A Day in My {Missionary} Life: Last Sunday

This morning (01.27.13), I went to missionary correlation meeting. I could write a post about the meeting itself (we have 3 sets of missionaries and 1 senior couple serving in our area--only 1 of those 4 sets serving in our ward boundaries is assigned to native English speakers...awesome!), but my post is about that last Sunday.

Today was one of our Elders' last Sunday as a full-time missionary for the Church. He has been in our ward for 4 months (serving the Nepali people) but has made the difference of much longer. In 3 days he will be back home. As he shared his final bits of wisdom and testimony with those of us in the meeting, I was overwhelmed with the feelings I remember from my last Sunday as a full-time missionary in Portugal.

I remember the emotions of that day like it was last week. We had 5 baptisms planned for that afternoon. One of them actually happened, and was a beautiful gathering. My heart was over-saturated with emotions--the most intense kind of joy mixed with the most intense kind of sadness.

Unfortunately, I did not write down paragraphs of journal entries about that emotional day (or week), but I did write down highlights  (and a few quotes from goodbyes from members) on orange post it notes that I stuck in my  journal...convinced that I would make time to embellish and record at some later date.*

Post-it Note List from January 4, 2004 

"No water, then: cold water--called Gaia 2...AMAZING testimony meeting
Julia, Carlos, Edite & Jorge, 
Tears, pics, rides, Gaia 2 Martins Fam
Dressed Pics, ,Start, 
Rui Braga : "dia especial... tribute to Sister Jackson"
baptism-wow. Testimonies from Josely & Janiny
Nuno Corte-Real "Don't worry about Fa. Gomes-you did your part"
Rui Braga: "I feel the Savior has accepted your work"
Bispo: "Look around--Carlos, Julia, Janiny, Josely."
Carlos: "I'll never leave--you've done your work--continue on your work won't finish here."
Julia: "You are perfect. Everything you do--thank you."

Swarmed! I'm exhausted. Must pack."

Notes today (upon reading these post-it notes for the first time in 10 years)

1. I had forgotten that we had to re-locate to the other ward  building for Janiny's baptism. That clarifies my confusion--I do remember it but did not recall why we weren't at the Gaia 1 building. Also, I imagine that made the mix of emotions even more explosive since all of the expectations were being thrown out the at a time.

2. On the post it note for the Friday night before, dramatically & unfortunately, all I wrote down was "HELL". I know exactly what happened that night but I don't remember very many details. I can tell you that it was one of the top most heart-wrenching experiences of my entire life. A very dear family that I had been teaching and loving for months, and who was scheduled to be baptized on my last Sunday, decided that it was not what they wanted and asked me to leave their home. I remember crying as we discussed their feelings, on our walk home, on my phone call with the mission president, and much of that night. My love for them and the gospel was overwhelming and their rejection was equally so. I probably scared my companion, honestly. I hope she has forgotten more of the details from that night than I have.

3. My tears that Sunday were for the sweet family that I was missing but also for the missing I was already feeling for these beautiful, inspiring, lovely, incredible people that I had been learning and serving with. I had been in that same area for almost 10 months, and I would be leaving the very  next day. It was like saying goodbye to family.

4. I did forget about the special event of having a baptism on my last day and the energy of everyone sharing their memories, love, well wishes, and encouragement with me. I remember now. I felt so blessed to have one last gathering with those who had seen me grow, those who had served with  me, those who had learned as I taught, those who had fed me meals of soup and squid, those who had prayed for my success in finding people who were searching for truth. I am so grateful now to have that day as a balm for the hurt that I had been feeling that weekend before.

5. Janniny & Josely are sisters from Brazil. Sister T & I met and taught Josely during our first month together, and she was baptised with a strong conviction and love for the Savior. Within another month, she had moved to France and we didn't know how to find her. We called, visited her old apartment, and tried everything to get in touch with her. On some random walk on a sidewalk near the chapel, we got a phone call from Josely--she told us where she was and what she was doing. She said she would return. She did, and our visits were sporadic due to an overpowering aunt. At some later point, she introduced us to her sister, Janniny. Josely was there on my last Sunday and Janniny was baptized. I have lost track of these two beautiful sisters, but they come to my mind sometimes and I say a little prayer for them. Meeting with them, laughing with them, and learning with them are some of the brightest highlights of my missionary experience.

6. My last Sunday was wild. There were obstacles to climb over and challenges to put in their place. Testimonies were shared, compliments were graciously given, and goodbyes were whispered. The day was intense-- unique and appropriately culminating of all of the many variations of emotions a missionary will experience. I love that the sweetness of Janniny's baptism swallowed my sorrowing heart. I love that the members took the time to share with me their love. I love that it wasn't a perfect day but it was a blessed one. I love that many of my friendships from that time are still strong and uplifting. I love that I was given the opportunity to serve with all of my "heart, might, mind, & strength".

Sis. S, Janniny, Sis. J (moi), Josely {Last Sunday 01.04.2004}

*Let this be a lesson to us all: post it notes are better than nothing, but taking some time to write down details that you think you will  never forget is the only way you will, actually, never forget them.

A Day in My {Missionary} Life Series: Revisiting memories from my missionary adventures in Portugal--one day at a time. This year marks 10 years since I returned from my fast-paced, emotion-packed missionary life. I'll be sharing photos from my cheap camera, paragraphs from my tattered missionary journals, and bringing to life some of the memories that, while bright in my heart, are becoming dim in my mind. 

No comments: