Well...as bittersweet as it is, I am leaving my beloved Sweden in just a few days. I'm not going to lie--it hasn't been easy--but my mission, and my time here, has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. I am not the same person as I was before, and I am grateful for that.
Leaving home, I thought a mission was just an adventure. A time to learn more about my Heavenly Father and help people come into His Church. Little did I know it would be SO much more.
Never was I expecting all of the little blessings and tender mercies along the way. Never did I think so many tears would be shed, or so much pain could be felt then I have had in the past year and a half. Never did I know the extent of sacrifice until I thought I had officially hit the end--and yet somehow had a little more to give. Never could have imagined all of the miracles that have come about, the amazing people that I have met, the fact that my heart feels completely new, and the ability to love as much as I do.
For a while now, the days have not been easy. These last two transfers I have just felt like I have been completely drained physically. For three months, I have gone between feeling just so sick some days and then just in pain for many of the others. It has been really hard, but I have just been too stubborn to stop. I usually never have dealt with much pain before in my life before my mission. But there is an interesting story attached that I have started to see through my mission...
Starting about 6 months ago, I just thought--okay. I am just sick of all of these random things happening to me--feeling really sick one day, to stomach hurting really bad another day, to something completely new a few days later. I started looking back and realizing a slight pattern.
Ever since the beginning of my mission, I went through phases, I guess you could say, of just different kinds of pain, whether physical, emotional/mental and spiritual. I started realizing that each time, it lasted a couple weeks and then passed. Much of the time it felt very different than just any other thing that I had already gone through.
After going through those times, I came to find something interesting--my companion, or someone around me that I loved--soon began to feel that very thing. After a while, I really tried paying attention to it even more. Something new would come up, and I was humbled a little--I couldn't do all that I could before--but I started feeling more compassion and desire to keep going. Soon the other person would start feeling different--whether that be acting different or not feeling good. It was always something familiar--the very thing I had been feeling a couple weeks previous.
Usually, by this point, whatever it was was usually behind me-- but I had the memory. I then was able to take care of them and understand what they needed. It was all very strange to me how exact it always was. But, I had felt the pain, understood what they were going through--but the pain itself was taken away. My capacity for compassion and understanding grew, and I could understand so much more.
It has been really weird and crazy for me to think about, because it just doesn't make sense. All of these weird "phases" and things to go through, for a 2-week period of time, getting over it, and then somebody else starts feeling these exact things. I have thought about it a lot. I don't know if it is a normal thing or anything--in fact I'm still just confused by it. But one thing that I have felt, is that it's been the way to help me understand the Atonement of my Savior in a much more personal way.
He suffered these things so that He could better heal, better succor, better comfort. He felt the pain--but no longer has the pain. The pain He now has is the knowledge that His children are suffering--that they are feeling this. But the thing for us to understand to get us through the hardest of times is knowing that our Savior felt these pains, too. That He overcame them so that we can, too.
It's interesting, though--because in most cases, our immediate reaction to other people's pain is to sympathize with common experiences. I feel like this has just been a way to help me understand the Atonement even greater--because I now can reach out to them and show them that someone does understand. Sometimes that is all we need. Sometimes that is all it takes.
I wasn't expecting to write any of this, but that's what came out. The Savior's sacrifice and Atonement are so very real. He gives us glimpses into the joy of sacrifice. I have felt the tiniest glimpse of what He has paid, and He has given me an increase of joy during and after the pain.
Sometimes I think we are given little trials just to show us that the light exceeds all pain. No matter what it is that you are going through, the light of the Savior--the Joy that we receive through Him--truly does exceed all. This Gospel is the light in my life, and my Father has shown me the way to keep this light. This has just been the very beginning of it all, as I have come to see...
No longer do I see my mission as the greatest adventure of my life, but the greatest start to the Adventure which is my life. This is just the start! A very good start, but a start, none the less! I now have the map, and I am about to set sail, I guess you can say! Each map is different and beautiful in it's own way. Full of surprises and ups and downs at every turn--but thats what makes it an adventure!
Looking back at my mission, it wouldn't have been so precious to me were it not for all of the hard days and the tears along the way. So, what would make me think that a straight line to the finish would be any fun?!
"Men are that they might have joy." Temporary happiness may come from the easy walk to the finish--but for true Joy--true Joy comes from all of the little sacrifices and struggles along the way. We are, after all, a part of God's army, so we have to train like one. So, enjoy the easy times when they come--but never lose sight of the goal when the days begin to be tough. These days are ahead of us all, so take them as they come, and end each day on your knees. Thank your Heavenly Father for it all.
The Church is actually true. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How great is it to be able to say that--and not only say that, but to feel that, as well. There is peace here and there is truth. I am grateful for it all.
Gud var med dig tills vi möts igen...