Merry Christmas, or should I say 圣诞节快乐!
This Christmas season has been far from my usual baking cookies, and wallowing to Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas, while snuggled up to my dogs in Minnesota. This past week I have been busing/walking/scootering around Taiwan in search of my brother, Elder Bak. He left 9 months ago to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and what comes along with his nametag is the restriction of seeing friends and family for two years. Now, if you know anything at all about me you would know I am quite contrary to rules which has forced upon me many unwanted predicaments and consequences, but in this case it brought about one grand adventure.
I boarded the plane with nothing planned other than to somehow come upon Elder Bak and wish him a Merry Christmas and tell him some news I have held in for a few months. Little did I anticipate Taiwan to be a large country and I had no address for my brother, or phone number… and one more slight set back, I don’t speak the language. But with the Lord’s help and a wonderful woman named Annie (and a week’s time), I came upon him in the street. There was my brother wearing his suit and missionary tag stopped in the middle of the road with scooters trying to swerve around him as he froze in shock. He jumped out of the car and hurled his way in my direction and held me saying over and over, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN TAIWAN?!?! My baby sister, My baby sister..” I guess you could say he was surprised!
Once he remembered how to speak English and collect his thoughts he was back to his old self, only this time with his missionary tag plastered to his suit pocket. I’d always known my brother would be serving a mission, but seeing it in person is not an experience many people have, nor did I expect to have. And what I thought was in impulse adventure, turned out to be much more than a tourist’s dream, it was an answer to my prayers.
A few months ago, I arrived in Hawaii for school stuck in a rut. I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t know anyone, and as usual I was trying to find out who the heck I was. During this time, a sequence of non-coincidence meetings with a professor lead me to feel a strong impression to serve a Mormon mission like my brother..Then I found myself in prayer, seated in my dark kitchen alone at 1 am.. “Dear God, I REALLY don’t want to go on a mission.. but I was asked to pray about it, so here I am.. am I supposed to go? Please God, please tell me no. Tell me that impression I had was really just something I ate”
I heard no voice from God, nor a warm feeling, or anything at all, so I smiled and thought I was off the hook.. Until I opened my scriptures..
“I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do… but, behold, why do ye ponder these things in your hearts? Do ye not remember that which I said unto you after ye had received the Holy Ghost… the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi, The Book of Mormon)
**Well, dammit. That’s my answer, just not the answer I want.** My not-so-God-like thought..
A few months later… I still hadn’t told anyone, I was angry and bitter that God wanted me to serve this mission and I planned on ignoring my obvious answer from God. But it was eating me up inside, so I decided to just go along with it and take the steps to go; I can back out at anytime, right?
During this time I bought a plane ticket to Taiwan to talk to my brother about it (and a little sight-seeing couldn’t hurt.) Who better to know about serving a mission than my own missionary brother. So, that led me to Taiwan, sitting in church hearing my brother share his testimony of God’s love. Though his words were in Chinese I felt his words were true. Only my brother could soften my heart enough for me to accept my calling to go on a mission.
I am terrified beyond belief to leave my family and serve without a perfect testimony and to quite literally give up my life to God, but I’m slowly learning to trust. I believe that seeing my brother was always in God’s plan for me.. and so almost 4 months after my initial answer to serve a mission, I have started my mission papers. Finally, now I am making the announcement that in 5 months time I will be Sister Bak for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints thanks to my wonderful big brother, Elder Bak.
I will keep you all updated on where I will be serving and when I leave. I love you all, and I wish you the Merriest of Christmases!
~Katie, or I guess you can call me.. Sister Bak.