Hello hello! My name is Katherine Koenig and a couple weeks ago, I realized that I was supposed to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am 19 and a half and hadn't really considered it at all until that point. I guess I had always thought it would be a good experience, and I would say to myself that "if the age was younger, I would probably go." Last year, when I was 18, President Thomas S. Monson announced to the world that the minimum age for full-time sisters to serve missions was lowered from 21 to 19. I was not in a place at that time to even consider serving, but I thought it was exciting and I was thrilled to see the response by other sisters in the church. My first semester at BYU a few months later, I watched as many of my friends and visiting teachers and ward members prepared and turned in their papers and got their calls. I was SO excited for all of them, but it just wasn't for me.
This is my second semester here at BYU now. I am really enjoying it and love my new house and ward. The ward is FULL of return missionaries (RMs), both elders and sisters. I feel like there is an unusually high number of women in my ward who have served missions, which is odd, and two of my roommates just returned from their missions in Taiwan within the past few months. As I have gone to church each week, this has started to impact me a bit. Every time I would hear a sister telling a story about her mission, something stirred inside of me. A few weeks ago I remember I was on the phone with a close friend as I walked home from church, and I said to her (very begrudgingly), "Ugh, I'm probably going to serve a mission someday." And she laughed and said "Well don't sound so excited about it!" I explained that I just felt, every time one of those sisters would talk about their experiences, like that was probably going to be something that I would do. That God wanted me to serve someday, even though I didn't really want or plan to.
Then, on October 1, I was sitting in the food court at my school. I was eating lunch and surfing the web and just hanging out. Suddenly, and totally randomly, the thought of missions popped into my head so I casually searched "lds mission application process." I HAVE NO IDEA WHY. And I found a site with step-by-step instructions on how to fill out your missionary application papers and get ready to serve. I was so overcome with the spirit. It was such a strong feeling and it took my breath away - I have never felt like that ever in my life. I have felt the spirit, don't get me wrong, but never like that. Immediately I just started crying, right in the middle of the food court. AWESOME. But I didn't even care, because at that moment I just KNEW that this was what I was supposed to do. I continued to search other things pertaining to missions, and I read President Monson's talk from last year where he announced the age change. With every single thing I read, the feeling grew stronger and more powerful and more overwhelming, and even though I think normally I would have been terrified, I felt so at peace. I knew there were so many things that needed to be worked out, and I didn't feel ready, and I hadn't planned on taking 18 months out of my life to do this, but I wasn't worried about any of that. I knew that God would make everything work out just fine, and I didn't have to be scared as long as I was serving Him and doing His will. One of my favorite scriptures says, "If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them" (I Nephi 17:50). This scripture is so profound and has really stuck with me as I have gone through this whole process. I don't have to be afraid because I know that this is God's desire for me right now, so I know that He will make everything work out. And it may not be smooth or easy, but it is completely possible. Some other really really really great scriptures about this are 1 Nephi 3:7, 1 Nephi 9:6, and 1 Nephi 17:3, and there are like 18457920935 others. God is amazing. He is all-powerful. If we are His servants and are doing His work, we can accomplish ALL things through Him.
I met with my bishop that night and we talked about this new realization. I wasn't prepared to completely decide yet whether I would be serving or not, as it was all so new to me. But conference was that weekend and I told my bishop that I felt like I would be ready to make an actual decision after I watched conference. Well....I totally knew my answer already. I knew it from the second I felt the spirit about it. I didn't need to watch conference to know that this is what I was going to be doing, but of course I watched conference anyway and TOTALLY loved it (Elder Holland is amazing, right? What a boss!) and all of the talks were just so directed toward me and my life and were exactly what I needed to hear. I met with my bishop on the Tuesday after conference and got a mission interview, and he said he would be contacting my home bishop to coordinate and would be giving me online access to my papers within a few days. I got that access the following Monday (the 14th) and I have now completed everything other than getting my dental examination (which will most likely happen next week - the receptionist at the dental office will be calling me if they have any cancellations so that I can get it done as quickly as possible).
So that's what happened. That's what IS happening. I have gotten exponentially more excited each day, and I just cannot contain it. And I've felt closer to God than ever before - I can't even imagine how great I will feel when I am actually ON my mission!! I have been consuming everything possible - reading my scriptures, Preach My Gospel, conference talks, my friends' mission blogs and letters, etc - and I just can't get enough of it. I love this gospel so much, I love my Savior so much and He is truly my best friend, and I am so grateful for His atonement and for the knowledge of His restored gospel. I am so grateful for the senior missionaries who knocked on my parents' door 30+ years ago and taught them the gospel. I am so grateful that my parents accepted the gospel, were baptized and later sealed in the temple, and that they raised me in this church, teaching me about my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I want everyone else to be able to know the truth of it as I do, and I want them to experience the abundance of blessings that being a member of this church will bring them.
I know the church is true. I know that my Heavenly Father knows me and loves me SO MUCH and that He loves all of you as well, more than any of us can understand. I know that He appeared to Joseph Smith 193 years ago, and that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and restored the true gospel on this earth. I know that we still have prophets and apostles on this earth today, because God loves us and wouldn't leave us without guidance and direction! I know that Thomas S. Monson is truly called of God and that he leads this church with modern revelation, which is such an amazing blessing that I know I take for granted sometimes. I also know that He wants me to serve a mission, so that's what I am going to do, and I absolutely cannot wait.
If you would like to know more about my church, please visit mormon.org, and of course feel free to ask me any questions :)