Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Coming Home Early

THE START...

About a year and a half ago I was called to serve a mission in Quito, Ecuador.

I was stoked to say the least, but getting to that point was not the easiest. I struggled for months deciding whether or not to serve a mission. Between dance, school, marriage, all of that I had no idea what to do. I remember finally dropping to my knees and telling the Lord I was going to go.  The next day I was walking on BYU campus, called my mom, and bawled my eyes out because I knew I was serving a mission. 

I never was one of those girls who wanted to go on a mission forever. I also was older, so the age change didn't really effect me.  I think mostly timing just played in my favor to serve a mission. I had dated a boy a year younger than me who was serving a mission, I had already completed three years on Cougarettes, and pretty much all of my best friends were married. But more than that, I felt a desire to share the most important thing in my life with others, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Getting on my mission was even harder.  I started dating someone, and between a missionary and a mission, I was so stressed. I'm sure you are all like this chick is crazy. I seriously felt like I was. I was way in over my head making decisions.  I questioned many times if I should go, but deep in my heart I knew that serving a mission was what was right for me.




THE MISSION...

Finally on May 22 I left.  I flew to LA and met up with all the other missionaries who would soon become my district.  I love these people more than anything. Our flight ended up getting canceled and we spent the night in LA with a bunch of set apart missionaries. After two days we ended up in Peru wondering if anyone even knew to pick us up at 2 in the morning. Luckily someone was there and we rode through the night to the CCM.  I sat next to Samantha Jameson who ended up being my companion and best friend.

The CCM or MTC was unreal for me.  I felt like I was thriving. I don't think I have ever laughed harder than inside that place.  I met the most amazing people, and I grew so close to my Savior. I started to understand how much spiritual growth I had ahead of me.  Going from normal life to the MTC is a major change obviously.  To keep sane me and Hermana Jameson would dance and sing in the hallways before we went to bed. Looking back that probably seems so weird but it helped us get through it happily. My whole district went to the Lima Sur mission, and I was the only one going to Quito. I was so nervous about it.

I finally got to Quito and immediately got sick. I remember thinking "dang, if this is how my whole mission is I am going to come back so skinny." Wow, obviously a little worldly of me, but I haven't been that sick in awhile. I finally got my trainer and my companion...we were in a trio, that is how I was for my whole mission. Once I got to Quito something changed. I have always been so happy. I feel like that is kinda my thing. I can usually make light of any situation, and I have never ever in my life felt depressed or felt any sort of that kind of stuff. But as the days went on in my first transfer something switched. As a missionary I just thought it was opposition. I think everyone has a hard time on a mission, it is so hard, and people don't really tell you that before you leave. But for me I was just thinking this is normal, it will get better, things like that. I stopped sleeping very well, and every morning I would just cry my eyes out. I felt like I was losing me, and it started to really freak me out.

Finally, after my first transfer I talked to my mission president about it. I just explained how I was having a hard time. He talked to me about it and then I went back on my way feeling a bit better. After that day though it got worse and worse day by day. I finally sat down and thought about why I was feeling like this. Now that I can look back I really think I was struggling because of our schedule. I have always been so busy in my life. Between dance and school I rarely had time to sit down.  On the mission I had so much time to study, a lot more than I thought I would. With personal study, 2 hours of companion study, and an hour of language, I think I just started to lose it. But when you are in something you don't always have the clearest view of what is actually going on. I let this take over me, and I was so depressed and sad. Inside I felt like I was a mess, I felt stuck, and trapped, and I finally couldn't take it anymore.

Calling my mission president to tell him I wanted to go home was hands down the most courageous, hardest thing I think I ever have or will do.  The process to get home ended being the worst week of my life. Communication with my family was all over the place, no one knew what was going on, and I was so frustrated and emotional that I couldn't even explain myself. I wish I could go back and handle this part differently. I wish I could have the perspective I do now so that I could maybe better explain myself and how I was feeling. I think my president, and my parents, and everyone including me was just confused, and really didn't know how to help.  This ended in me having 30 emails on Pday all telling me to not come home, and me feeling so exhausted that I just pretty much said to myself screw it, I am so done.








COMING HOME...

There were a ton of misunderstandings with my family and that was really hard for me.  It was hard to feel like a disappointment to everyone. On the plane home from Quito I just remember crying for 12 straight hours. I was confused how I got to that point, because a mission is supposed to be the best thing I could ever do. I felt like I was being punished for serving others. It was the weirdest, most confusing, most heart wrenching day of my whole life. I wasn't even sure if anyone was picking me up at the airport, it was so awful. I can honestly say I have never been in a darker place than that day.

Then I walked off the plane, and saw my beautiful parents standing there with arms wide open. I knew they were confused, upset, mad, happy, probably every emotion in the book...but they didn't care they just hugged me. Looking back it reminds me so much of how it will be when we get to the other side. I'm sure Christ is not always pleased with us. We are dumb, and we make horrible choices, and we disappoint, but no matter what we do, he's always there with open arms.

I finally talked it all out with them and things started to get better. Misunderstandings were straightened out and I somehow expressed in the next week my whole mission. I went to the temple with my parents the next day and slowly but surely I felt like light was coming back to me.

I just felt like I should write my experience down for others.
This post doesn't nearly include all that happened with my mission, but I am writing this to one, express how this has effected me, and two, to maybe help others who might go through similar experiences.

Before I left to come home, one of my favorite sisters in the mission told me that I needed to be confident. She said, if you go home and look remorseful, then people will talk and it will rip you apart. I have never had better advice in my life.

My decision to come home was completely my decision. That is the beauty about the church we have agency to make choices, and in result we face consequences. I know when I came home people were told a ton of different things. The one that probably hurt the most was people saying that I just didn't like my mission. That cuts you a lot.  The emotions I felt on my mission are something that bring me to tears if I try to even express. No one will ever understand what I felt, nor will I ever understand what others feel. It's beautiful that we all have our own personal stories. What is even more beautiful is that Christ fills the pages of our stories no matter what they are. I would hope that others never thought that I didn't treat my mission seriously, or have what I thought to be real reasons to come home and figure things out. My mission president struggled with the spirit telling me to go home. I NEVER EVER would say that spirit told me to go home. I feel as though I went to the Lord and asked if it was OKAY to go home, and I felt that it was. I don't think this will be the answer for everyone. For boys a mission is a commandment, and I think if I was a boy things would have been very very different. But that being said, I think every person, boy or girl, has reasons to come home, and we should never ever judge that, but as my parents and Christ have, accept them with open arms.

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED...

This is the part that I love. Gosh I have learned so much from this. I think in some ways I probably grew more from this experience then I maybe would have grown on my mission. Obviously growth in different ways, but still growth.

1. I learned that it is okay to fail sometimes.
2. I honestly used to look at those who came home for anxiety and things like that as weak.  But I learned that these issues are SO REAL, and coming home for them is not something to be ashamed of.
3. I learned that those who talk about you or it behind your back just don't understand. You still love them, and hope that one day they will be able to see differently.
4. I learned that there are people placed in your life specifically to help you get through the hardest times in your life.
5. I learned that I am too busy and probably need to learn to slow down my life better.
6. I learned to be confident because no matter what I am still a daughter of God.
7. I learned that when you feel like there is no way you will get through something, just look up, and you will see Christ's face.
8. I learned that everything you do is a choice. It is a choice to be happy, it is a choice to regret. Make your choice, and make it a good one.
9. I learned that you don't have to serve a full time mission to be a missionary.
10. I learned to love hard times, for those are the times that you stretch the most.

NOW...
A year later I have realized that life doesn't always get easier. Since coming home, I had a hard time getting back into school, I have had some big relationship decisions to make, and life hasn't been the most smooth sailing. But really, when is life easy? It's not. But in the strangest way life is so good. Although it seems not everything is perfect or going exactly how I would want it, I am so happy. When I came home a lot of people said I would 100% regret my decision to come home. And I can 100% say I have never regretted it.  I think I knew myself enough to know that something wasn't right with me. It was right with the mission, with the Gospel, with the people, but it was not right with me. I will love my mission forever, although it has been the hardest year of my life. I am so grateful for the Gospel and the opportunity missions give us to share the truth with the rest of the world.


I am home, and I am happy. 








This Sunday is Easter. 
And as I reflect on the Atonement of Jesus Christ I can't help but have tears rolling down my face. The Savior has carried me through these hard times of my life. This experience is nothing compared to what others face. Everyone has those days, weeks, years, whatever that you feel alone, where you feel that you can't really continue, where you feel you are stuck. I know that God knows this.  I know that he has provided us a Savior to help us conquer this darkness. I am eternally indebted to my Savior, Jesus Christ, for the strength he has given not only me, but everyone.

This quote from Elder Holland sums it up for me...

With all the conviction of my soul I testify that He did please His Father perfectly and that a perfect Father did not forsake His Son in that hour. Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christ’s mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering. Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required; indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone." 
- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles



I love you all. 
Thanks to all of you that have helped me through this!
xo.Karlton

6 comments:

  1. love you so much Kar! also im glad you posted this because i didnt know you had a bloggy. seriously so grateful for you in my life!

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  2. This is one of the most raw, authentic, honest, beautiful things I have read. Thank you thank you for sharing this with us, Karli! Your perspective is spot on. I think many of the principles you outlined can ONLY be learned through experience, and are a critical part of our life on this earth. Cool that you've experienced such depth so early in your life. Love you!!

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  3. I loved reading this. Beautiful!

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  4. This is an incredible story. I'm so grateful you shared. I think it is so amazing how the Lord teaches us in the perfect way. I love your insite on growth and it's true. We all have our own story and as we turn to God we will grow to become like Him. Love you!

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  5. love you.

    thank you for blogging & thank you for being my best friend.

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  6. Karli you rock! Thanks for sharing your powerful story and for the incredible mission you served. I love getting to see you around campus :) Love you!

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