Five years ago today was the first day of my mission. I entered three days shy of my 21st birthday, an eager girl, ready to take on the world and all its problems.
(LDS girls can choose to serve an 18 month mission when they are 21 or older. They are assigned to an area of the world to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and serve the less fortunate. I was assigned to Argentina, Resistencia.)
Serving a mission was never much of a choice for me. I had always wanted to do it, and I always knew I would. When my 21st birthday rolled around I said goodbye to my studies, my friends, and my boyfriend (I mean, come on, someone had to clear the path for Hubs!) and shipped out to Argy. The months and weeks leading up to my departure I was stoked out of my mind. I told everyone I wasn't scared. Are you kidding? Not me. No way. This is is the adventure of a lifetime, stop wasting my time with that sappy stuff!
it wasn't until I had said goodbye to my family that I realized I might be in over my head. Suddenly I was afraid. Afraid that I had made a commitment I couldn't keep. I sobbed uncontrollably my first three nights. Just crawled up in that bunk bed, and when I was sure the other girls were asleep I bawled into the loving arms of my pillow. I was sure I had made a mistake. A year and a half was just too long to go without seeing friends and family. Who was I kidding? Argentina? Spanish? Third world? I was just some little blonde girl who thought she had a lot of spunk but was really no more than a lot of talk. I remember wondering those first three nights if I'd made a terrible mistake. Could I go back home now? What would I say? "Um... yah... I changed my mind. Wasn't really working out..."
The first few months of my mission I prayed so hard that time would go by quickly so that I could go home. The only thing that seemed to console me was that I had never met a missionary who had been stuck on his mission forever. Everyone I had ever known who had served a mission had come home from that mission. Surely that meant I would come home too.
And then it was eighteen months later.
The night before I left my last area, Christmas Eve 2008, I remember lying on the roof next to my companion (100+ degrees in December), watching the crazy Argentinian fireworks and trying to take it all in. I thought of all the people I had met, the experiences I'd had, the lessons I'd learned. What if I hadn't come at all? What if that first night in my bunk I had called on home and said "Hey. I changed my mind. This isn't for me. If it's okay with you, I think I'd like to just go on living my life how it was- studying, hanging out with loser boys, having a constant party with my roommates."
I was so thankful that night for 20 year old Bonnie. The Bonnie who had wanted to go home but didn't. The Bonnie that was scared and homesick and nervous and had absolutely no idea how great the next year and a half would be. If 22 year old Bonnie could say anything to that weepy, 20 year old Bonnie it would be "Thank you. Thank you for staying." And if 20 year old Bonnie could have any of the knowledge that 22 year old Bonnie had, I don't think 20 year old Bonnie would be crying. Not a teardrop.
It makes me think about everything that God has in store for us in our lives. How many things there are that we want to run away from, or that we don't understand, but that will hold for us countless blessings if we see them through. Sometimes I want so badly to see the end from the beginning, to know what the purpose is of the trials, the work, the refining...
And it makes me wonder...
What does 31 year old Bonnie know?
What does 55 year old Bonnie know?
What does 72 year old Bonnie know?
|The day I left on my mission. I know I have pictures of the whole family saying goodbye to me, but I can't find them ANYWHERE!|
|December 27, 2008.|