When a recent missionary wrote in her email, “I think it’s so crazy that everyone is just taking their own separate paths now in life!”, I remembered having the same thoughts and fears. I still have these thoughts, but as I grow older I remember we started taking our own separate paths a long time ago. This was my reply:
You might feel homesick every once in a while, but don’t be alarmed that all these things are going on back home. You won’t recognize the world you return to, and that’s okay. At least I didn’t, but that was because we weren’t emailing our friends back then; I’d be lucky to hear family members several times a year. People come and go; even if you want to stay friends with everyone, they may not choose the same, and that may be simply because there are only so many people one person can handle in their life. You have a great family that will still be here when you come back, and I know it’s hard to believe, but the best is yet to come! It sounds like you are deep into the work, so there’s no real worries.
I did learn a lot of things on my mission. Many of those things do apply to me now, and I was just thinking about one of them. A bit into my mission, my companion asked me, “Do you love being a missionary?” I thought it was a loaded question. To be honest I did love it, but I didn’t know whether or not that was true at the time. When the time came for me to go home though, I was sure as a rock that this was something that I loved. There wasn’t any other life that I wanted. Going home was one of the saddest moments of my life. But it shouldn’t be. There is life after death, and it’s just got different rules than mission life. People usually just make it up as they go along. Thinking about that gave me strength recently, because I know many people as well as me worry about “loving” every moment of what you’re doing, otherwise you’re wasting time. But I don’t think it works like that. It’s just easier to realize that you love something that you have spent time loving, so if you haven’t started, then the best time is now, and the best way is to smile and give it a shot. Eventually, it becomes clear.
It doesn’t really sound like it beforehand, but the mission is such a high! It’s a high through and through and it’s super difficult the entire time. But the high comes from the hope and faith of the missionaries and the support that companions and leaders lend them. And then there’s the love of the work, which for me came with time. I think it’s a special combination of these principles that empowers our lives. At the moment, I am comforted by this thought, because I know that my situation need not be one of despair. Last night the missionaries were at my house and asked us how faith, hope, and charity were related to miracles. Faith and hope bring miracles to us, but charity is how God works through us to bring miracles to others. Obviously there are other ways, but I love the simplicity and sincerity of the principles which remind me to push forward with a smile.