Hello Family and Friends!
Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to report to the High Council about my missionary service, and then give my Homecoming talk later on in Church. Both were amazing experiences filled with love and hope and the spirit.
I sat in the high council room with 3 other return missionaries and several high council members. Each of the missionaries had the opportunity to talk for about 5 minutes about their mission and their testimony. The spirit was dense. I was really nervous for my turn, because I was only able to serve 6 months. But I stood and addressed them, the entire time thinking about Marva, a woman from my ward in Indiana, telling me to have courage and knock their socks off.
So with courage in my heart, I began by saying that I wasn’t expecting to give this report for another year. I continued to explain why I had to return home, and then I was able to tell about my mission, and how the most important thing that happened in those 6 months is that I was converted to Jesus Christ.
Later on in my homecoming talk I was able to expound a lot more and tell a lot of stories about the people and my experiences. I talked for almost 40 minutes about Indiana and the lessons I learned. (I made us go over on time… I know, I know.. everyone hates that..) I could have talked for another 40 minutes though.
It felt so good to talk about Indiana. Not very many people have actually asked me about my experiences or details of my mission since I have been home. I don’t know if it is because they don’t want to upset me, or think it might be too painful? I am not sure. But it felt so wonderful, and so… healing to talk about those lives in Indiana who changed mine forever. Those people deserve to be talked about. Those amazing miracles and blessing deserve to be shared. Those people are angels to me. They taught me to be better, to love more unconditionally, to live more freely. Those moments and experiences tore me down, and built me up.
I still don’t know why I had to come home. A friend here told me not to try and figure it out, because it will just drive me crazy. So I have just been trying my best to move on with my life, while still keeping the people and the lessons and the love in my heart forever. It has been great with all sorts of hard mixed in. A constant roller-coaster.
I think one thing that is hard for ERMs (early return missionaries), is feeling this constant need to help everyone see that you would give ANYTHING to still be on your mission; that you didn’t choose to come home. Seeking every opportunity to explain why you are home. At least that is what I have heard from other ERM’s. However, one thing the wonderful people of Indiana taught me is to not care what people think because it honestly doesn’t matter. I served among some spiritual giants, people who’s examples of love and service and beauty changed my perspective of it all. But I think we, as a society, have a distorted perspective of what those things are regardless. And I think there is this unnecessary fear that ERM’s have that they will be labeled a failure or rejected. This makes me sad. Nobody can truly know what is going on in another persons life, unless they take the time to ask.
So those of you who may have question.. please ask! I think all ERMs would rather have questions rather than whispers… And TRUST ME… we love to talk about our missions. For me, it was the happiest I’ve been in a long long time.
And for my fellow ERMs.. I plead with you. It doesn’t matter what people think, only God. As long as you are doing God’s will, then it really doesn’t matter. Choose to be happy. Choose to listen to the spirit. Choose to listen to God’s opinion of you, rather than mans. We need not fear mans opinion more than Gods…for that truly sets us up for failure. My little amazing brother, serving in Louisiana, sent me an email the week that I returned home… here is a part of it that I think will help all of you…
There is EYE sight and MIND sight... Eye sight is what you see in a situation, trial, task, and how it might appear. And then there is MIND sight... this is how you view your situation, trial, task, and how you are going to react to it. I strongly believe that as we live our lives clean and upright then whatever happens to us will be the RIGHT thing. Are you living your life accordingly to how you are supposed to? I could probably guarantee that you are.... therefore, if your mission in the field stops there then that is the right thing. God loves you. He cares about you. He has a specific plan for you; and he isn't resting on it or forgetting about you.
I know that we have a kind and loving Savior, Jesus Christ. I love the video Because of Him. I began my homecoming talk yesterday by quoting from its text that appears on the screen. Such powerful words. As we turn our lives to Him, and focus on who He wants us and created us to be, I know, and I PROMISE, we will find greater peace and happiness. Even if we are ERMs or RMs or never served or are preparing to serve or whatever! Heavenly Father loves you the same. And Jesus Christ is always beckoning you to come unto him.
I love you all. Thank you for your continued support. Thank you for helping me to be better than I was yesterday. Thank you for encouraging me and loving me :)