Monday, October 13, 2014

Missionary Blues

E-mail from 25 August 2014

Hello all!

Well, the last four and a half weeks have been very interesting.  Since I haven't written much for a while, I figured now is the time to esplain some things! :)

Last transfer I got moved from Mishawaka to Fishers. There is a HUGE difference between these two areas in financial achievement, size of homes, technology, attitude, etc. Needless to say, Fishers is an incredibly privileged area and unfortunately I have a deeply rooted prejudice against the privileged. So this fact mixed with being forced to leave my greenie halfway through her training was just... awful. 

Since the moment I came out, I wanted to be a trainer and I prayed that I would have that opportunity. Both President and I felt very strongly I needed to train early on in my mission, but I've been struggling incredibly with severe depression since before I got in the field which prevented me from earlier training opportunities. It is a huge reason as to why I am no longer training and a few weeks ago it got to the point that I gave up and stopped working. I took off my badge and pretty much chose not to be a missionary for a few days. I was done. 

I felt like a failure. A complete and utter failure because everything that I had wanted since I was set apart crumbled. I wasn't best friends with either of my trainers. I had virtually no contact with the missionaries I came out with. My first true convert to the gospel had gone inactive. I didn't get to participate in the baptism for one of my dear friends who is no longer living in Indiana. Everything terrible and negative that has ever happened in my life and in particular on my mission hit me full force and mentally I collapsed from the weight. 

Calls to President Cleveland, Sister Steadman (our Mission Nurse), and LDS Family Services were useless. Their advice was incredible and loving, but I was so far gone that it couldn't penetrate. I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to feel anything because I was tired of hurting. 

But finally, after weeks of feeling this way, I finally saw a spark of light. It began with a letter from a missionary serving in another mission. They expressed to me many of the same feelings that I have had throughout my mission and shared their experiences with overcoming it. They explained that as a missionary, we change. Because we have an extra portion of the Spirit and we are living the Gospel in everything that we do, we see ourselves with different eyes- Heaven's eyes, so to speak. We are given a deeper understanding of how truly gross sin and transgression is in the sight of God. We become more sensitive emotionally and spiritually to everything around us. We understand more completely the worth of souls in the sight of God, including our own.

We also begin to understand how terribly weak and incapable we are and that, my dear friends, is uncomfortable.

We humans love comfort, but this is not a comfortable Gospel and it is not a comfortable call to be a missionary. People will reject you. They will cuss at you, threaten you, interrogate you, bash on everything you believe and hold dear. Particularly as a sister, they will tell you that you are oppressed and taking part of society that has no appreciation for women and is unfair and unequal in its treatment and opportunities. It does not matter how prepared you are. Your heart will break as a missionary on a daily basis, because of the words and actions that will surround you. 

It hurts to be a missionary. 

But God knew that these things would happen, and more than that- they are necessary. A broken heart leads us to our Savior and that is what I was lacking. I realized very recently that I do not know my Savior. I have been preaching things that I profess to believe, but I have no hope in. I believe that hope and comfort and miracles can come to others, but I do not believe it for myself, or at least I didn't for a very long time. That, in part, is why everything began to crumble about me. My heart had to be broken in order for me to find my Savior and to experience the things that I have been called to preach. 

My heart still hurts. I'm afraid to have so much responsibility for the salvation of souls resting upon my shoulders, but I do have a little more confidence in the ability and power of my Lord. I know that God called me to serve in this capacity and He would not have done so if I was incapable. I have felt the despair and anguish that comes from transgression and rejecting God and being utterly and completely alone, and I have no desire for my brothers and sisters to experience that same pain if they can avoid it. 

In some small way, I've come to understand the feelings that the sons of Mosiah felt as they pleaded with their father to go into the "mission field". Mosiah 28: 3-4 reads:
3 ... the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.

 4 And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them, for they were the very vilest of sinners. And the Lord saw fit in his infinite mercy to spare them; nevertheless they suffered much anguish of soul because of their iniquities, suffering much and fearing that they should be cast off forever.

I profess in no way that I am like these great missionaries, but I do have hope that through me God might work some mighty miracle that will soften the hearts of those in Indiana. And not only do I hope that their hearts will be softened, but that mine might be as well. 

In the close of their letter, my friend reminded me, "Be patient... With God and especially in yourself. Take one step at a time and let faith move your feet until one day soon, you can dance again. You can do this." 

God will never ask something of you that you cannot accomplish. 
 
I love you all and I hope you all can rely on the Lord more effectively than I have. Remember, "Whom the Lord calls He qualifies."

Sister Ruth

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