My story begins in 2014, when I did something that nobody in my family was really happy about. I met with the missionaries for the first time in April 2014 and it’s been an adventure ever since. Telling family and friends about my decision to join the LDS church often ended in yelling, tears, and confusion. No matter how bad the fights were, when it came to my baptism that September they all showed up, gave me hugs, told me they were proud, and if I was happy that’s all that matters. It truly was such a incredible day for me and I will never forget it.
Life was great and a mission crossed my mind a time or two but I wasn’t really focused on it. My boyfriend left in July 2015 and after seeing his strength as he got on that plane I knew I could handle leaving my family as well. I prayed and prayed and one day when I was studying the scriptures, my answer was right in front of me. I knew in that moment Heavenly Father wanted me to serve a mission and I called my Bishop right away. I started filling out my papers and getting prepared for this new chapter in my life. I had my boyfriend’s family helping me daily and they were always giving me good tips for the mission.
It was November 2015 when my call came! I couldn’t stop smiling as I pulled it out of my mail box and I rushed back to my roommates. It was the day before Thanksgiving so they were cleaning and getting ready for family to come into town. When I showed them my call they started yelling out of excitement and then we started making calls to family and friends. The day just dragged on but finally everyone arrived! I opened my call and instantly my eyes went to where I was going to be serving and I felt instant peace. Everyone else waiting I finally read Nevada, Las Vegas West Mission! Everyone screamed and excitement filled the air. My family felt at peace with that and then it became even more real when they heard I was leaving in 35 days.
December 30th came so fast and I was at the airport saying my goodbyes. Everyone was crying and I was trying to keep it together. It finally felt real and for the first time I think I finally realized that I wouldn’t see them for 18 months. I reassured them all that everything was going to be okay and that 18 months would fly by. Once I arrived at the MTC that’s when the emotions hit me but I knew I was right where I needed to be. The MTC was so spiritual and I learned so much. January 11th 2016 I made it to the fabulous Las Vegas! I was really excited to finally be in Vegas and to be able to teach the people. I had a great trainer and I was serving in such a great ward. I was happy and I loved being able to meet new people every day. It didn’t take long though before my back problems became worse. I tried not to complain and I rarely let anyone how bad it was. I had maxed out my limit for the chiropractor and I didn’t want to tell my family what was going on.
June 2016 I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. My leg now was suffering some nerve damage and I still was keeping it to myself. I had a hard time walking and being up for too long my leg would go numb. After months of dealing with the pain and with lots of prayer I knew I needed to go home. I felt like a burden to my companions because I wasn’t working as hard as I wanted to be. I hated making them stay at the apartment, when we really should have been out finding new people to teach. After talking to my mission president I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I cried a lot thinking about all the people I was leaving behind. Telling my recent converts, my investigators, and ward member I was leaving broke my heart. The bond you make with these people is unreal and it’s hard on them when you leave. It was the hardest thing saying goodbye to them but I knew I needed to go home and take care of my back.
Two days after talking to my mission president I was on a plane back to Oregon. It was hard when I saw my mom and the tears were streaming down my face. Arriving at my stake presidents house was hard but the blessing he gave was beautiful and just what I needed. Having him ask me to remove my name tag was really emotion but I knew it would be okay. On my two hour drive home I cried so much but also couldn’t stop talking about my mission. Finally after 5 ½ months I was back in my hometown and it was so peaceful. I surprised my grandparents and then went to see my boyfriend’s family. They screamed and cried when I walk into the house. They all were super excited and happy I was home. Everyone was so happy to see me and it was great seeing them also, but even though I was surrounded by family and friends I still felt out of place. Being gone for awhile, I had really grown and changed but it felt like everyone else stayed the same.
Adjusting to being home was hard. I knew I needed to be home to heal but I felt even more broken when I got home. I hid in my room for probably a week and a half and I ignored everyone’s calls. I felt alone and like the spirit left me. I was mad that I was back home when I should have been in Vegas serving the people. Meeting with my bishop really helped me and slowly I started to get back on track. Then I finally started to feel like myself again. Slowly I was making my way back to hanging out with friends and spending time with family. Doctors all had different Ideas about my back and what it was so I felt really discouraged. I knew in my heart my mission was over. It took months for me to finally accept that but I know this is where I belong.
Since being home I started school and I also have a great job. I have been working hard on my family relationships and its been amazing to see how much I grew on my mission. I am more positive and I try my best to share the gospel whenever I can. I remember feeling like my life was over when I came but really it was exactly what I needed. I learned how much God wants us to take care of ourselves and how much he truly does love us. I also realized that we have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of other people. Gods plan doesn’t always make us happy at the time but later we discover just how amazing his plan is. It’s been about 9 months since I came home and 2 weeks ago is when they found out what is actually wrong with my back. I am on the road to recovery now and I’m so happy with everything. My 5 ½ months in Vegas was life changing and rewarding. I may not wear that black name tag anymore but I will always be a missionary at heart. Thanks for reading my story!