I opened my mission call a little over 4 months ago, on April 17th. I have been called to serve in the Philippines Cebu Mission, speaking Cebuano, and I leave on Wednesday for the Provo MTC! Before I opened my call I had never heard of Cebu or the Cebuano language before, but it’s amazing how someplace so far away can feel so familiar and like home.
Some people shudder when they hear about the lifestyle I will be living in the Philippines. I will have the opportunity to hand-wash my clothes for the next 18 months, no washing machines. Toilet paper is scarce; it is more common to use a bucket of hot water and soap. I will shower using a luxurious cold bucket of water, and I will have the opportunity to share my apartment with many little creatures: ants, cockroaches, and rats to name a few. I am sure I will get to try some Filipino delicacies like balut (fertilized duck embryo), chicken feet, and chicken intestines. Yum!!
Even though this new life I will be living is so different from the life I have been living in good old Ogden Utah for the past 19 years, I can’t wait to embrace the changes and my new way of life. I am so excited and so READY to give everything I have to Heavenly Father and serving His children in the Philippines.
I want to start off by reading Proverbs 3:5-6. This is the scripture I’ve chosen to be on my plaque. It ties in perfectly with my topic today, and also explains why I am so willing to leave my family and the things that are familiar to me for 18 months.
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 THY PATHS.
A quote that goes along with this is from Elder Nelson’s talk “Catch the Wave” from this past April general conference.
DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS, I ADD MY VOICE TO THAT OF PRESIDENT THOMAS S. MONSON AND OTHERS IN PRAISING THOSE WHO HAVE RESPONDED TO A PROPHET’S CALL FOR MORE WORTHY MISSIONARIES. NOW AN UNPRECEDENTED WAVE OF ENTHUSIASM FOR MISSIONARY WORK IS SWEEPING THE ENTIRE EARTH. SINCE PRESIDENT MONSON’S HISTORIC ANNOUNCEMENT LAST OCTOBER, THOUSANDS OF ELDERS, SISTERS, AND COUPLES HAVE BEEN CALLED, AND MANY MORE ARE PREPARING. NOW WE GET QUESTIONS LIKE, “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH ALL THESE MISSIONARIES?” THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE. THEY WILL DO WHAT MISSIONARIES HAVE ALWAYS DONE. THEY WILL PREACH THE GOSPEL! THEY WILL BLESS THE CHILDREN OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD!
I know that because I have trusted in the Lord with ALL my heart, like it says in Proverbs 3:5, he has directed my path to preach the gospel and bless the children of the Almighty God, as Elder Nelson said.
Elder Nelson also goes on to say, MORE OF YOU YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN WILL CATCH THIS WAVE AS YOU STRIVE TO BE WORTHY OF MISSION CALLS. YOU SEE THIS AS A WAVE OF TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS. YOU SEE YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO BE ON THE CREST OF THAT WAVE.
I want to share a few experiences with you all that have led me to “CATCH THE WAVE” of missionary work.
Most of you know that my sweet dad Bob is a convert to the church. He went on trek about 10 years ago to be the camp cook, and after sitting through a testimony meeting the last night of trek, the desire sparked inside him to know the truthfulness of the gospel for himself.
As a former Southern Baptist, many things about the LDS church seemed different to him. One thing that is quite different between the two churches is the way that prayers are said. Bob was used to reciting “The Lord’s Prayer”, so what did 9 year old Joslyn do? I taught him how to pray. I taught him to pray for the things that he was thankful for, and the people he was thankful for too. Bob started to pray some of the sweetest, most simple and heartfelt prayers I have ever heard. This is just one missionary experience I had at a young age. It’s fun to look back and realize how I started to “CATCH THE WAVE” at such a young age.
I so clearly remember the homecoming talks of 2 beautiful sisters in this ward: Julie Palmer and Angela Stander. I remember feeling the spirit so strongly as I listened to them talk about their missions. I saw the Light of Christ in their eyes as they spoke and I so badly wanted that to be me. After Angela’s homecoming I went home and wrote in my journal that I wanted to serve a mission when I was older if I had the opportunity.
Now here I am, 3 days before entering the MTC. I have desires to serve God and I have been called to the work like it says in D&C 4. I am blessed to have had many experiences in my life that have led me to be part of such a great and marvelous work of salvation.
In Elder Nelson’s talk, he makes a point to say that missionaries are not the only ones to “Catch the Wave”. Everyone has a valuable contribution to make to the work of salvation. Wherever we go, whatever we do, whether we know it or not, we have the ability to influence our friends, coworkers, family members, doctors, and many more people who we interact with. May all of us in our everyday lives strive to be bolder about sharing the gospel with those around us.
Another point that Elder Nelson makes in his talk is that…“OUR INQUIRING FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS NOT OF OUR FAITH CAN ALSO CATCH THE WAVE.” My mom has a friend at work named Amy who is not a member of the church, but who has lived in Utah her whole life and grown up surrounded by members. Everyone who works with my mom except for Amy are all LDS. One day my mom and her coworkers sat down to eat lunch and Amy had a question for them about the church. She said, “What is that empty seat you Mormons always talk about?” “Who gets to sit in the empty seat?” My mom was a little confused, and worried that she wouldn’t be able to answer the question, but later she figured out what Amy was talking about. Amy thought that the MTC (the MISSIONARY TRAINING CENTER) was the “EMPTY SEAT” and that it was a special chair that only members of the church were allowed to sit in. So, my mom had the opportunity to explain to Amy that the MTC is a place where missionaries go for special training before their missions. It sounds silly, but Amy had this question for years and years before my mom answered it. This happened about a year ago, and when Amy found out I got my mission call, she went and bought me some supplies to take on my mission. I’m glad my mom is a good example to her and was able to answer her question about the MTC, and I know that all of us can have experiences like this as we strive to have missionary experiences in everyday life.
Elder Nelson goes on to say that: “THE BOOK OF MORMON IS THE CENTERPIECE OF THE RESTORATION. IT WAS WRITTEN, PRESERVED, AND TRANSMITTED UNDER THE LORD’S DIRECTION. IT WAS TRANSLATED BY THE GIFT AND POWER OF GOD.”
In the first lesson of Preach my Gospel, it says, “IN ORDER TO KNOW THAT THE BOOK OF MORMON IS TRUE, A PERSON MUST READ, PONDER, AND PRAY ABOUT IT. THE HONEST SEEKER OF TRUTH WILL SOON COME TO FEEL THAT THE BOOK OF MORMON IS THE WORD OF GOD.”
The first experience I had was in Seminary my sophomore year of high school. It was the year that our focus was on the Book of Mormon, so my seminary teacher got the class this (hold it up) Book of Mormon. Each night someone would take it home and read it and mark it up like it was their own. The next day before bringing it back to class, the person would write their testimony in the back. At the end of the semester, whoever read the most pages got to keep the entire book. I was the one who got to keep it. I was the only sophomore in a class with mostly seniors, who I felt like were SO much older and more knowledgeable than me, but this experience taught me that not only is the Book of Mormon true, but we can learn valuable things if we will allow ourselves to be taught by the Spirit.
The next experience I had was when the Young Single Adult Stake Relief Society read the Book of Mormon in 2 days. There were stations we went to- sometimes we would read alone, and other times we would read with our ward, or even with all of the sisters in the stake. Something else that was really fun was that bishops of the wards in the stake made “cameo appearances” as different people in the scriptures like Nephi and Mormon. Bishop Poll, my former singles ward bishop, dressed up as Isaiah and gave a great impersonation of him. My favorite part about these 2 days was the surprise when 6 missionaries came and sang the song “Armies of Helaman”. They walked in through the back doors of the chapel and the Spirit in the room was so overwhelming. This experience strengthened my testimony of the Book of Mormon in relation to missionary work, as it was right before I submitted my mission papers.
“THE BOOK OF DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS CONTAINS MANY ADDITIONAL REVELATIONS GIVEN TO THE PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH. THROUGH HIM WE HAVE RECEIVED MORE PAGES OF SCRIPTURE THAN WE HAVE FROM ANY OTHER PROPHET.” My family just finished reading the Doctrine and Covenants last week. It has been so fun to gather together in the living room before bed each night and be able to read the scriptures as a family. This has been a huge strength to me as I have been preparing for my mission. I have heard people say that they wish they would have spent more time with their family before they left for their mission. Reading the Doctrine and Covenants as a family has helped me to spend time with my family and it has also helped me to form lasting memories with them that I can think of on my mission.
Elder Nelson so carefully worded his thoughts throughout the entire talk and one of my favorite parts is when he said this. “THIS WAVE OF TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS IS WONDROUS! IT IS NOT MAN-MADE! IT COMES FROM THE LORD, WHO SAID, “I WILL HASTEN MY WORK IN ITS TIME.” THIS WAVE IS EMPOWERED BY A DIVINE ANNOUNCEMENT MADE 193 YEARS AGO. IT CONSISTED OF ONLY SEVEN WORDS: “THIS IS MY BELOVED SON. HEAR HIM!” UTTERED BY THE ALMIGHTY GOD, THAT ANNOUNCEMENT INTRODUCED A YOUNG JOSEPH SMITH TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. THOSE SEVEN WORDS LAUNCHED THE RESTORATION OF HIS GOSPEL. WHY? BECAUSE OUR LIVING GOD IS A LOVING GOD! HE WANTS HIS CHILDREN TO KNOW HIM AND JESUS CHRIST, WHOM HE HAS SENT! AND HE WANTS HIS CHILDREN TO GAIN IMMORTALITY AND ETERNAL LIFE!”
I have had some really neat experiences since I’ve had my call that have shown me that there are people waiting for me in the Philippines. I want to share one experience that stands out in my mind with you today. My mom and I have been going to the temple before I leave and one day we went to do initiatories at the Bountiful Temple. The lady before me had names from South America, and my mom’s names were from South America too. Then I look down at my names, and they are ALL from the Philippines! More specifically, the province in the Philippines that they were from is in my mission boundaries! I of course started to cry and couldn’t believe this tender mercy. I remember sitting there in the temple that day and just thanking Heavenly Father SO much for this experience. Julie Palmer told me one time that she would meet people in Brazil who told her that she looked familiar to them. She would think to herself, “I have never been to Brazil before and I have never met these people before”, but then she realized that there were people in Brazil that she knew in the pre-existence. With all the tender mercies that have happened since I got my call, I know that I will meet people, my friends, who I knew in the pre-existence and who I promised I would come and find on my mission.
The Lord has told us, “If it so be that you should labor all your days, in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your job with him in the kingdom of my father.” “And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, How great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me.” I am so excited to be a missionary and to bring those souls, Heavenly Father’s children, and my friends, back to Him. It is an opportunity that I will always cherish.
I went on a walk with my favorite walking buddy, Miss Angela Stander the other week. I remember telling her that there is a piece of me that is missing and I have to travel clear to Southeast Asia and live there for 18 months to find out what it is. It feels like I’m going home. I’m human and I do get nervous sometimes, but I never cease to feel the comfort of the Holy Ghost, walking by my side and lifting me up and showing me how perfect the Philippines Cebu Mission is for me.
A quote I strive to live by is “LIVE YOUR LIFE IN SUCH A WAY THAT THOSE WHO KNOW YOU BUT DON’T KNOW CHRIST WILL WANT TO KNOW CHRIST BECAUSE THEY KNOW YOU.” I get the amazing opportunity to serve and teach and love the Filipino people for the next 18 months, and to invite them to Come unto Christ. This is a dream come true for me! “A SISTER MISSIONARY LEAVES HER FAMILY FOR 18 MONTHS, SO THAT THOSE SHE TEACHES CAN BE WITH THEIR FAMILIES FOREVER.” I don’t know what I would do without my family and their love and support. I’m so close to my parents and my sister. I can’t imagine what it would be like if we weren’t a forever family. I don’t want to think about it. But what I do want to think about and what I am so excited about is the blessing that my family will be in helping me serve the people in the Philippines. Because of my family and the strong bond we have, I have the strongest desire to help families come unto Christ so that they can be together forever too.
Mom, you are my rock and my best friend. We’ve been through a lot together and you’ve taught me to work hard and be resilient. You are my #1 fan, my cheerleader, and my rock. You always support me and me decisions and are ALWAYS there for me. You are the strongest person I know. I love you so much!
Daddio-Bobbio, thank you for putting up with me when I was a pain the first 9 years you knew me. You never gave up on me and I am so thankful for that. You’ve shown me what a true gentleman is like and to never settle for less than I deserve. I owe you so much for all you’ve done for me. I am forever in debt to you. I love you, I love you, I love you!
Miss Allie Sue, I remember how excited I was when I found out that you were joining our forever family! All along I was hoping that I would have a baby sister, and I was right. You are so spunky and full of personality! You are such a good friend to everyone around you. I know you go out of your way to compliment and include girls at school, and for that, I am SO proud of you. I love you lots!
I want you all to know that I have a strong testimony of this gospel, and I know it is true with every fiber of my being. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet called of God, and I am so thankful for the historic announcement he made last year that has made it possible for me to be serving a mission today. I also know that missionary work is inspired of God, and that all of us have the opportunity to be missionaries by the way we act and the words we say. I can’t wait to be a full-time missionary in the Philippines for 18 months and to see people coming unto Christ. I am so thankful for the priesthood and the priesthood holders in my life. I’m thankful for all of you who are here today and for your love and support of me and my family.
In closing, I want to share with you the words of a song that I really love:
“I've never been the kind to testify, I don't have the words his truth deserves. But it's a simple thing he asks, a worthy heart and willing hands. He says if I'll make the choice, He'll help me find my voice. He calls me to serve and I cannot fail him, the one who has given me all that I have. I place my trust in him alone; He knows the yearnings of my soul. Because he believes in me, I will go willingly. How can I keep this gift to myself, when I can lift somebody else? I am a witness of his miracles and his mercy; I put my future in his hands, knowing he's made me all I am. I put my faith in him, the truth begins to speak. His power is real, it moves me until, I will not be still.”
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.