So as most of you could probably tell, I've been struggling here recently on my mission. I was pretty certain, though, that all I wanted to do was tough it out and serve the entirety of my mission. I was just going to grit my teeth and trudge on through. I felt like doing otherwise would be considered weak, so I wasn't even considering any other options.
My companions are really supportive, and Sister Joslin mentioned to me that I'm really not at peace as I am. I was pushing through at the cost of my own health, and even then, I still felt like all I was doing was dragging my companions down. It didn't feel like I was actually contributing anything to the mission, if anything, I was holding it back, so it wasn't like I was actually accomplishing any sort of great feat out here. Maybe that's just the adversary talking, but that's how I've been feeling. Sister Joslin mentioned to me that I shouldn't just not consider the option of going home. It wasn't giving up, really. And then my companions brought up the option of serving a service mission. I was thinking about it, but I still just couldn't seem to allow myself to accept that option.
Well, this last Sunday was fast Sunday, so I was fasting and praying. Then on Wednesday, I went to the temple. And I was praying about what I should do. And you know what? I felt peace. Peace that what I've given so far has been a sacrifice that is acceptable in the sight of the Lord. Peace that I've learned what I came here to learn. And peace that it's ok for me to go home now.
All I ask is for your support. I don't want you to be disappointed in me. I don't want you to convince me that I should stay on my mission, because I assure you that I've thought through all the worries, all the possibilities, and all the implications of the decision. This isn't an easy way out. If anything, choosing to go home is harder because I have to very suddenly figure out what I'm going to do with my life, and I really have no clue what to do.
The important part is I'm not giving up. No. I'm not just copping out because things got too hard. On the contrary, I love my companions. I love my area. This has been my best time I've had on my mission. And yet I still continue to struggle. As President Uchtdorf said, there are no endings. Only interruptions and new beginnings. I don't plan to end my mission just because I'm going home to Washington.
I also compare this experience to Abraham and Isaac, or to Zion's Camp. With Abraham, he was asked to sacrifice his only son. I'm sure Abraham was thinking the whole way up the mountain, "Do I really have to do this, Lord? Are you really going to make me follow through with this?" But the important part was that even though it was hard, he was still willing to do it. And the Lord didn't stop him until he was about to swing the knife. With me, I kept thinking, "Do I really have to serve my whole mission? Is this really what you want me to do?" and the answer I got was, "Yes, it is," and so I was pushing myself to do so and had committed myself to follow through, but now I've received the answer that it's not necessary, God was just seeing if I was willing to follow through.
And then I brought up Zion's Camp. Early on in the church, the saints in Missouri were going through strong oppression, so Joseph Smith received the revelation that they needed to go to Missouri and "Redeem Zion." So they organized a large group of men in Ohio and started to march towards Missouri, and on the way, they had a miserable journey filled with contention and problems. But they also saw many miracles. Then, when they were almost at their destination, Joseph Smith received the revelation that they needed to turn around and go home. A lot of people questioned why they had to go on the journey when they didn't even finish what they came to do, but they learned that the journey was there to refine them. I started my mission, I had problems, I saw miracles, and I'm now choosing to turn around and go home. But I would never take back the experiences I've had, because they refined me and allowed me to grow.
Anyway, I've been thinking long and hard about this. And I am at peace with my decision. I'm going to see my mission president later this week and talk to him. I'm not sure exactly when I'm going home. It could be next week, it could be three weeks from now. That's part of what I'm going to discuss with President Murdock. Thank you all for being supportive and understanding and for helping me on this journey. Thank you. I love you.
~Sister Richelle Jones