1.16.2015

Strike Three: Why on earth did I leave STG for 18 months?



//about serving a mission//



"I have been praying for months on whether or not I should go 
and I have not really gotten an answer. 
OR maybe I have and I am just too prideful to realize it :) 
I wanted to know how you decided to serve a mission. 
What made you want to go 
and how did you know it was right for you?" -MB




Well kids... back in my day... when dirt was created and pterodactyls roamed the Ancient Continent of Pangaea...






I've always wanted to begin a story this way. And I can now. BECAUSE I'M NOT A TEENAGER ANYMORE. 

Anyhow. Two years ago, about this time, I was a Senior in High school. During the fall session of General Conference in October, I was out on a Homecoming date at the lake with some buddies when my mom called me exclaiming: "Guess What?! Guess what?!  they lowered the age for missionaries to serve missions!" I absolutely did not understand or recognize the full effect, or tremendous impact this made in the lives of millions. Or myself. In fact I'm pretty sure my reply went a little something like *cricket sound effects* "........cool mom."


Because after all,
I was out on the water.
I ain't got time for dat.




(Psych) That is where it all began (for me) (and the District of Columbia) (and this whole "Sister Thing") I've gotten several emails in the past season here with questions about the following topic which is basically summed up in one statement "WHY I DECIDED TO SERVE." I know I've written about it a few times before, here and there, pieces and parts, but for my own benefit I thought it would be nice to get the whole story written out in one place.

Because this blog is my ranting place now a days. (Sorry folks) The following answer to your questions is pretty much an entire year of my life worth of information. There wasn't exactly one particular moment or event with a 

BOOMING ANSWER, 

...rather it was a process that took time for ME to first REALIZE and then PREPARE to SERVE. Kind of like the rest of my life, it was the LITTLE things that made the BIG difference.

So if you got time and are down for a soap opera or feel obligated to read.
I can add pictures from my PAST LIFE to keep y'all entertained.
I gotcha.






//the following is a lengthy summary documentation of my life 
in the year 2013 as far as I can remember and feel the 
need / feel comfortable sharing with the universe via the World Wide Web... adding up to my decision to serve a mission.//


{aka prepare for a novel, sorry}


So after that phone call with my mother the conversation went no further. But with time I thought to myself of how this mission age change would effect ME PERSONALLY. My exact thought process was "Hey, Spence can leave on his mission five months sooner! Sweet!" And I constantly interrogated him about when he would be filling his mission papers out. (Spence=Boyfriend) 





Over the next few months the HASTENING OF THE WORK OF SALVATION was overly talked about. After all you no longer needed to be twenty one as a Sister. You could now leave at nineteen! Which is a dramatic difference.

So as everyone on planet earth was filling out mission papers I thought to myself "How Nice!" There began to be a reoccurring theme in Church and in seminary about missionaries and Hastening the Work. Still... it didn't even occur to me that I would ever, EVER serve a mission. No, no, no, I wasn't THAT girl. What did "that girl" entail? 

I don't even know

Hopefully nothing too awkward...
because it turns out that I am "that girl" despite my indifference 
towards being her.

I remember my Dad asking each one of my brothers while growing up...
Dylan are you serving a mission? Yup.
Ethan are you serving a mission? Yup.
Ty are you serving a mission? Yup.
And then jokingly he would look at me...
Madison are you serving a mission?
HECK NO.





I thought I was hilarious.

I must have forgotten to knock on wood or something because the last half of my Senior year was a real treat. Fortunately I did learn a lot from different experiences and new friendships were made. Particularly from one friend who influenced me a lot. We were coworkers and always harassed each other but at the end of the day seemed to get along quite well. (Mostly we bonded over Mazda and Mac Mil) Throughout this whole revolutionary time period of missionaries departing.  He asked me ever so seriously "when are you putting in your mission papers madstuhh?"


And I was like
SAY WHAAAAT?

Somebody seriously expected ME to serve a mission? I can't... I mean I couldn't... I mean... I could... but I... wait what? I can serve a mission? But I'm... oh my goodness I'm eighteen... and now hold up. I'm a girl! But girls can go, and are going. But this wasn't in my plans! I never planned on this! This wasn't prepared for? Did you seriously just ask me? Could I? Should I? Whaaaat?

And I just gave him this look like...
No.






But ever since that day it was on my mind. It had finally occurred to me that serving a mission was ACTUALLY an OPTION.

Safe to say that serving a mission was constantly in the back of my mind. How could it not be? Living in Utah during the YEAR OF THE HASTENING.
It was the BIG hype. I was constantly reevaluating my options. Truthfully I knew almost nothing about missionary work.  Aside from the fact that they wear a name badge, eat a lot of strange food and my Dad served in Ohio. I was simply trying to figure out my next step in life. After all, I would be graduating High school in a couple months!

I really wanted to get into this Pharmacy Tech program for a while. I thought that seemed legit. But everything I tried to do with school fell through. I got all the paperwork finished, my grades were great, several times I visited with and interviewed people for the program and I was ready to apply, only to be shutdown because they were revamping the program and it wouldn't be open until the following year. WHAT. So I had to figure out a new plan. I often wondered to myself when God was going to help me figure it out. When he was going to answer MY prayers. HULLO. I need help over here. Where is my life taking me?? Little did I know what exactly He WAS preparing me for.

One day I was sitting in seminary and my seminary teacher shot me this look like "dude if you don't open your scriptures I'm literally going to step on your phone." I got the hint and opened up my dusty old bible and this paper fell out onto the floor. I quickly picked it up and set it on my desk in front of me. It immediately caught my attention and the whole world froze for a sec. I still carry it around with me. It says:


"When we offer all that we have to the Lord, HE magnifies our efforts 
and we become the instrument in His hands to bless the lives of others. And not only is that a blessing beyond compare -  to witness His miracles and get to be apart of it -  but, what we receive in return, is so 
much more than what we gave!"






That was kind of it, strike one.
The subliminal answer from God to my subliminal question to God.

Immediately this was a reassuring notion that, YES, I COULD DO IT. I could serve a mission. But I sure as heck wasn't ready for an answer like that. No matter how many promptings I received to consider serving as a missionary... I had much 'greater' plans for my life!

In fact, I had the greatest vacation ever planned with my home girl who's been my best friend since birth. We were going to Hawaii and I was dead set on pulling out the I'M AN ADULT I CAN DO WHAT I WANT rebellion cards.

(this is Mom... she did!)

I'm eighteen! We will be on an island without anyone lurking over our shoulders and forcing us to do anything we don't want to do! #holllllllllzzzz 
We had been planning this for months!





But by the time I actually graduated High school and set off for Hawaii with Kylie, I completely recognized and saw the fork in the road.



I believe there are millions of paths we can take in life. And throughout my life I've had millions of choices and paths. But at this point in my life I had narrowed it down to two. 


MY PATH. and Gods path for me. 


I don't think it's necessary to go into detail about what "my path" entailed. I had this little plot in my mind with a couple open doors of what I wanted to do to make me 'happy' or 'successful' if those ideas actually would have brought me happiness and success? I have no idea. But God had a different plan for me, and it was nothing near what I was thinking up.

18 year old's man! They have no brains.





So the first day of this island trip we find the most authentic Hawaiian food hut possible. Kahuku Grill. As were eating we see these two guys who look like they were Islanders and totally down to hang. They ended up sitting next to us and we talked and talked and totally hit it off. They invited us over to their beach house and we were so stoked. WE MADE FRIENDS WITH ISLANDERS, WE ROCK. We get to their beach house only to find out the most ridiculously, hilarious, and yet best news ever. We walk in the front door and their whole family is sitting on the couch. Playing guitar, jamming, hanging out. They asked where we were from, we replied Southern Utah. Only to the response..

"Hey! We're from Provo, Utah!"

Strike two.






Come to find out the two guys we met were going to BYU. But immediately after hearing about the age change put in their mission papers. Imagine that. God is funny. I don't know what Kylie was thinking but I was dying laughing on the inside. What are the chances right? We ended up going cliff jumping with their family. I know. Random. Random place to go with random people. But at the same time, I don't feel it was so random. I feel like these people were a huge blessing, or sign, or angels from God in my life.


I spent a lot of time talking with their dad that day. About missions. HE BROUGHT IT UP. He, like my friend earlier, asked me directly if I was going to serve a mission. But this time I had thought about it a lot, it was a hot topic. And I said... maybe. I had thought about it, but I was unsure. I didn't want to talk about it with anyone I knew.  (with family) Simply... because I didn't want them to get excited and then be disappointed.  But here I was talking to complete strangers on the beaches of Hawaii.  As if they were my best friends. And that day we talked for a long time about all the blessings that come from a mission. 

Like who does that?







If that man wasn't an angel from God, idk what is.

He really made me think. We spent the next day at the La'iee temple, and church building for Sunday services. My entire attitude towards this trip and my life had really changed.

Hawaii is a magical place I tell YA.

I always wondered how exactly God would answer my prayers. How I was supposed to know where to go, which path to take. But it seemed like a domino effect. Person after person began to come into my life and make me really think, and influence me, being instruments in the hands of God.

So the rest of this trip with Kylie was fantastic and again and again missionary work came up. Who woulda thought my #realworld independent summer vacay would turn into an inspiring, thought provoking, alternate life plan. 

I got to fly home by myself. From Kylie's home, to SLC, to St George. It was my first time traveling through airport terminals alone. I had a lot of time to think and ponder and reflect #layovers and I knew my life plan was about to get a little crazy.






By this time Spencer had his mission call and was preparing to leave at the end of the summer for his mission. (here is the Spencer is my fave person on earth mushy girl plug) (if cute love story things are the bane of your existence you may want to skip this next paragraph)

Something clicked for me. I'd spent a whole lot of time with a whole variety of different 'people' / dudes. (Disclaimer: this is a generalization) Not many of them consistently opened the door for me, smiled, kept a calm voice when I irritated them, shook my Dads hand and looked him square in the eye, came and rang my doorbell when they were picking me up, would chat with my Mom in the kitchen, wrestled with my little brothers in our living room. 

The kinds of little things that make a big difference to a girl. I realized something about Spencer. HE IS A GREAT GUY. He is a worthy priesthood holder, he earnestly tries to be a good person. I don't think I've ever met a single person that has had anything bad or negative to say about him. He never creates contention or drama or problems. He's just a really, really, good guy.





So we just became rather inseparable for the next two months.





And quite frankly he was and is a huge supporter and role model to me. Again, I do not necessarily condone serving a mission just because your boyfriend is. However, serving at the same time as Spence has been a real treat.  We have learned SO much. (+mission inside jokes for dayzzz) but this is a story for another topic on another day because I could talk about him for hours. look forward to that blog post in July or something ;)

(Boyfriend rant over)

And after that things sparked like wild fire. It's like I was blindfolded, running around looking for an unlocked door, and then when I found it BOOM. 

Opportunities. Galore. I didn't exactly tell Spencer I wanted to serve a mission at first so I think he was kind of confused at how this whole thing was going to go down considering he was leaving for two years and I was staying here. I did however work up the courage and determination to bring it up with my family who was probably slightly worried about my well being and future. One day I was thrift shopping with my Mom and found this book by John Bytheway called 'Things I wish I knew before I served' and I bought it. My Mom gave me this look like.......what?

So I subliminally started dropping hints.

My Dad was serving as my Bishop so technically he was the first person I had to go through. Talk about nerve wrecking. I clearly didn't understand the order of things because I walked into his room as he was chillin in his sweats and I was like "Hey Bishop can we talk?  I want to go on a mission" And he asked me, "Madison why do you want to go on a mission?" 
Then he said make an appointment.
(I think he wanted to make sure I was serious)

MY BAD BRO. So I did. I made an appointment. I was quite nervous because my Dad knows my life and knew this wasn't something I had exactly prepared for. I sat down and slammed a full length list form essay on his desk and said "I completed reading the Book of Mormon, front to back, and wrote you this essay. Anymore questions?" He laughed and started reading away. 
By the time he was finished we were both in tears.






He interviewed me for a temple recommend and we started the "Mission Papers." And then he said, "You know once you leave... our Family won't ever be the same?" I nodded. I know. I know. And then he said "You know once you turn these in there's no giving up, or turning back." And I said, I know. And then....we filled them out.






TALK ABOUT MOST STRESSFUL THING EVER!!

I totally thought once I got this little Bishops interview out of the way I would feel completely comfortable and at peace. But oh no, I felt like I just made this bizarre decision that I couldn't handle. Like k didn't even know what I was in for. Once I told my Mom she had things figured out within a weeks time. Doctors appointments, checkups, dental work, all of the above. I got it all checked off in no time. Blood tests and shots and cavities and wisdom teeth. The whole ten yards.








Before I knew it it was time to meet with the Stake President, and it was also Spencer's Mission farewell. My Stake President was awesome. My Dad had copied the essay I wrote and gave it to him. It was my "Reasons I want to serve" essay. That day we finished up the paper work and he told me he would be turning my papers into church headquarters and the Presidency of the Church. This was even more nerve wrecking.

And on top of that Spencer was leaving! We spent a lot of time talking about things. I finally decided to tell Spencer I was putting my papers in to serve a mission. His face tho! he about died. But I explained that I had been thinking about it for a while. I think he was kinda stoked. And was / is still a huge support factor to me. Sometimes you just gotta have that guy who gives you motivational pep talks every day. That was him. *pureluck*





When August rolled around, Spence took off for the MTC. Which was awful! There is nothing worse then goodbyes. But what do you do? I felt torn between so many things.






I remember sitting in my room that night thinking. We had been inseparable for weeks and now there was literally no contact. Many friends left for college. I had just turned in mission papers to leave my family. I was borderline, freaking out. I began reading in the Book of Mormon, in Alma, YA know the five thousand year long Alma section? Yeah. That. And I ran across a verse that will forever be my favorite.

It said,


"And it came to pass when they had arrived in the borders of the land 
of the Lamanites, that they separated themselves and departed 
one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again 
at the close of their harvest; for they supposed that great was the work 
which they had undertaken" Alma 17:13



And that was strike three.
Beautifully written.
Mission plaque scripture, on the spot.




These people, in times of old, separated themselves to work for the Lord. Because the work was great. And it was asked of them, and they trusted the Lord they would meet again. So I decided right then and there...
that I would too.


Not even a week later I received a big white envelope in the mail from The First Presidency of the Church. I was actually just pulling into the driveway from getting my wisdom teeth surged out of my face... when the mailman was at our house and my Dad waved the big envelope in front of my face. I was not exactly coherent so I ripped it open and saw WASHINGTON. 
And thought sweeeeeeet.







A couple hours later however, we had family and friends over to open the call. I was awake and alert (with ice bags around my face) my Dad had carefully glued the envelope back together. I ripped it open again to read the call letter to my family. I began reading it thoroughly this time... 
And it said...

Sister Madison Paige Stucki... You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  You are assigned to labor in the Washington DC South Mission... Departing December 4th 2013... in the English language. 

And THAT is when I felt at peace. 

The stress levels lowered.
I read it and felt like hey, that is exactly where I need to be. 
This is Gods plan for me. 
This is the answer to many prayers. 
This is it!




And that was it. I spent the next 3.5 months being stressed, to excited, to discouraged, to pumped up! ...but as is life. I left for the MTC with these same feelings. The "What am I getting myself into? I'm not adequate! I'm not good enough." A week before Christmas, last year I found myself one more time in the Salt Lake City airport hauling my luggage to the airport terminals. And once again I had a lot of time to think #layovers

I was definitely terrified, nervous, excited, stressed, and anxious, for what life was about to bring. But I was determined. I knew this is where God needed me to be. 
Deep inside. 
Underneath all the stress. 
Deep down. ;) 
and I knew God would carry me.


Throughout my mission, new challenges have come... on the regular. 
But the point is, that we always rely on God to get us through. I wouldn't still be here 13 months later if God hadn't carried me through. I would never have started. Who knows, I probably would have stuck with MY PLAN way back when and who knows where that would have gotten me!

I've learned so much being a missionary. 
About myself, about others.
I've built my relationship with my Savior, watched others build theirs.
I've taken on new challenges and habits and goals.
I see things differently than I did before.


I'm not perfect... but I feel better about the person 
I've begun to develop and find within myself.


I feel I've come closer to my family, to friends.
Like I've been able to inspire and uplift and help in ways I never imagined I could before. I've found purpose and meaning and safety in my life and in the gospel. 

What's more important than that?

I've had the absolute privilege of befriending, teaching and watching many of our Fathers children make the commitment to be baptized. I've watched them over the year as we initially met them until now and the progress and improvements made. Some of them are in young women's and young men's preparing for life ahead of them. Some of them are YSA Ward teachers, instructors and leaders. Some are preparing to go through the temple to be sealed, or to depart on their own missions. It's amazing watching their lives change.

I've also had the ultimate privilege of training two sister missionaries like myself! My "babes" ;) who have taught me so much. And who have been great examples and influences in my life, and changed my perspective on many things. Who have taught me how to love a bit more. And have helped me to become a little bit better day by day.

This past week I was asked to serve as a uh..... 'Sister training leader' and I have no idea what events are in store for me this next transfer but I know whatever it is...

...it's Gods plan.



And frankly, even though sometimes unnerving,

 I wouldn't change it for the world.




The more I think about it I think that
The coolest thing about this whole Sister thing
Is that my 18 month 'mission' isn't the end.
It's only the beginning,
it's my training for my life.

In five months I'll find myself once again in the Salt Lake City airport terminal
Flying home alone. With lots of time to think. #LAYOVERS

...and I'll probably be terrified, nervous, excited, stressed, and anxious, for what life is about to bring. YA know, real life. But I'm determined. I know with these big plans for summer 2015 and beyond, with these next big steps and decisions in my life...

I'll be sure I'm exactly where God needs me to be.
And he will carry me.


And I'm forever grateful for that.






S. Stucki
Sent from my iPad
January 12, 2015

5 comments:

  1. Sister Stucki, I love you.
    Thank you for coming on a mission, thank you for staying on a mission, and thanks for being my friend and my companion-not-companion. (: You are such an amazing example to me! Long boarding sesh next summer. Plan on it.
    #fangirling #sorrynotsorry

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. this was needed.
      I LOVE YOU

      Delete
  2. Just finished reading your blog. It was quite humbling to see the changes that you've gone through in making the decision to serve a mission. Great job Sister Stucki Love You!

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  3. Aubrey Holt5:11 PM

    Wow! I have been struggling to know if going on a mission is the right thing for me and this was the icing on the cake. Thank you so much! The Lord works in the most mysterious ways and I am so thankful that I stumbled upon your blog to read this. Truly inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, you can shoot me an email if you have any questions :) i'm definitely a sister missionary advocate. love ya!

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