Thank you to each of you who made it out to come see me and say goodbye! For those who missed it, here it is! I love and miss you all so so much!
Good morning brothers and sisters! It’s so good to see all of you here. I’m so grateful for my friends and family who came to support me and are sacrificing their time to be here. It means a lot.
In just a short 10 days, I leave to the MTC as I begin my journey in the Chile Santiago East mission. For the next 18 months, I will be standing as a representative of Jesus Christ. I feel so humbled and grateful for that privilege. It has been a long journey to get to this point, but I am SO SO happy to be where I am now.
As many of you know, I attended Brigham Young University Idaho this past winter and spring semester in the small town of Rexburg. My dad drove me up to help move me in and drop me off. We talked a lot about all the exciting and new change that was happening in my life. I remember one conversation we had distinctly. He looked at me and said ‘Hey no pressure Summer, but have you thought about a mission?’ I gave him side eye and when I realized he was serious I just started laughing. I wasn’t opposed to it, I just did not think a full time mission was for me. But as the drive to Rexburg continued, the thought of a mission wouldn’t leave my mind. It freaked me out, so I kept pushing it away. I didn’t want to think about that – I hadn’t even begun my freshman year of college and already had a lot on my mind – I didn’t need that on top of it all. So I blew it off. Or I tried to. To ease my mind, I told myself that I would see how my first semester played out and then decide from there. But for weeks, all I could think about was serving. It didn’t matter where I was – walking to class, in devotional, even on dates, I couldn’t help myself, it was all I could think about!
I had played with the idea of serving since the time I had received my patriarchal blessing when I was 16 years old. In very bold words, my blessing touches on my service as a full-time missionary. While I felt grateful for that strong guidance and counsel, I knew if I were to make the decision to serve, I wanted to have that desire for myself, not because my blessing told me to. It then hit me that I did have that desire! Doctrine and Covenants 4:3 says ‘Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.’ I knew I needed to pray and take it up with my Heavenly Father. This was a big deal and something not to be taken lightly. I simply needed to move forward with faith, knowing that Christ would give me clarity and bless me with my decision. Soon enough, I found myself in my bishop’s office up at school starting my papers. Months later, I received my call to serve in Santiago and it all felt so right. I knew as soon as I opened my call that my mission is perfect for me and is exactly where the Lord needs me. There is nothing but pure joy when you align your will with the Lord’s.
Since receiving my call and preparing to serve, I have felt so scared and so unprepared. More than once I have thought to myself ‘what did I get myself into?!’ In those moments I let fear get the better of me. Essentially, I was doubting my faith rather than doubting my doubts. I can testify that the power of the adversary is real. I have never felt the power of the adversary as strongly in my life as I have as I’ve been preparing to serve. But I know that I can do hard things. I know that as I put all of my faith and trust in the Lord and continue to rely on Him, I will be safe and directed in Chile and He will be leading me every step of the way.
Each Tuesday up at BYU-Idaho, there is a school wide devotional held. One of my favorites given by Sister Trish Gannaway called ‘To What Are You Tethered?’ speaks heavily on putting all of our trust and faith in the Savior. She goes to say “…so many things come down to what you trust. What do you need to change in your life to more fully trust God and tether yourself to Him? Trust your faith. Trust making decisions that require some sacrifice. Trust in God’s plan. He is the source of truth. He who created the entire universe can be trusted in every decision you make. Tether yourself to Him with heavy-duty carabiners because He is the tandem buddy that your life depends on.” That quote stuck with me when I first heard it, and even more so now. When I catch myself saying that ‘I don’t know enough’ or that ‘I’m not good enough to serve a mission‘ I remind myself that I have been called. Not this person or that person, but me! Someone in Chile needs me.
I have been asked several times why exactly I am choosing to serve. I simply answer “because I have been given much, I too must give.” Through my stubbornness and countless mistakes, Christ has been by my side – a constant. I know that He will never abandon us. God lives and loves us and His power can bring happiness to the lives of those who embrace Him. The gospel brings me a certain peace, joy, and comfort that can’t be found anywhere else. I hope and pray to bring that same peace, joy, and comfort to my brothers and sisters in Chile.
Heavenly Father has a broader perspective than we do. When I look back on the life I’ve lived so far, and all my unique experiences, I can clearly see Heavenly Father’s hand through it all. Heavenly Father knows us. He knows our thoughts, our desires, our hopes, our dreams, our fears. He knows us and He acknowledges us. This life doesn’t always make sense to us. At times I catch myself questioning why things are the way they are. “Why didn’t I get into my dream school?” “Why are two of my best friends sick?” “Why do I struggle with this?” “Why that?” The list could go on. When these thoughts are running through my mind, I remind myself that we are running on His timetable, not ours. Certain aspects of life may not always make sense to us, but Christ knows all. He understands all. And we are never alone. His hand is always there, reaching out to us, we just need to reach up and take it.
One of my very favorite relief society lessons given up at school was centered on the refiner’s fire. She quoted James E Faust when he spoke at a general conference regarding this topic – “Into every life there come the painful, despairing days of adversity and buffeting. There seems to be a full measure of anguish, sorrow, and often heartbreak for everyone, including those who earnestly seek to do right and be faithful. The thorns that prick, that stick in the flesh, that hurt, often change lives which seemed robbed of significance and hope. This change comes about through a refining process which often seems cruel and hard. In this way the soul can become like soft clay in the hands of the Master in building lives of faith, usefulness, beauty, and strength. For some, the refiner’s fire causes a loss of belief and faith in God, but those with eternal perspective understand that such refining is part of the perfection process.”
I love this. I know that my mission will be very hard. Each and every day I will be approaching people who won’t want anything to do with me or what I have to say. I will be chased by stray dogs and I already know that I will struggleeee with the fast dialect of Chilean Spanish. I will miss home, and all that I love about the bay area. I will be pushed out of my comfort zone every single day. But that’s where we learn and grow; when we are pushed out of what feels comfortable.
But above all, I know this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. There is absolutely no better way to spend the next 18 months of my life then serving my Heavenly Father and his children in Santiago. One of my favorite talks “The Miracle of a Mission,” given by Elder Holland in the MTC back in 2000. To wrap up his thoughts, he said “I had a missionary ask me once if I would give my life for the Church. I said, “Elder, I am giving my life for the Church.” I know what he meant. What he meant was, “Would you die for it?” Well, that’s the easy part. That’s a snap! On some days it looks really appealing. That’s the easy part, to die for it. Well, what God needs is people who will live for it, people who will go the distance, people who are in this race we’re talking about that will go all the way to the tape. And some may die along the way and that’s wonderful, but what He needs people who will finish the work. He needs people who will wrap this up, and that’s the pledge I make to you, and that’s the pledge He asked. We’re in this together.”
We’re all in this together! No matter who we are, where we are in the world, no matter our circumstances and experiences, we are all sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who knows us, loves us, and wants nothing but the best for us.
I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for each and every one of us. We are placed on earth with a purpose and a goal – to make it back into the presence of our Heavenly Father with our eternal families. This gospel has provided me with an abundance of blessings and an indescribable joy – I cannot wait to share that with the people of Chile.
My knowledge is simple, I’m still learning and there are things I don’t fully understand, but the one thing I know with complete surety is that this gospel is true. Christ has given me all that I have. All that I am, I owe to Him and his gospel.