Friday, November 22, 2013

Bless my sole

Have you ever wondered if God really cares about the little things in life? Sometimes I think my trials are so trivial compared to other tragedies happening in the world. I wonder how He could possibly take the time to worry about...say, a pair of shoes?

Three years ago, I went to visit my good friend in Arizona. My friend and her mom know how to thrift shop. While I was there, they were going to take me to their favorite second-hand store and teach me their ways. Before we went, Sister G. told me the story of her new scriptures: She was wanting a new pair to take with her on her mission to Nauvoo. Scriptures can be pricey. She found a nice, barely used triple combination at the thrift store one day so she bought it hoping she would find a Bible that matched. She told me that if she is in need of something specific, she will put in an order with the Lord. It may not always be there when she goes the first time, but she will eventually find what she needs and she eventually got her Bible. The Lord always provides. I have remembered this story and it came to mind today.

For the last month, all I have been able to think about is shoes. Not in the way most girls are thinking about them, though. I am trying to find a couple good pairs of shoes for the mission. I'm going to be walking more than I ever have or ever will the next 18 months and I actually hate shoes. I have semi-wide feet and I tend to blister easily. Also, when my feet hurt, my demeanor changes. I am not a happy person. AND I don't like spending the big bucks on shoes. So this has been my dilemma.

I have read so many blogs of girls that say "Don't get the ugly sister missionary shoes! There are better options like oxfords." First, these girls have never served missions -- they are generally about to go and have no idea what they are in for. Asking returned missionaries is a different story. All of them tell you to get good shoes. Not only do you want them to feel good, but you also want them to last. Now don't get me wrong, I want to look nice, but comfort > fashion for 18 months is not going to kill you. Wearing uncomfortable shoes just might. Also, have you ever tried on oxfords? They may be cute but they aren't very sturdy or comfortable. Those aren't going to last more than 1 month walking the dusty roads of Mexico. Just sayin'...

After hours of research, reading customer reviews, talking with RMs, scanning missionary blogs, etc., I decided I wanted to get a pair of Clarks. I read that they were probably the least ugly and most comfortable walking shoes. I also read that one girl found a pair randomly at Ross for way cheaper than retail. So my quest began.

I went to Ross last weekend with high hopes of finding a pair of Clarks but I had no luck. I was bummed but didn't give up. I remembered Sister G., put in an order and decided I would be patient and go to another Ross on another day.

This week has been very emotionally and spiritually draining. Some very sad things happened close to home and my shoe issue didn't seem like a very big deal anymore. I wondered if it really even mattered. Maybe I would just have to spend $80+ on a pair and forget about finding them cheaper.

Today after work I had some time to kill before I picked up mom. Luckily there is a Ross right across the road from her work so I hopped right in there to peruse the shoe section. I was scanning the aisle of size 8s when what did my eyes behold? A pair of Clarks just for me! I tried them on and as all the reviews said, they were very comfy and my feet felt happy. They aren't the cutest, but again I'm going for comfort. Just for fun, I checked to see if there were any other pairs in different sizes. I didn't find a single pair in another size. Just one pair of black Clarks in size 8 for $30.

Now some people might just chalk this up as a coincidence, but to me it was a miracle. It was the Lord confirming to me that He does care; big or small, my problems, concerns, successes, failures matter to Him. We matter to Him. He is our creator and we are His children. I can't help but imagine Him smiling to Himself as he heard the thankful prayer in my heart in the middle of the shoe aisle of Ross.

The most beautiful pair of ugly shoes I've ever seen. Miracle shoes! They aren't THAT bad right?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

voted in

Because I kept my mission a secret from most everyone, and because most people never thought I would serve a mission, I had some great reactions from people. It was actually quite fun. I mean, head popping, eye bulging, mouth dropping fun. When I called some of my friends, I had to preface it with, No I’m not getting married…or dating anyone…or even like anyone. My best friend told me that she kept waiting for me to tell her that it was a joke. Nope, not a joke!

Some of my favorite reactions came from my friends at work. Many of them aren’t familiar with what a mission is or how it works. 

Me: Hey, guess what? I’m going on a mission for my church!
L: Wait, did you volunteer for this or were you voted in? If you volunteered I’m not going to be happy for you!
Me: I volunteered. You don’t really get voted in…
L: Ok, I’ll try to be happy for you...

Me: Hey, I’m going on a mission for my church to Mexico!
D: What? How long will you be there?
Me: A year and a half
D (eyes getting wider by the second): But…but…how will you survive? You won’t be working for 18 months!
Me: I’ll be ok.
D: But what will you eat?
Me: There is food in Mexico, D.
D: Who will you live with?
Me: I’ll live with a companion. Another sister missionary just like me.
D: (eyes very wide): A STRANGER?!
Hahahahahah. Yes, a very scary 19-year-old-mormon-girl-stranger.

 So what is a mission, really? Many people outside my faith view missions as a humanitarian trip or cultural experience. Those are true for an LDS mission but that's not all we do. We live in an unfamiliar place and serve others and learn of their culture and traditions. I will have the opportunity to help others with their temporal or physical welfare by performing acts of service. But more than that, my mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. My official purpose as a missionary is to “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end."

So for a year and a half, I have the opportunity to help others by sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I get to teach people that they are literally children of a Heavenly Father who loves them perfectly, despite their weaknesses and flaws. I get to help others follow Christ by partaking of the saving principles and ordinances of His gospel. I will teach others of the sacrifice their Savior, Jesus Christ, made for them because He LOVES them.

I get to share the love, people. 

To learn even more about what a mission is, click HERE!

P.S. I'm really going to miss my hilarious friends at work.They keep life interesting.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I don't know about you, but I couldn't help but think of The Backstreet Boys song when I wrote that title. I just looked up the lyrics...why was I allowed to listen to that when I was 10?! Wholesome boy band my booty...

Anyway...this is about a totally different call then the BSB's song.

Throughout the whole process of submitting my papers, I couldn't stop myself from thinking about WHERE I would be serving. It's natural, obviously. I would lay in bed at night thinking about every possible place. What if I was sent this place or that place. Deep in my heart, I really wanted to go Spanish speaking. Even deeper in my heart, I wanted to serve somewhere that my family had served. My father and two brothers all served Spanish speaking missions. Pop: Mexico, Ben: Venezuela, Matthew: Spain. They hadn't been sending sisters from the US to Mexico for years, so that wasn't an option in my mind. Neither was Venezuela since they only send natives there. My only option was Spain. The week I received my call, I couldn't get the idea of Spain out of my mind. I was convincing myself that was where I was going but would then tell myself that I wasn't going there so I didn't get my hopes up. Then I would think "what if I'm sent to Russia? Or the Philippines? They wouldn't do that, right? Wait I'm going to Spain. No I'm not, I'm going to Arizona. Idaho? Montana. Florida? No, Spain. JUST GO TO BED!" This was my thought process for a week straight. I was going nuts. We will revisit this thought in a moment.

That week was crazy. Not only could I not stop thinking about where I was going, it was the busiest week at work. That was probably a blessing looking back because I didn't really have time to think about the call during the day. I thought the big white envelope would arrive on Thursday, since that is the day a lot of people receive their calls here. I told all my family to come over that night and we would eat cookies and celebrate. Emily was home that afternoon and she checked the mail. She had the sad job of telling me the call had not arrived. I was devastated. For real. That whole night I just moped around my house.

The next day was Friday. From 7:30-4:00 I was so busy. I was calling kids non-stop and really had no time to think except riiight near the end of the work day. I would be the first person to check the mail that day so I wanted to leave work right at 4 but my boss came in and asked if I could stay until 5. WHY?! I begged him to let me go earlier. I had done everything I needed to do for the day and I really needed to get home. About 5 people asked me if I had a "hot date" that night. Um, yes. I have a hot date with my mission call. Can I go now? Luckily I didn't have to stay that late and I raced home. The whole 10 minute drive was torture. I kept thinking it wouldn't be in the mailbox. Or worse, someone had stolen it out of the mailbox and I'd never find out where I was going! My stomach was churning as I rounded the corner on my street. I parked and tried to walk calmly to the mailbox. I opened it up and there is was, in all it's big, white, envelope glory. I carefully brought it inside and placed it neatly on the front table. Well, after it had a photo shoot and I texted everyone to come over at 8:30 pm

I liked this photo the best. The light hits it just right...

But then I had to wait. I probably should have stayed at work late. I had to wait until 8:30 that night to open the call. I'm not going to lie, I was veerrryyy tempted to open it before anyone got home. That's what I did when I got my acceptance letter to BYU. I locked myself in my bathroom and opened it by myself. But I couldn't do that this time so I headed over to Target, my favorite place to wander, and walked around for about an hour. I even drove the exact speed limit there and back (that is a rare occurrence) in hopes time would pass more quickly. Then I went to Panda and got dinner.

This is where we pick up on the Spain thing again. I ate my Panda bowl with chow mein and orange chicken (duh) and carefully selected my fortune cookie. I opened it up and this is what I saw:

 I obviously give fortune cookies too much credit, but I am crossing the Rio Grande. That counts, right?

I KNOW, RIGHT?! Spain. The fortune cookie had spoken. Of course, everyone had to remind me that fortune cookies aren't real and I would probably be crossing The Great Salt Lake. Whatever people, I believe in them. Unless they say "you have a great personality and lots of friends." Well thanks, that was nice of you but I already knew that and that's not a fortune.

After what felt like an eternity, Emily got home from work and I was ready. With 4 phones on my lap, one ipad with facetime and 13 people gathered 'round, I opened it and read:

Dear Sister Durham,
You are hearby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Mexico Cuernavaca mission. *cue tears*

I get to serve in the same country as my father and grandfather. I get to learn the Spanish language. I get to serve the Lord and His beloved Mexican people. I wouldn't have it any other way.

You know, as I've gone through this whole process of deciding, waiting, and now preparing to go, I have come to know more than ever before that my Heavenly Father knows me perfectly. He hears my prayers and takes into account my desires. He knows what's best. He knows that Mexico needs me and that I need Mexico.

This hermana is going to Mexico!!

requested...not required

Three years had passed since the first time I considered serving a mission. In those three years, I did a lot of great things. I graduated from BYU with a degree, I moved back home, bought a car, I got my first full-time job, etc. My life was going well but I knew there was something more I needed to do. I figured I needed to go to grad school and further my education, but every time I would decide on a direction to take, I lost interest and had no motivation. It was weird but as I look back, I've realized that is how the Lord tells me something isn't right.

In the last year, there were multiple times when I felt a nudge toward a mission, but since I had received an answer previously, I would just brush it aside. After I used that excuse several times, I moved on to the excuse of "I'm too old to go on a mission" or "I have a good job and should be going back to school soon" or anything else I could think of until I ran out. I talked with my mom about all of my fears. I felt as though I needed to go, but I was scared. My mom simply reminded me that the Lord prepares a way for us to accomplish what we need to. Boy is that the truth.

I decided that if I was going to receive an answer if I should serve, I needed to put into practice what I did three years before.  I met with my bishop and started the process. And just like three years ago, I didn't tell anyone but my parents. I did not want anyone's opinion or thoughts on the matter. I wanted to do what I felt was best for me. As I moved through the process, it was much different than before. I felt excited and ready. I also had a distinct feeling that the Lord was requesting me to serve. He would be fine if I didn't go, the work would move forward, but He was asking for my help. I've never felt as though a mission was required or that I was under an obligation to serve but I'm grateful for that peaceful confirmation that I received.

The papers were submitted. I didn't know where I would serve, but I knew that it would be where I was needed most. A week before my assignment arrived, I told my siblings about my impending call. Everyone was happy for me. I was happy, too...but I couldn't relax until I knew where I was going.

Please don't send me to Russia...or the Philippines...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

To serve or not to serve...that is the question.

Let's start three years ago. I had just finished my Junior year of college and was living the BYU summer life. Some of my friends had left or were preparing to leave on missions soon, which was great for them. I love missionary work and support missionaries far and wide, but I just never thought I would be one. The thought of serving a mission was tucked safely in the back of my mind. I kept it there because I never wanted to ask if it should be in the forefront. I was 21, the designated age for sisters to serve at the time, so it was a possibility.

I can remember one Sunday that summer very vividly. The talks given in sacrament were all about missions and marriage, my bishop's two favorite topics. They never hit me quite like they did that day. I just started crying and I couldn't stop. It was definitely an ugly cry so as soon as the meeting was over, I ran home and knelt down to pray to ask why I was feeling this way (and also to wash my face and reapply my makeup :). I felt conflicted and didn't know what to do. In my mind, I thought that serving a mission would limit my opportunities to get married. I thought it was a choice between serving a mission or marriage and I wanted the latter more than the first. (Note: I didn't have any prospects for marriage so that was also a factor in the confusion).

I made an appointment to meet with my bishop and I discussed my thoughts and feelings about missions and marriage. He reassured me that service as a missionary wouldn't "take me out of the running" for marriage. He also told me that to receive an answer of whether or not I should serve, I needed to make a decision and move forward. He promised I would receive an answer. 

I chose to start the mission application process. I went into it excited and nervous. I filled out the first few pages and I went home from school for a break between summer and fall semesters to do my medical exams. It was during that time my excitement started to fade. It wasn't out of fear or uncertainty, but I couldn't see myself as a missionary. I made the decision to not continue with my papers and felt at peace with that decision. I was reassured I could still be a missionary without full-time service and that I was needed more where I was at the time. I also thought I would never revisit the thought of serving a mission again. 

Little did I know...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Called to Serve

I have been called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! I have been called to labor in the Mexico Cuernavaca mission! I leave February 5, 2014 and will serve a period of 18 months. I couldn't be more excited!