Saturday, September 13, 2008

Every Member A Missionary

~I am so thankful to be a member of this church. For the joy it has brought to my life, and the opportunities I have had to share that joy with others.
~I decided as a very young girl that I was going to serve a full time mission for the church. I grew up in a home that was dedicated to serving in the church. A home centered around the gospel and especially around Christ. I am thankful for the example of my parents service, and that even if it meant leaving our home by 6:30 am to drive 70 miles to get to church early so my dad could go to meetings, then have 3 hours of church beginning at 9:00..after church waiting around for more meetings then to drive 70 miles home ..stopping for some Home Teaching on the way ..then to get home in time to eat and go to bed because it was a school night, they were willing to do it, gratefully, happily. I am glad that I was able to watch them and experience service for the Lord first hand. I was taught by example, though I may have complained myself occasionally, I am so thankful for those days.
~Both of my parents were blessed to serve a mission for the church and I just knew that was something I wanted to do as well. They didn't push me at all, it was my choice. I had opportunities to date and and marry and such, and did date, but in the back of my head..I just always knew that I was being prepared for a mission. Had I gotten married before, I may have always wondered..where I would have gone had I had the opportunity. I remember praying one night and asking Heavenly Father that whatever happened, just to remember that I would really like to serve a mission. It was an honest, righteous desire of my heart. I am thankful that Heavenly Father listens and answers prayers.
~My note today is not about my mission, though I did serve an 18 month mission to the Washington DC South mission, and it was a wonderful and amazing time. My note today is about the joy of member missionary work.
~Those few years, after high school and before my mission I did date. Growing up in the mid-west where the church isn't as large, there are not as many people to date with good morals. I had high standards and had committed to myself early on that I would marry in the Temple - that was not an option, that I needed to be careful about who I dated and to only date others with high standards as well.
~At this time in my little Single's Ward I was serving as a ward missionary. I had been thinking about missionary work and the mission I would go on some day, and realized that missionary work is not for the missionaries only, but that we as members have even more of a responsibility. I prayed one night for Heavenly Father to give me the opportunity to share my testimony and the gospel with someone. I think I said.. "Heavenly Father I would really like to have an amazing missionary experience, please put someone in my path and help me open my mouth". I wasn't expecting anything big.. just put someone in my path that I can give a pass-along card to and share my testimony, or give away a Book of Mormon or something.
~One night after church with the Single's Ward -only a week and a half later, we had a get-together for dinner at one of my friend's homes. There was a gentleman there..a friend of my friend who was not LDS. I think they were work acquaintances -he was a math teacher at the local college(a little older than me-yes). The small group of us had a great time, eating, chatting, playing games. The night was coming quickly to an end and we all started saying our goodbyes. He and I ended up leaving at the same time and he walked me to my car. In our conversation he had asked me on a date. He wanted to take me to Dinner Tuesday. I said yes..but in the back of my head didn't know what I was saying.. He was not LDS, he was a nice guy, but I didn't know a whole lot about him. He seemed to have good standards, but how was I to know. After getting in my car and thinking about what had just committed to, wondering if I should cancel or not.. I felt the spirit and felt very comfortable and okay about it! I guess I was worried because I was only 19 and he had a few years on me. I was so inexperienced with dating and immature and didn't know if I was making a mistake or something.
~The dinner was nice and we were headed back to my apartment to drop me off. He asked what I was doing that evening and I told him I was going to Institute and asked if he wanted to go with me. He said he had papers to grade, but could probably do that later and that he would go with me. I don't remember what the topic that night was on, but after he dropped me home and I thanked him for the evening, he asked me if he could see me again. I think we went out that Friday or Saturday to the Zoo where he volunteered and he gave me a 'personal tour' -knowing the names of all the animals and such! At sometime during our date I asked if he wanted to go to church on Sunday with me.
~We only dated about 5 weeks, but in that time, he met with the missionaries and had all "6 discussion"-at the time. He guzzled up the gospel. He devoured the Book of Mormon and attended church and institute every week with me. We only dated 5 weeks like I said, and he actually got baptized the week
after we broke up.
~A year later he was Executive Secretary of our Single's Ward, and Institute President. That was almost 8 years ago. He has been an amazing convert. A "Golden Contact". We are still good friends and I am blessed to have had this opportunity in my life. The reason this experience is so real for me this week is because he will be married this Friday in the Nauvoo, IL. Temple for Time and all Eternity. I am thankful for this opportunity and it has been so wonderful to see his progression. Now he will be sealed and have his own family, and the gospel will continue to grow through him.

Doctrine and Covenants 4:3
.. if ye have desires to serve God, ye are
called to the work;

~All it takes is a desire. There are so many people waiting for us to share what we have with them. It is so easy to get caught up in life and the little things, to sit idly by and wait, but I am recommitting myself. This gospel is great, and I would be selfish not to share what I have with others. I feel the fire again, and it is amazing. I hope you too will pray sincerely for a missionary opportunity. I have been, and they are all around me. And I know, if you TRULY have the desire in your heart, Heavenly Father will put someone in your path. I am thankful for this Gospel that brings my life joy and hope, for the Scriptures that are a guide for me to follow, and mostly for Jesus Christ, my Savior and Redeemer. I hope I can be a light unto others and that I can radiate his Image in my countenance.


wonder woman said...

Ashlee, that is such an amazing story! I can't believe I didn't know it! Or maybe I did, and just forgot it. But it's still incredible.

Your crafts are darling!

I don't always comment here, but read all the time. I love this blog. Thanks for being part of it!

Andrea said...

Great post. You have inspired me to pray differently. I have been praying for missionary opportunities, and believe me I have had them. Sometimes, I want more, and I actually want to see it follow through. I am going to pray for that. Thanks for the direction.

Michelle said...

I loved this, Ashlee! Thank you so much for writing this post. It made me feel the Spirit, and want to try harder and pray more sincerely for missionary opportunities.

Vanderbeeks Images said...

Ashlee, when did you serve your mission there? Guess what? I served in the Washington D.C. North Mission. Very cool. Anyway, thanks for sharing this experience.

Ashlee Dunlap said...

I served from Sept '03-Feb '05! I miss N.Virgina so much - especially the people! It was an amazing experience!