Hi everyone! My name is Hayley Knapp and I have been called as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints to Helsinki Finland! I report tomorrow to the Provo MTC, where I will learn more about the gospel and how to speak Finnish. I couldn't be more excited! I know that God loves each and every one of us and that he hears and answers our prayers. I know that through Christ we can be forgiven for our sins and one day return to our Heavenly Father's presence. I know that Joseph Smith restored the gospel to the earth in these latter-days and that there are living prophets on the earth to lead and guide us today. I know that families can be together for all eternity. I know the church is true.
I couldn't think of a better way to start my mission blog then to share a story that is so close to my heart. It is in a large part, why I have made the decision to serve a mission. This past January I had an experience that changed my life and gave me the answer that Heavenly Father has called me to serve him.
Really quick I would like to share a quote from an Apostle Elder Neal A. Maxwell, he said,
“The submission of one’s own will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we ‘give’… are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession, which is truly ours to give!”
This story is not only how I got my answer to serve the Lord but how I learned that God has a plan for each and everyone of us and that we can find so much peace and happiness when we are doing God's will.
On Monday January 14th I had what I think is going to be a life changing experience, at least for a year and a half anyway. Before I get to how I got my answer [to go on a mission] I need to give some background. In October when Prophet Thomas S. Monson gave the announcement that young women could now serve a mission at age 19, I was so excited and jumped on the bandwagon saying "I want to go! I am going to go on a Mission!" But over time the more I thought about a Mission the more I realized how hard a Mission really is. You have a set schedule everyday, you are away from home, a lot of the time learning a new language, in uncomfortable situations, can't talk to family or friends except through letters, its hard work constantly, and you are spending a year and a half away everything. So it slowly began to make more sense for me to stay here. I could get school done faster, I could work and earn money, I could go on a Study Abroad and travel instead, I could be with my Friends and Family. It was that kind of thinking that made me believe that it would be best for me to stay here. But it isn't. Over several months, I had a feelings and promptings that I was supposed to go on a mission but I had gotten to the point where I didn't want to and was to scared to do it, so I stopped really searching for an answer which I know wasn't the right thing to do.
It wasn't until January that I finally humbled myself enough to truly ask. I was in Mission Prep, which I had been planning to drop after going for about a week, when I felt the spirit really start to work on me. I knew it was the spirit and to be honest it kind of made me uncomfortable because it made me feel guilty for pushing off all promptings about going on a mission but somehow it was able to work itself into me during this class. I really began to open up when I saw a title on a PowerPoint that the teacher was reading and it said, "No need to Fear". That really just started to sink into me because I really did, and occasionally still do, fear going on a mission. Following the title there was a quote by President Ezra Taft Benson and it read,
"Our work will be light and easy to bear if we will depend on the lord and work." "Don't worry about being successful. We are going to be successful-there is now doubt about it. The lord has sent us to earth at the time of harvest. He does not expect us to fail. He called no one to this work to fail. He expects us to succeed."
After reading that my teacher continued by saying, "Fear and Faith cannot coexist. With Fear you cannot have Faith and with Faith you cannot have Fear." Really quick I want to explain something that I had learned in Book of Mormon earlier that day in Alma chapter 32 and it was all about planting a seed and the first step to planting a seed is to be taught. And that is what I think was happening. The teacher was teaching me what I needed to know. Bro. Goodman than furthered his lesson by talking about Enoch and how he heard the Lords voice command him to go and preach the repentance unto the people and how after Enoch heard this he fell to his knees and ask why he was being called to go and do this work. Enoch then gave 3 excuses to why he didn't see himself fit for the job. 1. He was but a Lad. 2. He was slow in speech 3. He wasn't very popular. This is when I realized that I wasn't much different than Enoch. Whenever people asked if I was going on a mission I would simply say I was waiting for an answer, though I wasn't really trying, and then continue by giving reasons why it would be just fine for me to stay here.
It was at this time when I really felt the spirit push harder on me than ever before and I began to humble myself and for the first time really wanted an answer more than anything. So after about 10 minutes of struggling with myself I said a silent prayer and asked with a sincere heart for an answer to whether or not I should go on a mission. I then promised that I would do whatever he wanted whether it be to go on a mission or to stay here. After that I sat quietly just hoping to get an answer. I wasn't expecting one to come quickly because I know for most answers you need to have patience and search, ponder, and pray for it over a period of time. But to my surprise I got a simple thought to just pull my Book of Mormon out of my backpack and open it. So I did. I pulled it out and opened it. And it landed on Alma 30. So I began to read from verse 42-46. What really stuck out to me in these verses was in the first verse I read and it says, "Thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and yet have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you". This was exactly what I had been doing even though I wished it hadn't been. And the rest of the verses made me realize how much I did believe and love this gospel and that I have a testimony, but why was I pushing it off? I then realized that I needed to truly humble myself to whatever the lord wanted for me. I then decided to flip again. I had tried this many times before because I had heard the stories about people who have prayed flipped the scriptures open and had the answer right there, this hadn't ever worked for me before so I though ill just flip a few more times. But I then had a thought "No Hayley you need to read right here." So I stopped right before I was about to flip the page and opened to the page I was on. I began reading from verses 29-31 of Alma 42. The first Verse that I read says,
"And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance."
This was probably the most comforting verse. Knowing whether or not to go on a mission had been troubling me for months, even though I tried to not let it, it was really starting to weigh down on me and It was like the lord knew exactly what I had been feeling all this time and was there to help me through it. I then read,
"O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility."
I felt like once again I was being told to stop putting off the promptings of the spirit and to humble myself and come unto the lord. I then read in verse 31, which gave me my full answer,
"And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them. And my God grant unto you even according to my words. Amen."
That is when the seed was planted and just like in Alma 32 I could feel it swell within me and I had a burning in my heart and I know that this was the Lord's answer to my Prayer. Even though it wasn't easy to accept God’s will over my own right on the spot, I was soon filled with an over whelming peace, comfort, and joy as I followed my promise to do God’s will and serve him. Everything after that fell into place. I couldn't be more grateful for the blessings that I have received as I chose to do God's will. I know he loves me and has a plan for me and that I am on the right path! I can't wait until tomorrow as this new adventure, that will change my life forever, begins! I love all of you! Thanks for all the love and support! :)