Hello, I am Shaylee Rice and I was asked to share a story about missionary work, so I decided to share my personal conversion story.
I went to the family ward in my hometown until I was 20 and I started going to YSA in June of 2021, when a friend who I grew up with invited me. Ever since I have seen amazing examples of love, support and faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I got to know so many amazing people who went out of their way to talk to me, to get to know me and introduce me to others that they knew. This made my transition easy. I was super excited to come back and I got to know others who became important to me. I immediately felt comfortable and was also shown through the strong testimonies of everyone around me that I wasn't sure if I believed and that I really needed to work on my testimony.
I realized that going to the family ward wasn't good for me, as I never paid attention to the speakers, lessons or the sacrament and I kind of just showed up not knowing the importance of everything that happened every Sunday.
Because of everyone that I met through YSA and those that always made sure to communicate with me throughout the week. To make sure that I had a ride to YSA, and to those that always texted me personally to make sure that I knew about every activity that was happening. Also, to those that invited me to hang out with their friends regularly. I continued showing up, strengthened my testimony and was excited for every challenge that came my way.
Our Bishop gave us challenges to start reading the scriptures as much as we could. As we got used to it and increased how much we read every day, until he gave us a different challenge to read 5 pages of the Book of Mormon everyday together as a ward. These were only 2 of the challenges that we were given and they helped me and gave me the encouragement and support that I really needed as I started applying myself more to the gospel.
Now I never liked talking but YSA has helped me in ways that I could never imagine. I have actually been able to say prayers in lessons and sacrament meetings which I never thought I would be able to do. I’ve never been ok with accepting help because it didn’t make me feel good inside if I couldn’t do everything myself, and YSA has helped me with this as well. I was able to accept a calling and became a ward missionary, and through the support of others in the calling with me I believed that I was doing good and actually helping others. I was able to become a better friend towards everyone that I met, especially those that in the past, I would have been intimidated by or to those that I wouldn’t have liked. I started to feel like myself and discover who I am and who I want to become.
While I still really struggle at times, I know that I can make it through everything. I have never had a greater support system with those around my age going through some of the same trials, my same beliefs, and those I look up to. I feel incredibly blessed from the Sister Missionaries that we have had in our stake, the brothers and sisters that I see every week at church, and from an amazing Bishop who knows what just to say when I need help and guidance as well as the counsellors and their wives.
In our ward, little ministering groups were created with about 13 people to a group so that we can get to know everyone in smaller settings and everyone has the chance to feel heard and seen. I love this idea because it can make the transition for anyone joining the church or graduating more manageable.
I have learned how to be happier and look on the bright side of things. I am more determined and positive while thinking about the future and everything that I am able to accomplish. I feel super comfortable, and this is an amazing environment to learn and grow. I have been able to prepare for things that I was never able to imagine myself doing.
Everything I have gone through has helped me to have a desire to go out of my way to help others feel supported, welcomed, loved, appreciated, and needed. The same way I was when I started the transition of going to YSA last year. I now take every opportunity when someone needs help in any way.