by Brad Wilcox and Russell Wilcox
Upon arriving in Santiago, Chile, one sister missionary felt discouraged. She had always dreamed of a mission and prepared with diligence. Still, when faced with the realities of mission life combined with homesickness and the challenge of learning Spanish it was almost more than she could bear. At one low point she cried to her mission president, “What on earth were they teaching us in the MTC? It would have been better preparation to hose us down from head to toe, put us in a freezer, and then swear at us all day long.” Admittedly, it had been raining and the streets were filled with water. It had also been unusually cold and she had faced some rude rejections. Nevertheless, her president had to tell her that praying to be hit by a bus so she could go home was not the best option.
About a month later the same sister wrote the following in her weekly report to her president: “The good news is that I can honestly say I don’t hate it here anymore. Even though I’m gaining weight because the members feed me so much and get offended if I don’t eat it, I’m doing better. In fact, I think I would be disappointed now if a bus hit me.”
What made the difference? Time helped, but there was something more. She wrote, “I fasted last Sunday with a list of concerns and questions I wanted answered. What I got instead was a feeling that everything is going to be okay, that I am going to be fine and I just need to be patient. Hearing that from a person is one thing (and you hear it from everyone), but hearing it from God is totally different. It is the difference between hearing it and feeling it, knowing it in your head and knowing it in your heart. I can smile now without having to force it.”
Things were looking brighter, but this sister could not foresee how her feelings would continue to change over the course of her mission. A year and a half later she wrote, “I can’t believe my mission is almost over. It has gone so quickly. It’s not fair. I want more time. I can’t stand the thought of leaving these people who have come to mean so much to me. In the mission I have had my trials, but they all seem like nothing compared to what I have learned. There are times I have studied something in the morning and then used it that very day to answer a question that came up. There are times when I have felt guided to the exact spot where I have been needed and my companion and I were able to make a difference. I’ve learned about the power of faith. How am I going to bear it when they take off my plaque and I have to live without being a full-time missionary?”
Elders and Sisters, as hard as things may seem at the start, hang in there. Don’t give up. Give yourself time to make changes necessary in a mission and the Lord time to make changes in you. The metamorphosis takes time, but it is beautiful and it is worth it.