Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Enjoy the Journey

Hey Everyone!

Having always been a planner and one who absolutely hates transition and waiting periods, I've already given A LOT of thought to what I want/need to do next in my life so that I can plan for what's coming next (as far as heading back out to the mission field goes, or moving on and returning to work and school). I have been very torn because I wanted to return to the mission field, but I also wanted to be at my sister's wedding in August, and after talking to my Stake President, waiting that long didn't seem like an option. My health is back--all we'd be waiting for is a final doctor's permission slip for me to go back out, which I'm sure would require only one doctor's appointment for. The only health issue I have now is that I'm probably lactose intolerant (hopefully only temporarily) because my intestines got so beat up and stopped producing enough lactase for me to digest milk products properly.

Anyways, so that's the health update.

When I met with my stake president, he reassured me that either path (school or mission) was right in the eyes of the Lord. It was now time for me to decide what was best for me. I hate it when either choice is right. It makes it so much more difficult to choose. He encouraged me to make a decision and then to go to the temple and seek confirmation there. I prayed for weeks, trying very hard to decide. I knew I wanted to be there for my sister's wedding in August. And there was a chance I could leave after the wedding, since reinstating a missionary could take some time. But I had a gut feeling that if I chose to go back to my mission, I'd be leaving again in June or July.

Still I prayed and prayed, and the idea to go back out was always met with a feeling of peace, but then the idea to go back to school was always met with a very good feeling as well. I was confused. I knew either way was right, but I was at least hoping for a nudge towards which path I should take.

Finally, I was having a phone conversation with a friend, and I told her that I may be returning to BYU in the Fall and asked her what my options were as far as housing goes. She said that our old apartment was probably still available, but that she had actually decided to move into a townhome south of campus, and was looking for a roommate. As she told me about the townhome, a very, very good feeling came over me. It was like a reassurance--it felt like it was being confirmed to me that this is what I should do. That I needed to look into living in this townhome.

I prayed about it, and it still felt good. I talked to my mom, and it still felt good. I called the phone number my friend gave me, and left a message for the owner. Then, I decided to go to the temple. My decision had been made. Now it was time for confirmation.

I went to the temple, and didn't get it. Instead I felt good about returning to BYU for half of the session, and then good about going back out on a mission for half the session. The answer I got at the very end was that there was no "right" answer.

I left feeling confused again. I called my stake president and we talked for awhile. He said I was right. There was no right or wrong answer. The Lord trusted me to make the right decision for myself. He would be pleased and satisfied either way. We talked about this for awhile. My stake president said that with elders, yes, he always told them that as soon as they had medical clearance they needed to get back out to the field. But he said he didn't feel the same way with me--that it could go either way. I told him about the wedding, which he already knew about, and he said, "A mission is something that should take priority over everything--including family affairs such as a wedding." And when he said that, I knew in my heart that the wedding took priority for me over my mission--now that I was back, and had the choice, my sister's wedding took priority.

But I wasn't sure if I could live with myself for not going back out. We talked about that too for a little bit. He said that if I chose not to go back out, I had to be committed to that, and to not look back. He said, "Kristen, you're the kind of girl where if things don't work out the way you want them to six months down the road, you're going to beat yourself up and tell yourself that you should have gone back. That you're being punished or something. And I have to tell you that that is not the case! You will be blessed either way according to the Lord's timing and you have to let yourself move on and not look back."

"You're right. So maybe now instead of praying to know which path I should take, I should pray for help to not beat myself up later about my decision."

"I think that's exactly what you need to start praying for."

I thought a few moments and then slowly said, "I think...I think I want to go back to school and be at my sister's wedding. That is what I want. I would love to go back out, but my sister's wedding takes priority, and I would love to go back to school as well."

"That sounds fine to me. I feel very good about that actually."

"Yes, so do I."

So there you have it. After much prayer, counseling with priesthood leaders, looking at all of my options, I've decided to stay. I'm not looking back. I'm moving forward. I will forever be grateful for my mission, however short it was, because of how much it taught me in that short amount of time. It was an amazing, eye-opening experience, not only because I was in a 3rd world country, but it was incredible to see how people came to accept (or reject) the gospel. I gained an incredible testimony of this work. So no regrets. Despite the health issues I went through, and the other various challenges a mission presents, I would do it again (I'd just be super, super careful about the water and food next time ;)).

Anyways, that is all. Because I was unable to "complete" my mission, my deferment at BYU is now void and I will have to reapply to gain addmission. That's just how it goes--it doesn't the matter you come home early, or even if it was an honorable release, you need to reapply. That's okay though. It won't be as rigorous a process as before--I hope. I called the admissions office this morning, and a counselor will call me this Friday at 2:00pm to let me know exactly what I need to do to reapply. I left in "Good Academic Standing" so it shouldn't be a problem. I asked if I could get in for Fall Semester, and they said it was a possibility, but I'm not going to hold my breath. It's probably more likely that I'll return Winter Semester.

So there you have it. For now I'm just going to enjoy my summer with friends and family, and co-workers. I LOVE MY JOB AT HIGHLANDS DAY SPA!!!!! I am SOOO happy to be back working there as a receptionist!! Love it!!! Anyways, so that's the plan for now, and I'll plan more as I can, but I've learned from my mission that while planning is important, you need to also give space for the unexpected. You never know what's going to happen.

I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for me. He does everything for a reason. We'll see what happens this year and how everything works out. I'm just going to put my trust in Him as always, and know that everything is going to work out in the end despite whatever troubles or challenges. It's all going to be okay. I look forward to finding ways to serve Him now, even if it isn't full-time. And of course I'll continue to study and look for ways to use my Tagalog.

Thank you for all of the prayers, support, love, letters, encouragement...everything you all did for me while I was on my mission, and once I got back. This process of coming home early has been much easier than I thought it would be thanks to everyone's understanding and support. I hope everyone understands now why I've decided not to go back out. I promise it was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make in my life--I truly was torn. But I feel like this is the path my life is supposed to take now. If another full-time mission is in my future, then great! But for now, I'm just going to "enjoy the journey."

Love you all!