Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tender mercies (part 1)

Elder David A. Bednar once taught us that, "...the tender mercies of the Lord are real and they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence... [they] are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ."

In the last 5 weeks I've learned that to be completely true. Being home has undoubtedly been one of the toughest trials I've passed through. But at the same time, I've experienced the very personal and individualized tender mercies that Elder Bednar speaks of. And that has made the experience a little less painful. 

My little brother reported to the MTC on September 17th. He and my parents flew out to Utah to drop him off on the 15th, the very day after I got home. If I hadn't come back when I did, it would have been three years (almost to the day) since I saw him last. That kid means the world to me, and to be able to unexpectedly see him, even for just a few hours, was easy for me to recognize as a loving tender mercy from the Lord.

My favorite part about seeing him were the moments we spent in our stake president's office. Conner was set apart before I was released, and for just a little bit, we were both missionaries. There was an undeniable spirit in the room -- it was powerful, and bittersweet. 

I'm so grateful for the time I was able to spend with my now missionary brother. And I'm grateful that the Lord knows me so perfectly to know that that was exactly what I needed upon coming home. Tender mercies are real, peeps. I can't wait to tell you more.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Happy year mark to me... not

President Jackson picked me up early - 6am or so - and drove me to the airport in Barajas. After unloading my luggage from the mission van, he walked me inside and sat me down by the check-in counter. 

"Alright Hermana, thanks for everything. We love you and we'll miss you. Get better okay?"

And just like that, he was gone. I looked around and found myself all alone, for the first time in over a year. Up until then I had been okay. But sitting there alone in the airport, everything became so real.

I was going home.

The tears came suddenly and wouldn't stop. For a second I was glad I was alone because that way I could cry silently by myself. Nobody would understand anyways. 

I made it through security and to the gate relatively composed. But after boarding the plane, the tears returned. I had a long 12 hours to reflect over the last year of my life - the best year of my life. Most people have time to mentally and emotionally prepare for their return home. But I got ripped out of the best thing that had ever happened to me and was about to be shoved back into reality, with only a few days notice. 

When the plane arrived in Louisville, I hesitated getting off and I took my time walking towards baggage claim because I knew the moment I saw my family, it would officially be over. It would mean I was home. 

The second I saw my mom's face I just started crying again. She hugged me tight and the first thing out of my mouth, and a complete surprise to me, was, "I love you, but I really don't want to be here." It was true though. My mission wasn't supposed to be over so quickly and the only place I wanted to be was Madrid.

That night, September 14th, I was released as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and was asked to take off my badge...

I am home on a medical release. I have had seven internal infections in the last five months and it has become a cause of concern for my mission president as well as the European area medical authority, so they sent me back here. In the last three weeks that I've been home, I've seen doctors and specialists, had scans run and tests done, and am now hopefully on my way to a speedy recovery. 

Though I'd rather not be here, I'm trying to look for the good in my situation, and be grateful for the tender mercies the Lord has given me.

"If the bitter cup doesn't pass, drink it." - Elder Jeffrey R. Holland