I wrote this while sitting alone in the Houston international airport, the 8th of December 2015. After having my knee operated on and after going through physical therapy, I was given the green light to head back and resume my mission trip for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Honduras. Some of my feelings and opinions have changed since writing this 8 months ago (I also think I've found the answer to the question). But I thought it was an interesting window to the frustrating and eventually humbling experience of my own, personal, intermission.
There's a bird inside here next to the gate sign how did that happen.
I just had some really nasty $12 nachos and also ordered myself a coke to get me back in the Hondy mode where they drink soda with breakfast lunch and dinner. ;)
I've been thinking about it and when i got called to serve as a full-time missionary in the Honduras San Pedro Sula East mission, i was so excited.
I was excited to try something new, explore a different country, learn a foreign language, have an adventure.
I get to Honduras the 8th of December 2014 and turns out even though everyone had already told me that missionary work was hard, it was actually really hard like frick!
I struggled with feelings of inadequacy and frustration for a while until I finally felt like I was getting the hang of things about 9 months into it.
Then I promptly slipped while playing volleyball one monday and dislocated my knee cap and broke off some pieces of the thing.
I attempted to continue walking all day and meeting people and teaching them about how to get to know Jesus Christ like normal but after about a month... there was little improvement and I was sent home for (North) American medical attention. "Sent home????" i thought, "Are you kidding me???"
"no, I know when I'm coming home, it's in 261 days, I already know what I'm going to wear, my whole family and all my friends are going to be there, I'm going to Spain with one of my old mission companions right after and then back to BYU Hawaii and it's all going to be awesome..."
So basically what I'm saying is that I had it all. worked. out.
Instead of a triumphant homecoming, my tiny plane touched down in the Bakersfield airport and I was greeted by concerned parents who didn't really know what was going on with me physically (all the tests done in Honduras were inconclusive as to what exactly was wrong with the knee) and they definitely did not know how it was affecting me emotionally.
Looking back, it doesn't seem like it should be that much of a problem. You got hurt, it happens, you're getting medical attention and then you'll be fine. Right?
Although I may be dramatic at times, I am in no way neurotic. But I was freeeeeaking out.
I had somehow gotten it into my head that I'd brought the injury upon myself.
Because I wasn't as obedient or reserved as most of the other sister missionaries so if I hadn't been running around playing sports, I wouldn't have fallen.
Yeah. Idk it made sense in my brain.
So...I was so so ashamed that I was sent back home. My injury wasn't that bad, I've heard of other missionaries lasting months with a torn ACL or endure their entire mission with awful back problems.
Basicially, I spent too much time comparing myself to others and worrying about what they thought about me.
Comparison robs us of joy.
And when I got home I was not happy. I was upset that my plans had been thrown off, I was upset that no one understood the culture shock of coming back before you're supposed to from a mission trip after being so immersed in that world.
I was also genuinely surprised when people would ask me if I was going back to Honduras.
Like it was a viable option to choose not to finish. I promised 18 months of my humble service to God. Is 9 months the same as 18? No...so my thoughts were: duh I'm going back to finish what I started. Just how I had planned. Only with a small pause in order to have surgery and recover from said surgery.
While I was recovering from knee surgery, I made a friend, felt a connection, and we started to kind of date...
And the only reason this is relevant at all is because up until that point, I had nothing making me want to stay. And then I randomly start getting to know this person that surprises me and inspires me and makes me happy and I'm just like well dang, maybe I should try and see where this relationship goes.
For the first time I had to actually pause and ask myself:
why am I going back?
And the answer couldn't just be "oh well I miss my friends that I made there." "oh well I miss how cheap the coconut water was"
It wasn't as if I didn't have anything better to do either, I was eager to go back to school, I was excited about my career possibilities.
And I was just two months into a relationship; which seemed like too little time to ask that person to wait 9 months for me.
so the question again, why?
Going out on the mission the first time I was riding on a wave of excitement for the unknown, farewell gatherings, well wishes, and honestly a little bit of blissful ignorance.
The second time around it was a little less...excitement. Mostly everyone was just wondering if I really had to go.
"but you've already served more than half of your time, isn't that enough?"
I had lost my initial desire and I was feeling inadequate again.
"what's the point in doing 9 months if i wasn't that successful my first 9?"
"why waste 9 months being stressed out when I could just as easily go back to school and be stressed out while getting a degree out of it?"
so the question, ooone more time with feeling: why?
So I've thought about the answer for a long time and here it is:
I don't know
Yeah that reason was totally worth this awfully long blog post right? But hear me out!
I'm okay with not knowing because I trust that I will know eventually. Maybe my first day back, maybe in 5 months, maybe years after my mission.
But if I do not get on this plane and back to hot, messy, lazy, stubborn Honduras, if I don't get back there and do my best and help as many people as well as I can, I have no chance of ever, ever knowing.
Es sencillo porque yo se en quien he confiado.
I don't ask to see the distant scene, one step is enough for me.
Sometimes whole paths are in our view and we feel like we have control, and sometimes everything falls to pieces and it's a mess and you don't think it'll ever get sorted.
There's just no way.
But I've learned to trust God enough to take one step and have faith that the path will be lighted enough for me to take the next one.
I'm not saying every case is the same for all injured missionaries. But this has been my experience and I hope it sheds a little more light on the situation of intermissionaries.
I just want to say that after doing what I said I would, after getting on that plane, I found the reason I went back every day. Every stranger that I got to smile back at me on the street, every child of God that I got to bring closer to Him, every new friend, every breathtaking moment in that beautiful country added to that reason that I came back. Thanks for getting to the end of this blog now go to the kitchen you deserve some icecream or something :)