Have I told you recently how much I love being a missionary?! As Elder Holland once said, and I'm totally paraphrasing "everything I am and hope to be I owe to this 18 month mission." Yesterday during studies I went and found the conference talk from our beloved Prophet President Monson when he announced the exciting news about the missionary age change."I am pleased to announce that effective immediately all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19. I am not suggesting that all young men will--or should--serve at this earlier age. Rather, based on individual circumstances as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available.
As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.We affirm that missionary work is a priesthood duty--and we encourage all young men who are worthy and who are physically able and mentally capable to respond to the call to serve. Many young women also serve, but they are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men. We assure the young sisters of the Church, however, that they make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome their service."I remember I was sleeping through that particular session and my mom came running into the bedroom and said "Lauren you can go on a mission at age 19!" In all honesty I wasn't beaming full of excitement like most of the 18 going on 19 girls were. I had always wanted to serve but when the opportunity was closer than I thought it was, I became uncertain of if it was right for me. Yesterday morning as I read these inspired words from our prophet I felt such a confirmation of how well our leaders and our Heavenly Father know us. As I read that statement I couldn't imagine my life without this decision I made to serve a mission. It has been the absolute greatest blessing in the world and I thank my Heavenly Father each day for the precious days He lends me in His service.I love the change that occurs as a missionary, uncomfortable as it may be at times. It is a beautiful feeling to grow and become more like our Precious Savior Jesus Christ each day. He is molding me daily and helping me see the potential that He sees in me. I have realized especially this week, that weak as I am, Heavenly Father is not. He is strong, He is powerful, and He is omnipotent and He has the divine ability to work through me as one of His servants.A few days ago we we having a lesson with our awesome investigators. The spirit was strong as we discussed important truths that would bless their lives. One of our investigators named Sean, an older gentleman, turned to me and asked "What are you going to do for your 21st birthday?" I promptly responded "Preach the gospel." He then chuckled and said, "Wow you don't hear that everyday!" I wouldn't trade where I am for the world. I love being a missionary. There's truly nothing greater than sharing something you know and love with someone else.On the topic of Prophets I also want you to know how grateful I am for our modern day prophet, for the service and love he so patiently renders. There was a conference talk a little while back where a member of the church was talking to her next door neighbor. The member was telling this particular neighbor about how there was a prophet on the earth today! The neighbor then excitedly responded, "Well what is he saying?" The member then froze and had to honestly say that she didn't quite know and couldn't formulate a sufficient answer as to what the prophet on the earth had recently told the people. Brothers and Sisters, may we all be a little more aware of the Prophet's counsel. In the last nine months the Prophet has guided us and has taught:1. Look heavenward2. Our decisions determine our destiny3. We will find peace in the temple4. We are commanded to be a light to the world. To love and serve others5. Be prepared for all that lies aheadPresident Uchdorf once said, "I am grateful (President Monson) focuses on the one, but has a heart for the whole world." How grateful I am to feel of his individual love for meand the great love he has for all those in the world. I know He walks with God and that God leads and guides us through Him.The work has been great here. We love the ward and are very grateful for their enthusiastic missionary attitudes. Yesterday was such a goodas we had a missionary in the ward return and give his homecoming address and also have a cute little Sister in the ward give her farewell. This last week we have spent a majority of our time riding our bikes, out in the hot humid sun, or in the pouring rain, and talking to everyone. We have put a lot of effort into finding and have seen many blessing and tender mercies as we give more of ourselves. We are also working with such an incredible 23 year old girl who is working to be baptized at the end of the month. We are excited for her and we know even more importantly her Heavenly Father is excited and proud of her.Shall we not go on in so great a cause?I love you guys! I hope you know how often I pray for you and for your own missionary efforts.Love Sister Mathis
*It's Lauren's birthday Thursday, June 18th. She'd love an email or a letter from any one of you!