Advice for Newly Returned Missionaries

February 25th 2017 was my one-year mark since returning home from the mission. I can barely believe how fast the time has flown. 

What has helped me this past year? Here is my advice to all newly returned missionaries (especially sister missionaries): 

          Attend the Temple. If you can, serve as an Ordinance Worker (wear my name on my chest)


          Set aside time to study the Scriptures every day (especially of the Book of Mormon)


          Pray to be led to those that the Lord is preparing. Pray that He will open your eyes to recognize opportunities to serve those around you, and be willing to stop whatever you are doing and act. I have continued doing this from the mission, and the Lord has helped me see that I never stopped being a missionary, but have continued as one of his instruments. 


          Look for the hand of the Lord in your life and record the miracles you see throughout the day. That is my goal: to see how His hand was evident in my life and in the lives of those around me. 


          Find purpose in your actions. I have incorparated parts of the missionary routine into my daily life, and right now as I plan for an eternal family, the Lord is helping me see how Preach My Gospel is a manual for life — it’s principles and teachings will help us as member missionaries, as friends to others, and especially as parents. 


          Discover the missionary spirit in the situation you are in. Visiting Teaching, befriending your neighbors, fulfill your callings, reach out to those that may be struggling — true love: that is what missionary work is all about. 


–      Continue your studies. After coming home from the mission, I couldn’t remember everything I had studied from anatomy and physiology before my mission, and I was scared for my upper-level classes that expected you to know those things before taking the class. However, now I am finishing up my third semester since returning home, and I can testify of the power of the Holy Ghost as the teacher. He has not left me alone. As I apply D&C and “seek learning, even by study and also by faith,” He helps me understand the concepts better than I ever did before, and I know He does so to bless others. (I will talk about this principle in another post.)


If you are a recently returned missionary, know that the Lord has a plan for you. You completed your 18-24 months of training, and now you have returned home to really get to work. You have purpose now, and the Lord can use us to continue His great and marvelous work.

–Kathleen

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Finding Joy in Scripture Study Again

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved checklists. I love the feeling of achievement that comes from checking off the items as they get completed. However, when I didn’t complete everything on that list, the disappointment would haunt me and nag at me; I would feel like I wasn’t a “good girl” or “obedient” because I hadn’t done everything I should have.

That is one of the feelings I have experienced a lot since I have returned from my mission. Those feelings come from Satan who tries to convince me that I am not “good enough,” if I don’t complete everything on Heavenly Father’s “checklist.” This evening I was reading an article in Meridian Magazine called “Is Your Scripture Study a Ritual or Relationship?” (link: http://ldsmag.com/is-your-scripture-study-a-ritual-or-relationship/) This article was an answer to prayer. He shares a story of when he was the bishop of a married student ward. Many of the students would tell him that they felt like they were disappointing God for not reading their scriptures everyday or from their prayers being mired in tiredness. (I have been feeling this way about my prayers as well.) Brother Goddard then states, “Yet their religious training taught them that they were second class citizens in the kingdom if they were not studying the scriptures the same way they did on their missions.”

As I read this, my heart jumped. I realized that this is how I have been feeling recently. While on the mission, scripture study was delightful. I felt like I could study for hours. I would try to get ready super fast in the morning so I could have more time to study in the morning, and I would get all engrossed and engaged that the hour of personal study went by like a breeze. and I loved every minute of it. It was the “high” I needed every morning before we went out to serve others. (Sad to say, I would get very grumpy if that time was shortened or if I wasn’t able to study as much as I wanted.)

As I reflected on my ability to study on the mission, Elder Holland’s talk from this last General Conference came to mind when he said, “Surely every missionary who has ever served soon realized that life in the field wasn’t going to be quite like the rarefied atmosphere of the missionary training center. So too for all of us upon leaving a sweet session in the temple or concluding a particularly spiritual sacrament meeting.” (“Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Apr 2016 GC). 

When I was on my mission, I felt like I was in a protected paradise. I didn’t worry about what was on the news or what was going on around me. I wasn’t aware of those things, and I had only one purpose and goal: to serve and love others. And much of the time, my worries were about helping others come unto Christ; it hurt to see them struggling. But, ever since I have gotten home, that feeling has changed. It shocked me. When I was in the mission field, I imagined myself not having any trouble reading the scriptures every day. But, since I have returned home, I feel like I have ADHD or something, because I can’t focus for more than 10 minutes on what I am reading in the scriptures without having to get up and do something and then come back. 

Now, throughout these last six months being at home and going to school, I have found another application of Elder Holland’s statement: that life living in the vineyard of the Lord isn’t like the rarefied atmosphere of the mission. This struggle and “loss of focus” in reading the scriptures has been tugging at me, and now, tonight, I feel like I am starting to catch a glimpse of what my Heavenly Father wants me to do: my next step. I feel like this “loss of focus” was actually a blessing in disguise from my Heavenly Father. I feel that He was happy with my love for studying, and now He has another challenge for me: to start studying His word because I want to, yearn to, not just because I have to do it to be a “good” girl in His eyes, so I don’t get “renounced.”

Near the end of the article, Brother Goddard mentions the course scripture study might take in our lives: “Just as there are times when God will make lighter demands on us, there are also times when He will ask more. There are times when He may ask us to spend many hours studying scripture and seeking His will. This is just as we would expect in a healthy relationship. If we have our minds clearly set on being close to our Redeemer and if our life circumstances have substantial variation, then it is likely that we will have different study programs at different times.”


I feel that this might be the next step the Lord needs for me to take. Throughout a large portion of my life, I have been a very check-list person. Doing certain things everyday allowed me to feel like a “good” person. But now, reflecting back, I can see now that I have been doing it just to do it to “check-it-off.” I want to start developing a healthier relationship with my Heavenly Father and come closer to Him. Now, I am not saying that reading the scriptures to read them was bad throughout my life. It has definitely helped me gain and strengthen my testimony and deepen my conversion to my Savior, Jesus Christ. But now, I feel like Christ is inviting me to change my approach: to discover that joy that comes by coming to know Him, my best Friend.

I am grateful for Institute, for the temple, for the scriptures, for my patriarchal blessing, for my family, for the Sacrament, and for the angels God places in my life. He has never given up on me, and I am eternally grateful for this privilege I have to follow Him and reach out in love to those He places in my path.

Christ lives. I know that is true with every fiber of my being. He is my Savior and Redeemer, and He is the One who knows all and sees all. Through the tender tutorings of the Spirit, He will help each of us take those next steps to continually come unto Christ and be perfected in Him.

Promises Fulfilled

When I was getting ready to enter the mission field, I was bombarded with worries. But now, as I reflect back on those sacred 18 months, those worries before the mission don’t bother me anymore. When I spoke with my stake president a week before entering the CCM, he counseled me to “put my worries in a box and leave them behind,” and that when I come back from my mission and reopen that box, I will find that they will have “resolved themselves or not worry you anymore.”

I saw that promise come true. When I left for the mission, these are some of the things that worried me.

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My studies and schooling. I attended BYU-Idaho for 2 years before my mission. While there, I took lot of upper-level classes (such as anatomy and physiology, communicable and noncommunicable diseases, biostatistics, etc.), and I worried that when I went on my mission and came back that I would forget everything and get behind in my studies. I remember praying to the Lord, pleading Him to know why I was forgetting so much of the things I studied beforehand and begging His help to remember them. And what answer did I get? He told me: “Don’t worry about that right now. Focus on helping others heal spiritually, and I will help you learn how to heal others physically afterwards.” I was still unsure, but I trusted in the Lord that He would help me. I am now finishing up my first semester at school since I have returned from my mission, and I have seen that promise God gave me come true. At the beginning it was hard to go to my upper-level classes and feel unprepared because I didn’t remember all the things I studied before. Nevertheless, as I have sought learning “even by study and also by faith,” I have felt the spirit bring back to my memory those things I learned beforehand. It didn’t all come back in a whoosh of wind, but it is coming line-upon-line, and now I feel that I am a better student. I love learning. I love my classes. Before the mission, I feel that I was studying just to pass the tests, but now, I study to understand it. As I so that I can serve and help others understand them as well, I have come to a greater understanding than ever before. He helps you. He will help you with your studies after the mission. The mission is the best investment for your life!

Finding my eternal companion: Many young men and young women wonder who their eternal companion will be. Throughout my youth I have dated many young men, and I didn’t know what would happen. I was impatient and felt I was ready for marriage. While on the mission, the Lord taught me a lot of the power of His timing.  While living 24/7 with my mission companions, they helped me see who I truly am — with my weaknesses and strengths, and I learned of the power of service and selflessness. While serving, I witnessed the habits that help marriages stay strong — I worked with families to help them come closer and develop those habits of scripture study, prayer, FHE, and temple and church attendance, what I have learned will help me be a better wife and mother. What I did with my mission companions will be similar to what I will do with my eternal companion: companionship study and inventory, weekly planning, service, personal study, temple attendance, callings, etc. Now that I am back, yes, I want to find my eternal companion, but I also trust that I will find him. I know he is out there, and as I strive to follow my Savior, I will find him in the timing of the Lord.

Food allergies: I have a cow milk allergy, and I worried about how I would be able to handle that on the mission. Throughout my mission, I strove to avoid it whenever possible, and I returned home in the end alive and well. This scripture brought me much comfort throughout my mission. “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? … Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6: 25, 32-33). He will take care of you. You are in His hands, and I know He will strengthen and support you along the path.

Learning another language: throughout high school, I studied Spanish, but it went over my head. I could pronounce words here and there, but I couldn’t have a conversation with anyone. While in the mission field, I experienced the gift of tongues. The Lord created all tongues and languages, and He will not let the language be a barrier for His servants in sharing His Everlasting Gospel. While in the mission, missionaries get personal tutoring from the Spirit (as they strive and study and put their whole heart and effort into it) in learning the language of the mission. I witnessed that in my service. It was hard to learn Spanish in the beginning, especially serving in the United States where everything was in English. But, as I studied and dedicated myself to speaking Spanish 24/7, it came. And now, I love Spanish. (EL ESPAÑOL ES LO MEJOR!!! ES HERMOSO Y TIERNO AL CORAZÓN.) And, not only did I come to learn Spanish, but the Spirit also taught me the languages of Love and of the Spirit. That changed my character. I am now more outgoing and loving. I feel a love for others and want to help and serve them.

Yo en frente del templo de Rexburg

When I went on my mission, I lost nothing; in fact, I gained more than I could have ever imagined, in ways I never thought possible.

I came to know myself better. Throughout my time serving, the Spirit revealed to me strengths and weaknesses I thought I didn’t have. As the scripture in Ether 12:27 states, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.” The spirit taught me why I battle with certain trials and what I need to learn throughout my life. He helped open my eyes and understand more of what He told me in my Patriarchal blessing. This life is a journey: a journey of discovering who we truly are — a Prince or Princess born to be a King or Queen like our Heavenly Parents. We come with unique attributes and trials, and through Christ we can reach our true potential.

I came to know my Savior. He is real to me. He isn’t just a name on a page of the scriptures; He is my Greatest Confidant, my Hope and Joy, my Path, my Living Water and Living Bread, my Friend, my Brother, my Support, my Trust, and my Goal. Before my mission, I attended church; I read my scriptures; I prayed; I participated in seminary. I felt I had a good knowledge about Christ and His gospel. However, I learned the significance of the word “know.” I can know a lot about someone, but do I really know them? As I have served by His side, I have come to witness His Power, His Love, His Miracles, and I now have a personal relationship with Him, something for which I will be grateful for the rest of my life.

I became more selfless. Throughout my mission, I had the privilege of studying Christ’s Character. I will be forever grateful for the notes I took on Elder Bednar’s talk “The Character of Christ” while in the CCM. And now, that is one of my greatest goals: to develop His Character. It takes hard work. With the natural woman inside of me wanting to turn inward and focus all on me, me, me, I sometimes struggle to get out of myself, turn outward, and follow Christ’s perfect example. He amazes me. Christ always turned outward and served others, thought of others even when He was in the greatest pain imaginable.

I caught a greater glimpse of the eternal perspective: Going through the My Plan program designed for missionaries getting ready to go home was a sacred experience. As I prayed for spiritual guidance in the goals I would set for my future, I felt the spirit helping me see who I was to become after the mission. And now, as I encounter the daily challenges of life, I can remember the power of Heaven — that I am more than what I see on the outside; I have a spiritual past. I have a history before my birth, and I am here on earth to fulfil the mission my Heavenly Parents gave me before coming to earth.

I came to see through Heaven’s eyes. Since my youth, I have been very hard on myself. I have struggled with Christ’s saying to “Be perfect, even as as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48). What I have come to learn is that He doesn’t expect perfection from me at this moment; perfection is the end goal, but along the way He will refine me like a silversmith refining silver. He has helped refine my eyes in my perspective of others: to not judge them nor myself; the Lord can change them. I witnessed great miracles in the lives of the families I served, and I know that they are PRECIOUS. They are precious to me, to my companions, to the ward families, and to the Lord. The Lord doesn’t look on the outward appearance; He sees us for who we can become. I learned that I must look at life through Heaven’s eyes.

He made me an instrument in His Hands. During my last week in the mission, we served most of our time in the Provo City Center Open House, and while there reading my scriptures, I prayed. I was scared to return home. I didn’t know what would happen to me. And then I read Alma 26:3, which reads, “And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.” When I read this, the spirit touched my heart and said, “This is what the Lord has done with you. He has made you an instrument that He will use for the rest of your life.” That has brought me much comfort in this transition of my life, and it helps me remember that my life here at school off the mission isn’t foreign to the mission life — it is another chapter that continues forward with the marvelous work I did with the Lord in that previous 18 month chapter. My growth didn’t stop when I was released as a full-time missionary; it was a step in my journey and progression, and I will continue to come closer to Christ as I reach out in love and invite others to come unto Him.

I am grateful for my mission. Yes, I had worries and challenges, but it was worth every sacrifice. It has changed me forever, and I will continually thank my Heavenly Father for this offering I gave to Him. Even though I may have given it to Him, I can see that He is blessing me and others for it. I still don’t fully comprehend this phenomenon, but I know that He will make up the difference.

The Inner Life of a Cell

These past few weeks as I studied for my Biology class, my testimony of the gospel has grown. I was reading about eukaryotes and prokaryotes, and I felt peace in my heart. I’m okay about claims about how long fossils have been around and how the Big Bang came to be. I’m okay with it because I am a daughter of God, the One who understands science a whole lot better than we do. He is an amazing Recycler, Organizer, and Creator. Maybe the dinosaurs lived during the Creation Era of the earth as explained in the scriptures. Maybe eukaryotes came from engulfing other one celled organelles to create mitochondria. I don’t know. I don’t understand all those concepts like He does. But this I do know: that I was created in His image, and He created this world so that we could come to earth, gain bodies, obtain hands-on experience, learn, grow, and be refined to become like Him. I might not be an amazing scientist, but throughout my life I have gotten to know the Greatest Scientist, the One who does know how it all came to be and made it all happen. The more I study His creations, the greater gratitude I feel for my Heavenly Father and for this privilege to be on earth that He organized for us.

Estas semanas pasadas, mientras que estudiaba para mi clase de Biología, mi testimonio del Evangelio ha crecido. Yo estaba leyendo acerca de los eucariotas y procariotas, y sentí paz en mi corazón. Estoy bien sobre las afirmaciones acerca de cuánto tiempo han existido fósiles y cómo el Big Bang llegó a ser. Estoy de acuerdo con esto porque soy una hija de Dios, Aquel que entiende la ciencia mucho mejor que nosotros. Él es un reciclador increíble, organizador y creador. Tal vez los dinosaurios vivieron durante la era de la creación de la tierra. Tal vez los eucariotas vinieran de otros orgánulos que envuelve una unicelulares para crear las mitocondrias. No lo sé. No entiendo todos esos conceptos como él. Pero esto sí sé: que fui creada a su imagen, y Él creó este mundo para que pudiéramos venir a la tierra, recibir cuerpos, obtener experiencia, aprender, crecer y ser refinados para ser como Él. Puede que yo no sea un científica increíble, pero a lo largo de mi vida he llegado a conocer el Científico más grande, El que sabe cómo todo llegó a ser y hizo que todo suceda. Cuanto más estudio Sus creaciones, la mayor gratitud que siento por mi Padre Celestial y por este privilegio de estar en la tierra que El creo para nosotros.

My Mission Continues After the Mission

En frente del Templo

Para todos que hablan Espanol, voy a traducir mis posts en Español y insertarlo abajo de los posts. Me encanta hablar en el idioma de los cielos. 😉

Yesterday morning was my first day as a temple worker in the San Antonio Temple. While President Orgill was setting me apart as a temple ordinance worker, my heart filled with joy as my  childhood dream began coming true.

As I sit here writing this, I reflect back to my youth to the first time I went to the temple as a 12 year old girl to participate in proxy baptisms. I remember that yearning to be one of those sisters in the white temple dresses serving in the temple. I remember being about 15-16 years old with tears streaming down my face as I sang  “I Love to See the Temple” with the other young women in my ward. I remember that confirmation of those precious words: “I love to see the temple, I’ll go inside someday. I’ll cov’nant with my Father; I’ll promise to obey.” I remember watching my friends and family members receive their mission calls or get married and having this light in their eyes after going through the temple. I remember receiving my mission call and the joy I felt while receiving my personal endowment in the House of the Lord. I remember being on my mission and the tears I shed as I helped others come to the temple and receive this joy in their lives as well.

It has been a month now since I was released from my service as a full-time missionary. But my mission didn’t stop there. I am still a missionary, but with Christ’s name engraven on my heart. That is what the mission has helped me do: engrave His name in my heart. Last night I started reading through my journal entries from the time I received my mission call to when I reported to the CMM, and this afternoon I read through the letters I wrote home to my mom while in the CMM. As I reflect back on all those experiences now with a greater and deeper perspective, it is amazing to me how the Lord truly keeps His promises and catered my mission for my personal growth. As I reflect back over all that I learned and went through, I am so grateful that the Lord loves me so much to put me out of my comfort zone so I can grow, to give me difficulties so I can rely more on Him. I have learned more about the work of angels, and that is missionary work: love, service, care, following the spirit, sharing this joy with others, shining Christ’s light, and reflecting Christ’s Character in my countenance.

I’m collecting my thoughts and am going to write a few posts about what my mission means to me in my life, how it has impacted me for the better, how the Lord was refining and purifying me, tips I would give to other young women preparing to serve a full-time mission, etc. I will continue to write here in “Continually Coming Unto Christ.” Before my mission I felt impressed to create this new blog, but I didn’t know why I needed to. But now, as a return missionary, I feel impressed to use these pages to share my experiences and feelings along this journey as a return missionary. I hope these words can be for a benefit to other return missionaries, others who want to come unto Christ, and anyone who might pass through these pages.

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Ayer en la mañana fue mi primer dia como obrera en el templo de San Antonio. Mientras que el Presidente Orgill ponía la manos sobre mi cabeza y me estaba apartando, mi corazón se llenó con alegría y gozo al reconocer que los sueños de mi juventud estaban llegando a realizarse.

Mientras que me siento escribiendo estas palabras, me reflexiono sobre la primera vez que entre en el templo y participe en los bautismos por los muertos. Tenia 12 anos, y recuerdo sintiendo ese deseo de ser una de esas mujeres en los vestidos blancos sirviendo en el templo. Recuerdo teniendo 15-16 años con lágrimas cayendo de mis ojos mientras que cantaba la canción “Me encanta ver el templo” con las otras muchchas en las Mujeres Jóvenes. Recuerdo esa confirmación de esas palabras preciosas: “Me encanta ver el templo; un dia entrare, y ser fiel a mi Padre, alli prometere.”

Recuerdo mirando a mis amigos y familiares entrando en el templo para sellarse o después de recibir su llamamiento misional. recibiendo sus llamamientos misionales o sus matrimonios en el templo. Recuerdo esa luz que entró en sus ojos después de esas experiencias y queriéndola para mi tambien.

Y recuerdo recibiendo mi llamamiento misional y la alegría que me lleno al recibir mi propia investidura en La Casa del Señor. Recuerdo estando en la misión y las lagrimas que derramamos mientras que serviamos a los demás y los guiamos a recibir sus propias investiduras y a participar en las ordenanzas del templo. Eso me da lo mas gozo.  

Anoche empecé a leer los posts que escribí mientras que preparaba para ir a la misión, y esta tarde leí mis cartas que escribí a mi mama mientras que estaba en el CCM. Al reflexionarme acerca de las experiencias que tuve en la misión, ahora con una perspectiva más amplia y profunda, me asombro cuán bondadoso es el Señor y que en verdad guarda sus promesas y que planeó la misión para mi crecimiento personal.   

Hace un mes que he sido relevado de la misión; sin embargo, la misión no terminó allí por mi. Continuo siendo misionera, pero en vez que vestirme con la plaqueta, tengo Su Nombre grabado en mi corazón. Eso es lo que la misión me ayudó a hacer: grabar Su Nombre en mi corazón. no con la plaqueta encima de mi ropa sino  grabada en mi corazón. Al reflexionarme sobre todo lo que aprendí y pase en la misión, estoy tan agradecida a mi Padre Celestial por haberme puesto afuera de mi zona cómoda para que creciera. Estoy agradecida que me ama tanto que me dio dificultades para que pudiera depender y confiar más en El.  He aprendido más acerca del trabajo de los ángeles, y eso es la obra misional: el ser un angel en las vidas de otras, siguiendo el Espíritu, sirviendo, amando, compartiendo este gozo, brillando la luz de Cristo, y reflexionando Su Carácter en nuestras semblantes.

Estoy reuniendo mis pensamientos en hojas de papel, y voy a escribir unos posts acerca de lo que la misión significa a mi en la vida, como me ha impactado para siempre, el proceso de refinamiento y purificación que empecé a experimentar y por lo cual continuaré pasando a través de la vida, sugerencias que daría a las muchachas que están pensando en el servir la misión de tiempo completo, etc.  Voy a continuar escribiendo aquí en “Continuamente Viniendo a Cristo.” Antes de la misión, sentí impresionada a crear esa blog, pero no sabía para qué propósito ni que fin. Pero ahora, al regresar de la misión, entiendo mas ahora porque, y voy a utilizar estas paginas para compartir estos sentimientos. Espero que estas palabras puedan ayudar si sea solamente un alma a venir mas cerca de Cristo.