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.
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.
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.