9 March, 2015
This week has been one of the most emotional roller coasters for me here in California. It’s crazy to think that my time is up here in the Great California San Fernando mission. It didn’t hit me until last night when I taught my last lesson.
The family we taught had received some really hard news for their family, and when we walked in, there was this overwhelming feeling of sorrow. We talked for a while, shared some scriptures (Sister Marsh is inspired and chose the perfect ones), and taught the last lesson Joseph needed before his baptism. His baptism will be next week, after a long, hard road for his family, and what will likely be a longer road ahead. I teared up saying goodbye to the family, but by the time we got to the bottom of the steps leading to their apartment, I was crying like a baby.
I had been doing so good at keeping the “last week freak-outs” to a minimum, but it hit me last night how much I love being a missionary, and how much I will miss waking up and putting this tag on each and every morning. My clothes are thin and my shoes are so worn that I can feel the gravel and sand I walk on. I am exhausted, sore, and ragged.
But my heart is full, and I’m so, so grateful for the past 18 months.
This past Friday I had my departing temple trip with all other missionaries going home. It was weird, knowing that Sister Marsh was still in NoHo in the middle of zone training while I was driving to the temple with the Spanish assistants. Sister Lewis, Sister Olsen and I were able to spend some time together, which was sorely needed. We have become sisters over the past months, and are going to have a hard time saying goodbye to our elders tomorrow evening. We promised from the time we got into the mission that we were in it from “day one to day done.” It hasn’t been easy for any of us – we’ve all had what you can call ‘weird’ missions – but it’s been an adventure. It’s been such a blessing to see Sister Lewis and Sister Olsen grow, too. It gives me some hope that I’ve grown a lot too.
I have come to truly love the temple on my mission. We weren’t able to go very often, but when we were able to go, I found so much guidance, comfort, and peace. It was hard to walk through the hallways of the Los Angeles temple and realize that it was going to be my last time for several years at least.
I had a really humbling experience while we were on our temple trip, too, that I want to share. We had put out a plea for a guy in our ward who leaves on his mission in a week. He’s one of our ward missionaries, and really helped my companions and me to be able to work effectively with the ward, and helped us with our investigators a great deal. He’s scrambling to find clothes on a tiny budget, and we just really felt impressed to do what we could. To my surprise, an elder up in another zone offered a new pair of slacks he’s only worn once or twice, and miraculously, is the same size. We were super stoked about it, and he sent them down to us to give to him.
When we were at the temple, I saw this elder put his hand into his pocket, only to see that his pockets have been ripped to shreds, and are being held together with safety pins. To think that without saying anything at all, he gave up a brand new pair of slacks for this kid he hardly knows, so that he can go on his mission without worrying about something little like that, was really humbling. I hadn’t been much of a fan of this elder (he’s grouchy and a little too confident), so it was a bit of a ‘come to Jesus’ for me to see him quietly go about the Lord’s business with what he thought was just a little act of charity, with no idea how much this would mean to Sister Marsh and I, and this almost-elder’s family.
Good to know that the Lord is still on a mission to humble me. Clearly 18 months haven’t done the job! ;)
I had my departing interview with President Hall last evening. It was pretty uneventful (no absurd dating advice as I had been expecting), but I really needed to have a one-
on-one chat with President. I haven’t always agreed with everything he’s done (I’m a very disagreeable person), but I love him so much and know he’s been called to this area to direct the work. He is truly inspired, and has been an incredible example to me as I’ve been out here in California. I’ve had my fair share of struggles here, and it was good to know that he’s always there. He’s such an incredible example to me of being a true disciple of Jesus Christ. He gave me a blessing, which was really special. And I also got a packet of photos from my mission – me and my trainer, the missionaries I came out with, photos from my first day in the mission, and photos of my trainees. It was crazy to see how much more energized I looked back then!
It’s funny, I want more than anything to be out here walking the streets and teaching, but I realize that I’ve come to the point where I’m ready to go home. I’m more exhausted than I’ve ever been in my life, emotionally, physically, and mentally. President asked me how I was feeling, and I couldn’t even explain it. The best way to describe it is ‘bittersweet.’
I’m excited to go home and keep moving forward, but it is absolutely heart-breaking to be leaving this place. The San Fernando valley has become truly sacred ground to me. I will always adore the people here. There was a time when I doubted that this mission was where I needed to be, but 18 months later, I am so grateful the Lord put me here, knowing how much I would come to love this place and these people.
It was so hard to say goodbye to my investigators. It was so much harder than the times before, probably because I know that it’s not just to another city I’m going… it’s to an entirely different coast. Lots of watery eyes and cracked voices over the past few days, that’s for certain. I’m so grateful for them! Each of them, whether they are here in Studio City or back in Mission Hills, or somewhere in my areas in between.
Sister Marsh and I drove up to Mulholland this past week to an overlook during our lunch break. It’s the very edge of our area, and the very edge of the mission, and there’s a point where you can see the entire San Fernando valley. I was able to see landmarks from each of my areas down here, and the sight was certainly one that was emotional. In my opinion, the valley isn’t the prettiest place, but in my heart it’s pretty much the most beautiful place in the world. I’ve literally put my heart and soul (and soles!) into this Valley, and it’s given me so much in return in the form of the people who call it home.
Tonight we are having dinner with our elders, the bishop, and his family. Sister Marsh and I will probably be up all night packing – they are combining our area with the elders, and sisters will be covering the whole ward. They are closing our apartment and Sister Marsh and I will be moving her things over to the elders apartment (Elder Mathews is going home, and Elder Jacobson is being transferred out). It’s going to be a crazy 72 hours between transfers, departing training, and flying home. I’m grateful, however, that all of us will be flying to Salt Lake together before going our separate ways.
During my departing interview, I only had one question for President, which he answered in the affirmative. All of “our elders” will be at transfer meeting, so we’ll have one last hurrah together before we fly home. I think I would have cried had I not been able to say goodbye to Elder Barnett, Elder McCauley, and Elder Nielson. They are my little brothers (whether they want to be or not), and it’s good to know that our little MTC family will be reunited one more time. Day one to day done!
Guess what? I can say this for real this time…
See you soon!