About a month ago, I checked in on the influx of sister missionaries and spotlighted blogs that described the process from decision to return. This sparked a reader, Julianne Hatton, to drop me a note: “My daughter is also serving a mission. What makes her story interesting is that she is divorced.”
Now I don’t have numbers, but would imagine this scenario to be somewhat unique and so dug a little deeper into Hermana Grace Hatton’s story and on a preparation day she wrote me her story:
“Before I went to college, I was able to see two of my best friends in high school get baptized. I remember seeing the fruits of missionary work young, and I felt great joy from it. But I always assumed I would be married before I hit age 21. I was married young, barely 19 years old. I met him while attending BYU-Idaho. With dreams of marrying my prince charming in the temple, he fit the bill. Or at least, appeared to at first.
"Within months of being newlyweds, certain sins crept back into his life. ... I knew I needed to remove myself from the situation. I moved back in with my family and spent some time recovering. I saw the Lord's hand in my life, every step of the way. The more I learned about my Savior, the more I saw how much he loved me. And how much he loves ALL of his children (including my ex).
“I was having a light conversation with my brother one night, around a month after my divorce. He said, as an afterthought, ‘Grace, it's too bad you didn't serve a mission.’
“He planted the seed. Being very independent and resilient, I went straight to my bishop (the one who had seen everything come to pass). I expressed to him my desire to serve. I'll never forget the smile he had on his face. He opened up the scriptures, to Doctrine and Covenants 4:3. I felt like my heart leaped out of my chest. I petitioned the First Presidency, and got approval. Then, I put my mission papers in.”
Mom Julianne Hatton picks up the story, explaining that it took two years from the time Grace divorced to get out to serve (due to changing wards, waiting until she was 21, and having to restart the process a few times). And “this felt like forever to a young woman who was putting her life and education on hold. I can't tell you how many times she said, ‘I just want to get out there and serve!’
“As parents, we didn't push it. We felt that this needed to be Grace's idea. We didn't want her to feel like she had to prove that she was a good person by serving a mission (because her marriage had failed). We even told her that she would need to raise most of the money herself as token of how much this meant to her. But this didn't slow her down. She sold her car, earned half of the money herself, and friends and family chipped in the rest. Grace entered the MTC on July 25th — a day after her 22nd birthday with one semester left of college. She recently had an interview with her mission president that in her mind clarified why it took so long for her to get out there. Here is an excerpt:
“Yesterday, we had training in Port Charlotte. I will be a trainer next transfer. We had great interviews with the Pres. He is amazing. President Summerhays said that the Lord timed my mission so that I would spend three transfers (about four months) being prepared by a native Spanish speaker. I've been impatient to serve my mission since October 2010, and I was humbled by waiting until July 2012 before I could leave. I believe that the Lord held me back so that I would be ready to train — right as the missionary age was lowered. I am now ready to train 19-year-old women about the gospel, and in Spanish. I am humbly grateful for the trust the Lord has in me.
“I will not let him down.”
Find more photos, stories and testimony at Hermana Hatton’s blog as she serves the Lord in the Florida Tampa Mission.
Now let me point out a few other inspiring blogs from this week in the Bloggernacle:
- 'Tattooed Mormon' Al Fox shares her...
- Wright Words: Oklahoma tornado provides...
- 'We're here to serve all boys,' Utah Scout...
- Public invited to funeral services for Sister...
- Woman told she would never walk, talk defies...
- Frances Monson, wife of LDS prophet, passes away
- Amy Donaldson: LDS boxer B.J. Flores hopes...
- Hundreds of teens in Southern California go...
- Frances Monson, wife of LDS prophet,... 66
- Community of Christ recommends... 25
- Muslim leaders in U.S. facing... 23
- 'We're here to serve all boys,' Utah... 19
- Supreme Court to weigh in on... 16
- Hundreds of teens in Southern... 12
- Secretary of State John Kerry says... 12
- Mormon Parenting: It takes a whole ward... 11