Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Hardest Part of a Mission

I protest! This is not good planning. Today was the farewell of 3 - count them....THREE of the sister missionaries that work in my office. A few weeks ago Sister Miller left and now, the other three sisters in my office are leaving me too.

I can't believe they would do this to me, seriously.

Okay, so it's not all about me (except in this blog....where let's be serious, it's TOTALLY about me - oh, and that hero of mine. It's about him too.)

But lets get back to the subject at hand.

My friends are leaving and I am staying - here in....oh yeah......Paradise. Okay, I'll quit whining. But I can't promise to like it. I will REFUSE to like it. I'll wish them well, and smile and even be excited for them. But I ain't gonna like it!

It all started with Monday's Family Home Evening, where Sisters Bisson, Cummings and Edginton gave their farewell talks. It's like this for every returning missionary. They get an opportunity to say a few words, then we sing Aloha Oe (and cry a LOT) and then line up and hug and cry some more. Personally, I spent most of that evening staring at the ceiling - because looking at any of these ladies would start the waterworks.

Sister Bisson
Sister Cummings

Sister Edginton
Singing Aloha Oe

Elder Jones waiting for his turn to hug and sniffle.
Today's Luncheon - Thank yous and praise all around

The good-byes continued throughout this week ending with the big farewell luncheon today. So many people showed up, there was no room left in the Board Room. That's how loved these women are.

with President Grace

So I end this pity party with an explanation of how I really feel - both about the experience of being away from my own family and the special circumstances of these great women I serve with as expressed in a cultural belief I shared in Devotional last week:


Radiate the Spirit – I live to radiate the spirit of God every day in every way
We refer to this particular Cultural Belief the most often – probably because it is the first one on the list. But I wanted to take a different angle on this subject this morning, if you will indulge me.
There is nothing quite like the look on the face of one of the missionaries, especially the sister missionaries, when they start talking about their families.  This is particularly true when a family member is coming to Hawaii for a visit. We women get downright giddy about it.
Yes, it is difficult for us to leave them and come to this little island in the middle of the sea. But we have been promised that sweet blessings will come from that sacrifice.
I personally received direct instruction from the Lord that if I were to place my trust in Him, exercise faith, and serve with my whole heart, that my family would be blessed abundantly. And so they have. The miracles in their lives have been beyond my wildest dreams. I have been so humbled. I am so blessed.
So we missionaries, on top of all the wonderful blessings that come from serving a mission, also feel great joy in how our missions serve our families.
A missionary never stands alone. Even though our precious family is not physically here beside us, they are truly here in spirit, backing us every day.... praying for us, calling and writing to us, loving us every step of the way.
…and I have discovered – and I say this with great reverence – that this support does not just come from our family members here on Earth.
I can testify that I have felt the presence of our loved ones who have left this Earth also. This is especially true of the beautiful single sisters who serve us. 

My dear friends, I want you to know, first off, that I never think of you as “single”. Your loved one is here too – supporting, loving and blessing you for honoring your eternal union. I see their influence. I feel the united strength you two built and how it has made you the great warrior that you are. I feel them here, right now, working with you, side by side. Their spirit radiates from your heart, and it is magnificent to behold.
How grateful I am for eternal families – for the gift, the promise and the blessings they bring.


....and just to be clear - how extremely grateful am I for the blessing of these angels in my life. Oh, I really will miss them so. Keep in touch, dear friends. And God's speed!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

One Year Later....Our Missionary Report - of sorts

One year ago today we walked into the MTC. We left behind the worldly things like mortgages, jobs, even television. I remember that I was actually shaking, I was so scared. It was like walking into another universe - and as excited as I was, I was also so worried about measuring up.

Elder Jones, on the other hand, was as calm as ever. He just doesn't let things ruffle him.

So here we are, one year later - a year of ups and downs. Days I've been so tired, my legs could hardly carry me. Nights without sleep. Tears on the pillow. Sweat so heavy my skin actually gets crusty. Sundays when I think "I just want one Sacrament Meeting where I can actually hear the speaker over the crying babies." One day at work where I don't say something silly or lose something or greet a colleague by the wrong name. Yep - there are definitely some challenges out there.

But life is about challenges, and fortitude and resolve and faith. Without challenges, life would be very dull indeed.

I saw a quote last night that said "There are two types of tired, I suppose one is a dire need of sleep. The other is a dire need of peace." I've felt both. Yes, a mission - as well as marriage, service, crack-of-dawn exercising, praying, hoping....and now caretaking of a big ol house on the can all be so very exhausting and overwhelming.

But I wouldn't trade this experience for the world.

I could have been assigned to the deep, dark jungles of Africa, or the cold and barren hills of Siberia, and I still wouldn't trade it for the world.

As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "if for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived."

I think about the people I admire most. Each one of them have been sorely tested, and through this amazing process of life, became mentally stronger while miraculously letting their hearts become softer. 

Yes, I can do this...and I LOVE doing this. 

I love sitting next to my visiting teaching partner - a lovely young mother from Korea as we visit our assigned sisters from the ward. I always give the lesson, and because she feels limited in her language skills, she always shares a simple hymn. Such a pure voice. It's like a sweet moment of quiet joy for me - every month. 

I love shaking hands with the children in our ward. They all seem to get this serious look on their face, like they are performing a sacred duty. Shake the missionary's hand, look down at their toes and say in a low voice "good morning, Sister". So adorable.

I love walking into the temple - one of the only places in the world where my mind actually lets me relax (sometimes too much, as I tend to fall asleep at the most inopportune times). I feel so connected to my loved ones on the other side of mortality - who I miss so very much. I feel so connected to my Lord - and rejoice every time I learn something new about His ministry and His love for me and my family.

I love the Polynesian Cultural Center where I serve. The beauty and the spirit of it humbles me every day. It is an awesome wonder how Heavenly Father has created this great blessing for the world.

I love serving with the other missionaries, young and old. I just love them so much, I can't think of words to describe it.

I love my mission. I begin to dread when it will be over. I hope the next 9 months don't zoom by as quickly as these first 12 have. I want to drink in this great blessing. Soak up this love. Radiate this light that has been given for us to share.

This morning I went for my run on the beach and dip in the ocean. It was a good day to bring my camera. Somehow, I think this picture says it all - this sums up my mission to me:

Ocean waves
Light reflected
Rocky shoreline
Cool water
Stunning colors
A few clouds
Husband waiting patiently for me to come back in...

A moment of peace
Yet still kicking to keep my head above water.....

- all of it equals Paradise to me.

Me - kicking away. LOVE this new FinePix Camera!