I'm Sydney Jorgensen and I am currently serving an 18-month mission in São Paulo, Brazil for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormon Church). This is my story:
Even though it has not always been in my immediate plans, I have been preparing to serve a mission since the day I was born. From attending Primary as a small child to Seminary (scripture study) in high school, in addition to Sunday School classes and Youth activities for the past several years, I have learned all about the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is my message to the world: He is the Savior and we can return to live with Him someday by keeping His commandments. It's my goal to teach people about the true gospel of our Savior, and invite them to be baptized so they can receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Baptism is the gate to starting on the journey back to our Father in Heaven.
WHEN I CHOSE TO SERVE
From September 2011 to July 2013, my family served in a small congregation in downtown Birmingham, called the "Ensley Branch". This is where the seed was planted for my desire to serve a mission. Seeing the gospel literally change lives was amazing. The effect the Spirit had on people was indescribable. It was the power of the Lord's abounding grace and mercy. My life was forever changed by serving in Ensley. My testimony of God's love and individual worth was strengthened tremendously.
In October 2012, I attended a general conference session in Salt Lake City for the first time. It was the Saturday Morning session and coincidentally, it was the session where President Monson (our modern-day prophet) announced the change in age for missionary service. Prior to this day, boys had to be 19 years old to serve a mission, and girls had to be 21. That Saturday Morning in the Conference Center, after receiving divine inspiration from the Lord, the mission age was lowered. Now boys could serve a mission starting at 18 years old, and girls 19. The feeling in the Conference Center that day after the age-change was something that no single word can describe. I felt the peace and love of the Spirit engulf me, from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes. Tears poured from my eyes and all I wanted to do was talk to my family. I knew this missionary age-change was inspired. I knew it was true. I knew that the Lord needed more worthy and able young missionaries and He needed them now! I received a very powerful confirmation that day that this age-change was for me. The Lord was calling me into His missionary army and I could not deny it. This would give me a goal to work towards, something I could spend time preparing for.
My personality is to be a planner. I always like to be striving towards something, I like to have a tangible goal ahead. I like things organized, I like things to be done ahead of time. I am all about being productive and efficient. I like to know what's coming and I always have an idea in my head about how things are supposed to go (though it rarely happens this way). All throughout high school for me it was "get into BYU, get into BYU, get into BYU". That was my mindset. Every test, every hour of homework time, every test I studied for, it was all to get into BYU. After I accomplished getting into BYU (and with a scholarship!), I didn't really know what was next. Now that I was there, what was there to work towards? I was unsure about a major and marriage, in the midst of daily BYU engagements, was certainly not in the near future. So then what? This was my thought process before the missionary age change.
Being able to be there at the session of general conference where the missionary age was lowered was a tender mercy. It was a reassurance to me that the Lord knew who I was and what I needed at that exact time in my life. Now I could have something to work toward: serving a mission! I knew serving a mission was exactly what I wanted to do. I couldn't wait to be apart of the Lord's work, to see how the gospel changes lives, and to be an instrument in His hands in bringing people unto Him.
MY CALL TO SERVE
I completed my mission papers (basically an application to serve a mission- it includes various doctor appointments, dentist visits, insurance paperwork, interviews, etc.) while still attending BYU. These papers were officially submitted to Salt Lake at the beginning of May 2013. And then the waiting began.... Anybody who has ever known anyone who had to wait for a mission call knows how hard it is. I was back home in Alabama with my family at this point. Those few weeks of waiting to find out where I was going and when I would be leaving seemed like a hundred years. That white envelope finally showed up in the mail box and it was surreal! On May 20, 2013, surrounded by family and friends, I opened my mission call.
I had no idea where I was going. Our church has over 400 world-wide missions. I could go anywhere from Mississippi, to England, to Hong Kong, to Australia, or even Hawaii. People need to hear the gospel everywhere, and it was all up to the Lord and the inspiration He gave to our church leaders in Salt Lake.
The Lord needed me in São Paulo, Brazil speaking Portuguese!!!!!! I would report to the Brazil Missionary Training Center on September 25, 2013!
WHY I AM SERVING
I know my Savior lives. He is my Redeemer, Lord, Master, Mediator, Ultimate Example, and above all else, my Friend. There is no one else who can understand exactly what I am going through or feeling- it is because He suffered for my sins and went through the pain and agony for me as an individual that He is there for me every moment of every day. I am so grateful for this Atonement in my life. I know this gospel is centered around Christ and I've seen it change lives! I know the Book of Mormon is true and that it is another testament of Christ, in addition to the Bible. There is no greater peace that comes than from reading the word of God. I know Joseph Smith was called of God to restore His true church back to the Earth. This is the same church Christ had when he was here, and it's organized the same way, with modern prophets and apostles. I know that it is through the love of the Savior and the power of the Spirit that I can be an instrument in His hands in bringing people back into the fold of God. I want others to know of the peace and happiness that comes from being a disciple of the Lord!