My Decision to Serve:
I wish I could say there was a definitive moment when I knew that I'd serve a mission, that there was one instance to which my decision was tied. Don't get me wrong, this is something I want to do, I'm so excited to dedicate so much time to solely serving the Lord, but I'm not like some people who always knew they would serve a mission. Had you asked me when I was young if I was going to serve a mission, I would've told you absolutely not. If you'd asked me before leaving for college, I would've told you absolutely not. So what changed? Like I said, there isn't one specific instance that changed my mind, it was just random events that when tied together eventually led to the decision. So what were they?
First, the age changed. I first heard about the missionary age change from my college suite mate. I had missed that session of conference, unfortunately. My suite mate had a friend who was a member of the church and that friend had posted the link to the announcement on Facebook. My suite mate asked why it was such a big deal that the age had changed and what that would mean. I remember watching the announcement and just bawling. I tried to explain why it'd be exciting for people who wanted to serve. I had no idea why I cried so much, I mean it didn't effect me. Sure I was old enough now to serve a mission, but I wasn't planning on serving a mission. But for some reason, I was just happy and overwhelmed at what that meant for everyone who wanted to serve a mission.
Second, I went to a fireside. This fireside was held in Ann Arbor by Elder David A. Bednar. He spoke and then did a question and answer with the congregation. I honestly couldn't even tell you what he spoke about, which sounds terrible, but I don't have a clue. I cannot remember to save my life. The question and answer seemed to be geared somewhat towards missionary work, but I didn't think much of it. I drove to the fireside alone from college and then drove home alone to my parents after the fireside. I drove home listening to my old EFY CDs and the song, "It Passes All My Understanding" stuck out to me. I couldn't help but put it on replay and listen a couple of times. It had always been a favorite of mine, even though it starts with an awful recorder-like instrument. I listened to the song and the last verse stuck out to me and I cried the whole time, every time I listened to it. I suggest listening to the whole song so you kind of understand it, but the part that stuck out to me said,
"It passes all my understanding,
That the Lord knows both our names
And that He made this world for everyone
That was sitting on that plane
And in spite of all of man's distractions
He offers us His peace
That passes all my understanding"
Third, I had a kind of breakdown over the summer while living alone in Mt. Pleasant. I called my dad sobbing (surprise, surprise) and we talked a bit and he asked if I had thought about serving a mission. Not really an applicable question to my current situation that I had, but a question none the less. I thought to myself and said not really and just thought about my boyfriend. We'd dated for so long and he was my best friend. At the time, he was not religious at all. I'd try to have religious conversations with him and they'd end in frustration. I thought to myself, "If I can't even explain the church to the person I love, what good would I be as a missionary?" Besides that, he wouldn't understand me wanting to leave him for a year and a half and not even be able to talk to him on the phone and only being able to e-mail once a week. I tucked away the idea because I didn't think it seemed practical for me. I never told anyone about what I'd thought. Well, months later to my surprise, my boyfriend joined the church.
So how could these possibly have lead me to the decision to serve a mission? Let me explain. After my dad presented the idea, it planted a seed... a seed I didn't take care of and neglected to the best of my ability, but still, it was there. When my boyfriend joined the church, suddenly, a mission seemed a bit more like a realistic option. He had worked with the missionaries and became very close with them, so he would definitely understand if I had a desire to serve. I wanted to see what he thought of the idea, no strings attached, just a "what would you think if" kind of a thing. The day I had decided to talk to him, HE BEAT ME TO IT! He asked, "Would I be able to serve a mission like the elders?" I said he would, after some time in the church to which he replied, "Good, I want to serve a mission. You should too." And that was what tied it together for me. I thought of the line of that song,"The Lord knows both our names." The Lord knows us! He knows each and every one of us! He knows the desires of our hearts. He knows what is best for us. He knows what will make us truly happy in life. After that conversation with my boyfriend, I fasted and prayed. I don't know that I've ever felt so close to my Father in Heaven and I came to know for myself, that serving a mission was the best option for me. Finally, it wasn't something expected of me or desired of me by those around me, whether it was because of an age change or because my parents wanted me to. It was a decision I had made for myself with the help and guidance of my Heavenly Father.
"He made this world for everyone... and in spite of all of man's distractions, He offers us His peace. That passes all my understanding." Even though I was distracted by my boyfriend, school, friends, and who knows what else, the Lord was there to offer me his peace, to help me when I needed his guidance most at such a crucial point in my life. The Lord made this world for every single one of us, young and old, man and woman, no matter what race or religion. He made this world for every person who was, is or will be on this Earth. The least I can do is dedicate 18 months to him, teaching and serving Heavenly Father's children.
"Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work"- D&C 4:3
"Dear Sister Griffin,
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," these are the words I'd been dying to hear for months. Everyone I had talked to said I was going to stay stateside for my mission and after many dreams of being sent to the Washington Everett Mission and the several missions in the state of Arizona, I was beginning to believe it myself! The day I received my call, I waited to open it, I had wanted to be able to share this special moment with some special people in my life. About an hour or two before I was to open my mission call, Devin and I took our exchange student to a friends house. While driving, our exchange student asked where I thought I'd go. I had no idea, I was at a loss of places. She then asked Devin who responded with, "Madrid. She's going to Madrid, Spain" I laughed and rolled my eyes. "Why in the world would I get sent to Spain?," I thought to myself. Our exchange student suggested somewhere a little closer to home like Montana or another US state. We laughed and joked about my possible mission location, but not Devin, he stuck to his guns. He said he just had a feeling it was Madrid.
After many long hours of waiting, waiting from 11-6 is a long time, I finally was able to open my call!
"Dear Sister Griffin,
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Spain Madrid Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months. You should report to the Spain Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, October 28, 2014. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language."
What a shock! This was the last place I ever would have guessed, but the first place I should have guessed. I immediately started researching everything I could on Spain. How could I not have thought about Spain as the place I would dedicate 18 months of my life to the Lord? It was perfect for me. And that itself echoed what I'd come to recognize when I made the decision to serve a mission, "The Lord knows both our names." Watch this! It's good to think that the Lord knows who Hannah Griffin is. He knows what is best for me! He knows what each of us needs. I know there is someone in Spain that is waiting for me. They are waiting to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ from me! No one else could take that place, because the Lord knows them and he knows me. The Lord even knows you.
All we have to do is put our full trust in him and he will guide us.