Wednesday, February 26, 2014

5 years

5 years ago I was sitting on a plane, going from Peoria Illinois to Fresno California. I had a two hour layover in Dallas Texas, but due to my flight being delayed in Illinois, I had just enough time to call my dad in Fresno and tell him an update on my flight, and start balling saying how much i didn't want to come home. Then, I had to quickly hang up and hop on the flight.

I did NOT want to come home, and yet, I totally did. I missed my family SO much. But I LOVED my mission. I didn't know how I could leave my new "family".

I learned so much on my mission. I came home a much better person. I came home with an unwavering testimony. I came home full of gospel knowledge, and experiences under my belt that changed my life. My heart was softened from meeting people in all circumstances, and seeing the Lord help them through. My testimony was strengthened as I saw Him deliver me out of all sorts of situations; dangerous ones, times when I put my foot in my mouth while talking to someone, times when He clearly answered prayers time and time again, times when He helped me meet someone at the perfect time that I needed them and I didn't even know it. He ALWAYS delivered for me.

I came home without a doubt knowing the truthfulness of the gospel. I learned what it meant to sacrifice. I knew what it meant to be 100% dedicated to something. I knew what it meant to be so exhausted that you don't know how you are going to get up the next day, and yet you still do. I knew what it meant to see someone exactly as christ sees them and not judging. I knew what it meant to love unconditionally. I knew what it meant to feel the Lord's love in such an overwhelming way that you only want to do His will and you know without a doubt that He is always there. I knew what it meant to follow the spirit. I came home knowing SO much more than I ever imagined.

And I came home knowing that the Lord's plan is perfect. That He never fails us. That He always delivers. He always comforts. He always guides. He Loves me for who I am…and with all of my weaknesses and shortcomings and faults. I am so far from perfect and yet He loves me perfectly.

I came home knowing my Savior on a level I never thought I could've been able to. I knew Him as a best friend, leader, teacher, older brother, confidant, comforter, guide, and most importantly, I knew Him as my Savior. My Savior who died on the cross, and rose again the third day so that one day I can return to live with Him, to be like Him, and to have all that He has.

I came home knowing that the Heavens were open. That He answers prayers. That just as He spoke and taught the young boy Joseph Smith, He could talk to me, and teach me and guide me.

I came home knowing, for the first time, who I was. That I was a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father who knew me perfectly, and who had a perfect plan for me.

I came home knowing without a doubt that if you are obedient you will be at peace, regardless of what kind of external forces are trying to bring you down. I knew how strong Satan could be, and I knew that Heavenly Father is working even harder than Him, with much greater forces, to bring each of His children home. What a wonderful bit of knowledge. He will NEVER give up on us.

What a blessing! I came to know all of these things through the people I met, through the experiences I had, and through the trials and hardships of a mission. I never could've ever imagined how incredibly hard a mission was going to be. How some companions would make me want to just rip my hair out…..daily. How some investigators would make me cry myself to sleep some nights because I loved them so intensely that I just wanted them to see things clearly and act on the promptings they received. I never thought I could ever be so incredibly happy when I saw someone come back to church, or when I saw someone accept the gospel, or when I saw members share the gospel. I never could've imagined how my heart would swell with joy and be able to look in the mirror and just smile every single day from August 8, 2007 to February 26, 2009 every time I saw that badge on my shirt. And I never knew how hard it would be to take that badge off for the last time. That ripped my heart out. I hated it.

My mission was so hard. And my mission was so incredibly wonderful. And I wouldn't change one. thing. Not one. I would do it all again with all the experiences I had. Because of what it taught me, and because of who I met. It has shaped me into the person I am today.

Just as I knew all these lessons and all these things 5 years ago, I know them just as well, if not better today. I sometimes lose sight of those things, and I doubt them in moments of fear and disappointment. But I have never doubted for more than a short while, because then I am reminded of the Lord's love, I'm reminded of my mission. I'm reminded of the love I have for the people I met there, and I want to make them proud, I want to ALWAYS live worthy of the trust of the people in Illinois, I still hold each of them so close to my heart.

But, to put it simply: I believe. And nothing will ever change that. I learned so many lessons on my mission that I needed to get through the trials I've had since I've been home. My mission was perfect for me. The Lord knew I needed the Illinois Peoria Mission, and He knew I needed the people there. I went there thinking I was going to bless the lives of the people there with the help of the Lord, and I left so much better, so edified, so uplifted, and so blessed. I left there knowing that what I thought was going to be a gift to the savior of 18 months, was totally, completely 100% a gift from the Lord to me. to give me those 18 months to meet some of the finest people I've ever met, to learn some of the greatest lessons, and to come to know my Savior better than ever, and to leave with experiences and friendships that will bless my life for eternity. It was completely one of the Savior's perfect gifts to me. I hope that I was able to share my love of the gospel with some people, and that I was able to be an effective instrument in the Lord's hands. That the people I met will never have to question the Love I have for my Savior and His gospel. It went by so fast, and I hope I made the best of it.

Today, I'm just grateful. Grateful for the best 18 months of my life. I think about it and reflect on it daily. And I love it so much.

OWTS/PUSH

Friday, February 14, 2014

Answers

It seems like the older I get, and the more I learn, the more answers I seek. 
2013 was a year of many many answers for me.
It was a year of huge personal change, and improvement. 

I've learned so much in the past year that it's hard for me to even begin to know where to start. 

But there's something I've learned in the past two weeks that has confirmed my testimony of something that I have known for a long time, but it was just reinforced. 

The Lord always answers. 
Always. 

Sometimes I don't recognize it as an answer and I get frustrated and overwhelmed, and other times it's as clear as can be. 

Sometimes the answer is no.
Sometimes it's yes. 
And sometimes it's "hang on a bit". 

Sometimes the answer comes through the still, small voice. 
Sometimes it comes through reading the scriptures. 
Sometimes it comes through a conversation with a priesthood leader. 
And sometimes it comes from an unexpected someone, whom the Lord has put in your path to uplift and build you and through which He sends a little love note. 

Regardless of the answer, or the way it comes…

It ALWAYS comes. And He ALWAYS answers. 

And I love it.