|Reading her call from college while we were on skype|
Good afternoon Brothers and Sisters, friends and family. My name is Emily Wattles, soon to be known as Hermana Wattles. In just one more day, I will be headed off to Peru where I will serve the people for a period of eighteen months.
Peru Cusco is home of many famous sites like Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu and if often referenced to Disney animation, The Emperor's New Groove, where the main character's name is Cusco.
There is no doubt that the Peru Cusco mission will be an adventure and an experience to never be forgotten. I know that the experiences as a missionary will be very difficult and sometimes it may seem impossible. Often, many people question why a young person would ever want to go on a mission, but today I would like to share with you just why I decided to serve a mission.
On September 26, 2014, I got my call in the mail and I opened it with my roommates and a couple other friends up at BYUI. I was purely ecstatic and I didn't want anything else except to serve the Lord and serve the people of Peru for a short period of my life. Upon receiving my call, I was bombarded with the same question, "What made you choose to go on a mission?" This question was always a hard one for me to answer and I never really had the same answer each time because I've never had an experience where God told me to go on a mission and I never really had an experience where I felt so strongly that I needed to go. I just wanted to and nothing was stopping me from going. I usually just told people that it was a good thing to do and why not? Or, sometimes, I would open up D&C 4:3 which reads, "Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;" and then I would proceed to tell them that I wanted to go on a mission, so therefore I am called to the work. As time slipped by and my mission became closer and I started to recognize the clearer more affirmative reason as to why I was serving a mission: because I loved the Lord, and I wanted others to feel his love.
Now I am going to back track a little bit and go back to the basics. What is a missionary? What is the definition of a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? Elder Bednar states, "a missionary is a follower of Christ who testifies of Him as the Redeemer and proclaims the truths of His gospel." A follower of Christ. Who testifies of Him and proclaims the truths of His gospel. Often times, many people question why our church is growing so fast and why we have so many members. "Are they a cult?" "Are they trying to take over the world?" "Why do so many people want to become Mormon?"
As Elder Bednar states, "When we invite you to attend church with us or to learn with the full time missionaries, we are not trying to sell you a product. As members of the Church, we do not receive prizes or bonus points in a Heavenly contest. We are not seeking simply to increase the numerical size of the Church. And most importantly, we are not attempting to coerce you to believe as we do. We are inviting you to hear the restored truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ so you can study, ponder, pray and come to know for yourself if the things we are sharing with you are true."
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for so many reasons. Because, I love the way I feel when I come to church, I love the random texts from members of the ward who are just checking up on me to see how I'm doing, I love the leaders who come bring me treats when I broke my leg playing kickball at mutual, I love it when other girls take time out of their day to heart attack my door, I love passing by people in the hallway and seeing smiling faces everywhere I turn. I love knowing that I will always have a friend, I love singing hymns that give me that tingly feeling from head to toe, I love when my whole being is filled with happiness and I can't help but smile because I am so blessed, and I especially love knowing that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and cares about me and wants me to return to him and become just like him.
I am a missionary because I want everyone to feel the way I do, and I want to share what I know and how I feel about Heavenly Father's wonderful message of good news to his children... all of you and everyone else.
I want to share a story with you that Elder Bednar shared in this past conference about a sweet young boy. It reads, "One evening Susan and I stood near a window in our home and watched two of our little boys playing outside. During the course of their adventures, the younger of the two boys was injured slightly in a small accident. We quickly recognized that he was not seriously hurt, and we decided not to provide immediate assistance. We wanted to observe and see if any of our family discussions about brotherly kindness had sunk in. What happened next was both interesting and instructive.
The older brother consoled and carefully helped the younger brother back into the house. Susan and I had positioned ourselves near the kitchen so we could see what next took place, and we were prepared to intervene immediately if additional bodily harm seemed likely or a serious accident was imminent. The older brother dragged the chair to the kitchen sink. He climbed up on the chair, assisted his brother onto the chair, turned on the water, and proceeded to pour a large quantity of dishwashing soap onto the scratched arm of his little brother. He did his best to gently was away the dirt. The reaction of the little brother to this procedure can only be described accurately using language from the holy scriptures: "And they shall have cause to howl, and weep, and wail, and gnash their teeth" (Mosiah 16:2). And did that little boy howl!
After scrubbing was finished, the arm was carefully dried with a towel. Eventually the screaming stopped. The older brother next climbed up onto the kitchen counter, opened a cabinet, and found a new tube of medicated ointment. Though the scratches on his little brother were not large of extensive, the older brother applied almost all of the ointment in the tube to the entire injured arm. The screaming did not resume, as the little brother clearly liked the soothing effect of the ointment much more than he appreciated the cleansing effect of the dishwashing soap.
The older brother returned again to the cabinet in which he had found the ointment and located a new box of sterile bandages. He then unwrapped and put bandages all up and down his brother's arm - from the wrist to the elbow. With the emergency resolved, and with soap bubbles, ointment, and wrappers all over the kitchen, the two little boys hopped down from the chair with bright smiles and happy faces.
What happened next is most important. The injured brother gathered up the remaining bandages and the almost empty tube of ointment, and he went back outside. He quickly sought out his friends and began to put ointment and bandages on their arms. Susan and I both were struck by the sincerity, enthusiasm, and rapidity of his response."
This young boy had discovered something that made him so happy and feel so good that he was eager to share it with his friends.
This is the exact reason why worthy young men and women serve missions, to share the happiness and truth that they have in their lives with everyone they know.
Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sacrifice a lot while they are gone, and the work is often difficult...(I mean it's hard for me to say because I haven't been yet but I will soon find out :) )...But, despite the hardships, young men and women continue to serve missions because of the positive effects that it has on the people they serve and the love that they have for the Lord. I cannot wait to serve the people of Peru and to share this amazing message of truth with them. I have already felt so much love for them so already and I know that I am meant to go to Cusco and that the Lord is already preparing me, and the people for me to teach.
Before I close, I would like to share my absolute favorite scripture. It is found in the Bible in the Old Testament. It is Proverbs 3:5-6. It reads, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct they paths."
I love this scripture so much because there is so much that we do not know about God. There are so many questions we could ask him. We cannot live this life alone. Heavenly Father knows all of the answers and so that means, sometimes we just have to trust him. We have to trust him with everything. He knows what is best for us. And if we trust him and recognize that his hand is in all things, he will "direct thy paths." He will make sure that we go the right way and return to him.
This scripture is so amazing and it relates to missionary work because as much as missionaries can share with you the gospel and tell you how great it is, as much as I can stand up here and share with you why I love the church and why I would love to share the gospel with you, it is through personal prayer and conversing with the Lord that you will come to know if it is true.
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we choose to accept the gospel and we find out for ourselves to see if the church is true and I invite all to do the same.
Talk with your Father in Heaven. Ask him if this church is true. Read the Book of Mormon and find out for yourselves.
I am so thankful for this church and I know it is true. I am so thankful that I get to serve a mission in one day. I know that God needs missionaries on the earth to spread the gospel. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and I know that it testifies of Christ on the earth. I know that God knows me and love me and has a plan for everyone. I love each and every one of you and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.