Get to Know My Missionary

My soon to be mission president asked my parents to write him a letter about me in order to get to know me better. I think this is really cool because

A)  It’s awesome to see him taking so much interest in his missionaries that haven’t even arrived yet

B) What a great way to put down in writing where I am in my life. I cannot wait to have my mother write another letter about me at the conclusion of this mission so I can see just how far I have grown.

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Dear President Craig,

I’m the mother who is blessed to call Ashtyn Aure my daughter. I’m so excited for this new venture in her life, and I hope it will be full of growth, deeper understanding of the gospel, and happiness in serving God’s children.
Ashtyn is a force of nature (smile).   She has a very dynamic, yet thoughtful personality.  She excelled in drama and choir in high school, and has just finished doing a community musical.  She can be dynamic on stage one day, and the next day she might be writing a very introspective, insightful blog about her place in the world and how she sees life around her. Ashtyn has a beautiful, strong voice; truly a gift from her Heavenly Father. She truly appreciates the beauty of the earth, especially things found in nature.  She has developed a penchant for traveling and truly enjoys the experience of new places and meeting new people.  She worked and paid her own way to France a couple of summers ago.  It was this experience that lead to her wanting to serve a mission.  Ashtyn can be a social butterfly, and yet she will sometimes need some quiet reflective time.  She has been through some challenging experiences, and I know she will have a great deal of compassion for those who are struggling.
Ashtyn read her scriptures faithfully through all of her seminary years.  No matter how tired she was, or how late to bed she was, I would go in to say goodnight, only to find her reading her scriptures before she went to bed.   I know she has  a deep and abiding love for the gospel, and she recognizes that there are so many people who are not as blessed as she has been to grow up in the church.
I can’t even begin express how much I love this wonderful young woman.  I’m so pleased with her unselfish desire to serve the Lord.  I’m also grateful for the example she is setting for her younger brother.  I’m going to miss her like crazy, but I know her mission will be a blessing to her family, and we are looking forward to having a missionary in our family.
Sincerely,
Kristin Mortensen (aka Ashtyn’s Mama)
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Called to Serve

Every Wednesday in July/August, we were all expecting a mission call in the mail. Every Wednesday we got a little sad, when the mail box was empty. Being a little perplexed as to why it was taking so long, I made a few calls to my bishop, stake president, downtown mission office, and home ward bishop to see what was going on. Turns out it had been sitting on somebody’s desk for a few weeks because part of it had been incomplete, but nobody had told me! So I rushed around the next couple of days to get a test taken and submitted for review by the mission department. They confirmed to me that my call would be in that Wednesday!

The day my call arrived in the mail, I was a jittery mess. I had been waiting for this moment since January. I left work early so I could be at home when it arrived (even though I wouldn’t be opening it until later that night with my family). I would walk outside every few minutes to see if the mailman was nearby. Seriously. Mess. I felt like a crazy neighborhood lady that is always snooping around outside. I ended up just waiting on the curb as the mailman drover ever so slowly to my mail box. As he pulled up, he said, “Let me guess: Mission Call.” I squeaked out a yes, & he handed me a big, white, church issued envelope addressed to “Sister Aure”. I almost died. I called my mom & she asked me where it felt like the location was. I said, “Uhhh…southern…ish. It feels like it’s in the South.”

I met my family at my sister’s apartment in Salt Lake that night. My good friend Bekah J was able to be there too, which I am so grateful for. We all gave a guess as to where I would be going & Step-Dad Scott got it right!!! I opened it and read the words I had always wanted to read.

Dear Sister Aure

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Jacksonville, Florida Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months.

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, November 19th. You will prepare to preach to gospel in the English language…

There are a few reasons that I know, without a shadow of doubt in my mind, that the timing and location of this mission are exactly what I need. Mission calls are truly inspired. I can’t wait to have an even deeper testimony of that as I enter the mission field & learn more about the kind of missionary & person that God wants me to be.

 

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Good Things Rarely Come Easily

If you know me personally & have ever had a semi-personal conversation with me, you’ll know that my road to getting a mission call was not easy. I started my paperwork at the end of January & wasn’t able to receive my actual call until mid-August. One of the reasons being that I was a princess of Tooele County & couldn’t leave my royal subjects without finishing my full-term.
Thank you for being here today”

Another, being that the missionary department didn’t feel that I totally had my anxiety under control. They were right about that. I imagined myself knocking on an investigator’s door & being so terrified of rejection, that I ran away before they even get to the door.

Luckily for all of us (except maybe the comedic value of my future e-mails/letters) I have learned a lot of really great coping skills & life truths. These things were vital for me to learn before I served in the mission field. Although the fact that I can’t gather the courage to tell my boss that I’m going on a mission has me wondering if I’ve really learned that much……..? ….moving on.

Having had to wait so long for a piece of paper that every one else seemed to get so effortlessly was really hard for me. There were times when I was really upset & bitter. There were times (a lot, actually. My good friends can attest to this) that I just wanted to throw in the towel & say that all the waiting, millions of phone calls & tests, not being able to plan for my future simply wasn’t worth it. What, I’m going through all of this just so I can have no sleep, no social life, no Eminem, and no alone time for 18 months? What am I thinking?

BUT WAIT

I needed to step back. Not for one minute was I going on a mission for myself. There is no fame, riches, or higher exaltation that comes from serving a mission. What DOES come from serving a mission, however, is changed lives & the spread of God’s perfect light. If I don’t end up serving a mission, then that’s okay. God’s will is His will & if I’m not the one that’s supposed to teach HIs children, then He’ll find someone else that can.

That’s what I want everyone in this whole wide world to know. God cares about each & every one of us so individually. He rejoices & cheers for us when we get that job we wanted or that big lead in the musical. He cries with us when we give our heart to those undeserving. He wants every single person in this world to know that & that’s why He sends missionaries out.

It would be a privilege if that’s what He wanted me to do, but if it wasn’t, I know He’d provide just as a fulfilling life for me anyway. That’s what kept me going & trying. Until I got a firm, “No.” from somebody, I was going to continue to act on the prompting that I received that I should submit myself to missionary work. So that’s what I did.

With any major decision there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.

Some Things Take Time

I grew up in the very tail end of the era that believed sister missionaries to be….well….you know….sister missionaries. The ones that couldn’t get married, the ones that were too good to get married, etc. & yeah, I hate Mormon culture for putting that idea in my head, but it is what it is.

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For this reason, I never everevereverevereverever imagined myself everevereverever going on a mission. Like…gross. Ew. When the missionary age change was announced, I was in the middle of a long-term relationship & I was still 18, so it didn’t really pertain to me. I thought it was kind of cool & I had a lot of friends who jumped on that wagon & headed out to preach the gospel at the young age of 19. Good for them. (but I still had that stigma of “Ew, sister missionaries” in my head, BUT LOVE YOU GIRLS YOU’RE SO CUTE MUAH xoxox) Fast forward to June of 2013. I was living with some family in France for a month, & just having the most spiritual, life-altering ah-ha moments. Seriously, when people ask me why I went, I now tell them “So I could find myself” because that’s what I ended up doing & because I’m the most cliché person in the world.

Anyway, I had been there about 3 weeks when I was walking down one of the beautiful Parisian streets, probably eating a pastry because I wasn’t ever not eating a pastry, looking around at all of the people around me & thinking about the incredible experiences I’d had with church members in the past weeks. I then started to get really sad thinking about how every single person I was watching walk by me had probably no idea that they have a Father in Heaven that is so concerned about their daily life & wants nothing more than for them to be successful & happy. For the first time in my life, I thought to myself, “What if I went on a mission?”