become inactive. He was inactive til I was about 8 years old. He never discouraged the church, infact, he encouraged us to go every sunday, but he wouldn't go himself. "You guys go without me, I'll be fine," he would say. He didn't do anything wrong, he just wasn't "feeling it" I guess. He was raised in his Mexican LDS family. My late abuelito (small grandpa) from my dad's side of the family actually has a really great conversion story. You can get a glimpse at it here. In short, the missionaries taught him, and he loved what he was taught, so he got baptized and spread God's word the best way he could. From what I have been told, my dad was always active throughout his youth, but when times got hard, I think it was unusual for him, and it shookhis faith.
My mom always invited the missionaries over. From the ages 0-8 I went to an English ward. My dad wouldn't always go to church, but when he did, he was always welcomed. We had a lot of missionaries from that ward come over and eat. OFTEN. Probably once a week. They would encourage my dad to come, but he didn't always listen to their invitations. THEN, one day, we heard they were starting a new ward. A Spanish ward! What?! My mom found it to be a golden opportunity. We immediately switched wards. None of the eight children in our family could speak a lick of Spanish since we were 4! It was definitely a hard transition. BUT, my dad got more comfortable in the ward, with people who were brought up in the same country as him, and who spoke the same language! My mom invited the Spanish ward missionaries over, and *insert fireworks* he began feeling what he had just years before. Those missionaries were able to bring a spirit over to our house, that hadn't been felt in a while. The holy ghost. The holy ghost brought to our family more unity and love. It was fantastic. Ever since then, my dad has been a very active member of the wards we have been in, both Spanish and English. He is radiating of the spirit. It's amazing, really.
Back to the missionaries. These missionaries helped plant the desire to serve in my heart. Never before had I seen just 2 men make a family so happy before. I had to be a part of this great cause. I have known since this age that I was going to serve the Lord in a way that could change lives.
Coming closer to this age to serve, Satan has tried so hard to confuse and discourage me.
"You're not good enough"
"Nobody will want to listen to you"
"You could be doing other things, funner things, things that you will always be proud of"
"You don't want to do this"
"You don't have to do this."
Words and phrases that just kept going on in my mind. Problems in my home life, and in my school/social life had started becoming very prominent, and very hard to overlook. I felt alone. I had stopped reading my scriptures, stopped praying, thinking "I can overcome this without the Lord, I know he's there to help me, but I can do this without anyone to help." Things were hard to bear, I would often go to my room and cry, because there was no other way I wanted to drown my problems. One of these days I noticed something in a binder. My patriarchal blessing. I read it over and over again. I started collecting all the notes and letters that I had received throughout my life. People cared. People want me to feel like I can turn to them for help. That's when I realized, "Jesus cares. Jesus knows EXACTLY what I am going through." He had felt my pain, and he had felt how lonely I was. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane he asked his apostles, his friends, to stay awake with him. He knew exactly what was going to happen next, and he didn't want to be alone as he bore it. Twice the apostles fell asleep. Our Heavenly Father had to let him do this on his own. How alone must Jesus have felt? He was entirely alone, and no one could help him bear our sins. Me feeling alone was NOTHING compared to how lonely our Savior must have felt. Just before he took on our sins and afflictions Jesus said " Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done (Luke 22:42)." Such faith and love shown in that one simple sentence from the Savior. He did not come to this earth solely for his own purpose, but he came to share the gospel, and to lift our spirits and burdens because HE LOVES US.
I can not do what Jesus did. But I can help continue his work. I love the Lord, and I want others to feel that same love that I do.
This is why I am going on a mission.