When I left the MTC to go to Vancouver, I felt a lot of uneasiness. I began to feel anxious, depressed and would get several panic attacks throughout the day. Back home I'm very social and approachable, and love to talk to new people! But the very thought of going out to share my testimony with someone would put me in a frenzy, and make it hard to breathe. I didn't realize why I was feeling this way until my mission president told me that he thinks I might have anxiety and depression. My poor companion worried so much about me, and would rather us stay home to rest, so that I would calm down rather than stress while tracting.
I felt very strongly that I had to come home and get some things in order. I truly feel that I wasn't fully prepared to handle missionary life. I was stressed to a level that wasn't healthy and was exposed to things that didn't help with the depression I felt. My mission president still treated me very kindly, and took care of me until I left on my plane back to Ontario. During my short time out I felt like my ability to learn accelerated, and I was now open to so many possibilities that I wouldn't have even dreamed of before my mission.
However, of the hundreds of people I've talked to I met this one man who changed my views completely! I was in line picking up my greyhound ticket to bus back to Vancouver from Kelowna, the guy working the desk couldn't find my ticket! I tried to have faith that a miracle would happen, and he ended up selling me a ticket and didn't charge me for my luggage! When I got on the bus there was one seat open beside a man who looked really intimidating. As we began to converse and get to know one another he opened old wounds and revealed much hurt he experienced in his life. I felt prompted to share my testimony with him, I told him that I was a missionary and when I said that I could feel his heart soften. I knew that as I was teaching him on my way back to the airport that I was there at that exact moment for a reason. That no one else's heart would have been able to touch his. He also shared how his wife in the Philippines was there and that he was going there to pick her up, and bring her to Canada! He said last year he took a connecting plane from Kelowna to Vancouver and missed his flight to the Philippines. He felt very strongly that he needed to take the bus this year, and said that he knew God placed me beside him for a reason! Definitely a miracle! My heart was so touched but I knew I was not ready to stay in Vancouver to work, that I had business back home to take care of. I was told that I am not being released, but suspended as a missionary to strengthen myself more if I decide to go back to serve. I never felt more peace and love and I'm so excited to share stories with all of you! Although I no longer wear a black name tag, I will always be a disciple of Christ, and there's no way I am not done serving my Heavenly Father!
The hardest thing about coming home early for me is, dealing with members who don't understand why I came home early. I feel guilty that I used to judge early returned missionaries, and now here I am being one. I dealt with members emailing me while I was out who found out I wanted to come home, and them telling me it would be a horrible mistake to come back. I knew my heart, and I knew that Heavenly Father knew me better than I knew myself. That only His opinion mattered to me, and nobody else's. I had to remind myself that, they are human, and that they weren't perfect people either! The church is not perfect, but the gospel is. People think that church is full of perfect saints, but it's really a hospital for the broken people who keep coming back to be treated.
My advice to others who have come home early, and are struggling; It doesn't really get easier, you just get stronger. Don't forget to pray everyday for the things you're grateful for, as well as your trials that are making you stronger. Instead of thinking of this as a trial, I look at it as a lesson. Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us, and even though that plan was not to stay out for the amount of time we thought we were called to, we still served and walked on water. We should be proud that we are Returned Missionaries. If there was one thing I could change, It would be to have served a mini-mission. Of course I went teaching with the missionaries here at home, but you don't experience it full time. I wish the movies about missionary work weren't so glamorized, and showed more of the pioneer treks than the sacred grove experiences.
One thing is certain though, I know I am not alone in this battle, especially with Heavenly Father by our side. I'm grateful for this gospel, and for having the atonement in my life. Before my mission I used to think the atonement was for people going through a repentance process, but it's so much more. I know that Christ died for all of us, and went through pain and death so that we may be cleansed and made pure. And by just knowing that, I know that Heavenly Father wouldn't just leave me like this. That everything has a purpose in life, and it's up to me to get on my knees, pray, get up and share my testimony and learn from it.
'I am a child of God, and he has sent me here.'
Hello my name is Audrey, I was called to serve in the Canada Vancouver Mission for a little under a month. I received my call in September of 2013, and even waited to open my call 5 days later that Sunday with the members of my home ward. I was to report on December 4, 2013. I remember how much I used to stress about where I would be called, and got nervous at the thought of me getting called to some foreign land. When I was finished my papers, I remembered thinking that I no longer cared about where I would be called, I just wanted to go! When I finally got my call, and read Vancouver, I felt so much joy and excitement to reach out to the people of B.C. To meet them, and to just feel for them and share my testimony.
Come the day I had to report to the MTC, I didn't feel anything more than curiosity as to what the next 18 months would be like. I wondered what sleeping the same amount of hours every night would be like, or what being away from home would be like. Surprisingly enough, I very much enjoyed the MTC. The Sisters and Elders in my Zone were very loving and caring towards each other...the very definition of the song 'Love One Another'. Had it not been for the support of everyone in the MTC, I probably would have gone home then. I was getting homesick, and frustrated that I just couldn't get over the way I was feeling. I shrugged it off and prayed many times that I would be blessed with strength to move forward.