There are many of you who are preparing for, or thinking about serving a mission. I admire that so much. This truly is the greatest work to ever be done- and God trusts us to do it! A few weeks ago, my Bishop asked me to write a letter to the youth in my home ward and to share my thoughts on how to proceed with such a decision and to share what it is like to serve.
So, the first step is coming to know if a mission is what the Lord wants you to do.
Ever since I joined the church I always felt like I was going to serve a mission whether i actually wanted to or not. I always sensed it was in my future, but still I had many doubts and fears. When the age change happened, I prayed. I prayed and prayed and fasted and prayed some more. I finally came to know that a mission was what I wanted to do, but more importantly it was what my Heavenly Father wanted me to do. As soon as I knew a mission was the right decision and began acting on that, I also came to know how real Satan is. I came to know how real Satan is. If I could guide you youth on anything it would be to recognize when the spirit is prompting you to do something and when Satan is trying to get in the way of that.
If you truly don't know whether or not a mission is the right decision, do what Gordon B. Hinckley advises: "Get on your knees and pray, then get on your feet and work." In other words pray to your Heavenly Father, listen, and then make a decision. Act on that decision. If it is not the right one, He will let you know. If it is the right one he'll confirm your decision with the spirit and once he does follow Elder Holland's counsel: "If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts." There were so many times that the spirit had testified to me that serving a mission was right, but there were also many times that Satan would make it almost impossible for me to press forward. There were many times I wanted to give up, but just like Joseph Smith, "I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I couldn't deny it." So recognize the spirit and act on what He prompts you to do.
Now I'm a missionary and I absolutely love it. Before my mission I would always ask RM's what it was like to serve- they would always say "It's the hardest thing, but it's also the best thing ever!" I didn't know what they really meant until I came out; now I can say that it is hard, but it's the best decision. What's hard about it? Everything. What's the best thing about it? Everything. It's all just a bunch of hard goodness. On missions you'll have your highest of highs and your lowest of lows, but a mission is really just practice for real life. For me, it's my stretching zone, my one on one time with my Savior. A mission is our time to put aside all of our personal affairs and to show the Lord our love by preaching His gospel and inviting others to come unto Him by helping them to receive His restored gospel. Missions are so sacred. Before my mission I believed a lot of things, but now I can say with confidence that I KNOW things. I know that our Heavenly Father loves His children perfectly and personally. I know that Jesus Christ is our Saviour and that He lives. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know these things because of the spirit- He truly testifies of truth more assuredly than anything else. Trust him and follow him.