This post has been a long time in coming. As most know, I came home from the MTC on Tuesday, April 30th. I am now engaged to be married to Matt, my boyfriend from before I received my mission call. I could not be more excited to marry him and for the future that we have before us. I love him with all my heart, but I also love the experience I had as a missionary.
Coming home was a difficult decision for me to make. It wasn't some happy-go-lucky "Oh I'm in love, I just want to go home now! Thanks!" because that's just not the way it works at the MTC. It was a very difficult, weighing, drawn-out, prayerful decision process that took a great toll. Now that I am home, though, I know I made the right decision for me. It might not make sense to a lot of people, and I know there are some who don't agree with my choice. To them I say that I respect your opinions, experiences, and advice, so I ask for your respect in return.
One thing I've realized since being home, talking to dear friends, and seeing the experiences of fellow sister missionaries, is that every mission is different -- because every mission is personal. My mission was 5 weeks long. It was within the small boundaries of the MTC. I only had one companion. I didn't master the language or even teach all of the lessons to an actual investigator. But, I did learn more about the scriptures than I ever have before. I gained a greater love for my Savior that I will always carry with me. I know from personal experiences that God answers our prayers and listens to us. He sends His angels to buoy us up and wraps His loving arms around us in our times of need. I will always be a disciple of Christ and proclaimer of truth. And I will always treasure and think about the time I spent as a set-apart missionary of the Lord. I truly consider it a blessing that I was able to spend 5 weeks in the MTC.
I also consider it an immense blessing to be engaged to the love of my life, preparing to be married for time and all eternity. I have never been so happy. A dear friend of mine, who also returned from her mission early, gave me the courage to write this post when she wrote:
"There is no sadness associated with my mission being shorter than most. And utterly no sense of failure. None. It was a good mission... My mission is not something that needs to be tiptoed around. I would love to bore you with my excessive mission stories. My mission and the decisions that I have made regarding it are something I will never regret. I have learned a lot. And will continue to learn from it throughout the rest of my life. I consider missionary work to be an amazing way to spread the gospel. And I commend every single missionary for their commitment."
I echo her sentiments exactly. My personal mission was different, but not bad. I am reminded everyday of the beautiful experiences I had and people I met, and I will continue to learn from and be inspired by them. Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia will always have a piece of my heart. Volim te, Hrvatsku. Nikada neću zaboraviti.