What a week! Last P-Day was one of the best days of my mission. I was basically walking on air for having extended my mission. Then, we went FISHING! Can you imagine anything better than sitting out on a bridge above the Amazon River for several hours with some of your best friends from around the world. It was great!
Everyone kept asking me why I was so happy and smiling and they didn’t believe that extending my mission would make me so happy, but it did! I love this work and I feel like I could do it forever. Plus, after everything I went through and almost being sent home, I liked to think that extending was a big old sucker punch to Satan’s throat, which definitely made me feel great. Then, to make things even better, I was able to go proselyte at night for the first time in several weeks. It was amazing.
Then, in the quiet of the night as I said my prayers and thanked Heavenly Father for the chance to extend my mission, a voice whispered in my heart “I gave you the option, but did you ask ME if I want you to take it?” I thought about it for a second and brushed the feeling off and said “Obviously He wants me to take it! I’m going to be serving Him for more time.” Everything made so much sense. With everything that happened, I felt like Satan was trying to discourage me. It seemed so obvious that the reason he wanted to discourage me was to keep me from extending.
The next morning, I couldn’t feel the Spirit. I felt so distracted by the decision. So, I took some time to make a list of all the reasons why I should and shouldn’t extend. I realized that, for the most part, my reasons for extending were very outward things: sucker punch the Devil, have more time on Leadership Council, less time waiting around at home, more time with my mission friends, etc. But the reasons for NOT staying were more humble, inward reasons: protect my health, help my family, and, most importantly, because the Spirit told me it was right. I knelt down and asked if I really needed to come home at my normally assigned time and I FINALLY felt at peace. I knew that it was what was right.
But, that didn’t make it easy. The whole week was a rollercoaster. The training program is called the “First Twelve Weeks” and I realized that I am just about to enter my “Last twelve Weeks.” I remembered the haunting thought of one day having a LAST Baptism, a LAST lesson, a LAST lunch with members.
My heart was broken. “PLEASE!” I prayed. Please let me stay at LEAST six more weeks. I am not ready, I will never be ready.” Then, I realized the hard truth. The real reason I wanted to extend: I am scared. I don’t want to be a baby but honestly, I am SO scared. I realized something. After so many years of struggling, I FINALLY found who I am.
I have been able to have such great success in my mission. Being in the mission, everyone kind of knows everything and I know my place here and my best friends in the whole world (literally, in the whole world! ;)) are here and I’m a leader and I am watched over and what happens when I take that nametag off and just go back to being nobody? I don’t know why I was so scared, but I was SO scared.
Then, in the Leadership Council (another month has come and gone!) I was assigned to give a training. I was really nervous because I can train in Zone Conferences without a problem, but leadership council is when the Zone Leaders from all over fly in and whatever I taught, they would have to reteach to all of their Zones..so it was basically like training the whole mission. But, it went really well. And, having it go well made my decision even harder because I thought “Look, I can make a difference here! I don’t need to go home in September!”
During lunch, everyone was talking about how they had extended their missions and how happy they were and I just wanted to be a part of that so bad. Well, everyone thought I WAS a part of it…but I hadn’t given them the update. In the bathroom, I was almost in tears. “Heavenly Father, I have finally, FINALLY found something I am good at. I belong here. Will you really not let me extend?”
The answer was clear and the decision was final. I realized that, even though I am scared, I need to end my mission with the same scripture I started it with: D&C . Doubt Not. Fear Not.
I came to an amazing realization. As I was standing in the church, confused with all these thoughts going through my head and people that I was talking to, someone came up behind me and said “Hermana Simonson! I sent them, I sent the papers!” With all the confusion, I didn’t think about it much, but then it finally hit me: MISSION PAPERS.
I turned around and saw my own convert, Juan, with a big smile on his face. I have a convert getting ready to go on a mission. He has already baptized 5 people, and now he will get to baptize even more. I took a moment to remember the day that we found him. I was a brand new trainer without a clue and Hermana Dickey was just a bright eyed newby with very limited Spanish. Wanting to give up, we finally knocked on a door and what came out of the door knock? A FUTURE MISSIONARY.
I finally realized that I will NEVER have a last Baptism. Why? Because this work is Eternal. Every life that I have touched with be changed for forever, and will be able to touch more lives. And, as far as the Leadership Council goes, I would love to announce that I am officially training the future Sister Leader (I know, right, it would have been nice if someone would have trained me! But that’s what happens when you’re the first), and, guess who it is??? That,’s right, Hermana Dickey!!!! So, someone that I trained to be a missionary will now be taking my place. It looks like I will still be a leader, but I will most likely go out to a different part and she will stay in Iquitos being the main HLC—SO AWESOME!!!!
One day, two waves were preparing to crash on the shore. One looked to the other and said “I don’t want to hit the shore. After such an amazing journey, we are coming to the end.” The other wave responded saying “Our journey may end, but we will never end. After all, we are part of the SEA.”
Love- Hermana Simonson