Well everyone one year has come and gone since I left the comforts and freedom of the United States for a country that I never in a million years pictured myself being in. A country that has been absolutely destroyed by a raging civil war, stricken by numerous deadly diseases (Ebola being the most commonly known) and corrupted by its own government. A place where mosquitos carry the deadliest strand of malaria, the water and food are never truly clean, where death is no surprise to anyone, and black magic is everywhere. There is no words to describe the country and the way of living here. I never really understood how the people actually lived like they do until now. Yet with it all these difficulties the people are still happy. I never understood how or why until i met them!
At one point in my mission I was really discouraged and was really tired of the people here and just all of it. But the more I look back and think about the amazing experiences that I’ve had and the stories I’ve been told, the more I realize how much God knows me and blesses me each and every single day. I think about all the different missions in the world and think to myself “what sent me here of all the places In the world?” The more I think about it the more I come to realize that theres no other place in the world that fits me better. A few things I realized are:
1. I’ve always been the one to look for excitement. Here you don’t need to look for it because it’s there around you all the time no matter what!!
2. I’ve never been the sharpest knife in the knife drawer hahaha (neither are the people here……Trust me)
3. I absolutely love sports! The people here are crazy about football (soccer) now I know it’s not our football but hey sports are sports!
This place is torn down, crappy, and just all around not a first choice of living conditions. And yes maybe I hated it for a while but the more I think, I realize there’s not another mission in the world for me. This is it. I’m here and I’m already half way done. I’ve learned a lot and I just want to share some of the important things.
1. God allows us to struggle. The past year has been the biggest struggle of my life. The only way you could understand is if you went through it yourself. It’s not easy and I know it’s not meant to be. But what I’ve realized out if it is that God let’s things happen. Not because he wants to punish anyone or because he doesn’t like you as much as he likes your neighbor or friend. No. He lets us suffer to see if we will lay down and give up or if we will turn to him for help, stare the challenge in the face and conquer it. Make something out of it and learn from it. Life won’t ever be easy. We tell ourselves “I just need to make it to _______ then I’ll be happy/satisfied” when in reality life will always be a struggle and it’s meant to be. We all must work out our own salvation!! Fight for it. This is your chance learn something from what is challenging you and move on to the next one!!
2. Happiness is a choice. I spent some of my mission the past year just being tired, angry, and just done with everything. But over the past few weeks I’ve really gained a testimony of choices. Sometimes life gets you down, things don’t work how you want, plans change and things (appointments) fall through. Even a well thought out and planned day can go completely wrong. But the only time anger comes out is when we let it. For me saying a prayer in my heart or singing a hymn or just thinking over what I studied that morning is what gets me through the frustrating times and I know God is helping me change that because he loves me and wants me to be better.
3. Change doesn’t and will not happen overnight. It cannot be forced. It’s through time and the little things we change. Whether through our actions or maybe how we talk. If we just put in effort the change will gradually come. When I look at myself I don’t see much change since I left home, well at least for me personally. I’ve been told by missionaries, my mission president, and family that they’ve noticed a change (apparently the way I talk changed…?) And I hope they have noticed a change because I’ve been trying to change and I think everyone has something they can work on and strive to be better at.
4.Lastly, but definitely not the least, is I know that Jesus Christ is the son of God. I know he willingly died for my sins because he loves me. I love the fact that Jesus Christ, being the son of God, had the ability to sit up on that cross and never die. In fact he could have even avoided all of it. But he didn’t. He literally gave up his life for all of us and I know and love that he has given me countless opportunities to repent and come unto him. For that I will always be thankful.
I challenge each and every single one of us to use the great sacrifice of our Savior himself in our daily lives. We don’t need to make huge mistakes to make use of the atonement of Jesus Christ. We are all human and make mistakes every day. I promise that if we use the atonement in our lives every day even for the little things that you will feel of the love that God has for you.
I love you all and hope to hear from you!!