Well... After more than a month and numerous (more than 20) requests I have finally decided that writing one last blog about my mission will not actually take that many of my oh so important endless Netflix watching hours. I will be honest when I say that I am not quite sure what I am supposed to be writing. Some have asked for what I learned on my mission, others for my favorite experiences, and then there are those who ask for my advice. I feel flattered knowing that people actually read and kept up with this during the last few months of my life. I know there were times when I would not write for a few weeks, but rest assured that everything that I shared is what I thought was important. I think that as a missionary it is not necessary to share everything that we go through. A lot of experiences are deeply personal and not meant for public reading. Now that I am home I am very glad that I kept a journal, because even though it has only been a month some of the memories seem like distant dreams and I can only relive them through reading my journal.
I learned a lot on my mission. I wont write your usual cliche "I just got home and nobody can understand until they serve a mission" blog because those are things that everyone already has very present. As much as I want you all to understand and as much as you all want to understand, there is no way for me to convey the fire that burns in my chest, and the tears that come to my eyes every now and then just thinking about Costa Rica and the most amazing people that live there. My personal opinion is that I am a fairly decent writer however I know that I will never be able to express my feelings in a way that you can understand so I will just refrain from trying.
There are a few things that I would like to address. The first being a few things that I learned on my mission. Things that I learned about myself as well as things that I learned about my Savior.
I learned that it is okay to be imperfect.
I learned that it is okay to show your emotions, before my mission I prided myself on being a closed book and not letting anyone see how I was truly feeling. If you had the chance to see the real me before my mission I would consider you very lucky. I tried on a daily basis to make it seem like I didn't have any feelings. Everyone has feelings, and it is okay and good to let others see that. It is okay to cry... Maybe it is not the prettiest sight, however, nobody cares if you are an ugly crier or a pretty crier. The important part is that you are feeling and that makes you human.
I learned that if we do our best, Christ will make up the difference.
I learned that I can not make everyone love me or even like me, so I shouldn't try because it is exhausting and to no avail. HOWEVER, I can love everyone. There are plenty of people in this world who do things that I don't approve of, or things that get under my skin, but that doesn't mean that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love them any less than they love me. I think that a lot of times we feel as if because our sins are less visible to the world than other peoples that we are somehow better in the eyes of God, but in all reality, our Father in Heaven wants the people that we think we are better than back in his Heavenly home just as much as he wants us there, if not more. Luke 15:7 "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." I am not saying that is is easy to love everyone or that I have mastered that skill, all I am saying is that is it possible. It is something that I personally and still working on, and I will be working on it for the remainder of my life, but that is just it... don't stop trying.
I learned not to judge people. Especially if we do not know them. How can we possibly form an opinion of someone based solely on things that we have heard other people say. While on my mission I had the opportunity to serve in the 2 best missions in the world with the 2 best mission presidents. About a year into my mission, my first mission president (President Wilkinson) and his family finished their service in Costa Rica and went home. The mission was divided and we received 2 new mission presidents. I was assigned to serve on the west side of the country in la mision Costa Rica San Jose Oeste with Presidente Laboriel. It is a small country and obviously people talk and we hear everything that other people say. A lot of people from the other half of the country seemed to think that our president was too strict and that the rules he made were too harsh and that he ran the mission like the military. It saddened most of us in the west mission to think that people thought that about our most amazing president. Actually, on Wednesday I went to an institute class and ran into a lot of people that I served with (probably because President Wilkinson teaches the class). I ran into a few who ended up on the east side of the mission and one of the missionaries that I served with asked me what I thought of Presidente Laboriel and when I said "I love him so much" he looked at me and said "well I am glad that you like him" and started laughing. My first reaction was to say something, but then I bit my toung and just thought to myself, how is it possible that these people can form such a low opinion of a man that they have never even met. My 2 mission presidents were and are very different. I learned from both of them. Things very different but never anything that conflicted with the other's advice.
I learned that following rules and commandments is not the same as being perfect. In one interview with President Wilkinson, he asked if I was obedient and I hesitated to answer his question. He said "Hermana, I am not asking if you are perfect. I am asking if you are obedient." I think that is kind of when it hit me that I don't have to be perfect because I cant do that. What I have to do is try as hard as I can.
Now I know that this has been rather long winded however there is one other thing that I would like to talk about for just a quick second.
I learned that living with no regrets is a whole lot easier than we as humans generally make it out to be.
A few days ago I had someone ask me what I would like to go back and change and when I responded nothing she proceeded to ask me "If you could serve another mission, right now, would you?" There may be people who do not agree with my answer so I hope that you will take it with a grain of salt, but my answer was a simple "no". My thoughts on the other hand were a lot different. They answer was and is no. However, the reason behind that no is not "because it was hard" or "because I have things to do" or "because I cant handle leaving my friends and family again" because all of those things do not really matter. The reason that my answer is no is pretty simple actually. It is because I did everything. I gave my whole self to the Lord. I promised him 18 months and that is what I gave him. Not 18 months of me breaking rules and complaining when I didn't have results, and not 18 months of me being the perfect missionary, but 18 months of me trying my hardest to do what he wanted me to do. 18 months of doing my best. I know that the Lord is happy with my service as a missionary, and not just because my mission president told me so in my last interview, but because I can feel it. He is happy with what I have given him, because despite popular cynic belief in today's society, YOUR BEST IS GOOD ENOUGH. It is not good enough to get you into heaven, that is why we have the atonement and repentance, but it is good enough for our Heavenly Father. If we actually do our best, then we will have no regrets and Christ will make up the difference. Actually, he already made up the difference.
I am entirely grateful for the opportunity that I had to serve a mission. I thought at the beginning that I would be the exception to the rule that the mission changes you and that I would come home the same person that I was before, but I guess we all get surprises that we don't expect.
I am not perfect, but I am trying to do my best daily and I invite each of you to do the same.
There are a million more things that I could write. I spent 520 days serving the people and the God that I love, obviously I have a lot more to say than I can possibly write down.
I love my Heavenly Father and I love my Savior. I know that my redeemer lives and that he loves me.
Thank you all for caring about me and my experiences, it really means a lot.
Have a wonderful week.