I have reached a monumental milestone. I have been home from my mission now for two years. There still is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it, or my life is influenced because of my decision to serve. As I look back, I remember when I was contemplating a mission. It was a hard decision. I did not want to go for several reasons. Some were selfish, some were shallow, and some where out of fear and confusion. As I prayed and went back and forth on going, I remember how much I learned to rely on the Lord especially during decision making periods. After I had made the decision to serve I thought it would be downhill from there, well I am an idiot for thinking that. From that point on the Lord began to constantly challenge me. At some points I felt as if it was cruel and unusual punishment, but what I have come to find is that it was to shape and mold me into the person I NEEDED to be for him. At the MTC I started to learn Albanian. Many (especially my sister LVD) would say I still need to master the basics of English, so how was I to learn Albanian? I had never felt so inadequate, unappreciated, and worthless especially while studying with extremely smart elders and sisters. I figured out later that Heavenly Father didn’t necessarily need me to learn the language, but He needed me to learn and think in new ways and not compare myself to others. After about 9 weeks in the MTC and dozens of doctor’s appointments, gross test’s, and medicine it was decided that Albania was not going to be the mission for me. I had to make a decision: to go home or be reassigned. It was another hard decision. I could give up and go home or I could continue with what the Lord needed me to do. I waited for a week and half for my new mission call, while still learning Albanian. I had been reassigned to labor in the Rochester, New York Mission, and was to serve in the Palmyra Visitor Centers. It was a dream come true for me. In a letter to a dear friend prior to submitting my mission papers I had included this:
“So I have most of the(mission) papers filled out, I am still having doubts but at least I will fill them out and see what happens. My availability date is like December 21! I am hoping that I go to New York Visitor Center…”
This was inspired. I had been having dreams about a grove of trees ever since the idea of serving a mission had made its way into my mind. As hard as it was to abandon the thought of Albania and the love I already felt for the people, I knew it was the place for me. As I said my goodbye’s, and left for New York after 14 week’s in the MTC, I thought this is it, it’s downhill from here. Once again, I am an IDIOT! Once I got to New York, I had a few great months. I was part of the pilot mission of Facebook and Blogging, and I can tell you without any hesitation, that is why I needed to be there. I spent hours blogging and teaching people online. By the time I was done I had had visitors from hundreds of countries and thousands of page views. It was how I was to spread the gospel. I needed to learn that so when I was no longer a missionary with a tag, I could still contribute.
When we weren’t tracting(door to door contacting), we were giving tours at the different visitor centers through Palmyra and Fayette. Most of my mission was spent building up members, not finding them. That was something many of the sisters serving in these visitor centers struggled with, not “really” bringing others unto Christ. This was something I LOVED. As someone who had not always had positive views towards church members, or living the gospel enthusiastically this was something I needed to learn to love. I learned that even the strongest member in the church can still be taught, and can still be uplifted. It is a concept that most members undervalue. If we continue to develop the church, we must never forget the people already in it. I was so humbled to have had the opportunity to learn such a valuable lesson early in my life.
When the end of October neared, I was becoming sicker and sicker. It was becoming hard to get up in the morning, and work throughout the day. Every time I ate I would be sick. I had non stop headaches and nausea. I was miserable. It was my Mission President Jack R. Christianson who had mentioned going home and he said I could make a decision, but in the end he would do what was best for me. After praying and reading my scriptures I finally felt at peace. The Lord had assured me that, it was my time and that I had accomplished everything there I needed to. I knew for some reason I needed to go home. Two weeks later, I was on a plane to Boise, Idaho.
Life at home hadn’t change, I mean it had only been 11months… My health was still not ideal, but much more manageable. I began school again at Utah State and was back on track to graduate with my class. I started an internship dealing with social media, and continued to learn the ins and outs of the game. I have been able to have great success, and I know I can owe it all to God. I received a great job right out of college and got to jump into the workforce doing what I loved. I never would have discovered my passion for using the internet for good and using it as a career without serving a mission. After going tagless early it was reassuring to know that I could still have an influence on the world always at my finger tips.
God teaches us all in different ways, for me it was through serving a mission. I developed an unwavering testimony and learned vital things that will help me throughout the rest of my life. What I love is that the Lord does it differently for everyone and in his time line. As I hit my two year mark I look back and see how everything has fallen into place because I was willing to have a leap of faith in something I was so unsure about. The whole point of us coming to earth it to be tried and tested in ways that will make us grow. The one thing I know is that God never gives us something we can’t handle, He trusts us. I kept this scripture in my mind constantly while serving a mission and still do, Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” I am tempted to say that where I am in life now, “It’s all down hill from here,” but I now know better than that… 🙂