My name is Stephanie and I served in the Netherlands, Amsterdam Mission from August 1983 to February 1985.
I always had said I would serve a mission if I wasn’t married by the time I turned 21. However, I met a young man just the February before my 21st birthday. We started hanging out and dated. The Spirit confirmed to me that I needed to serve a mission. I told this young man, Dale, that I was going on my mission. The night before going into the MTC (Missionary Training Center) he called and proposed to me. I told him I needed to serve this mission. We wrote letters back and forth until about half way through my mission when I was having a difficult time with companions and the work. He was the only regular writer besides my parents so I took my frustrations out on him and sent him a “Dear John” [a letter essentially cutting off the relationship]. But the November before my mission ended, we started exchanging letters again.
When I look at my life now and knowing what has happened, the trials I have endured, I am very grateful for the missionary service that I did. Dale was a convert to the church and so my service has been a big example to my children of the importance of missionary work. Dale and I did get married August 1985, but he passed away in December 1993 leaving me to raise our four small children. I think a mission helped prepare me for this experience in my life knowing and confirming deep within me the Plan of Salvation and that we can and will see our loved ones in the life after mortality.
A couple of experiences come to mind when I was on my mission where I knew God answered my prayers. I hadn’t been out in the field long, it was cold and windy outside and we were proselyting door to door. In Rotterdam Holland, there are high rises with many apartments where you stand downstairs and push a button and talk on the speaker. My companion and I were in a little entry way pushing buttons when something got in my eye. I rubbed it and realized my contact fell out. Now this was in the time period that we didn’t have disposable contacts and they were expensive. I didn’t have an extra pair and it was dark outside. We looked on the ground but couldn’t see anything. My companion and I said a prayer and still looked, but nothing. We decided to call it a night and walked across the street to unlock our bikes and the impression came over me to look back to where we were. I saw something shiny and told my companion to wait a minute. I went back and there it was, my contact lens. I know that Heavenly Father had a hand in me finding my contact that night.
The other experience is from the time I served in Den Haag. There was a nice older woman who had been seeing the missionaries for a long time and had always talked to the Elders. In fact her son was already a member, but something kept her from joining the Church. We would go over every week and give her a discussion and one day the Spirit prompted me to challenge her to be baptized. She surprised us all by agreeing and was later baptized. I asked her after what had changed her mind after so many missionaries and her response was that it was something we had said. Heavenly Father had worked through the Spirit to answer our prayers on how to show her the way.
My mission impacted my perspective on God’s love and of my own self worth. It helped me to see that Heavenly Father loves all mankind and knew me and knew what I was in need of at those times. It helped me to be more self confident and independent and know that I could have my own testimony and speak boldly of the Savior’s love and the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ without relying on the testimony of my parents or leaders.
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