Guest Post…When Marriage Takes Precedence

Today’s guest post is from a very special person. Nicole is the best friend of my missionary daughter. But she is so much more than that to our family.

In 2005, when our family made our first trek over to New Zealand, Nicole, 14 at the time, was one of the first people we met in our new ward. Almost from the day we were there, she and my daughter Jess became firm friends. Over the last 7-8 years they have remained best of friends, and Nicole has literally become a part of our family, having lived with us for several months when we were back in Sydney.

She would have to be one of the most focused individuals I know. Both in her educational pursuits, as well as her religious devotion. When it comes to the gospel she is unfailing in her commitment to the Lord, and constantly seeks his guidance in everything. Her story reveals this deep devotion.

The decision for a young lady to serve a mission doesn’t carry the same emphasis as it does for a young man, but when that decision is balanced against another of equal importance, it can create some conflicting emotions and feelings.

From my perspective, I have always taught my girls that the preparation for a mission and for marriage is very much the same. So our family focus has been for each of our girls to prepare for a mission, and if marriage comes before that opportunity, then they will be aptly prepared.

In Nicole’s case there was no wrong or right decision, both were noble. But this is when it is important for a young lady to know what is right for her personally. 

If you are interested, Nicole also has a blog. Please stop by there and say hello – Our Happily Ever After.

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This was my journey, this was my story, this is my life
By Nicole Horsford

I was 18 when I received my first distinct impression to serve a mission. Life progressed, as it tends to do. I dated, went to university, and even though I still wanted to serve a mission it was much less of a focus for me.

I was nearly 20 when my focus returned. Part of the influence for that was my best friend preparing for a mission. Another was reading my patriarchal blessing and noticing it seemed as if every paragraph was talking about serving a mission. I felt the spirit testify to me that that was what I was supposed to do.

The experience that cemented my desire to serve a mission came just days after my 20th birthday. I had been worrying for a while about what to do with my future. That night I went to Heavenly Father in prayer. As I prayed, I heard a voice saying, “Go on a mission”. I felt the spirit flood through my body and I was filled with an indescribable joy.

To say I was anxious to go on a mission would be a gross understatement! I counted down the days until I could start my papers, submit them, receive my call, and then leave. I wanted to leave as close to my 21st birthday as possible. Things took longer than expected but by November 2011 my papers were in.

Nicole's Mission Call

The Mission Call Arrives

On the 13th of December 2011 I received my call to serve in the Philippines Quezon City North Mission, reporting to the Provo MTC on the 24th of April 2012.

In January 2012, Joel, the brother of one of my best friends, returned from his mission. His family had moved to NZ in July 2011, and so rather than going home to Perth where he left from, he came to Auckland. I first met him the night he got home and then didn’t see him for another week and a half, but the next time we saw each other something clicked and I realised that I had feelings for him. Over the next week we saw each other regularly and things with us progressed rapidly from there. He was everything I had ever wanted and so much more. In short, he was perfect for me.

On the 10th of February we started officially dating, and we began to talk marriage straight away. It took me by surprise because I was so fixed on my mission. I didn’t know what to do.

I was torn, emotionally and spiritually. I had prepared for so long for my mission, I didn’t see how I could just change my mind. But I had been preparing my entire life for marriage as well, and being a wife and a mother is my ultimate goal.

I prayed about it, we went to the temple the next morning and although I received answers about some things, I was still unsure about what I should do about serving a mission. The next day we fasted and the thoughts and feelings that came through strongest to me were that Joel was right for me, and I should follow the counsel that our priesthood leaders have given us.

Richard G Scott, in the April 2006 General Conference, said:

“In the home a young girl can understand that her primary role is to be a wife and mother. Yet as that preparation unfolds there may be an opportunity to serve a full-time mission, provided recent counsel of the First Presidency is followed: “Worthy single women ages twenty-one and older … may be recommended to serve full-time missions… Bishops should not recommend them for missionary service if it will interfere with imminent marriage prospects.” “

My first choice was whether I felt Joel was the one I was to marry- a decision I made and confirmed with Heavenly Father. If that was right, then marriage was to take precedence. It seemed as if the solution was clear, and yet I still felt guilty.

I knew without a doubt that I had received revelation that helped me to make the decision to prepare for a mission. But I didn’t know if all of that had happened because I was supposed to go on a mission, or because it would give me opportunities to learn and grow, and be in a position where I could meet and marry Joel.

We sought the counsel of my bishop. I am grateful for my kind, wise bishop, who listened as I explained how things had happened, my thoughts and feelings, and the questions that I had. The first thing he said was that he would not make any decision for us, that was our responsibility.

We talked about how a mission is a priesthood responsibility, and that while it is a fantastic thing for sisters to serve missions, it is not an obligation. He stressed that there is no shame in not serving a mission, even though I had received my call. He cautioned us about discerning between emotions and communication from the spirit so that we would be able to more clearly receive the answers we were seeking for. We talked about the need for righteous families to be reared.

As we talked, I felt my fears being calmed. I felt at peace. I felt that Joel was the one that I was to marry. And, I felt like serving a mission was not what I was supposed to do right now.

Later that night, Joel proposed and I, with no doubts or reservations, said yes!

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

There are opportunities that I will not have because I chose not to serve a mission right now. But there are many more opportunities that have opened up because I have chosen to be married in the temple, to a wonderful man, and to raise a family with him in the gospel.

I still plan on serving a mission, hopefully several, but now with my eternal companion.

This was my journey, this was my story, this is my life. How grateful I am for the gospel, and for a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan for each of us.

Have you had to make a similar decision? How did you come to decide? I would love to hear your stories and how you made, or would make, the decision between serving a mission or marrying.

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What you can expect…

It seems that every month or so I will get an email from my daughter that reflects some kind of discouragement she is experiencing. Whether it is with those she has been teaching, a lack of teaching opportunities, or just discouragement about her personal progression, there is always an opportunity for us to give her some added encouragement.

This is one of the reasons I started this blog. I am sure there are plenty of mums out there who have had similar feelings, or similar questions.

So the other day I sat down and started jotting down some ideas. Just some ideas of things I can talk about on Missionary Mum’s Meeting Place (MMM). Before I knew it I was up to about 50.

So here are a few from what I have come up with so far…just to wet your appetite.

  1. You call that an email? Ways to get your missionary to write better…
  2. Mum, I think I landed on another planet! Handling culture shock
  3. When your mission is cut short. Perspectives from a mother.
  4. Why is it that father always knows best? The importance of a father’s counsel.
  5. When marriage takes precedence. This one’s for the girls…
  6. Carry neither purse nor scrip. The lengths we go to, to dress our missionary.
  7. The Romney Affect. A quick call out for how Mitt Romney has affected missionary work.
  8. 10 things I love about missionaries. From my precious YW

But, what is motivating me the most is that I get to have lots of guest writers. I certainly don’t have all the answers or all the experience, so I am going to mix it up a bit and invite lots of friends and fellow bloggers to contribute their perspectives.

I am really excited to start. So I will sign off now and get writing…