Good morning Brother and Sisters,
I am beyond thrilled to have received my mission call to the Washington DC North mission, and I may even be more excited to be preaching in American Sign Language. I do have knowledge with ASL, because it is my major in school. If I could multitask as well as I wish I could I’d sign my talk at the same time. But I’m not that good yet.
I’ve been told by Elder Colton Brimhall that I got lucky and I have been called to the best mission I could ask for. It will be nice to see a familiar face in the mission field. Well, the topic I was assigned to address is Isaiah 40:31 it reads, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles…” As I read this scripture I couldn’t help but giggle. It was as if this scripture was written for me. Knowing that I’d have to pick one situation where I learned this the best was probably the hardest part of writing my talk. How could I just pick one situation to tell all you here how I had truly learned this in the last year? At least half dozen experiences came into my mind. With much thought and prayer I decided what I’d share with you all today. I hope that this will shed some light on how I have truly tried to prepare to serve a mission.
My desire to serve a mission has been for a couple years. Of course before the big unforgettable Oct 2012 general conference announcement I always thought “well if I’m 21 and I’m not married I’ll go.” My patriarchal blessing makes mention that if I choose; I have the right and privilege to serve a mission. This had never really impressed me till I was sitting alone in my apartment watching Conference and it felt as though the announcement was directly to me. Heavenly Father saying, “Aubrey you can’t say well if the timing is right I’ll go. Show me that you will make the choice to serve”. Of course it’s been a long journey since the announcement was made last October. But in this last year I had to wait upon the Lord so that he could renew my strength. Show me first and for most, everything is on His time. Not mine.
A couple situations had come about that delayed my process to start my papers. But finally in February I started my paperwork. I later was informed that the mission department and the brethren had prayerfully received the answer to have me wait and not assign me a call. I was devastated. One night I was at the Provo temple doing baptisms for the dead. I had prayed, and prayed pleading to Heavenly Father asking why or to just send some comfort to me. As I went to go to the waiting room still no comfort, I was to the point of tears. When I decided to walk around the temple grounds in order to avoid having strangers see me crying.
As I stood at the back of the temple looking at the words “House of the Lord”, with tears filling my eyes. I softly whispered, “why me? Why are you doing this to me? I just want to serve a mission. And it’s a good thing but I am being punished for it.” At that sudden moment I was filled with the comfort I had been praying for. After taking a few deep breaths, the very calming voice came to me. An experience I will never forget. The words that I heard next, “Aubrey, you are not yet ready to serve a mission, and the investigators you are going to teach are not ready either.” Once I had realized what I had just heard, it was hard to accept that I wasn’t ready to serve a mission. That it wasn’t my time to go yet. But I thought of what was just said to me. I nodded my head in understanding and said these words back in a whisper. “For these next 6 months I will prepare myself. I’ll manage my anxiety by going to therapy, I will read my scriptures, and continue to go to the temple weekly. But while I do this, I need you to prepare those people that I will teach. I will pray for them daily, but please soften their hearts so that when I’m ready I can go teach them and they will accept the gospel.”
As everything has come together in this last month since I’ve received my call, I now understand why I was not to go when I wanted to. The Washington DC North mission has not had ASL sisters in the mission since 2005. I know that the companions who will be out in the field with me were not ready back in February but are ready to serve now. I know that I’m ready and I have no doubt that the people I will come in contact with are ready for the gospel. This brings me to the fine print in the scripture of my topic. “Wait upon the Lord”, as you go down to the footnotes. Wait has two other meanings. “Hope for, or anticipate”. I’d like to add two more words to those additional words. Patience and trust.
After that moment I had at the temple. I had to actively have hope, patience and trust in Heavenly Father that He would have those people ready when we both promised to be ready by. I want to first focus on the word hope. When you look hope up in True to the Faith it states, “The word hope is sometimes misunderstood. In our everyday language, the word often has a hint of uncertainty… In the language of the gospel, however, the word hope is sure, unwavering, and active.” It’s easy to lose hope. But when we do hold onto the unwavering hope that is shown to us many times in the scriptures we become strengthen in the many other attributes of Christ like patience. In Preach My Gospel chapter 6 Christlike Attributes on page 120 under the bulletin of Patience it reads,
Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God’s will and accept His timing. When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith—you must wait for the Lord’s promised blessings to be fulfilled.
It’s amazing how these few words hope, patience, faith, waiting can all connect together. It’s not always easy to be actively working on these attributes with flawlessness. But I know that when you are trying to have these or any other attribute that our Heavenly Father is going to bless you in ways that we don’t always feel as though we may deserve.
We all fall short. Heavenly Father was answering me when I was self-absorbed about serving mission. I was lacking these attribute. But he doesn’t deny us blessings because we are lacking in christlike qualities. Not always do we remember that when we wait upon the Lord he shall renew our strength. Personally throughout the summer I would forget that, but I know that our loving Heavenly Father has placed simple reminders in our day to day life. One thing that would give me hope as I was waiting for the day I’d be able to serve my mission was in Doctrine and Covenants 4:3 “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;” without fail, that scripture would give me the hope to keep going and not to give up on serving a mission.
President Utchdorf says it perfectly in his talk April of 2010 “Every one of us is called to wait in our own way. We wait for answers to prayers. We wait for things which at the time may appear so right so good to us that we can’t possibly imagine why Heavenly Father would delay the answer… the answer didn’t come immediately. But eventually I learned that God’s promises are not always fulfilled as quickly as or in the way we might hope; they come according to His timing and in His ways.”
I know that when we wait upon the Lord we will have the strength we need to overcome our obstacles. And be prepared for what is to come. I’m beyond thrilled to be going on a mission to serve Heavenly Father and bring the people of the DC North mission to make covenants that will bring them eternal happiness. I also know that President Thomas S Monson is the living Prophet here on the Earth and that he has very inspired men working with him. The Book of Mormon is true, and when you read it seeking truth you will find what will help you. I know this Church is the true church on the Earth. I’m so blessed to be a member and to bring others to its greatness.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.