facebook reminded me that i have now been home from my mission for 3 years. time has just flown since i've been home, but sometimes it feels like i was a missionary in missouri and illinois just yesterday. and there are some lessons that i learned as a missionary that will just never be forgotten.
1. not everyone will agree with you, and that's okay.
this lesson was so hard for me to learn. i didn't understand why anyone would reject the gospel. IT'S THE HAPPIEST NEWS. but as i continued through my mission, i gained a greater love for people-- even if they didn't agree with me or the gospel. i wish i would have learned this sooner because i spent a lot of time being frustrated that people didn't agree with what we were teaching instead of just loving them anyway.
2. everyone deserves to feel loved. no matter what they've experienced in their lives.
my life has been so, so, so blessed. i met some of the most amazing people who had been through the worst possible things in life and they were searching for love. as a missionary, i was called to represent Jesus Christ and i learned through my mission that even though sometimes these horrible things were brought on by their own actions, if Christ were there, He would have loved them through their hard times, picked them up when they stumbled, and encouraged them to repent and be better-- in the most loving of ways.
3. there is a fine line between working hard and hardly working.
aka if you're working hard on something that doesn't matter or isn't beneficial, then you're hardly working...
4. taking breaks + self care is IMPORTANT.
i used to think that i could just work through whatever came my way. that keeping my head down and just busting through everything would make things better. i was wrong. sometimes, you just need to take a break. take a nap. take a shower. stop and say a prayer. EAT FOOD. write in your journal. do something that makes you truly happy. you gotta look out for yourself. because you can't be a good missionary if you're overworked and overwhelmed. aka. P-DAY IS IMPORTANT. USE IT WISELY.
5. YOU BE YOU.
one of my MTC teachers told us that if we weren't being ourselves, then we weren't being the missionaries that God called us to be. God wants YOU. He wants YOUR personality. not 80,000 clones of the picture perfect "cookie cutter" missionary. sure, He gives missionaries rules and standards, but He also gave YOU a personality that will help those YOU come in contact with.
6. numbers don't matter; people do.
in reality, numbers do matter. because behind every number there's a person who matters. love them. teach them. serve them. help them. let them help you.
7. "those we see daily are the ones God has given us to love."
8. it's okay to be excited to go home.
i remember feeling an immense amount of guilt because i was so excited to go home. and then a fellow missionary said, "i'm excited to go home because my time is up. i don't feel like i need to extend my mission. i served my time and now it's time for me to go home. and i am excited. sure, i'll miss it here, but i am ready to see my mom again." mic drop. same. RT to save a life.
i think about my mission often. i think about the people that i taught and was able to to serve with. i miss them and love them. because of them i grew closer to my Savior and Heavenly Father. i learned the principles of the gospel + how to apply them to my life. i learned to love the scriptures. i learned so much as a missionary and i am so grateful for the time i spent in missouri and illinois. it changed my life forever.