So, as most of you probably know.. I am currently back in Canada. Unfortunately, I had to return home because my health was not improving as it should have.
Honestly, receiving notice that I had to return home... and then actually coming home was probably one of the hardest things that I've ever had to do. I love the Adriatic South Mission, I was so happy there. I loved the people, my mission president, the missionaries, the language.. the culture.. Everything! As it was all happening, it didn't even seem like it was real. As I was sitting on the airplane, waiting to depart from Tirana I remember thinking.. "This is not my life.. this is not happening." You hear of missionaries going home due to medical reasons all the time, but you never think that it you would ever be one of them.
I entered the MTC on January 29th 2014, and I returned home to Canada on January 30th 2015. I can very quickly tell you, that a year ago I would have never imagined that I would be here. It's been difficult for sure, adjusting to life and mainly having to take of the name tag. It was all overwhelming and I was not prepared for it at all. I'm ashamed to admit that a few times I allowed myself to think.. "Why me? Why is this happening to me? I did what you asked me to do, Lord.. I put my heart into the work, why?" But.. little by little, I'm starting to understand.
I've been home for a week and a half now, and I'm already amazed by the things that I have learned and come to gain a greater testimony of. First of all, it has been clearly manifest to me and to my family that this is where the Lord would have me be at this time and that He is clearly guiding the circumstances of my life. I was able to meet Susie in London and fly home with her, which was such a tender mercy as I didn't want to make the whole journey by myself. And a few days after arriving home, I was able to get in to see a specialist right away because my sister's doctor was able to help us out.. Interestingly enough, her doctor is the father of Elder Stewart.. Who happened to be my district leader in Gjakova. Things have just fallen into place in ways that are incredible, and I know the only way to explain it is that it has all been set into place according to the divine plan of our loving Heavenly Father.
Through these little, yet significant events I have truly gained a deeper understanding of the infinite love of the Lord. I've spent the last year of my life building my testimony of the truthfulness of a loving Heavenly Father that reaches out to His children.. But I'm not sure if I ever really felt that it truly applied to me. I have been able to confidently testify to other people that the Lord is aware of them and their infinitely varying situations, concerns and feelings.. But when difficult things have come into my life, I've sometimes felt my testimony of that waver. Perhaps this happens because in regards to myself, it was more of a sincere hope that it was true as opposed to a solidified knowledge. But as I have started to make my way through this trial and I look back at all the difficulties I've had regarding my health and how difficult it has been for me to understand why these things have been happening.. I am overwhelmed by how evident it is that the Lord has been with me in every step of the way, and how clearly His love is being manifest to me.
When I finally pieced all of the events together, I was absolutely overcome with that inspiration and just that.. certainty that God lives and that He is omnipotent.. And not only that, but a God.. who has so many children and so much power, undoubtedly cares for me and is aware of me as an individual. He cares for all of us on an individual basis. I testify of that absolute truth. If I walk away from this trial only having learned this one thing - it would still be worth it because the knowledge of knowing that the Lord is always aware of you.. aware of where you are, what you're doing and what you are feeling.. changes everything.
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nordepth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-19)
All of us live lives that are unique with certain challenges and opportunities that will stretch and test us according to our individual needs. We don't get to choose our circumstances, but we do get to choose how we respond to them. That is where our character is truly built and we are refined so that we can make the alterations to become more Christlike. In order to become as He is, we must act as He would. Our attitude influences everything.. When hardships come, we have a choice.. We can either sit and ask God to change our situation, or we can recognize that He placed us in the situation to change us. When I first heard that I might have to go home, I had the attitude of.. "Give me a miracle, I know that the sick have been healed.. Why doesn't that apply to me?" I was reading back in my study journal and I came across a training that Sister Weidmann had given at Mission Conference in November. She based her training on Daniel 3:16-18 when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are in the fiery furnace.. They know that God has the power to deliver them out of it, in these verses we read "our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fieryfurnace... But if not.." And as I read that my heart was filled with comfort. Of course God has the power to do all things according to His will.. But if not.. If the Lord, in His infinite wisdom seeth fit that I continue on in my affliction.. Then I will humbly do so, continuing in faith and serving Him continually.
I want to testify of the truthfulness of this gospel, and the absolute happiness that it brings to our lives. I know that the things that we are called to pass through may seem insurmountable, and without the Lord maybe they might be.. But I know that part of the test of mortality requires us to be burdened with affliction and difficulty and it may sometimes seem that hard times are always there, but so is the Lord. Through Him we can be strengthened to overcome anything. I pray that all of us can look at our individual trials and see them as opportunities to grow closer to our Savior and to become as He is. I know that He knows us and that He loves us and we can be confident that all things are for our growth and for our good.
"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into thedeep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elementscombine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son (daughter),that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." (D&C 122:7)
I love you all, and I'm so grateful for all of your love and support!
With love from home (temporarily),