Called to Serve

Called to Serve

Saturday, April 8, 2017

"Why I Don't Kneel for Prayers"


 This was said to me by a dear sister missionary that I was living with as I served in the Australia Sydney South mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

When a missionary receives their call it states that "It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 (or 24) months." While many missionaries have the opportunity and means to serve for that time, some do not. I am one of the few. 

April 8th, 2015 I entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. And November 16th, 2015 I returned home to Charleston, West Virginia as I ended my time as a full time missionary in the California Anaheim and Australia Sydney South missions. 

Many of you know that while serving, I suffered two injuries to my knee. After the second, it was decided that I travel home to recuperate. Seeing friends and family was great, but I still felt out of place. I missed my mission so much that I spent those months studying and praying. As I did, I kept asking Heavenly Father the same question; “Should I stay home or should I return to my mission?” I had faith that I would receive an answer from God, but I had made the assumption that the righteous and correct choice would be to go back to the mission field. While reading a talk about trusting the Lord, I received an immediate and overwhelming feeling that I needed to stay home. Honestly, I was rather disappointed by this prompting. I decided to start reading the talk from the beginning again, hoping that the answer would change. The first sentence said, “It is so hard when sincere prayer about something we desire very much is not answered the way we want.” 

I knew what the Lord wanted me to do. 

Please understand. Although this was not what I wanted, I wanted to do what HE wanted me to do. 

Even though I had been home for months, I began to fall apart inside. I knew that God loved me. I knew that I was not a failure. But during that time, those thoughts sometimes crept in. I wondered "Why couldn't I just finish? Is it too late to change my mind? Could I still go back? Am I failure?" I didn't finish my mission and EVERYONE knew it. 

But when I was in the Missionary Training Center, I learned something that has changed the way that I view trials and difficulties. My MTC teacher said, "SOMETIMES WE FALL APART SO THAT HEAVENLY FATHER CAN PUT US BACK TOGETHER THE WAY THAT HE WANTS US."

My time at home was the ultimate trial of faith. I needed to put my trust in God. If I stayed home, like He wanted me to then I would show Him that I truly loved Him and had full confidence and faith in Him and what He wanted for me. 

I am certainly not perfect, but I know that my Heavenly Father is. I know that He is constantly putting myself, and everyone else, back together so that we can become what He wants us to become. 

I know that HIS way is ALWAYS better than OUR way.

Staying home from my mission has been the hardest thing that I have had to do.
Many days are filled with fond and loving memories of my time as a missionary.

Some are heartbreaking and difficult. 

Now you're probably wondering why this post is titled, "Why I Don't Kneel for Prayers." Because of my knee problems, it is simply too painful for me to do so. So, when I pray, I sit up. My legs are stretched out in front of me as I sit on my bed. Sometimes I even stand. 

 The Lord  knows that, for me, kneeling is difficult. But I LOVE The Lord and He knows it.

I am writing this for TWO REASONS.

#1. I hope that by expressing my feelings in this way I can continue to cope with what has happened to me. I'm hoping this will become therapeutic for me.  

#2. I hope that I can help others understand what happened to me. 

I want everyone reading this to know- ALL MISSIONARIES SERVE. IT DOES NOT MATTER FOR HOW LONG. Elder Jeffrey R Holland of the 12 apostles said, "The important thing is that you served." 
That is ALL that matters. 

To those missionaries who have had to return sooner than expected- THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR DEDICATING YOUR TIME, NO MATTER HOW MUCH, TO THE LORD. HE LOVES YOU AND IS PROUD OF YOU.
In my final email home I wrote, "While it pains me to leave Australia and this great work for a time, I wouldn't trade the last 7 months for a thing."
I meant it.
I absolutely LOVED my time as a missionary.

I want to thank missionaries currently serving. They are doing The Lord's work and they are doing a wonderful job. 

I want to thank the missionaries that I served with. Thank you so very much for each of your examples to me. 

I want to thank my family and friends who have supported me always. I love each of you very much. 

I know that serving a mission was not a mistake. I know that The Lord was not punishing me by having me return early. I know that "NOTHING BAD CAN EVER COME FROM SERVING A MISSION." 

I know that I was called to be a missionary by The Lord. I know that He needed in me in Anaheim, California and Sydney, Australia at the time that I was there. And I know that He needs me here now. 

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ that I was called to share. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ. And I know that They love me. 

"My Lord will have need of me. 
But if by a still, small voice He calls To paths that I do not know, 
I'll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine; 
I'll go where you want me to go." 

1 comment:

  1. Sister Atkinson, I am sitting in the Denver airport, waiting to go home, and my eyes are filled with tears after reading your blog. At priesthood session of the last general conference, President Bednar gave a talk about missionary calls. I didn't know it at the time but I wondered why he was giving that talk. It touched my heart when he did and now I realize it was because of you. Although he spoke about reassignment rather than having to come home early, I know that he had someone like you in mind when he chose that topic. I hope that you are not feeling that you failed because, the truth is, you are far from a failure. You are one of the most beautiful and spiritual people I know. President Bednar's talk touched me and now I know why. May the good Lord bless you always and may you always be the shining light of the Gospel that you are.