For those afraid to go.

Today marks one year of being home from my mission. It’s a mixture of emotions. I love my mission. I am so grateful for the miracles and blessings I experienced during those 18 months. And it’s also interesting to see where things go a year later. It definitely allows for some introspection and reevaluation… makes me think how we can always move forward and progress, even without scheduled goal-planning and personal evaluation. We can always move forward :) But in honor of the occasion, I thought I’d share just a bit about my mission. And try to help those out who may be fearing their decision to go.
Once there was a shy, quiet girl. She loved the Lord and wanted to be a missionary but was unsure of herself. She felt inadequate. She was too reserved to go and talk with hundreds of people. She was afraid to leave. But the prompting came, the circumstances were right, and I am so grateful that she decided to go. I will never regret that decision, but will look back EVERY DAY, so grateful that my Heavenly Father knew what was right for me, and that he led me on that path.

Words cannot begin to describe my love for my mission. I cannot begin to say or even understand the profound impact those 18 months have had on my life. But I know that there must be tons of would-be missionaries out there who are struggling with the same doubts and worries as I did. For whatever reason it may be, God has asked some to go who are now standing back in fear, discouragement, inadequacy… but here’s my little call to those who have felt the prompting to go and are now brushing it away. Or maybe to those who don’t want to ask- who want to stay in that comfortable place of not going, so don’t even ask him if it’s right.  But here’s the thing about missions.
I won’t downplay the fact that it is the hardest thing I have ever done. Missionaries will tell you that it’s hard. Blistering heat, bone-freezing cold, giant bugs, biting dogs, yelling, threats, you name it. Every missionary has their horror stories to tell. On her first day in Canada, my poor companion and I got told off by a nasty Quebecois woman, threatening she’d call the police if we ever came back to her doorstep (after I had gone on and on about the sweet friend of ours who lived there).  I have fond memories of walking in the sub-zero climate of Quebec, while our nostrils froze shut and our toes went numb. Braving the tempête while the wind howled around us, and the snow fell so quickly that we could hardly see the road in front of us. But the hardest part of it all was also what made everything the most meaningful.
The people. I have a funny relationship with the people of Quebec. I can say I’ve seen their quirks, and they have their weaknesses as sure as I have mine. But I have never felt such an overwhelming love for any other people than I do for those people of Quebec. With their strong sense of nationalism for their province and their accent, they are also home to such a variety of people. You have your traditional “Quebecois”, but you also have your Hispanic friends, the Africans, the Middle Easterns, the French. I love that Quebec is not made up of purely “Quebecois”, but of people from everywhere. And there is something to learn from every single one of them.

My best friends came from those 18 months in Quebec. Some of them Canadian- some from way up North in Gaspésie, while others were from the south shore of Montreal or Quebec City, others from different provinces. Some from Cameroon, others from Bosnia. Wherever we came from, I know that God knew that we needed to cross paths. That while I we could hardly communicate, I needed to become best friends with the sad man from Bosnia. I needed to learn from the sweet old man who’d been smoking since twelve. The energetic family who needed the healing of Christ’s gospel. The affectionate woman who’d been abused and broken all her life.

Seeing the life of the people I loved so much, seeing them make the decisions that would only bring them more sadness, these were the hardest moments of my mission. That moment when he said he wouldn’t make the change. The moment we found out she’d been smoking again. The day he was in the hospital for another overdose. These moments tore out my heart. Moments with people whom I’d have never met if I hadn’t decided to come. Our lives would have never crossed paths if it weren’t for the divine design of our Heavenly Father. I didn’t know that stopping the sweaty man on his bike would lead to an answer to his and our prayers. I didn’t know that swallowing fear to talk to the uninterested couple would lead to one of the sweetest relationships I’d ever had. I didn’t know how much my Heavenly Father had in store.
Yes it was painful. It was painful when we’d drive home after a day of “no’s”. Painful when we’d learn that our friend whom we loved so much was struggling again. That pain would tear your heart out. Make you ache inside.

But it wasn’t pain from anything physically done to you. It was pain because you loved them so much. It gave me just the smallest glimpse of the pain our Father feels when he sees us do wrong. It gave me just the smallest glimpse of his love for all of his children.
If I learned anything on my mission, it was of my Father’s love. I learned to work hard. I learned to push myself. To overcome my shyness. To speak out. To talk with everyone. To keep singing and smiling. To be myself. But feeling and understanding and knowing that his love is REAL was the most important. For me, that was something I believed before I left. But it was something that I didn’t really know until I had served as one of his missionaries. It wasn’t something I had felt until I served by his side.
I have felt my Father’s love more than anything else. I feel so blessed to have piece of that love for his children in Quebec.
So anyways. There’s just one piece of what he can give you if you follow that prompting. I know there’s a right for everyone, and you have to do what’s right for you. But I don’t think those 18 months of learning could have been made up any other way. I am eternally grateful that my Heavenly Father loves me enough to tell me what’s right for me.
So of course, ask him and do what the spirit prompts. But if you’re on the fence. If you’re starting to doubt if you can really do it, or if God would really prompt you… know that it will be hard, but so full of love that you just might get so overwhelmed you never want to return home. God prompted YOU to come. So he wants you. No less than the seemingly perfect pre-missionaries you see on Instagram. He knows who you are, and he knows were his children are. He knows who he needs you to befriend, who needs your experiences, who you need to become. And only he can send you in the place and people catered perfectly to your needs.
I am so grateful that God allowed me, young, immature and unqualified as I am, to serve as one of his servants. I am grateful that he calls all of us to be his servants, to be instruments in his hands… regardless of whether we wear the badge or not, we can all keep his name on our hearts.

Paint it on and never let it fade! And if you get the chance, give the name tag a try. Those 18 months/2 years will fly by faster than you’d ever dream and all you’ll have to look back with is GRATITUDE. :)
There are some amazing people in the world. People all over who are waiting to be your best friend. Whether or not you decide to serve as a full-time missionary. Serve as a DISCIPLE. Find those friends your Heavenly Father has waiting for you. It doesn't matter where we come from or what language we speak. I think we'll find that we have a lot more in common than we think. :)


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