Hitting this year mark has hit me hard. Sometimes I've wondered if I knew what was in store for me when I signed up to be a missionary, and everything that I would go through in this past year, would I still do it?
The answer is unequivocally yes.
Maybe an out-patient surgery gone wrong followed by a short hospital stay isn't a big deal to most people. But to me, it was so much more than that. Through those experiences and everything that followed, I changed.
I wouldn't say I learned anything new a year ago. I just learned deeper. I learned it right through to my bones. I learned the power of the prophet's words. I learned the intimacy of true prayer. I learned the humility of a repentant heart. I learned how to serve others despite pain. But most importantly, I learned and felt in my heart the overwhelming love of God.
Very distinctly, I remember my mission president's wife speaking at zone conference. She said that when she steps off the plane after returning home, she wants her family to know she's changed. She wants her changed heart to be visible in her countenance. Because if she isn't changed, then it would all be for nothing.
I don't want this past year to be for nothing. I fought too hard, cried too many tears, and prayed too many prayers for it to be all for nothing.
So, even more changes are coming. The person I want to become is different than the person I wanted to be before my mission. Tomorrow, I'm going to talk to my academic adviser to try and make sure the changes I've gone through continue into my future. It's scary, but I can't let my mission be for nothing. I have to stay changed.
"Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world."
-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (link)