Friday, January 16, 2015

I will be your light in the wilderness

I've never  liked change. Yet lately my life has been full of it. Change can happen when we least expect it. It's funny looking back to just a couple years ago and realizing how different my life seems now and how different I am. There are certain moments in life that mark the end of an era and the beginning of something else. There are moments that change everything.

For me, one of those moments was when I decided to serve a full time mission. It was never something I planned on doing, but the feeling to go came with such intensity that I knew I had to act on it. I knew that it was going to be hard and I knew that I'd have to sacrifice a few things in the process. But I knew that it was something the Lord needed me to do.

In 1 Nephi 2 in the Book of Mormon, Lehi experiences one of these life changing moments. He is commanded to leave Jerusalem, the city he's known and lived all his life, and depart into the wilderness.

And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness -1 Nephi 2:4

Can you believe that? It's hard enough leaving behind your home for 18 months to 2 years to serve a mission, imagine leaving behind EVERYTHING to go out into the unknown, knowing that you'll probably never return? Imagine, how much faith he must have had to receive word to do this in a dream and not even question if it was from God or not. Lehi was amazing.

Sometimes God asks us to do hard things and we might not always know the initial reason why. Lehi was told to leave because Jerusalem was going to be destroyed; yet there was no evidence of this. Even after they'd been in the wilderness for years, Jerusalem still hadn't been destroyed. This is one of the reasons why Laman and Lemuel murmured.

Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy. -1 Nephi 17:21

It's so easy for people to lose faith in God when things aren't going their way. But faith is trusting in God's promises even when we don't see the blessings yet. Faith is knowing that God has better things in store for us than whatever we've left behind.

Lehi had such faith. I love the optimism he shows in 1 Nephi 5:5

But behold, I have obtained a land of promise, in the which things I do rejoice. 

In one short sentence, Lehi teaches us so much about seeing with an eye of faith. They hadn't been in the wilderness long, a boat hadn't yet been built to take them to the promised land, but Lehi rejoices as if he's already made it there. He knows that God has something wonderful in store for him and he rejoices in it.

We can also rejoice when we find ourselves in the "wilderness". Our wilderness can be considered any time of change or uncertainty. We can have faith that even when we're going through trials, we're being prepared and strengthened for something better.

Eventually Lehi and his family made it to the promised land and Jerusalem was invaded and destroyed. What's most important to understand though is the journey and the faith it took to get to the promised land.

But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands -2 Nephi 1:5

Though life is full of unexpected twists and turns, these unexpected moments often lead us to the greatest joy. Essentially what I'm trying to say is that although my life has been turning out a lot different than I thought it would, I'm so glad that it is. Going on a mission changed my life a lot and I'm still trying to figure everything out. I still have a lot of choices to make and I'm not quite sure what my future holds.. I know that everything will work out.

And I know that even when I find myself in the wilderness, God is right there with me. (1Nephi 17:13)


Thursday, January 8, 2015

I'm an RM now!

Hello there! I've really been meaning to start this blog for a while now.. but life has been pretty busy. A good busy though. :) I can't believe I have been home from my mission over 2 months now! Everyone has been asking me how I've adjusted to "the real world". I actually don't like calling it that ever since Elder Holland visited my mission. He told us that our mission was the closest we were ever going to come to the real world. I think I believe that. Anyway, as far as my life as a returned missionary goes.. it's been great! I feel like I've been very blessed.

My life definitely changed a lot in 18 months and I wasn't the same person I was before when I came home. I like to think I'm more mature, outspoken and driven. I'm still the same Rachel, but better. Some parts about coming home were really hard and I had to make some difficult decisions. But honestly, I've never felt more at peace about my life than I do right now.

I managed to get a job just a week after coming home and I'm earning enough to pay for my own schooling for next semester. I'll be taking 11 credits at Weber State and working full time.. go big or go home right? Don't worry I can handle it. If I can do a mission than I can do anything! *knock on wood*

I've been making new friends, reading lots of books, developing new talents and dusting off some old ones. I'm missing my 3 siblings who are still on missions but I'm proud of them and am excited for us to all be together again in just a few months. :)

I wanted to share this little video I put together of some mission highlights. My mission was wonderful and I had some good times. But it was also the hardest thing I've ever done. Through it all, I learned a lot about myself, made life long friends, developed a strong testimony and love of the gospel and most importantly developed a strong relationship with my Father in Heaven.

Serving a mission was so worth it! It was worth every tear, every slammed door and every sleepless night. I wasn't a perfect missionary but I know that God is pleased with my service because I felt the spirit everyday and did my best to be obedient and work hard. That's all He asks. :)

Well enjoy!

<3/ Rachel