Sunday, September 13, 2015

It’s a Long, Long Road From Here Back To Ohio

I never thought stepping onto that airplane would be so difficult. 18 months of memories flooded my mind as I walked to that gate.  I looked back and waved to a couple that had shaped my life in countless ways, who become my family away from family. How grateful I am for President and Sister Daines, and the tremendous amount of love and service they render.  I love them and am grateful for their diligent examples.

I was excited to continue to share the gospel on the plane but lo and behold I sat next to members of the church on all three of my flights! I pondered the joy and the blessings that had come into my life from serving a mission, I contemplated how forever changed I was because of that incredible decision to serve. I prayed and prayed again and thanked my Heavenly Father with tears of joy and gratitude for trusting me enough to serve Him, and to wear His precious Son’s name. I thought about the many people who allowed me to come into their lives and testify of the Savior to them. I thought about the laughs we had, the feelings of complete exhaustion I faced, the times we got caught in the pouring rain yet still joyfully shouted “hurrah for Israel!” I thought about the times where I had to trust deeply in my Savior and His ability to carry me or fill me with His love. I was full of complete gratitude when I pondered how my testimony had grown and will continue to grow. I thought about the members who welcomed us into their home where the Spirit was present, and where I saw what I wanted to model my future family after.  So many memories, so many life changing experiences,  so much love for my Savior and my Father in Heaven.

As the plane landed in Nevada I was nervous, anxious, excited, scared, emotional, joyful, peaceful all at the same time.  I thought about how in just moments I would be reunited with my loving family after 18 months of being separated, but I also thought about the family in Ohio I had just left.  When I came down the escalator nothing but pure joy filled my heart when I saw my family. I ran to my mother and father and thanked them for allowing me to serve a mission. I was embraced in arms of love from so many that I cherish. It was a priceless tender moment that will be impossible to forget.

Being released and having to take of the nametag was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  Emotional, I took off that piece of plastic that defined who I was everywhere I went.  That in bold letters had the Savior’s name…and my own. How grateful I am though to forever be a witness of our Savior Jesus Christ. Nametag or no nametag I will forever stand by Him, represent Him, and defend Him.

The adjustment for any return missionary is never easy. Yes sometimes I’m awkward. Yes it has been difficult, yes I miss serving all day everyday, but this is a new chapter and I look forward to seeing how the Lord will continue to use me as His instrument as I strive to live close to Him and abide daily by His teachings.

To say that I loved my mission is an understatement. A piece of my heart will forever be with Ohio and more importantly the people of Ohio, who truly changed me. 

There are many things I love in this life, and being a full-time missionary easily is at the top of this list. I loved that time I had, I loved who the Lord has helped me to become. I love missionary work, and I love my Savior. Families truly are forever. How grateful I am for mine that continues to grow. I sure love you all, and want you to know how very special you are to me. You mean the world to me, and most importantly you mean the world to your Heavenly Father.