Overcoming Disappointments

The hardest aspect of life is having courage to live. In the world today, the word infinite is well known, but hardly experienced. Words like this pop up in the air like ping pong balls never seeming to make their destination. “You can do whatever you put your mind to,” we are told as we grow. Yet, how many of us actually take hold of that promise? Do we actually feel that the skies are boundless, that we have infinite potential, where we can truly do whatever we put our minds to?

There is no need for me to discuss how people experience disappointment. That has personally found its way into each and every individual’s life. How deep the despair it causes needs not be discussed either, for we only truly know the depths of our own thoughts and feelings as the pain of it consumes our whole body. Often, we cannot escape the prison of our mind during these times. This is where my first recommendation comes in. Breathe. Having breath gives us time to remember. Remember that why we go through this disappointment it is not because we are “only” human, but the fact that we are still human.

Truthfully, life is infinite. There are endless possibilities, experiences, feelings, memories, sights, and so forth that are meant to be felt, tried, seen, made… lived. Do not deny yourself of this. By saying you are “only” binds you to no life at all. We all know how that works – “if only…” Did you just feel some part of life taken out of you? That is what it does! Instead of focusing on the list of what we are not, focus on the list of what we are. Yet, it is important to realize in the moments where we do fall short, that you are still human, and that is okay. You will face those times where: your marriage failed, you cannot have children, you lost loved ones, you had to return early from a mission, you did not become what you wanted to be, you did not win the game, you got fired… all those times where you just “were not.”

To put it in a simple analogy, every person is given a “brown bag of life,” similar to those sack lunches we received as kids. In that brown bag of life sometimes we get the dessert we love, or she got some awful kind of chips (she is gluten intolerant and hates chips!), where others get moldy sandwiches that stink, while there is a kid over there that has the coolest fruit snacks ever, and you got the expired juice box that leaked everywhere. This is not the time to look across the lunch table and envy the other kid’s brown bag… he is the one with the moldy sandwich. Despite him holding your favorite kind of fruit in his hands, little do you know he is hiding that moldy sandwich because he is ashamed to let anyone see it; but, oh can we catch a whiff of it. That is life. We experience things we love and other things we despise. In the moments of opposition, we shouldn’t feel bad about what we were served or look to others to compare. Comparison is the thief of joy.

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Accept it. Accept that you are facing disappointments, but so does everyone. The worst thing you can do is shut others’ empathy or sympathy out by crying “I am the only one!” Sure, you are the only one with that exact scenario, but you making yourself the exception does not heal you in any way. It is also a big fat lie. Others may not “know” every single detail of your situation, but they sure as heck know the misery of disappointment.

Long story short, dwelling in your pity will not change anything. You need to get over yourself, act for yourself, and live. Do not let yourself be controlled. Life is not meant to merely exist. It is meant to be lived. Have courage. Do not be afraid to try again or move on. Changing plans does not make you a failure, instead it makes you wise for reevaluating, then acting on it. Appreciate your brown bag of life. You can certainly not change the past; however, you can infinitely change the future. Most importantly, you can only be you. There is only one life like yours – it is time to live it to the fullest.

 

(Here is an inspiring video. Well worth the time)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ2xhBQ8eGA

 

Much love,

Brenna

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https://www.mormon.org/

https://www.mormon.org/me/73WW

 

 

The “mission”: Widen your perspective

“…And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God…”

Called-to-Serve

Let me start by first saying missionary work is one of the greatest things ever to occur on this wonderful Earth. It should be highly valued and appreciated. Why? Because it is the work of the Lord and affects the salvation of others.

With that being said, however, there seems to be some ultra-stigma within the culture of the church about missions. It is due to the wonderful bounty that missions reap that we seem to have carried ourselves away with placing missions on this alter. Then, when you cannot serve, come home early, have troubles serving, or have a less-than-expected successful mission it seems that you have “fallen” from this platform of glory. Missions and missionaries are up there, while, well, you are down here.

I want to personally challenge your perspective on that. Not because my thoughts are right, or that yours are wrong, but because maybe we could all re-evaluate this together.

Let us all remember the purpose of life is to progress. We are here to move forward from that which we once were. Perhaps that is why missions are so coveted. We progress on missions and through our willingness to be instruments in the Lord’s hand we help others progress. The best thing about all of this is that missions are not essential to progress, though. We can still progress without them. This is why our beloved Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, can be the mouth piece of the Lord without having served a traditional 18/24 month long mission as a youth. This is why our children, siblings, parents, grandparents, all those around us, and most importantly, ourselves, can still be reach our potential. What matters most is that we are progressing to be like our Heavenly Father. So if you never serve a mission, barely serve a mission, serve a mission to its full length, or serve several missions, as long as you strive to become like your Father in Heaven, our wonderful glorious God, you still have glory in you. You have not fallen from glory of any sort.

Perhaps the next time you try to convince your 19 year old son who doesn’t want to serve, or your dear sweet little girl to serve just like her older brothers, or whomever it may be – remember the real glory is in becoming like our Heavenly Father. When someone makes the decision to serve, it should be for that purpose. It should be because he wants to do the Lord’s work and “invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”

While at the Missionary Training Center I ran into so many individuals who decided to serve to “fulfill their priesthood obligation”, “make their parents proud”, “be an example to their siblings”, or even because “it felt like the right thing to do.” Those are all good reasons, but ultimately will those be the reasons that keep them there on their mission when the times get truly rough, where they contemplate why they are here and not there? I have been told that about roughly ¼ of return missionaries go inactive. Why is that? How can that be when missions are such a coveted thing? Right now there are the most missionaries to be serving than ever before, yet, it has been said that we are experiencing the lowest baptismal rates the church has seen in some time. How can that make sense?

When reflecting on the tree of life vision Lehi had, he spoke of the group of individuals who did press forward clinging to the iron rod. This same group after having tasted of the fruit, not partaking of it (which would allow it to change them), they fell away. They were lost. Possibly, some missionaries experience this with their mission. They were convinced to serve causing them to cling to their mission and the ideas that went with it. They then fall away. However, had they had pure, sincere intentions with their minds focused on the right goal of progression, perhaps they could have partaken of the mission and allowed it to change them.

While at the MTC we were counseled, “Don’t go through your mission, let the mission go through you.” My personal experience, is that missions have become this superior exclusive experience that occurs. It is this extravagant thing that people have the opportunity to go do; yet, when someone chooses not to go it is the most controversial decision he may face in his life. It is challenging to the point where others may make you feel “what is wrong with you” if you do not serve a complete full-time mission.

Despite missions having the opportunity to create an eternal difference, they are not essential. It is not a saving ordinance or covenant. What truly makes missions so great is the change that comes from it. The change missionaries can possibly experience and the changes others who are impacted by missionary work can experience, is the key to what makes missions glorious. Yet, we find that we can still have that same glory, an eternal difference, in our lives if we live in progression, even if we did not serve a mission. We are to act, not be acted upon. So that is why those in the spirit world, converts, people who find their faith later on in life, and those who just don’t or can’t serve missions all have the same chance to achieve what we came here to do – progress. May we progress to be like our Father in Heaven.

The next time you catch yourself saying “I only want to marry a return missionary,” or you wonder “what happened to her” when someone returns early from her mission, or you question “where will he go in life” when he does not decide to serve, remember what is most important in life. Keep that eternal perspective. Keep the eternal perspective that we are here to return to our Heavenly Father by taking Jesus Christ and His atonement upon us, becoming perfected in Him, and being more glorious than ever before.

“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

– Moses 1:39

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Here is my experience with coming home early from a mission:  https://sisterjameson.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/coming-home-cast-the-net-on-the-right-side/

Coming home: Cast the net on the right side

Monday, August 1st, 2016 after taking a bus from the Missionary Training Center to the local train station, taking a train to the TRAX, then arriving from the TRAX to the Salt Lake City International Airport, I flew to Portland, Oregon, my mission.

Friday, August 5th, 2016 I came home.

While having the opportunity to work through depression and anxiety, along with the associated panic attacks and other symptoms, out in the mission field of Portland, Oregon – I made the choice of returning home to my parents in Indiana.

There is much I do not know; there is much I do not understand. My depression and anxiety fall very well into those two categories, particularly the latter. I do not know how I have depression, and very much do not understand it. Perhaps it has something to do with a lack of self-love I have gone some time without having. At what point did I go from some person who did not appreciate herself to someone with severe depression? I do not know. However, not keeping things in check, not talking to someone about the feelings I was experiencing or the thoughts I was having, the problem grew worse. Couple that with the “tightly wound” person that I am, you have what was brewing to be the perfect storm.

The missionary lifestyle is one of diligence, and great opportunity for change. In every way you are pressed to become more selfless as you lose your selfishness. I bet every missionary has this moment at some point on their mission where they feel the “O wretched man that I am!” experience Nephi had when he shared “Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities” (2 Nephi 4:17). When you are doing the perfect work of the Lord – teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ – you become aware of how imperfect you are. After this, you then truly understand how incapable you are without relying on Jesus Christ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ly7c9scxB9I). It is through Him, that we may be made perfect. If you lose sight of this, you can fall into a gulf of misery and endless wo. I, unfortunately, began to drown in that gulf of misery.

I am not sure what truly the hardest part of my mission was. Whether the hardest part were in the hours of the morning of August 2nd, 2016 as I was fighting back tears trying to grit my way through one task to the next. At that time, I had no clue to what reason I would be crying for, all I knew was I was in great despair and there was this pain I could no longer bare. I had fought my way through the MTC, believing it would get better in the mission field. Yet, upon the night of my arrival, I had a reality check where I understood that in no way it would get better, and in fact, my fight was going to last the rest of these 18 months. Or, whether the hardest part was in the very moment I had to force myself to resign to the truth and choke out my sweet companion’s name to desperately admit I needed help as I would then be unable to finish my sentence because I had burst into sobbing. This had occurred shortly after I had glanced in the mirror which allowed me to fully realize that the misery I was experiencing; I could no longer hide, it showed on my face, the way I carried myself, and every ounce of my countenance. Or, whether the hardest part was in the conversation with my Mission President as I told him “I want to go home; I don’t see this working out,” after everyone had given me every possible opportunity to heal on my mission. Or, whether the hardest part was in the second I sat down in the seat of the airplane not being able to understand the context of my decision – to perceive that I was actually, legitimately, on my way back home, leaving my mission 17 months early.

One thing I know with an absolute surety – that nearly one month of my life on my mission was the hardest thing I have ever experienced in my life. “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships were made for.” Yet, a ship with holes in it, cannot even float in the harbor, let alone face the ravages of a storm tossed sea. I knew I needed help. I had hit rock bottom. I was returning to the land to receive the repairs I needed before I could even return to the harbor.

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I never wanted to be a stateside missionary. I never wanted to be an early returned missionary. The past month of my life I have learned more about myself than I ever could have admitted, absolutely acknowledged, to myself. I have been stripped of pride. I have been humbled. I have been refined in so many ways. Once you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up. I am back to the foundation. I have a clean slate. I am in an opportune moment where I can now progress in my life further than I could ever conceive. When you truly lose yourself, you find yourself. I am in the process of finding myself.

Did I make the right decision to come home? I do not know. Could I, myself, truly have continued on my mission? I do not know. Did I pick the easy out? I do not know. Will I try to return to serve? I do not know. Do I know what I am doing in the next months of my life? I do not know. Do I know where I am headed? I do not have a definitive answer, but I have an idea. That idea is full of hope, full of change. I am responding to the counsel of the Lord and am casting my net on the right side. Peace, be still; peace, be still. Peace, peace, be still.

–  Returned Sister Jameson

 

“Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me; 

And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost.”

– Doctrine and Covenants 50:41-42

Because of Him. He lives.

 

Here are my thoughts about missions:  https://sisterjameson.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/the-mission-widen-your-perspective/

 

Helpful resources for early returned missionaries/those who struggle:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ly7c9scxB9I

https://www.lds.org/music/text/hymns/master-the-tempest-is-raging?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/music/text/hymns/master-the-tempest-is-raging?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2016-05-012-elder-hollands-counsel-for-early-returned-missionaries?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2016/07/young-adults/dealing-with-coming-home-early?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2016/02/depression?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/like-a-broken-vessel?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2016-06-2001-like-a-broken-vessel?lang=eng&category=mormon-messages-2016

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2000/03/cast-not-away-therefore-your-confidence.p1?lang=eng

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6CA2AtYkFM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXOffc_s2Xw&list=PLq9T3v5R_q8u9kn4C5P_RSYI4Jaf84krs

https://www.mormonchannel.org/watch/series/mormon-messages/the-refiners-fire

https://www.mormonchannel.org/watch/series/mormon-messages/bearing-our-burdens-with-hope

https://www.mormonchannel.org/watch/series/mormon-messages/sitting-on-the-bench-thoughts-on-suicide-prevention

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/mountains-to-climb?lang=eng

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An un-ordinary experience

I thought it would be best if I give credit to my time here at the Missionary Training Center (MTC). There has been nothing ordinary about it. My first Sunday here foIMG_2551r devotional, they played the video the Character of Christ ( a talk Elder Bednar gave here at the MTC ), well after that video, Elder Bednar himself showed up and had an open Q & A for “He is here!” Secondly, for my first time doing service while here at the MTC our task was to pick out the varying country flags that are flown at the front of the MTC and hang them ourselves. We picked out the countries where our District Elders will be serving as well as a few other country flags. This last Sunday for devotional we had the incredible band, the Nashville Tribute band, come perform for us. Those who were a part of the choir were able to be backup singers, which was an indescribable experience. The MTC has been good to me.

To clarify some things said in my last email – I am sorry for saying it is hard to understand what a mission truly is unless you go. The reason why I said that is because I thought I knew what a mission was like before I came; I was terribly wrong. Never before in my life have I had to spend my entire day dedicated to someone else. That is all a missionary’s life is – not his life alone, but the people he will be serving. Between service, practicing teaching lessons, classes, devotionals, studying for the person you will teach, and then preparing for class; all hours of the day are spent for the sole purpose of another’s needs. Before the mission I thought if I knew how to teach the gospel. I thought I knew what a mission was. I have never been more wrong in my life. We will pray 5+ times in the span of 10 minutes just for the sake of the other person’s well being. All our efforts, thoughts, prayers, studies, time, service, and life as a whole is dedicated to the people we will be serving. That is something that I truly believe will never be felt outside of a mission.

A mission is your ALL – 100% of you dedicated to being a servant of the Lord. AlIMG_2555l hours of the day, all days of the week, and all weeks of the year, we will be focused on others. This is something I feel is hard to comprehend unless you go on a mission. I thought I loved others before; I thought I knew what charity was. The difference is- is a mission has nothing to do with what you think, are, or do.
A mission has everything to with us being pliable instruments in the Lord’s hand,
where we have the true Characters of Christ, and do all that Heavenly Father would have us do. I know for a fact I, myself, will not convert a single person my entire mission. Nor should I ever convert someone in my entire life. That is the job of the Holy Ghost and the glory of the Father. This is not my work. This is His work.

One thing I really would like to share is a story. It is my hopes that you can find this story may relate to each of you in your own lives. Believe in what Heavenly Father has given you potential for; stop beating yourself up. This simple story has truly changed my perspective on things. IMG_2597Here it goes: Johnny got a new sling shot for his birthday. One day he was out back playing around with it. He was learning all sorts of tricks, developing skills, and enjoying this gift he was given. When he launched the shot, it had fatally hit his grandmother’s prized duck. This was the last duck his grandmother had. It was beautiful and well treasured. Johnny’s sister, Sally, had witnessed this whole sight. She sat on the porch while her brother frantically hid the duck’s dead body in a pile of wood. From that day on, Sally used this information against Johnny. Anytime Sally was asked to do a chore, she would remind Johnny of what he had done, and he would do her chore. Anytime Johnny received a compliment, Sally reminded Johnny of what he had done, and he would not accept the compl
iment, but instead praise Sally. All of Johnny’s hard work and success became a subtle reminder of how he did not deserve them, for he had truly done something awful. That duck was irreplaceable. Sally held this over Johnny for a long time. Burdens came weighing down on Johnny to the point where he felt worthless. HeIMG_2601 had no more desire to use his once well treasured sling shot. He became a servant to Sally. Johnny was miserable. One day after Sally was shaming Johnny, he snapped. He told his grandmother what had happened. His grandmother simply replied, ” I know. I saw the whole thing fro
m the kitchen window. I was wondering how long you would let Sally control you. I’ve only desperately wanted you to talk to me, but it had to be you to come to me.”
Do not dweIMG_2615ll on the negative things in your life. Do not let Satan control you. Go talk to
God
, your loving Heavenly Father who created you. He desperately wants to hear from you. If you don’t believe He wants to hear from you, just test it out. The only way to find out is if you try.


I love you all. You are all in my prayers. I have never been happier in my life. Losing yourself is the best thing that could ever happen to you.

Sister Jameson

The more you know, the more you don’t know

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Missionary work is not your work. Obviously! Missionary work is the Lord’s work and has absolutely nothing to do with yourself. If you try to make it about you, you will be miserable. I have now been at the MTC for 8 days. The days are long and the weeks are short. Everything we learn here is about how to be selfless. In all the classes we have, the lessons we teach, it is about the person we are going to be working with
.

IMG_2432One of my favorite things that I have learned while here in the MTC is that “a ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships were made for.” Going about your daily life making things about yourself is a safe thing, theoretically, but that is not what we were made to do. We are made to help lift each other, serve each other, teach each other, and so forth. A person not going on an 18 month long mission is safe, but that person is missing out on something they were made to do. All our life we are taught lessons, face hardships, and have ways that we progress. Ultimately that is for us, but it is never entirely for us alone. I hope I am making sense. If I am not, just know – life is not about you. Nor should it ever be about you, or else you will have a miserable life.

If you were wondering what a true missionary is, it is this: someone who follows the
promptings of the Lord to IMG_2433make sure that the Lord’s other children are taken care of
. It involves teaching, service, care, love, and so forth. I am truly glad I have able to have been a missionary, otherwise I would have never truly understood what it is like to be one. It is by far one of those things where you have to be one to fully understand what it is like. You wake up at 6:30 every single day for 18 months and go to bed at 10:30 every single night. The hours between then are always scheduled… and scheduled with plans for others, not your own plans.

I love beiIMG_2434ng a missionary. It is hard work. You don’t know what exactly that means until you experience
it yourself, I learned that the hard way. It is hard changing all of your thoughts to thoughts for others. It is hard not having the time to sit and make things about you.

Bottom line is, it is a miracle that anyone joins our church (as Elder Bednar told us Sunday). Think, why would anyone listen to 18-21 yr olds? It is nothing we truly say or do that teaches them. The real teacher is the Holy Ghost. The real converter is the person you are working with. The work is the real work of our loving Heavenly Father.

If there is one thing I have learned so far and have an absolute testimony of, is that our Heavenly Father, God, truly and completely loves all of His children so dearly much – more than we will ever be able to comprehend.

– Sister JamesonIMG_2508IMG_2511IMG_2512IMG_2514

Being called stateside

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016 I received my call in the notorious big white envelope 22 days after submitting my missionary application.

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016 I opened my call at my grandparent’s house. Many that I loved came and skyped in.

IMG_4836“Dear Sister Jameson:

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Oregon Portland Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months.

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, July 13, 2016. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the English language.”

I had an instantaneous love for the people of Portland. The moment I read Oregon Portland Mission it felt so right. I was happy, in love, and couldn’t want anything more in the world. The immediate days that followed were consumed in heavy duty Portland stalking. Every spare moment I was looking up pictures, facts, the weather… you name it and I probably looked it up.

Reality settled in, eventually. The hurt of not going foreign increasingly began to be felt.

Hours before I was going to open my mission call I sat at work with my envelope in hand as I told my coworkers how I did not want to go stateside. Not that there was anything wrong with going stateside, my desire, a righteous desire, was simply to go foreign. Yes, I know missions are not vacations. No, I did not want to go foreign for selfish reasons. Up to this point every time I thought of a mission I pictured in my mind me being in the middle of some less-privileged country. Words, as they often do, fail to describe my desires here.

By going foreign I was going to be with people who innocently had a very different reality than my USA paradigm. I would go through the hardships of dealing with cultural differences. I would experience the strenuous task of learning a new language. I was ready to do humanitarian work where I could see the change it made first hand. The crazy meals, massive bugs, lack of safety/security, and weather challenges would not bother me. I wanted the sweaty hot days without AC, the ruined shoes from walking on dirt roads all day, and to be the outcast as I would not fit the social norm. Then when the time would come to share those experiences, I would get to tell of this different kind of life to people. I would have the privilege of having to explain the way of life, the reality, of those foreign people from that one foreign country.  I greatly desired those challenges– I was ready to pour my soul into overcoming them. I was going to give it my all.

(Below is example of what kind of mission I imagined)12932727_1104602426226628_8647533614073511737_n

Portland, although greatly diverse with stereotypes, is not going to fulfill those desires. Serving a stateside mission is going to be nothing like being immersed in the paradigm-breaking life of some foreign country like Brazil, Italy, El Salvador, Russia, Argentina, Japan, Belize, Ghana, Ecuador, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Sierra Leone, and so forth. That hurts. That is an opportunity missed for me. Serving a foreign mission as a young independent missionary is a once in a lifetime experience. I do not get that opportunity and that does make me sad… and it is okay that it makes me sad.

Experiencing real emotions is okay. If we look to Christ we can see that there were moments where he experienced sorrow. John 11: 35, “Jesus wept,” can be one of the most important verses for us to learn from. Jesus Christ, the only perfect person, the son of God, can cry – so why can’t we?

It is what we do with that grief, though, that matters. As we experience emotions, there must be a time where we can move on from them, and in a positive way. Instead of focusing on why Portland is not the best, why it is not what I wanted, I can start focusing on why Portland can be the best, why it is what I want. It honestly does help having a genuine love for the work. My purpose as a missionary, inviting others to come unto Christ, is the same and that is what matters most. That will never change. It does not matter what environment I am in, what people I am with, or what place I am at because I will still be set apart as missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

My hurt hasn’t gone away, and there is a piece of me that wonders if it ever will. Again, this was an opportunity that I missed out on! When people show me their pictures of them in Japan, Italy, French West Indies, and Argentina my heart honestly aches. In situations where people start talking to others in their mission language I am greatly saddened. I shut down in those moments… I have a stinging in my chest and I start to swell up in tears. There have certainly been countless moments when my friends opened their calls to foreign places and I wondered “why them and not me?”FullSizeRender (1)

Then, of course, there are conversations with people where they express how they surely thought that I would have gone foreign. My dad had this very conversation with me a few days ago. All he had to say was “it was because I thought enough of you that I thought you would go foreign.” As much as that conversation was needed, it was still sad for me. Even today, May 2nd, 2016, after having my brother make Japanese food for lunch, my dad talk to me about his mission in the Indies, and my dear friend ask about his Argentina mission photos on facebook, I sat at the dinner table in tears. My mom asked why I was crying. Simply, the only thing I could manage to choke out was, “Sometimes it is hard not going foreign.” Her reply was, “I bet it is.”

It is comforting to have people tell you “I understand.” Yet, even though they can comprehend what I am saying, they will never fully understand my pain unless they experience my situation. I am the only one from my family (dad and siblings) to go stateside. I have taken years of a foreign language. I have a passport ready to go. Most importantly, I had the greatest desire, an innocent loving desire, to go foreign. Yet, I am going to what could be just another city in America. Honestly, there have been moments where I just want to scream- scream from absolute pure emotion. All the frustration, disappointment, and the grief cannot be accurately expressed in words.

On that note, those very emotions have given me much to ponder. Perhaps Heavenly Father knew I would have done well in a foreign country and so He gave me the more needed challenges of being stateside. Perhaps I was called to specifically the small 40 mile long or so mission boundaries of the Portland Mission because there is one very individual that needs to hear what I have to say. Perhaps Heavenly Father knew how much I hate leaving those that I love so He gave me a mission close to where I can go back to visit after returning from my mission. Perhaps I was called to my very specific mission president. Perhaps I need Portland more than Portland needs me. Perhaps Portland needs me more than I thought I needed a less-privileged country. Perhaps there are many reasons as to why Portland is the best mission for me and I will only know that by going.

In the end, how blessed am I to even be able to serve a mission. That is what matters most. At least I have the opportunity to go. At least Heavenly Father trusts me enough to send me to the people of Portland. At least I have the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. This is all more than enough to celebrate and cherish! May I count my many blessings and focus on the good. There is much ahead of me. May I live the 548 days of serving a mission to the fullest.

No matter what, there is nothing that I can do that will make God love me more. It doesn’t matter if I go on a foreign mission or not, or even go on a mission at all. He knows me for who I absolutely truly am, and already has an endless love for me.  I don’t have to do anything to earn more or deserve the love of my dear Heavenly Father- His love is unconditionally always there.

 

10 reasons why I am excited to serve Enlgish Speaking in the stateside Oregon Portland Mission

  • I get to work with the youth on a very real level
  • I will have less time in the MTC which means more time in the mission field
  • I may be more precise and concise in what I want to say as I already know the language
  • I have the safety/security of being in my home country
  • I will be taken care of between the members, normal restaurants, doctors, and other resources here in America
  • I get to serve in an area with some of my best friends have non-member families
  • I will be able to go back and visit at very little of a cost and as often as I have the chance
  • I get to stay more of my fun, spunky personal self and have a higher chance of being accepted
  • I have the chance of relating better to those I will come into contact with as we share the same American paradigm
  • I won’t have to have the challenges foreign missionaries experience

 

Some helpful videos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDbrHTXOzIU#t=335.638

The uncertainty

The past two weeks have been a roller coaster for me. Can you believe it already has been 2 weeks since submitting my mission papers?! The week my papers were submitted my call wasn’t able to be assigned. I was honestly fine with that because it gave me more time to prepare myself… or at least gain some control over my feelings and reason my thoughts.

I had struggled the initial couple of days after announcing that I was going on a mission. Everyone and their brother congratulated me. People I didn’t have personal connections with gave me their two cents about me and my life. It’s one thing to have your close friends congratulate you, but another for someone that doesn’t regularly talk to you or involve themselves in your life. Which looking back is ok, they were just trying to be friendly, but at the time it was uncomfortable. It was uncomfortable as this was a personal thing for me. I cannot seem to find the words to accurately describe it. To me this has been a long, painful, and very personal process.

The closest thing I can think to compare deciding to go on a mission to would be enlisting in the army. (You can go ahead and laugh at me 🙂 ). Enlisting in the army is a hard task. You are going off to face very hard situations. People will not like you or respect you. You will be fighting against others. There is someone out to get you. You need to remain strong. You will work hard. Yes, you will be trained, but that training isn’t the real thing as the actual deployment. You have no control over who your comrades are. You have no control over where you will be assigned to be deployed. It is a hard thing.

To have everyone coming up to me acting like this was just the grandest ol’ thing (probably thinking of the honor or the status that comes with RMs and imagining all the happy pictures with people in name tags along with fun P-day pictures), it was uncomfortable. I did not like the attention. Probably the worst part was I hadn’t been feeling excited. Yes, I did get my answer and it brought me relief, but it was still a hard answer for me to get. Now, I have been having to face the reality of the situation. I am choosing to leave my perfectly pleasant and enjoyable life- one where I could do great things. I will hear from my family only 1 time a week through email, of course, if everything goes accordingly. I will be doing very hard things. I have been so uncomfortable because here were others that were excited while I wasn’t even excited.

Pondering over my lack of excitement has made me reflect on the time where I did not want to serve a mission. That was only a few weeks ago. I wanted the desire to go, but I did not have it. It is very important to acknowledge that even though I have the answer to go, there still is not 100% surety that this is the thing I absolutely need to do. It is not the same as a young man serving where all able and worthy young men are called to the work. This is something that I don’t necessarily want to do. It has taken great faith. It has required deep courage. I know I am jumping into something and with that, there are certainly moments where I think “what have I gotten myself into?!”

Last week my roommate received her mission call. By this point of not being excited, I have also exhausted myself over where I will go. This all came to head as everyone was guessing where my roommate would go. I became scared of where I would be sent. I still am scared. I am scared of going both foreign and state side. Foreign because of the difference in safety, language, environment, culture, and being farther away from home. State side because of all the statuses, reputations, and stereotypes that come from serving state side. Let’s face it, most people don’t think twice when someone goes foreign, yet, often when someone goes state side there is a little questioning there. It hasn’t helped that many others have had a hard time dealing with going state side. However, almost everyone returns saying they had the best mission!

As my roommate finally opened her mission call, I realized I truly could be sent anywhere. I talked to my parents constantly for hours. I talked about my doubts, fears, concerns, hopes, and so forth. My greatest fear has been what my reaction will be to where I will be assigned. I fear that I will not react well. Due to that, my fear over where I would go and whether I would like it became greater. I know it’s not about the place as it is about the people. Yet, that is hard to put into perspective and have that genuinely comfort you.

I took a few steps back and realized I needed to humble myself. ASAP. I feared I would be sent to a place I would not like in order to be humbled. I figured I needed to become humble before my call got assigned this past Thursday so I could be called to a better/different place. (Yes, admittedly, that was very wrong of me to think.) Well, among all of this I truly realized I needed to refocus and remember the reason to why I am going.

I am going to serve a mission because I have great news to share with people. I want others to know the love of God and that He has a plan for us. From this, I know that wherever I will go will not matter, because the work will be the same. I already love the work. As long as I love the work, I will love the people and the place. Through truly believing in what I am going to preach, I will genuinely love them as Father loves them. Loving the work is what makes me excited. That is what makes me happy and want to go. Since reminding myself of this, I have had the peace that I have much needed, the joy I have much longed for, and the excitement I have much desired!  Much faith and courage is still required, and it probably always will be. I am still fighting for this. I must doubt my doubts before I doubt my faith, as President Uchtdorf has counseled.

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Words of advice from some missionary friends:

“Well I’ve prayed about what I could say… I’ve found that when I’m super stressed or worried, it’s always interesting to think about the phrase, trusting in the Lord. It’s not really something natural for me to trust. I don’t know why. But I’ve found as I consciously chose to trust in Him, and His love for me, I can find the peace I need so desperately. And it’s hard to do, but really it’s a choice! As John Bytheway says it ´I choose to be happy :)´”  – Elder

“So I feel ya. To be honest, I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to go on a mission yet when I put my papers in, got my call, and even left. It kinda made me mad when people congratulated me for deciding to serve because I wasn’t really sure I wanted to yet. Needless to say, I am sooooo glad that I decided to go because I am having a blast out here. Something that I learned after I got out of the MTC was that missions are really really hard, but they are also really really fun! I never would have guessed that a mission was this fun before I left!

Also, about the whole state-side thing. That is a total myth that frankly makes me very angry. Some of the most amazing people I have met in my life, I have met out here. Also, regardless of where you go on a mission, you will experience new, weird, and incredible things. Some stateside missionaries will even experience more variety than foreign missionaries depending on where they go. I’m not saying either is better than the other, but my point is don’t worry about where you go! Wherever you are called is where the Lord wants you to go.
I personally think that pre-mission is harder than actually being on one. It’s a lot of pressure and I remember absolutely hating it.” – Elder

“I was pretty not happy when I got my call.  I was going from Europe to the Midwest, not Mongolia, not Thailand, not New Zealand, not Fiji, not even California.  The Midwest.

When I first read my call my dad said, “That’s funny. Good one, where are you really going?”  I was so mad. Haha.
But guess what like every other missionary who knows their purpose, I know 100% that the Midwest is where I am supposed to be.  I found out on my year mark in the Midwest, that both sides of my family were actually converted in the Midwest. Crazy, right?
Did I want to serve in the Midwest?…… um no!  Would I serve anywhere else right now? Heck no!  I love it here.
Moral of the story- don’t worry about where you want to go.  It’s ok to want to serve somewhere cool.  Just know that wherever you go is where you’re supposed to be.”
– Elder
“Don’t feel like you’re the only one who is going through this. I think it’s a normal thing, at least it happened to me and plenty of other missionaries I’ve talked to! You send in your papers and you’re like yay!!! But after a couple of days that wears off and you’re like what the heck just happened and what am I doing?! Hahaha. The same thing will probably happen when you get your call as well, first few days it’s like a party in paradise and then realization of what is happening kicks in! Just know I’m here for you anytime you want to talk about it because it happened to me a few times. The second time was in the MTC, I was being reassigned because my visa hadn’t come in and it was like opening my mission call all over again. And I read that I was going to Fresno and I was all excited and then had to go find out where the heck Fresno was on a map because it’s Fresno… But the next day, I was close to tears because I was scared of going there and it wasn’t my original mission call and I didn’t know what was happening but then I got to Fresno and I absolutely loved it!! Then I got a choice presented to me. You see after being out in the field for a year and still not receiving my visa I could choose to stay in California and cancel my visa progress or I could continue to wait. And I had already made my decision, I was going to stay… Only a week before I could make that official, I received a call from my mission president telling me I was leaving because my visa had arrived. And there it was again… I was excited for a little bit and then scared out of my mind. I get really bad reactions to stress but I had never been so sick from stress before this point. But now looking back I see the plan and I see why and what I needed to learn. I needed to be in California just as much as I needed to go to Brazil. Don’t worry if you go state side or foreign, they are both difficult and you’ll have different challenges but just as many, trust me, been there haha. And you’ll learn to love it even if you don’t at first!! I hated Brazil when I got there, I almost requested to be sent back to the states it was that bad!! I hated everything about it but I told my parents and my dad said well you stay there or you come home, you choose. And my mom said, just try loving them. Remember that you hate it because it’s dirty and loud and crazy, but you’ll get to come home eventually, they don’t get that option… So I stuck it out and now I love Brazil so much!! I’d live there if it were an option for me!!” – RM
“Well I just love your letters and I am so excited to hear about your mission. It is just going to be the spiritual foundation of your life. I hope you feel joy because you are going to feel great happiness too. Honestly don’t worry about suffering and the hard stuff. It is good that you know it will be very hard, but just stay happy about it cause the Lord needs us to be happy missionaries. A consecrated missionary doesn’t have a negative bone in his/her body. It is true that almost everyone that doesn’t serve never knows or learns what we know and learn, or how hard it is. But it’s ok:) It is a happy time of growth and constant contact with the holy spirit. I just can’t wait to hear where you go!! I have been thinking about you and wanted to share a video with you that I feel prompted to share….forgive the Spanish subtitles:)
I hope this video can touch you and teach you the way it has with me. I know it is from our Heavenly Father.” – Elder