I have wanted to serve a mission since I was 15 years old.
It always just seemed like something I needed to do to reach the level of conversion I was seeking. If I served a mission, I would learn skills and develop habits that would ultimately help me become the Church member, daughter, sister, friend, roommate, and eventually wife and mother I hoped to be. I have seen the examples of countless women who are outstanding in these roles without having served a mission. But for me, it felt like the stepping stone I needed to reach my goal and become who I wanted to be.
When I first decided I wanted to serve a mission, sister missionaries had to be at least 21 years old to serve, and that just felt so far away! Having a mom who got married at 20 made me worry that I wouldn't reach 21 without getting married (very silly, I know), and would therefore be unable to serve a mission.
In the welcome address of the October 2012 General Conference weekend, President Thomas S. Monson announced that, "able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of 21." [read the full address at lds.org]
With the announcement, the possibility of serving a mission felt so much more real! No way would I be married by 19; I was going on a mission!
After graduating high school and moving up to Utah to begin my freshman year at BYU, all I could think about was serving a mission. I prayed and prayed, asking God whether or not I should serve a mission. I went for months without receiving an answer and began to get discouraged. My roommate Ashley always joked with me saying that my lack of an answer was just a stupor of thought that meant I would be getting married instead. (Needless to say, she was wrong.)
Near the close of fall semester, Ashley and I decided to go for a 2AM temple stroll just to talk about life and get some fresh air. It was on this walk that I received my answer. I remembered the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 4:3 which says, "Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work" and it all became so clear. Heavenly Father hadn't given me an answer because He wanted me to realize that it was my choice! Doctrine and Covenants 9:8 says, "But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right." I hadn't prayed to Heavenly Father and told Him that I decided to serve then waited for the burning in my bosom; I had come to Him asking whether or not I should go.
I realized that because I have a desire to serve God, I have been called to the work. After this realization, I told God my plan and asked if it aligned with His will. The burning in the bosom came because Heavenly Father does hear and answer every prayer.