Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Home Again, Home Again.

I've been putting off blogging for 3 weeks now.  Part of it was that I didn't know where to start and the other part was that I didn't want to face reality.  But, here I am, after 18 months of serving Heavenly Father.  I guess we'll start off with a recap.
My first two companions in the MTC were Hna. Christensen and Hna. Pechin.  We were together for 10 glorious weeks.  They are amazing and we had a blast together.  We had a lot of struggles, as all missionaries do, but together we worked through them together.  The MTC was fantastic!  I loved it and wish I didn't have to leave.  I loved the people, my teachers, the food, everything.  I made amazing friends and the Elders in my district were awesome.  I learned so much about the Gospel and it strengthened my testimony.  Spanish was more of a challange, but I do know that the gift of tongues is real!  The Lord prepares and blesses His missionaries for the work which He has for them to do.  I spent my first Thanksgiving and Christmas here.  It was great!  We got to hear from all sorts of General Authorities and other amazing leaders of the Church. 
Then began my first transfer.  My greenie area was Kennewick, WA, serving in the Pasco 5th branch.  My trainer was Hna. Dunoskovic from Newark, Vermont and she was amazing.  The best first companion anyone could ask for.  She taught me a lot in our 6 short weeks together.  I love my greenie area, even though it was still a challenge, trying to understand people and the culture.  But, it was great!  We had many adventures together including house sitting for some members.  Together we fought the battle against the adversary, trying to bring souls to Christ.
My second transfer brought a new companion - Hna. Garcia from Tempe, Arizona.  She stayed here for her last transfer of her mission.  We had a blast together.  And like always, the trials come, but we pulled through.  Together we did the Collect the Elect program that our mission did and my first experience tracting was with her.  We also had the challenge of losing our WML, so together, all us missionaries tried to help keep the branch afloat.  It was hard to say goodbye to this amazing woman, but that's part of missionary life.    
My 3rd transfer took me over to Vancouver, WA, where I served in the Vancouver 5th Branch.  It also took my back to my trainer for her last six weeks of her mission.  We had a baptism together and rebuilt the area.  Our time there together consisted of tons of fun, especially on our 2 hikes to Punch Bowl Falls.  I made my first phone call home on Mother's Day and talked to my family.  It was amazing.  I absolutely fell in love with the area and the people.  This lovely lady was soooo hard to say goodbye to!  After many tears, I sent her on her way back home.
4th transfer brought a TON of changes!  I became the senior companion and greenie busted Hna. Kendell from Ogden, Utah.  In our 6 weeks together, we said goodbye to a mission president, hello to a new one, a cross mission trip to the Tri-Cities, a wonderful Dance Festival, and so much more.  We made one stop to the Krispy Kreme when the hot sign was on.  I absolutely enjoyed every second I spent with her and it was so much fun to work with someone that was only 6 weeks younger than me.  We were young, but we worked so hard.
My 5th transfer, I trained a new missionary - Hna. Rico from Draper, Utah.  I'll admit, I was really intimidated by the calling of being a trainer.  I didn't feel ready in the slightest, but the Lord became my source of strength.  I turned to Him many a time on bended knee, asking for the strength to carry the magnitude of the calling I was given.I grew so much and my Spanish improved immensely.  I also was asked to go to the Tri-Cities for a specialized training on the 8 new lessons.    We also did a lot together.  We had a branch camping trip and did ton of service for other people.
My 6th transfer was the first time I  hadn't heard my name in a transfer call.  As we started our second transfer together, miracles continued to happen.  Hna. Rico and I worked really hard together.  We didn't have as much success at first, but we began to see the fruits of our labors.  We also helped out the City of Vancouver on September 11th.  We harvested carrots with all the other missionaries in the zone.  This was the transfer where I had more struggles, but I also grew the most.  I now know that Heavenly Father's plan is greater than mine and I trust Him in that. 

Yakima was calling my name on my 7th transfer.  I was called to serve in Yakima, WA, in the Yakima Valley 2nd Branch with Hna. Salmon from Riverview, Florida.  It was hard to get to know the area and we used a map all the time.  The area we served in was huge, making it more difficult to learn.  Hna. Salmon and I started to rebuild the area from the black hole that it was.  With the help of awesome elders, we helped to improve the branch and members in that area.  I spent my 22nd birthday with my district and companion at district meeting.  It was hard for me to love Yakima like I loved my other areas.
My 8th transfer brought exciting things.  Serving with Sister Salmon still, we got doubled in to the Terrace Heights ward as well.  For me, it was the best of both worlds.  I met so many amazing people in the ward and as we began to work with both, our success increased.  I also spent my second Thanksgiving and second Christmas in Yakima.  The snow also came and things got a little more challenging, but the Lord ALWAYS blesses us.  He brought amazing people for us to teach and I started to really love the people this transfer.  I fell in love with Yakima.
9th transfer brought SO many surprises.  I got to be with Hna. Kendell again and together, we tore it up.  I absolutely enjoyed being with her every single day!  We had awesome success together and continued to build the work.  We started working more with the English ward and met Heather together.  Heather, our little miracle, is amazing and as we watched her grow, she would continually change our lives.  As we started to follow the council of our mission president, we began to see everything falling into place.  And in our own tradition, we had a training in the Tri-Cities and made a few roadtrips.
My 10th transfer was amazing.  I continued to have a fabulous companion and we saw all the miracles.  We had some baptisms and looked for every single little baby miracle we could.  Our attitudes changed as we watched our fellow missionaries struggle with their problems.  We helped them out and tried to forget ourselves and concentrate on others.  Although our finding efforts weren't as good as we wanted, the members helped us out so much as they would give us referrals.  This transfer ended in bliss as we learned that Hna. Kendell would be my last and longest companion.
My last transfer was amazing.  It went by quicker than the blink of an eye and we saw sooo many things happen because of obedience.  I learned the value of my mission and so many more things I can't even say.  My mission meant everything to me.  It still does.  I've cherished every single moment and every single person I've met and grown to love.  I'm thankful that I ended my mission in an amazing area, with awesome fellow elders, and with the best companion anyone could ask for. It was topped off by Aramis' baptism the Sunday before I left.
 The last few days, I spent in the Tri-Cities with Sister Burgoyne and Sister Holmes.  Leaving my beloved Washington, returning home, and being released as a missionary have been the most emotional moments of my life.  I'm so grateful for all the people and the things I've learned.  And to my Heavenly Father for giving me this amazing opportunity.  Without it, I know that I wouldn't be who I am.  I also know I would be empty.
And so ends the greatest adventure thus far.