Friday, February 28, 2014

Go, Say, Be

First, open this link in a new tab:
https://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/ill-go-where-you-want-me-to-go?lang=eng
Either click the play button in the left corner above the sheet music or download the Vocals and Music (option on the right of the sheet music). I suggest the second. Play the music.

Good! Now that you're listening to the music, you can continue to read. :) I'll explain later.

For a long time, people have been asking me where I would like to go on my mission, and this question has become very common now that my papers are submitted(!!!!). Granted, it's hard to think of adequate questions to ask when people talk about their mission calls coming soon. But I've thought a lot about this question, and I've decided that it is not my decision, it's not my answer to give.

Now sure, there are some places that I would LOVE to travel to. But there are a few reasons why where I want to go doesn't matter:

1. A mission is not a vacation. I will be working pretty literally 24/7.
2. The Lord knows where I need to be.
3. Meaning He knows where I need to go to teach specific people and to learn and improve myself far beyond where I am now.
4. Anywhere will be an amazing experience! Everywhere is different, but missionaries are needed everywhere. Remember, the gospel is going to spread to the entire earth!! (Mosiah 3:20)

I know the Lord cares about what I want (as long as I want righteous things). Of course He does. But one thing we've been talking about in my Book of Mormon class lately is how God actually "owns" everything. Everything is His. Except He doesn't have just one thing--our agency, our ability to choose for ourselves. That is something He promises to NEVER take away, not for any reason. We alone have the ability to do with it what we will, which can include giving it away. Our agency can be given to two people: Satan or God. If giving our agency away means that we align our wills with another person, or learning to want what they want, who would you give yours to?

I choose God.

Giving my agency to God is the only way I can ever possibly show my true and real gratitude for every single thing He and Jesus Christ have done for me (which is a lot, more than I can comprehend). It is definitely not an easy thing to do, but I believe it's worth it. To me, giving my agency to God is like saying "You know what? I love You so much. I trust You. I trust that You know what's best for me and what will make me the best person I could ever be. And because of that, I'll obey. I'll even work to change my desires to match Yours. So here You go: here's my agency!" I may not want everything that God wants yet, but I'm working on it.

The words to the song you listened to earlier are as follows:

It may not be on the mountain height
Or over the stormy sea,
It may not be at the battle's front
My Lord will have need of me.
But if, by a still, small voice he calls
To paths that I do not know, 
I'll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thing:
I'll go where you want me to GO.

(Chorus)
I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain or plain or sea; 
I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord;
I'll be what you want me to be.

Perhaps today there are loving words
Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now in the paths of sin
Some wand'rer whom I should seek.
O Savior, if thou wilt be my guide,
Tho dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo the message sweet:
I'll say what you want me to SAY.

(Chorus)
I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain or plain or sea; 
I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord;
I'll be what you want me to be.

There's surely somewhere a lowly place 
In earth's harvest fields so wide
Where I may labor through life's short day
For Jesus, the Crucified.
So trusting my all to thy tender care, 
And knowing thou lovest me,
I'll do thy will with a heart sincere:
I'll be what you want me to BE.

(Chorus)
I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain or plain or sea; 
I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord;
I'll be what you want me to be.

"I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go" seems to be my personal motto right now. As I consider where I could be called on my mission--which is very literally almost anywhere on the whole earth--I sometimes become worried. I could be called to Pocatello, Idaho, or Paris, France, or Taipei, Taiwan. And for these next two weeks, I have no idea AT ALL. Which freaks me out.

However, I've decided to trust the Lord. Obviously, He knows what He's doing. I'll go where He wants me to go, be it Pocatello or Hong Kong or Latvia. And I will find out soon enough, so I have no need to worry.

More than that, when I go on my mission I'll be an authorized representative of Jesus Christ, working on God's time. I feel so terribly inadequate for the job I've been given as a missionary through whom people will learn the gospel, but I know that all things are possible through the Lord. The Holy Ghost will help me and tell me what to say. I won't be convincing people to believe in the gospel; that's not my job. My job is to be the mouthpiece through which people can learn. My job is to bring the Spirit into people's lives so they can know truth when they hear it. So, I'll say what He wants me to say. I have no idea what I'd say if I was on my own, but good news--I'm not on my own. If I do what's right, God will be beside me every single step of the way.

My mission is also a fantastic opportunity to make myself better. As a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I will be teaching and studying the gospel of Jesus Christ ALL DAY EVERYDAY. There really isn't any other time in my life when I will have such an opportunity to focus on the gospel so much, so I oughta take the cow by its horns (that's for you, Mom and Dad ;) ) and be really proactive about learning. I'll be what He wants me to be. Becoming a missionary is only one step in fulfilling this promise to God. As I work every day of my life, and especially on my mission, I hope to develop more Christ-like attributes (https://www.lds.org/manual/preach-my-gospel-a-guide-to-missionary-service/how-do-i-develop-christlike-attributes?lang=eng) and become more and more like my Heavenly Father and my Brother, Jesus Christ.

I have decided to GO, to SAY, to BE what(where)ever God wants. He has blessed me so fully in my life already that I can only ever hope to show Him how grateful I am, since I will never ever ever be able to in any way repay Him or Christ for the many things They have done for me (the Atonement, my family, my education, my friends... the list goes on and on). But I can give Them my gratitude and my agency, and that is what I've decided to do.

1 Nephi 3:7 says "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

Anything and everything is possible through the Lord. He can help you in whatever endeavors you encounter. Remember, instead of praying to Him, prayer is more of a conversation with Him. Ask Him questions. He'll always answer you. Trust Him.

I love you all. Focus on Christ today!

Sister Rachel Knutti

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mission Papers: The Good and the Bad

In order to go on a mission, you have a whole lotta paperwork to fill out, so most people start as early as possible. I started last November and finished almost everything really quickly, but then had to wait to get my doctor and dentist appointments done. All in all, it's been a relatively easy process.
At the end of the paperwork, I had interviews with my bishop and stake president (don't know what those are? http://mormon.org/faq/topic/church/question/ward-stake-branch ) to make sure I was worthy and ready to serve a mission. The interviews went smoothly, no bumps there. Until I got to the guy looking at all my medical forms. He stopped me and told me a few sections on my medical form were not filled out or completed, so my papers could not be turned in this past Sunday as I expected, since I needed to finish those last few things.

I was devastated. 

Things were going perfectly--my papers were going to go in, be processed, my call assigned, and my call would have come February 26. My dad is even coming out to visit next week, so he would have actually been here when I opened my call and found out where I would spent a year and a half of my life. But no, I suddenly had these obstacles that ruined my perfect plan.

I cried about it for a while, not gonna lie. I called my parents and talked to them about it. What I knew I really needed to do, though, was pray to my Heavenly Father. Only He really knew why this was happening.

When I prayed, I asked for comfort and to know if I was still doing the right thing. Looking back, it seems kind of silly to be asking that, since this had been the only real bump in the whole process.

But guess what? I still got an answer.

As obvious as the answer was, and as silly as it may have seemed, I was in a moment of near desperation and just needed a confirmation. I KNOW because He loves me (He loves us perfectly! Romans 8:38-39), Heavenly Father cares about the things I care about. He cares that I don't miss the bus. He cares that I get all my homework done. He cares that my package will come on time. He cares about all the little silly things I pray about constantly (and I mean CONSTANTLY. I'd be so lost without prayer--3 Nephi 20:1).

Of course He cared that I was so worried.

After I prayed, I felt a lot better about the situation. After all, it was only a week or two delay. No, my dad would not be in town when I got my mission call, but that's okay. Not perfect, but things would work out just fine.

{As of right now, I have one last appointment to do on Monday, then my papers will go in Tuesday!!}

Let's jump forward to the following Tuesday. Honestly, that day was pretty darn great. I got the tuberculosis shot thing for my papers since they *just so happened* to have an appointment available for the day I called, so I was one step closer to my papers being submitted. That night my Relief Society (the group of girls in my ward who live near me) had planned a trip to the temple, and I was able to go with them. I love those girls.

While walking to the temple, I was just all of a sudden extremely happy. Actually, "happy" doesn't cover it. How about joyful, thrilled, jubilant, ECSTATIC.
HAPPY. 
I didn't know what caused it, but holy cow, I was super happy! I ended up kinda bouncing around the whole way to the temple, and I might have freaked my friend Kelsey out just a little bit, haha. When we got in the temple, I quieted down, but that didn't diminish my happiness. I was in the temple! If it was possible, I was happier. We had some extra time while in the temple, so I studied and read the scriptures and some church pamphlets I had with me. And I was ecstatic!

It wasn't until I got home from the temple or a little later that I realized why I was so happy, but when I finally figured it out (or was told by the Spirit, more likely), it made perfect sense.

This. This was my answer. Was I doing the right thing by going on a mission? Was I still supposed to go? ABSOLUTELY ONE HUNDRED PERCENT YES.

Happiness and joy like I felt doesn't come from any other place, person, or thing other than our Heavenly Father. That's another reason why I'm serving a mission! I want other people to feel the way I felt, to feel the peace and joy that the gospel brings.

John 14:27 says "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

I know a mission will be difficult, but I know FOR SURE that it is the next step for my life. Heavenly Father loves me, but He also loves EVERY SINGLE OTHER PERSON IN THE WHOLE WORLD too. And that is why I will share the gospel. He wants everyone to hear it, and because I already have, I need to share it with other people so they have the same opportunity!

I LOVE THE GOSPEL! I know it's true and I want to share it with as many people as I can. That includes you! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Post a comment! I want to answer your questions. :)

Love always xox
Sister Rachel Knutti

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Why a Mission?

I figure one of the most common questions people have for me is "Why are you going on a mission?" After all, a mission means I'm away from direct contact with my family and friends for a year and a half, I stop going to school, and I wear skirts all day everyday. So. WHY?

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon church), young men and women have the great opportunity to serve missions in their early 20s before they get married. To be a missionary means to go out into the world somewhere as an authorized representative of Jesus Christ to teach people--to teach EVERYONE--about His Gospel. I know having His Gospel, being a Mormon, has brought me so much happiness, and a mission gives me an opportunity to share that happiness with other people! 

To be a missionary means to bring people to Christ.

President Thomas S. Monson has said
“We affirm that missionary work is a priesthood duty—and we encourage all young men who are worthy and who are physically able and mentally capable to respond to the call to serve. Many young women also serve, but they are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men. We assure the young sisters of the Church, however, that they make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome their service.” 
Meaning as a young woman, I am not required to serve a mission. The decision is up to me, my family, and the Lord. So why did I decide to serve?

I have a few stories to tell, and some may come out in later posts as well, but let's begin with the day I got my answer.

I lied. Actually, the story starts General Conference weekend of October 2012... If you're LDS, you already know what I'm referring to. That was when President Monson (the president of our church and who I KNOW to be the real and true prophet of the Lord today) announced the age change for missionaries--boys were now allowed to serve a mission at 18 and after high school rather than 19, while girls were allowed to serve at 19 rather than 21. 

Boy, did that change my life plan. I always thought to myself that I'd go to BYU, date, and if I happened not to be married when I was 21, sure, I'd go on a mission; I hadn't thought any farther than that. I didn't really need to. But when I heard I could now go two whole years earlier? My first thought was "Oh. Okay. Well, sure, of course I'll go on a mission!" For the next 9 months, that was my decision: "Okay, sure."

Flash forward to August 2013. I was getting ready to leave Virginia, my family, and my friends and go to BYU. Honestly, it scared me a little. Because I was scared to leave my family just to go to college, I started thinking about my mission. Going on a mission would mean I was REALLY leaving my family, and I wasn't sure I was ready for it. So I did what I always do in tough situations--pray.

I prayed to God, my Heavenly Father, and asked if going on a mission was still the right thing for me to do (after a year at BYU). But I didn't get an answer right away, and I definitely didn't have a vision or other crazy experience confirming my answer. I kept praying, knowing that I would get an answer, even if not in my optimal time. Hey, we all work on God's time. He's always and eternally patient with us, so sometimes we just need to be patient too!

I prayed though August and September with no answer that I could clearly see. Obviously, going on a mission wouldn't be a bad thing for me to do, but was it the best thing? In the meantime, I went to BYU, made friends, began living on my own and making all sorts of crazy memories. By the time October rolled around, I really wanted my answer. My roommate Stephanie and I were going to go to the Saturday Morning session of General Conference in Salt Lake City (where it is actually held and subsequently broadcast all over the world) with another of my friends and his roommates, and I just KNEW General Conference would be a perfect time for me to receive my answer, so long as I was doing my part. I prayed harder (more fervently, if you prefer) and asked specifically for my answer to come sometime during General Conference weekend (we Mormons are serious about our church stuff, you know ;) ), knowing that if I was faithful and trusted in God, He would give me the answer when I needed it.

The October 2013 General Conference was amazing. There were so many wonderful talks given. Although I was actually AT GENERAL CONFERENCE on Saturday, I didn't get my answer then. Still hopeful, I kept praying. Finally, I got my answer in the Sunday morning session.

I was listening to Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson's talk entitled "Be Ye Converted" (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/be-ye-converted?lang=eng). She said "The Lord expects us to exercise faith." I had a distinct impression: "What better way to exercise faith than to go on a mission?" And that was it. As I wrote in my notes, "*I'm going to serve a mission!*"

If I trust the Lord, if I love the Lord, if I have faith in the Lord, then my personal way to show that is to serve a mission. Missions are NOT easy, they are not a walk around the park. They are extremely difficult, both emotionally and physically. But I choose to exercise my faith by giving up my time to serve the Lord and to hasten His work. I choose to exercise my faith so that I can help others gain some of their own. And THAT is why I am going to serve a mission.

D&C 4:3 says "Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;"

I know prayer is a real thing; we are always able to pray to God, our Heavenly Father, when we need comfort, guidance, answers, forgiveness, anything. (Stay tuned for my next story about prayer, comfort, and guidance!) He loves us so much. He loves YOU so much. I love you so much! I am extremely excited to serve a mission and share my testimony of His Gospel with all who will hear me. And in two short weeks, I'll know where I will be serving! Don't go away, we'll be right back after these messages {meaning a few hours/days} :)