I'm not exactly the best writer or the most creative mind out there, but these are just stories from my point of view being a returned missionary. I'm not trying to glorify myself, just trying to better express who I am.
Yesterday marked the 1st year of me being home from my LDS mission in Veracruz, Mexico. And the saying is true, those were the absolute best 2 years of my entire life. But what many don't know is that the year that has followed has probably been the hardest year of my life. Maybe I'm the only one that thinks life after the mission is hard or maybe there are many others that feel the same. Let me first tell you what an amazing experience it was to be of this world, but not apart of it for 2 years.
Imagine being able to be 100% dedicated to something that you love so much. Imagine not being distracted by social media, television, computers, movies and cell phones. Imagine knowing that there is nothing better that you could be doing with your life at that moment and being 100% sure that, that is where you should be. Imagine waking up every single day knowing that you were going to be able to change someone's life. Imagine being able to dedicate all day every day to sharing love and kindness with every person you come into contact with. Imagine that the only thing you were stressed about is how you were going to be able to help out people that you loved so much. Imagine knowing that as you put yourself, your worries, your problems and your thoughts behind you to serve others, you were going to become a better person. Imagine being a literal representative of the most perfect man to walk on this earth, Jesus Christ. This is only a small fraction of the joy that comes out of those 2 years.
Now imagine feeling like you are soaring through the sky and your fly time runs out and everything comes to a screeching halt for you to realize it is time to go back to reality. The time comes that you have to come home and it's a love/hate relationship with that decision because you love your family that has not seen you for 2 years, but you hate to leave this new family that you have grown to love. As the time ticks down and you say your good-byes to these people and missionaries who have become your brothers and sisters and to an amazing couple that have become your 2nd set of parents. They have guided, uplifted, motivated, and strengthened you in the hardest of times.
You step on the plane only to realize that it is all over. The last 2 years of your life literally felt like a dream. They flew by faster than a blink of an eye. Reality sets in as you are on the airplane just imagining what it will be like to see your family all over again. The questions start in your head, Who will be there? Will they look different? What will be the first food I eat? Will I recognize my family members? As we landed in Salt Lake City, the dream was over and reality set in, I'm really home. I'm not a missionary anymore. It takes awhile to accept because you have become so accustom to living this life that you didn't know any other way of life.
I remember it was 6:45 p.m. another missionary and I had just been on flights and lay overs for over 13 hours. We left at 6:05 a.m. and went back in hour in time zones. We walked through the airport with undecided anticipation. As we come down the escalator I see my mother, my step-dad, my step-sister, my brother-in-law, and my grandma in a wheel chair. The escalator felt like it was going in slow-mo. We walked towards are families and as we are entering in the luggage pick-up room, this person came from the side of me and hugged me. I had absolutely no idea who it was. It was only about 15 minutes later I half way accepted that, that was my little brother, who wasn't so little anymore. Of course what followed was lots of hug and tears and catching up as they all made fun of my new found Mexican Accent.
Now this post isn't all about my LDS mission, but more of what happens after that. But fast forward a year later and there hasn't been a day that has gone by that I don't remember those amazing experiences and amazing people I met. The first question you ask yourself when you come home is, what now? Will I go to school? Where will I go to school? What will I do? Do I get a job? Where should I apply? After things settle down and you get some of those things figured out an even more serious question starts to come to mind, Marriage?. Now before you start criticizing the typical Mormon idea of getting married so quickly, let me tell you my perspective on the subject. And believe me, before my mission I criticized the returned missionaries that would get married 6 months after being home. But after living 2 years side by side a companion, having someone around you literally 24/7, and being around someone you share the same intentions with; it becomes something you like to have. So upon returning from my mission, the first few weeks were rough because I didn't have a companion. I felt extremely weird going anywhere alone. I felt a little alone because there was no one around that I had that deep of relationship with, no one that I could share my thoughts and feelings with that would understand what is going on. It was then that I realized why missionaries get married so soon after being home from their missions. You want someone with whom you can share your interests, goals, desires, thoughts and feelings. Of course everyone will tell you to live up the single life while you can and I understand that, but why not get started on your life and have someone to go through that with you? Apart from that the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Apostles have advised to get married before you become to focused on your career or education. I know it seems kind of radical, but my perspective on it is; How much more focused and how much more can you accomplish in your career and education, if you don't have to worry about the opposite sex and dating because you are already married. And apart from that how great would it be to have someone there 24/7 for you, supporting and encouraging you through your education and career? Now I'm not trying to convert you or persuade you on getting married early, I'm just helping you see it through my eyes. For me, this has been the real struggle knowing what has been counseled, trying to follow it and not being able to reach it. The one thing that will always motivate me and I hope can motivate you, is that God loves each and everyone of us and He his plan for us is perfect. He will do everything in his own time. We just have to give Him our hand so He can lead us to reach our full potential that we can not see. I love you all and Thank you for taking your time to read this. I would love any comments or feedback.