While pondering in church today, I realized that 8 years ago to the day, I entered the MTC and began my mission. And oh, what a mission it was - the most intense 19 months of my life. It's so hard to sum up in a single blog post but I can certainly say that I'm glad I did it and I'm glad that it's over.
Someone once said, "missions are for missionaries" and it took me more than a year, on my mission, to realize what that meant. I thought that I was going to teach, to serve, that I was going for my Heavenly Father. But I learned that at the end of the day, despite all of my selfless service, it was all about me. It was about learning who I was and what I could give. It was as a missionary that I learned about God's love for me. It's like my companion Gina said, "your mission is God's gift to you". Which when she said it made little sense, and haunted me for months. It took me a LONG time to see my mission as a gift because it felt a lot like a burden. An unbearable burden that threatened to take everything from me and be my undoing. There were times when I didn't think that I'd live to see the end of it - but I did. And I made friends and memories that I'll cherish forever.
So today, I remember the girl that I was 8 years ago. Who worked past her fear and put on that name tag. I remember the french toast sticks that nearly made up for the rest of the pitiful fare we endured. I remember that doing laundry was possibly the funnest thing we did all week. I remember learning to pray in Finnish and singing hymns in Finnish. I remember ultra-anti-ergonomic chairs and make shift foot stools. I remember the walks and the meeting and the celebration of obscure holidays. I remember how scared I was to leave. And I remember our trip to Finland.