There are two things that really stand out to me about my family that relate to the experience I've had from coming home early from my mission. One is the love for missionary work. My Grandparents on my Ward side have served 3 missions, my other side my Grandpa served 2. Several of my Aunts, Uncles and Cousins have also gone out to serve the Lord; so even though going on a mission wasn't always a definite decision of mine it had always dwelled in the back of my mind. The second thing is how hard working my family is. Anyone that knows my brothers knows their work ethic. They don't give up and they don't fail.
When President Monson announced the age change I was ecstatic and knew that I needed to serve a mission. I made the announcement that I was going to serve and before leaving I had the opportunity to speak in my old ward, the one that I had lived in for 17 years. After I had given my talk one of the sweet young women came up to me and said "I want to go on a mission, but I wasn't sure if I could. Then I heard that you were and I knew if Anna could do it, then I could too." It meant a lot to me to hear that maybe my example could help someone else. Within 3 months of the age change I had finished my papers, been called and sent to New Jersey. I loved my mission. It was the hardest and best time of my life. I not only learned more about Jesus Christ and His full and true Church, but I learned about myself and how to love others.
A year had passed and I couldn't believe how fast my mission had gone. I thought of that girl from my ward often, anytime I had a hard day I would remember her saying "If Anna can, then I can too." I desperately wanted her to know that she could go on a mission, that anyone could. Then Heavenly Father's plan for me changed. The first time I passed out was during a district meeting, role playing actually- the best part of missionary work! (A little sarcastic, but also true at the same time...) After a couple minutes of shaking on the floor I heard a Priesthood blessing pronounced upon my head commanding me to stop. And I did. The Priesthood is real.
After multiple times passing out and ER visits the reality hit me that I may need to go home. If Anna can started to become Anna might not be able to... My mission President told me he was 90 percent sure I needed to go home, but that he wanted me pray about it as well. I love that man for many reasons, but among them is because he taught me to trust in the Lord. When I felt that I had finally gotten to the point of having real intent I then asked Heavenly Father if I needed to go home. The next Wednesday I was on a plane to Utah. I let fear take over me and the lie that I had failed fill me. The thought from "if Anna can" became Anna couldn't. Anna failed. The definition of failure is lack of success. How was I supposed to face my family? My friends? The girl from my old ward? Myself? It didn't take long for me to get that answer- with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that's how.
Among all the amazing aspects of the Atonement one of them is Jesus Christ knows us perfectly. We, as fallen human beings, can't understand everything and that's okay because Jesus Christ does. Sometimes we unrighteously judge and label others, but that's okay as long as we are trying to be better because we have the Atonement and repentance. To be honest I've felt judged, I've felt like a failure and sometimes I've felt alone. That's all because of me, because I never needed to. When we look to the Savior we can overcome any trial given to us, this life is to prepare to meet God and even though I don't know why I had to come home when I did, I trust in God enough to know He has a plan and one day I will understand it. Success to Heavenly Father and success to the world are two very different things.
Hastening the Work of Salvation doesn't just apply to fulltime missionaries, it applies to every aspect of our lives. We can always serve with all our heart, might, mind and strength no matter where Heavenly Father places us. I know this church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is true. I know that because I prayed about it and received an answer from the Holy Ghost. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and will help us to know more about Jesus Christ and His love. Heavenly Father has a plan and knows our hearts.