Monday, May 18, 2015

What I Wished I'd Known Before Coming Home



Ok....the title says it all. As promised....here's everything I'd wished I would've known before coming home .....and other tips, suggestions, and things I just happened to get right my first go at it:)

Some of these are things I did before I even left the field and some are things I did (or wish I did:) during the 3-9 weeks months of limbo following the awkward see-the-family-for-the-first-time-while-coming-down-the-escalator-but-can't-go-any-faster-to-meet-them moment.

Admit it...we've all thought how awkward that 12.8 seconds is.....

:]



So here goes:

WHAT I WISHED I'D KNOWN BEFORE COMING HOME

(Before leaving the field)

- Start eliminate unwanted or extra clothing/items 2-3 weeks before you go home...it cuts down on packing (aka STRESS/CRAMMING) time towards the end 

- It's ok to feel tired;)...it means you're working hard! (Read about Alma and Moroni's "rest" after their hard efforts)....just know that your rest comes later...work hard NOW!

- Satan will try hard those last few weeks in EVERY way...don't let him win! Work hard, be obedient, stay focused, pray harder than you ever have before, and give it ALL to the Lord!

Send on packages home if need be/possible 1-2 weeks before coming home. I sent home bulky items/mission keepsakes in a box to save on luggage space and avoid fees at the airport. 

- Mission debit cards for departing missionaries are loaded based on the number of days in the month (vs the whole month's worth) that you have left to serve. So for instance, I came home on the 16th so I got 16 days worth of funds (about $5 a day). Budget out your last cycle's worth of mission funds in case unexpected expenses come up as you start planning to go home. 

- Because it's practically impossible to say goodbye to everyone (esp converts) from old areas (or even from you current area) before you go home, consider writing "farewell" letters to them before you leave the mission. 


- Ask to bear your testimony your last Sunday (or take advantage of Fast and Testimony meeting) on the mission in your last ward! Trust me, it's an AMAZING experience!!



- KEEP A JOURNAL. Seriously...write down EVERYTHING you can! Those last few weeks are filled with some of the most precious/interesting/life-changing/

- Building off that last one...in your last interview with your mission president, remember everything you can and then the minute you get out....WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING YOU REMEMBER!!! Trust me......you're going to want/need it later...more like forever:) 




(When you get home)


- The ABSOLUTE BEST ADVICE I CAN GIVE ANY RM: KEEP THE MORNING SCHEDULE!! I can't stress this enough. At first, I didn't really think it was that big of a deal, but now I realize that it's CRITICAL. Rise up early, exercise, put the Lord first and really study your scriptures. Ponder, pray, and have your personal time with the Savior. 

- Have a plan before coming home. Plan on getting a calling, a job, starting school, volunteering in the community....ANYTHING. Just get busy doing the RIGHT things. You know where I'm going with this..... "be anxiously engaged in a good cause:)" 

Write down everything. Yes.....I'll say it again....KEEP A JOURNAL. It will keep you on track, close to the Lord, thinking things through, and aware of the guidance of the spirit in your life. Just do it...ok....trust me:)

- Stay connected with investigators, LA's, members, etc.! Write them, message them, connect with them on social media, call them, FaceTime them! You will ALWAYS be their missionary! Don't EVER give that up!! 

- Stay involved with missionary work!!  That badge on your heart NEVER comes off! Go out with the missionaries, always keep a BoM and mormon.org cards on you to give away, post mormon messages on social media, build your own investigator pool of friends and neighbors, get a calling and work with less actives! 

"You don't have to lose [the spirit]!" One of our AP's told us that the last night in the field and it has totally stuck with me. When you come home, you DON'T have to lose the "spiritual high"  everyone talks about if you don't want to. And it is ABSOLUTELY true. It is completely up to you. If you put in your work, time, effort, desire, and heart....you can keep that spiritual high. The Lord will NOT take that away from you!!


- Re-find "investigators" (family members, youth, friends, neighbors, etc.)! This work doesn't stay in the field! The world is your field!! (you've just been re-located:) 

- Get a routine down. I HATED routine before the mission...but now I can't live without it. Get your own post-mish routine down and stick with it. 

- Elder Perry visited our mission the week before I left and told us, "If I ever meet you after your missions, I'm going to ask you if you're using a calendar all the time to effectively budget your time.....and if you're not than you are wasting the knowledge and training you have received here on your mission!" USE A CALENDAR!! BUDGET YOUR TIME!! 

-  Give yourself time to adjust. Don't feel like you have to rush it, but also don't feel like you have to take it slow. Just let things happen the way they happen, and as long as your close to the spirit, let yourself get back into your hobbies, relationships, interests, etc. 


- BREATHE....don't take life too seriously at first...it'll all come with time:) 

- My mission president told us, "Elders and sisters, going home from a mission isn't death...life goes on;)" Yes.....yes...it does:) Forge on in faith!



And now for some 10 second summary advice.....just remember to put your relationship with the Lord above ALL ELSE in your lifeHe is your best friend and will be at your side through it all if you will stay next to His. Yes, it will take time, and yes, it will take effort. Coming home from a mission can and will be a bit rocky at first. It's not the most graceful experience of your life. but hey....it's all part of the ride:) 

Really, though, if you can keep your faith firm and your hope bright, everything else in your sometimes tailspin-of-an-RM life will come together. Dedicate yourself to your spiritual life, first and foremost. Those spiritual muscles have been worked day in and day out for the past 18-24 months and yea, they might be bone tired.....but you DO NOT want to wake up one day and realize that all that strength...all that power...that might...and that conviction...that was so painstakingly built and fortified, has been lost due to negligence and apathy. 

Your work life, your school life, your dating life, your family life, your financial life, your social life....it will all work together for your good and the Lord will be at the helm to guide you if you will but put your SPIRITUAL life FIRST

STUDY your scriptures daily. 
PRAY always.
Attend the temple.
Fast.
Ask for priesthood blessings.
Serve faithfully in your calling.
Continue to share the gospel.
Counsel with the Lord in EVERYTHING.

The so-called "adjusting" back to "normal" life should NOT be a spiritual one!!! 

Maintain the spiritual practices, habits, and gifts you've developed on your mission. Don't slack off! It can be SOOOO tempting sometimes, but don't even think about it:) Keep your sights high and remember that you're not alone....the Lord has promised, "I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" (D&C 84:88)

That promise doesn't end at the completion of a mission! 


He is with you.....ALWAYS!!!


Onward and upward....you got this:)