California to Kennewick.

California to Kennewick.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Receiving an Honorable Medical Release from my mission.

For me going on a mission was kind of like a big trust fall. I didn't know where I was going, who I was going to meet, the trials I would face, but, what I did know, was that I had a desire to serve others, that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ wanted me to serve and that they would be with me every step of the way. When I got my call, I knew that was where I was supposed to go.

Before going to the MTC I was soo nervous about saying goodbye to everyone and was sure I would have the worse case of homesickness ever experienced in all of history. But I kept looking to the Lord, reminding myself that he would bind up broken hearts. When I got to the the MTC I was so happy and excited! And homesickeness? Barely any. I realized, I had taken that fall, and the Lord caught me and was carrying my burdens for me. The MTC was one of the greatest experiences of my life and strengthened my testimony so much.

When I went out to the field, I was soooo excited! I was ready to work hard and see miracles! When I found out I was going to be serving in a walking area, I was a little worried about my feet (having had problems with them before) but trusted in the Lord and knew that was where I needed to go. It was a difficult adjustment for a few days, but I remembered why I was there and often repeated to myself "faith precedes miracles." I kept working hard  and indeed saw many miracles. It didn't take long for me to notice though that my body was not keeping up with my heart and mind. Only a few days out and I was experiencing a lot of pain in my feet, ankles and knees. I told myself it was fine. I said "Satan is just trying to weaken me, trying to keep me from working as hard as I can" or "I'm just being melodramatic and need to suck it up"

My companion was not having it. She was worried about both me and the work suffering if it gets worse, so I called my Mission Presidents wife and told her what was happening. She said if thats the case, I might need to go home, that was definitely not what I wanted to hear, I decided then that, yes, I really needed to just suck it up and deal with it, because I wanted to be there and knew that Heavenly Father wanted me to be there. I refused to let anything keep me from being a full time representative of Jesus Christ. Over time, my love for the work, the people, the ward and my companion deepened, as did the pain. I was constantly fighting within myself, wanting to work soooo badly but hating having to be in pain, but I kept pushing through and never stopped working, loving each and every day, regardless of the pain. I loved being a missionary. Seeing miracles, helping people, learning and growing so much everyday and having the spirit so abundantly was amazing.  One day, the pain became too much to bare, with my feet feeling like they were broken, stabbing in my knees and hips, and shooting pain up both my legs and back. I tried, unsuccessfully to bite back tears during the 20 minute walk home. When we arrived I fell onto the floor, hoping and praying that the pain would cease. I pleaded with my Heavenly Father to grant me the strength and healing my body needed so I could carry out the work and be the most effective instrument in His hands for the people he had called me to serve and that I love so much. This day also happened to be my birthday, so we had many people coming in and out of our apartment delivering various treats. People were very concerned about me and were all trying to help. Our wonderful neighbor asked her father to give me a blessing. It was beautiful and meant so much to me. I instantly felt the pain lighten and had peace in my heart because the words he said and through the comfort of the Spirit. I knew that all would be well and that I just needed to continue to trust in the Lord. I hoped that I would be transferred to an area with a car and felt confident that everything was going to work out and that I would continue my mission.
The next morning me and my companion agreed that I should call the Presidents wife and fill her in on what happened. She was very worried and said she would speak to President. As we continued our studies, we got a call from President. He told me that he had spoken to the missionary department, the missionary medical people and my Stake President and they all felt that I needed to go home, to get a proper diagnosis and treatment. I was devastated, I felt like I had been hit in the stomach by a semi. I didn't know what to say or think, besides not wanting to go home. We hung up so we could go to an appointment. After, he called again, to ask me how I was doing and to fill me in on what was being discussed. All I could muster to say was that I was broken hearted and didn't want to leave...but that wasn't an option. A few hours later, while I was trying my best to process and telling myself that it was happening for a reason and that I just needed to have faith, I received my flight info for the next evening. It was real. It was really happening. I was going home. I imagined myself at home, far from the people we were teaching, without the missionary nametag, without the calling and blessings. I saw myself trying to live without my purpose, trying to be "normal" again and later having to go through the pain of saying goodbye to everyone again (as I have been invited to go back when I am healed). I felt sick. We went around saying goodbye to as many people as we could, it felt like I was leaving home all over again, saying goodbye to the people I had developed so much love for.
While packing I made a mental "Positives lists," a list of all the good things that will happen and that I'll get to do when I go home, like "get better" and "be there when my best friend goes to the temple" and "be able to teach my friends and family with more power." I knew there was a reason I was going home and was determined to find it. I also decided that, either way, I am going home, so I should make the best out of it and trust Gods plan for me.

When I got home, everything felt different. It was my house, it smelt the same, most of the furniture was the same, I knew where everything was, but it was different. I was different. I loved it there but so desperately wanted to be calling my missionary apartment home. I didn't know how to talk to people, I only wanted to talk about my mission, like if I kept talking about it, maybe it wouldn't be so far away.

When I was released, things changed. I literally felt something leave me when I took my tag off. I spent days reaching for it and looking for my companion. Once the shock wore off and I really accepted that I was home, I tried looking even more for the good. Since then, I have seen over and over again, that Gods plan, is always the best plan. Since I was young, I've been a planner, I try to plan everything out the way I think will be the best, going home from my mission was not in my plan, but God needs me to be home. I need to be home right now.

I have seen, as I have strive to look for Gods Hand and trust in His perfect plan, many blessings and opportunities to serve that I wouldn't have had if I was gone. I have learned about many health issues I didn't know I had and have been able to receive treatment that without, and had I stayed, would have caused permanent damage. I have seen and felt Him teaching me priceless and immensely personal lessons that will bless me and my future family forever. But I think biggest of all, preparing to go on my mission, being on it and coming home has taught me to fully trust in the Lord. Not to just trust Him when I like the plan, or when I can see the benefits, but to trust Him and surrender to Him in all conditions and situations. I know without a doubt in my mind that God loves us and is mindful of us and our needs. When we seek Him we will be guided, strengthened, taught, empowered and feel His infinite love, no matter the circumstances.

I loved the time, though brief, that I was "Sister." My mission was amazing. Serving others is a gift. Working with God to bless His children is a sacred and priceless honor and blessing. I have really learned for myself the truthfulness of the sayings, "to love another person is to see the face of God," and “There are few things in life that bring as much joy as the joy that comes from assisting another improve his or her life.” I still wear the nametag in my heart and cannot wait to get back in the field, if that is His will, but I know that no matter what, as long as I trust in Him, all will be well.

-Sister Gresham

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