10 Days ‘Till You Return & 10 Things Your Emails Taught Me
Chances are, if you’re reading this you know someone out on a mission. I’m at that time in my life when all my friends are either anxiously engaged in serving the Lord or anxiously engaged to be married. I get so giddy when I open up their weekly emails (which is often more than I communicate with my engaged friends) because it ignites the missionary mode within me. Although some of these friends I won’t see for 18 months, 2 years, or 2 years and x amount of months because our missions crossed over, I still feel very connected with them.
One of these friends returns home in t-minus 10 days. In honor of that momentous occasion, I went through all of our brief emails and generated a list of 10 Things Missionary Mail Taught Me. Make yourself comfortable, grab a blanket and a sleeve of Birthday Cake Oreos, and enjoy this easy read.
“My trainer leaves today for home, it has been weird watching him die. We tracted his last street last night, it was super sad, of course the last door he knocked got slammed in his face, it couldn’t have ended any other way.”
That’s what you told me at the start of your mission. I wish you a better ending, but in all honesty, there is usually no dramatic part where you can say “this is how it all ended.” Perhaps you’ll have one last zone conference, and one last door, but who knows who you will talk to on the train to the Mission home or on the airplane? And who knows who you will touch at your homecoming talk or what future friends you will convert. If there is one thing I’ve learned in these past 6 months, it’s that your mission has so many long lasting impacts that it’s impossible to say “it ended when I doored this one lady.”
Maybe that’s the difficult part about transitioning back to “reality”. It’s not that you are going back to your old ways; that would be a walk in the park. It’s that you are learning how to incorporate your 2 year Mission with your Life Mission. And that is a complicated ballroom waltz. Something tells me that you don’t have two left feet; you’ll be fine.
Over the past 2 years we’ve had sporadic communication via emails. This is what I’ve learned: (italics=your actual email, spelling, grammar, and all.)
1. Missions can cure nomophobia and the likes thereof, but it will never rid a person of the thrift shops blues. Even if you can’t wear the clothes or listen to the records, might as well buy them, right? you know all those short short that i have been seeing all the old men wear? they were there, i bought 2 pairs. It was my christmas present to myself. *insert eye rolling here*
2.You’re probably going to return with a smoker’s voice and some nasty spray on deodorant. What better way to attract all the ladies! It is strange the deodorant is all spray on, they don’t have stick deodorant, and i don’t think anyone wears it. This whole town smells like cigarettes and sweat. We are helping this one lady stop smoking and we see her everyday and it is a test of my will power and my nose. I think I have smoked my cigarettes in the from of second hand smoke on my mission than my whole previous life combined and doubled.
3. Australia and Germany couldn’t be further apart, but they don’t seem to be polar opposites. Short shorts, throwing back beers, and their holiday mindset are just a few examples. Essentially on Australia Day everyone is just super lazy. No flags, just sleeping in and then drinking in the afternoon with a little barbie. No big family gathering, no fireworks. Just quite time to enjoy the perks of being Australian.
4. You and Elder W- are as Me and Sister Hansen. You won’t become lifelong friends with every companion, but there are those rare gems who make missionary work turn into missionary fun. Elder W- and I are best friends and we find so much joy in the work, i have never laughed so much in my life, everything seems to be funny. I love being a missionary. Since we are best friends i filled him in on the whole story when your letter came and he thinks you are pretty cool as well.
5. You weren’t kidding about “pulling a Paul”. If I didn’t believe in guardian angels before, I sure do now! last p-day we went to the swamp during flood season and almost got eaten, if angels weren’t with us, we would of been croc chomp for sure. i have never felt the holy ghost warn me of danger so strong in my life. The water was so still and it was so quite, it was the personification of death.
or maybe this time:
We almost had another cyclone but it turned away at the last minute, but there are still two weeks till transfers so there is still a possibility for an ultimate tropical experience.
or this time:
We were standing in the emergency room for quite a while the nurse came in a took a blood sample, and I woke up on the floor with a killer headache….I FAINTED in the emergency room. I am ok though and had some good laughs, a minor cut some bruises, a small concussion and a 800$ emergency room bill for the mission. all in a days work.
6. The key to spicing up any email (or blog post) is to share embarrassing stories, lame puns, and fashion tips. one time we were calling into the assistants and was late after a long week and I was talking about the “equation for missionary success”, but I slipped and said “equation for missionary sex…” it was a bit of blunder. my companion and i laughed so hard we cried after, but the assistant didn’t even chuckle…sad guy
We also had transfers, Big brown left and my mew companion is Elder L- from Canada. He is a BYU boy, May hall. Turns out we took Chem 105 together. I think we will have the chemistry to make this companionship work….
Shoes? I thought that was only a telestial world thing. I was pretty keen on hoovering around everywhere. however if they are required, I am keen for some mean sandals with all the straps that go up your ankle.
7.You could become a motivational speaker, or write cards for Hallmark. My life is crazy right now, if the gospel wasn’t true i would be in the asylum by now. however since it is, I am loving life.
They say that the strongest soldiers fight the toughest battles, so take it as a compliment, you are the toughest missionaries.
you are a one in a dynasty type of woman. a real “sheila.” <— This is the one that I want as a Hallmark card.
I hope your week has been great and that miracles happen, remember the biggest miracle is the one that happens to yourself.
8. I’m not the only one who doesn’t have their life figured out. I’m also not the only one who would hate to spend a summer knitting, that is such a winter activity. If you are more torn than 90’s jeans than I am shredded like hull of the titanic. I am so lost, right now with my life plan. I had it all planned out and now I have so many big dreams that it is hard to make a solid plan. Are you doing summer? I am debating it because I don’t want to sit at home and knit for 4 months.
9. I thought I had a good memory, but yours puts mine to shame! this old tramp is like an elephant. I went door knocking in my first area on tradeoffs the other day and was freaking people out by remembering their names and random details about their lives….it is a blessing and a curse.
10. And this, this is fantastic. I haven’t missed a day in the journal since I left for BYU. Are you even a real human?! Dear Reader, you should know that there is nothing I treasure more than my mission journals. There are people out there who share my love for journal writing, don’t knock it ’till you try it!
If you know anyone out on a mission, send them a quick little email today and let them know that their mission has far reaching effects! (trust me, missionaries love hearing from people so don’t be shy if you aren’t really close with the person.) I know first hand that even a missionary’s email home can inspire, uplift, and promote positive change.