Monday, February 11, 2013

Sister Missionary Feature- Sister Urling

Hey! Welcome to another post in Kira and I's Sister Missionary Feature! This week I'm going to ask a favor of you. If you like our series share it! If you hover your mouse over any of the images on my blog you will see the handy-dandy Pinterest "P." Pin us to your boards! Let all your friends know about these great sisters serving missions! Thank you so much, and if you would like to be featured make sure to contact me!!

Sister Jana Urling

Tahiti, Papeete Mission (With me!)

 When I first heard the announcement, I was taken totally by surprise. I had heard rumors about the boys’ age being lowered, but never in a million years did I expect the announcement for sister missionaries to come next! And I know some of my friends knew right away that they were going, this was an answer to their prayers. This whole experience has been such a great testimony to me of how involved our Heavenly Father is in our lives. He really does care about what happens to us and plans out SO MUCH of what happens to us! I have heard story after story of girls who can look back and see specifically how our lives were prepared for this to happen to us even though it took the entire world by surprise! I I’m so grateful for a living prophet who is a mouthpiece for God and I know that Thomas S Monson is that prophet.

 I wish I could say I was one of those girls that had always wanted to go on a mission, because I admire those girls so much, but I’m not. I always felt like it was too big of a decision for me to make when I didn’t know where I would be or what I would be doing when I got there. But now, all of a sudden, it was HERE. It was NOW. I took a few days to think about what I wanted to do, there was so much excitement around all of this and I wanted to make sure that what I decided was because the Lord and I had decided it, not because everyone else was doing it. When I decided I wanted to go on a mission I knew that this was what I was supposed to be doing at this time in my life and I was so grateful that Heavenly Father had prepared a way for me to go. I know that my Heavenly Father wants me to be in Papeete for 18 months and I cannot wait to get there. 

I waited a while to put in my papers because I wanted to sell my housing contract first, and I put them in as soon as I could put my availability date after the contract ended (technically my availability date was a month before it ended, but I was willing to give up that last month’s rent that I had already paid :)). If you don’t know already, once you put your papers in, most of your conversations with people will revolve around a simple question: where do you want to go?!  It’s such a simple question but it’s a big deal! Where? In the WORLD?!? Everyone has a general idea, and a few prize places that they want to go, but I had the hardest time answering that question. I really didn’t know. I had definitely always wanted to go to Europe, but did I want to go there on my mission? And stateside has so many benefits compared to other third world countries. But third world countries have so many unique benefits of their own don’t they? And I had this terrible fear that I would jinx it. I knew that once I decided on a place that I really wanted to go, I wouldn’t be called there, I just knew it :). And it didn’t help that every RM that I talked to told me the same thing. It’s absolutely ridiculous now but I wasn’t going to take any chances with the next 18 months of my life. And a part of me has always been fascinated with the idea that a mission call is a direct decision from an apostle of the Lord about where you will spend the next 18/24 months of your life. I was so excited to find out where that was that I knew I would be able to love wherever that was for me. I knew I might not love it at first, and I was really nervous that I would be disappointed and did everything to prepare myself mentally so that hopefully, I wouldn’t be.  And I reminded myself that I knew I would quickly learn to love wherever it was very soon, because it would be MY mission. I was also really happy that I wasn’t the one making that decision. I feel like this time of life is just filled with HUGE decisions, and after I had made the decision to go on a mission, I was completely comfortable not deciding the where. I was really comfortable with the fact that this wasn’t something I was deciding, but something my Heavenly Father could directly tell me to do. And I COULDN’T WAIT to find out where that was.  

But there is something you need to know about me. I absolutely despise the cold. Not just dislike, not even just hate, I loathe it. I grew up in Idaho Falls, ID, where it gets cold quite a bit. I do whatever I can to avoid the cold. I keep a space heater in my room so that I don’t roast my family (or our heating bill) and I sleep with an electric blanket. I have to warn people that I give rides to that they have to tell me if they’re too hot, because I’ve baked way too many of my passengers with the heat cranked all the way up.  I do as much as I can to take advantage of summer (all 2 months of it), but I have a hard time in the winter. So I just knew I was going to go somewhere cold, like Russia, or Northern Canada, or the North Pole, so that I would learn to accept the cold and even be grateful for how mild my hometown might be compared to these frozen places. 

I received my call on 12/12/12. I gathered all of my Provo friends around me and called my family on Skype and streamed a live feed for the rest of my extended family and friends. When I opened my call and saw Tahiti, I was blown away. It was at the bottom of my list of possibilities. I didn’t even know there was a mission there. In the course of the week and a half from when I finished my papers to when I received my call, Tahiti had never once crossed my mind. And not only that, but it was warm. WARM. HOT EVEN! Not only had I never thought of it, but it was completely the opposite of any of my half hearted guesses. And it met the one qualification that I had been too scared to even hope for! 

I was able to learn something really special from this experience. I think that I had the attitude that Heavenly Father was going to send me to the place where I would struggle the most, and that’s not necessarily true.  I think that sometimes things work out a certain way or we go through a certain experience simply because He loves us. Like getting the last bag of your favorite chips out of a vending machine on a hard day, or watching a mama bird and it’s babies while you’re waiting for a tow on the side of the road, or being in someplace warm while you serve the gospel because you hate the cold.  I know my Heavenly Father loves me, and I’ve understood that for a long time, but I think I understand it differently now. He really does care, and the temperature of where I’m serving is such a petty and silly little thing, that really has no significance, but it makes me so relieved. Please don’t get me wrong, I know that the temperature of your mission is really not important compared to all of the other reasons why you are sent to a certain mission. It’s just that I know that I’m going to run into a lot of hard days in the next 18 months. A lot. But I hope that when I do, I can close my eyes and feel the warmth around me and remember what it is that I’m doing and why I’m doing it, and how important it is that I show other people the love that I’ve felt from our Heavenly Father.

“Why?” is another question that comes a lot when you’re dealing with all of this mission stuff, and its one of the most important questions. I’m a firm believer that you can do anything with the right motivation. I’ve always loved hearing stories of parents who lifted cars off of their children, or saved their loved ones from burning buildings, or committed seemingly impossible acts because they had the right motivation. I know that a missionary’s motivation can have a really big impact in shaping their mission and I wanted to share mine with you. 

First of all, I do this because I love my Heavenly Father. I’ve already shared that I know he loves me, and I’ve come to realize that I really love him too. I’m so grateful that I’ve grown up in a family that is active in the church and I have received so many blessings as a result of the gospel that I cannot even begin to try and explain or even count them. I know it’s not really fair that I was just handed all of this so easily. Too many people live and die without even a suggestion of the gospel in their lives and I’ve always just been surrounded by it. I know I could never pay back that kind of a debt, but I know that what I can do is help to bring this joy and good news to other people. I think that most missionaries share that kind of similar motivation. This gospel is a gospel of joy and when you begin to understand it, you really do just want to share it with everyone you know! But I think when you go a little deeper into each missionary, you’ll find dozens of other tiny reasons why they are serving. At least, that’s been my experience. I feel like I have a million reasons why I want to serve a mission and I know that there will be countless benefits as a result of this experience.  I can’t think of a single reason as to why I shouldn’t go. 

But my second biggest motive as to why I want to serve a mission is that I hope to be an example to my family, and first of all to my siblings. I am the oldest of 7 children and I haven’t always been the perfect example of a big sister. I’m not always the cheerful, successful poster child that typically takes the position of the eldest in the family. But I do love this gospel. Of all of the things that I don’t know and have messed up, I do know that I love this gospel. And I hope that my younger siblings know that and realize how important I think this is to me and I hope my 2 younger brothers (and as many of my sisters as possible) realize how much I want them to follow me.

I’m so grateful for the decision that I have made and I’m so grateful that I’ve had friends and family who are willing to support me in this. For any girls out there who are considering a mission, I would ask you to prepare as if you’re going anyway. I don’t think I can help you in that decision, because that is something that is so individual and personal, but I wish I could tell every little beehive out there to prepare to serve a mission right now whether they plan on going or not. I sincerely respect a sister’s decision to not serve a mission just a much as I would respect her decision to serve, but I think every girl can benefit from preparing just as much as any young man. Every member has been asked and encouraged to spread the gospel in any way that they can and I wish I would have understood that I needed to prepare as if I were going on a mission from the very beginning. I’ve always attended Sunday school and seminary, and have even done a pretty good job with scripture study. But I wish I had been studying all along the way I do now!  Looking at everything with missionary eyes is so different! And I wish I would have realized that, call or not, I need to be a missionary. I wish I could have looked at ALL of the learning I did with missionary eyes, and I know that I will from now on!

I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission at this time in my life. I know that our Heavenly Father really does love and care out about every single individual. I know He cares enough to spread the gospel and wants more than anything to have it shared with the entire world! I know that this gospel is true! I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and the blessings that it has brought me and my entire family. I will always be grateful for the chance to bring the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Tahiti!


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