Dear Sister Zoller,Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatup. (ten points if you got the Backstreet Boys song reference in the title)
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Thailand, Bangkok Mission. You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center June 25, 2014. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Thai language.
I can still remember the feeling of my heart doing some kinda crazy dubstep thing in my chest when I read that for the first time. It took a solid 48 hours for me to realize I'd actually gotten a real mission call and I wasn't just hallucinating it, and another two months to start taking it seriously and actually start preparing. When I got the call, I couldn't have told you where Thailand was on a map. And I didn't even know Thai was a language. To be utterly honest, I was hoping I'd get called to Kansas. Seriously. I never wanted to speak anything other than Spanish or English, never wanted to travel, definitely didn't want to leave the continent. I have no ties to Thailand, no super cool ancestors from there, nada. But the Lord called me to the people there, and that was something I knew the moment I read that letter and something I've never doubted since.
I could spend the rest of this post talking about what made me want to go on a mission, and the incredible things that have happened in my life to lead me to this point, all the "coincidences" that were never coincidences but pure divine inspiration, but I won't. Because the only thing that matters right now is that I'm going. If I'm anything, I am living proof that people can and do change, and that anything is possible -- seriously, anything -- through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It's how we change and grow into the people God wants us to be. In my short life, I've had the opportunity to become intimately acquainted with the Atonement through a series of mishaps and mistakes that I can say now have all turned out to be humongous blessings in disguise. I'm so grateful for Jesus Christ and His ultimate sacrifice that allows me to change into a better person and have hope. I don't know where I'd be without my testimony of the Atonement!
One of the greatest lessons I've learned in the last few months is that we've all been called to serve the people around us, in the places that we've been led. I don't need a formal envelope with a fancy mission packet to know that I'm supposed to be serving specific people in my apartment or building or ward! There are no coincidences. If you're living your life right (and, I've found, even if you're not), you'll be led to touch the lives of others in ways you can't possibly imagine, and through that you'll find more happiness than you can imagine. I've tried a lot of things in life, and the one thing that has brought me the most real joy is the gospel.
And that's the most important thing right there, kids. The gospel's meant to bring us joy. This is a business of happiness and anyone working in or around it can feel the impact. It's crazy, it's powerful, and it's so, so real.
On June 4th, in three short weeks, I'm off to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Thailand, Bangkok mission. I'm a little terrified, not of the language or the food or even the mosquitoes but of the fact that this will probably be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. There's not a day that goes by that I don't question whether I'm cut out to go on a mission, but I won't know unless I try and give it everything I've got!
And for nostalgia's sake, here's the video of my mission call opening: