[These are answers Emily wrote in answer to five questions from our ward to the missionaries to share with the youth.]
- How and when did you make the decision to serve a mission?
Around September of 2013 I was praying really intently for something that I wanted really badly. Every time I prayed about it, I got this nudge that maybe I should serve a mission. Well, my whole life I had never wanted to serve a mission and so I just ignored it, mostly out of fear that I would actually have to go if I listened to the prompting. The feeling got stronger and stronger. I received my patriarchal blessing and it mentioned a mission but again, I just ignored it because I didn’t want to go. Then I got my blessing in the mail and after reading it, the feeling to go on a mission was so strong that I couldn’t not go. I started papers and the process of going. But then again, I put it off and ignored those promptings to go. I was scared and although I felt the promptings to go, I didn’t have the strong desire within myself to serve that I knew I needed. So I waited and I prayed for that desire. It didn’t come for the longest time. In fact, it didn’t fully come until I was in the MTC. Anyway, on January 1, 2014 as I was praying I received what I like to call a kick in the pants from God. He just told me so strongly that I needed to serve a mission and that I needed to go NOW. And so I finally listened. I realized that even though I didn’t feel completely ready and even though I didn’t have that burning desire or conviction to serve, if I acted in faith and trusted the Lord, everything would work out and be ok. Circumstances were perfect for me to go, I withdrew from school and had my papers in within a week. I got my call exactly two weeks later.
- What was something you did prior to your mission that has made an impact in your service?
Something that I had established before my mission was a really good habit of prayer. I had learned to pray through my own experiences with real intent and to pray diligently. It was hard at first for me to pray with real intent, to even recognize what real intent was. But I was able to develop a very close relationship with my Father in Heaven through prayer that has greatly impacted me out here and been a source of great strength through everything.
- What was the biggest adjustment to life as a missionary and do you suggest anything for making the transition easier in this area?
For me the biggest transitions weren’t in spiritual matters. They were more in the day-to-day routines. Getting up at 6:30, working out right as you get up, establishing a good diet (when you’re busy it can be hard to eat healthy!), things like that. I would just say start practicing these things before you leave. It will be a lot easier, especially when you have to do it all on your own in more difficult companionships.
Probably the biggest transition though was communicating with others – with your companion, with leaders, with other missionaries. I had to learn what and how to communicate more effectively and openly. Sometimes it was hard to be open, especially when you don’t want to offend. Haha I’m not sure what to suggest for this one – I feel like it comes with the experience. Out here, I write a lot more about how and what I’m feeling and that helps. I have also learned to always always be open with my mission president. He will always help us as missionaries and do all he can.
- What is a difficult experience you have had and how do you work to overcome it?
Working with people in general. This sounds silly and basic, but it affects every aspect of your mission. Working with your companion, working with your district, working with senior couples, working with leaders, working with investigators and members, and so on. You meet every type of person out there and you’re not always going to get along with them all. But you still have to work with them. I have learned that the only people I need to worry about pleasing are the Lord and my mission president. If I can do that, everything else settles around me. I’m also constantly working to see others how God sees them and to pray for charity and to serve others. It’s nice as a missionary because we have an infinite amount of opportunities to serve others around us! When I am doing this, it’s easier to love those I work with and to have a spirit of unity and peace.
- What is a favorite experience and/or conversion story from your mission?
For me the coolest experience every day is just being an instrument in the Lord’s hands. Sometimes we don’t realize that we are and so it’s wonderful when we get to see the impact we make. A few weeks ago we taught a woman here in the branch. She is one of my best friends and we have a really strong, good relationship. A week before our lesson I had an amazing personal study as I read from the January Liahona, especially as I read the article about President Benson and his wife Flora. I had no idea why it was powerful to me at the time but I was grateful for what I felt and received as I read and studied and prayed.
*Note: Here in Romania, people dream. Not just fun, weird, silly dreams that you laugh about the next morning. People here dream vision-like dreams. They receive answers to their prayers in beautiful, vivid, powerful dreams. It was something I had never really thought happened as much anymore, but I have such a testimony now that God communicates with His children in this way still.
That night after my study, I had the thought to ask this woman if she had had any dreams about me. She often has dreams about people or things that end up happening, so I was curious. She was shocked and almost started crying as she told me that yes, she had had a dream about me and that she would explain it to me when we taught her next. She had no idea how I knew to ask her about her dream. I sat there after learning this, feeling like God was somehow working with me to help her.
Later in the week we went over to her house for a lesson. I brought that January Liahona with me, thinking I might want it. Before our lesson she told me about her dream. In her dream she was praying and asking God all these questions and wanting to know the answers. Suddenly a man walked up behind her and called her by her name and asked her why she was asking so many questions. She said she wanted to know the answers and he told her that she didn’t have to ask. She started asking the man if she should ask different people, and named them to him. Every time he said no. Then he told her that she should talk to me, Sora Marcheschi, because “she is a messenger of God.” She said that then he said “Hurry, because you don’t have much time.”
In her dream we talked and I gave her some advice but she hasn’t told me what it was yet. But the man in her dream told her something about President Benson and his wife Flora. She told me she really didn’t know who they were other than that he was the President of the Church at one point. So then I pulled out the magazine and showed her the article about them. She started crying and said that this is what the man in her dream talked to her about. She told me that having these dreams was a new thing for her and that it was scary at first but that she loved that God had given her this gift. I felt so honored and I still get chills every time I think about it. I know that the Lord works through us to help His children, to serve them, to love them. We are His hands here on the earth and I don’t ever want to be anything else!