Tuesday, July 15, 2014

When it comes to trainers and trainees.

Recently, I had a sweet new sister missionary email me with trainer problems. Her email stated, 

"My trainer and I just aren't getting along at all...like I'm pretty sure she hates me and isn't talking to me for the past three days. I don't think I did anything but I'm just so confused and I'm just having a really hard time. Can you just pray for me? And any advice? How did you not get along with your trainer? Is it just a trainer thing and once you get past the first few months things are better. Honestly I wish the transfer was now but it's in a whole other month! Ahhh! I'm going to go crazy. I've just prayed to Heavenly Father for help and I know he will deliver and I can get through this."

My reply-

Dear sweet Sister (              ),

I am so glad you emailed me about this. Don't try and push through the tough times by yourself. First, rely on your Father in Heaven and the Atonement. Those two things are going to get you through the next month and for the rest of your life whenever times get tough. I had a strong relationship with my Heavenly Father before my mission...or so I thought. But you will never grow closer to Him then when He is the only one you can rely on and the only one to turn to. My trainer and I didn't get along from Day 1. I was SO surprised! We were very different. She didn't think the way I did. I thought that going on a mission would be the greatest adventure of my life and I had imagined myself walking alongside my companion, Book of Mormons in hand with "Called to Serve" playing in the background and dust flying behind us...Epic. But it's a bit of a wake-up call when you are first adjusting to a missionary lifestyle. I remember feeling so guilty and un-Christlike because I didn't like my companion. I was supposed to be this perfect missionary! Let me tell you right now, there is no such thing. That was one of my greatest personal struggles on the mission...not. being. perfect. I tried to be consecrated but I fell short every single time. And that is where the Savior along with His Atonement became my best friend. He made up for it all and told me again and again to stop beating myself up about it. 

So, here's what I learned from my first two transfers with my trainer:

1. We are still girls. Yes, we are set apart as full-time missionaries but we are going to have bad days...and even worse days once every month.
2. Her decisions are not my fault. Yes, we are responsible as a companionship to look out for one another but if she decides not to like me...that is her choice. 
3. Service. Try killing her with kindness. It's a great way to work on self-pride. (*Warning- this one can be the hardest to do) 
4. Focus on the work. Do everything you can to just plunge in and think of others.
5. There ARE angels around you. The unseen ARE THERE. You are never alone. 
6. Focus on the tender mercies that God WILL send to help you get through the right now. 

Remember, to those who are keeping the commandments of God and doing everything they can to do His will, He has promised that "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper". I would like to say though, that later towards the end of my mission, I was able to look back and realize that I appreciated my trainer so much. When I was the one training, I discovered that she had actually done quite a lot for me. My respect for trainers began to grow. I have never liked being told what to do and being submissive and gentle was SO HARD FOR ME when I was first being trained as a missionary. But I learned to check my temper and to pick my battles wisely. And now, I am realizing that those first few months with my trainer have prepared me for marriage and for life in general. Your mission will shape you into what God can already see and what you cannot. Be patient and live the next few weeks by WWJD. You may ask, what would Jesus do? Well, He would love your trainer and have patience with all her imperfections. Do your best to do the same. ...It will not be easy
Ask your family to put your name in the temple. Missionaries already are being prayed for in every temple that dots the earth. You are getting many prayers!  I remember well how hard it can be out there and prayers will make such a difference. I promise you that. 

Remember you are loved! 


Friday, May 30, 2014

Grateful for my hurricane.

How can I ever thank everyone for the prayers and fasting on my behalf?? 
...Can someone please tell me how? I'd really like to know.
 President Miller called me before I went in and told me that the mission would be fasting for me on Friday as I went in for my knee surgery.

This has been one darn interesting storm in the hurricane life I feel I've been living. 

What "pre-surgery fake happiness" looks like:)

What "post-surgery no chance of faking it this time" looks like:/
Now I remember why I used to joke about waiting for the Second Coming before going through another knee surgery. 

Not my cup of tea. 

Apparently, the surgery went well. My ACL was successfully reconstructed (this time using my own not so wimpy tendons, thank you very much), the shredded meniscus removed, and  I came out of anesthesia just fine...that is until I started swelling up and hives broke out over my face. ..Still haven't figured that one out. Then after coming home for a time we took a fun little midnight run to the ER 24 hours later because I couldn't seem to uh, breathe. They don't classify wheezing and straw sucking as getting in your oxygen supply these days.

Again, Not my cup of tea. 

The doctor thought there was a possibility of a blood clot in my lungs, my mom almost lost it about then. We did a cat scan and he determined instead to start me on antibiotics for bronchitis as he didn't see any clots in the scans. Bronchitis. Of course. My old friend! After loading up on more IV meds and a breathing treatment from the respiratory department, I went home. The next day the nausea patch came off...BIG mistake. I threw up for two days and could not get food or liquids down for so long we almost made a second trip to the ER. I decided pain was better than the pain pills. When it rains it sure does pour. But as President Uchtdorf reminds us all, "How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?" True that my friends. Rain is needed but can be hard to be grateful for when we don't really feel like getting wet. However, without it we wouldn't see the end results so beautifully work themselves out. 

I know I have Dr. Millar, those sweet nurses, my momma, the King of re-filling the ice machine..also known as 'Dad', BF Alli and the NMAM missionaries for helping me through this week as well as countless others who've stepped up to help make me as comfortable as possible..


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

And it's time.

What an adventure this has all been. I am so grateful to God for giving me the time I had on my mission. Those 10+ months I had, are and always will be some of the most influential of my life. I came home a different person with more eternal friends, a bigger heart and my faith has grown substantially. It has continued to grow from this experience of coming home. The past 4 months have been some of the hardest I have endured in my life but every step of the way I have had incredible support from both seen and unseen angels. The people I am surrounded with and the love that has been shown was more than I could ever have hoped for. I received the news yesterday from the missionary department that I have officially been released. I put my papers in again wanting to give it my all, and I have. My Heavenly Father let me know a long time ago I think that it was over as a full-time missionary but that there was still much missionary work ahead of me. I have seen on so many occasions how the Lord has used me here in the Burley, Idaho mission as a member missionary. My testimony has only grown stronger. I also recognize the many tender mercies that have come from being released. I would have missed seeing my little brother by only a few days if I had never come home, as he is leaving to the Kumasi, Ghana mission on July 24th. I have been able to grow closer to him and help him get ready for his own missionary service. Since coming home I have had the revelation that it was for the best in coming home. Since stepping off the plane that terrible, not so happy day I have learned to understand my body on a greater scale. It has been a long and difficult journey. I have been sick almost every day for the last four months. I have learned patience, more about the precious gift of grace and the great power in priesthood blessings from the bulging disc in my L5 to going gluten and lactose free to steroid shots in my SI joints and to the knee surgery I now face. It has been one thing after another..quite literally. I have done my best to remain positive and happy but I truly have struggled from all this chronic pain that continues to plague my once-healthy body and many nights I have layed awake asking my Heavenly Father...why? 
He answered every time..."wait." 

by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, "Wait." 

"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

"My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
Or even a 'no' to which I can resign. 

"You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply." 

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting for what?" 

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

"I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

"You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.

"You'd never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

"The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

"You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I'm doing in you.

"So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait."

I love this poem. I am always convinced by it. I am such an impatient person. What a downfall! What an area of my life in which I must grow! I want answers from God, and I want them on my terms and my time. I have found that I often learn more from the journey of waiting for the answer than I do from the answer itself. God is speaking to me. If I received the answers that I demand right now, I would never learn from the journey. One of my favorites lines in the poem is this: "But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart." I want to know the depth of the beat of His heart. That desire alone stirs something in me that says, "Emily, the wait will be worth it." I trust that God will carry me though the journey, while I wait ever longingly for His answers.

AND to top it all off...I got some awesome pictures from the mission this week. Two of my favorite missionaries, Elder Godinez and Hermana Adams doing the famous "Hermana Silva peace sign"...sigh, how I miss them...and doing my peace sign all the time.
*tender mercies in pictures


Friday, April 25, 2014

Here it is!!

...I am so proud of my little brother. He is going to be such a hard-working and diligent missionary. I know this already because I know how my big my brother's heart is. Austin has been my best-friend since age 3 and always has been such a hard working 'good-ole Idaho' boy with a good, solid testimony. I am going to miss him so much for these next two years..but if I have learned anything from my own service, it is that every hardship and every trial is worth much, much more than you will understand in this life...so surge forward and all of your losses will be made up.

Love you Tito! ...Em 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Morning traffic, motab, bagels, little brothers and zone conferences.

Good morning :) 
1 year ago today...this is what we were up to!

...Side note: For those of you who have been wondering, yes my papers have been resubmitted! But I am still waiting for an answer from the missionary department of whether they will let me back or not. I've been checking the mail every morning and still nothing but uh, this morning...somebody (aka, little brother) decided to beat me to it. 

Congratulations Elder Austin Joshua Silva! Can't wait to open it tonight!! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Introducing...Sister Ludwig.

This beautiful Easter Sunday was a special one for our family. We all left to Boise to my twin cousin's farewell. Ashley, did a tremendous job with her talk and the spirit she carried was so sweet and strong. I felt so much love for my family and felt that Grandpa was there with us. After all, he would never miss a farewell of one of his grandchildren...especially one of his granddaughters. I thought of the Atonement all day long and was brought to tears many times. The Atonement is real! I testify of that with all my heart. Our Savior lives and He will return again. He loves every child of God and he especially loves His missionaries. Sister Ludwig has made us all proud by responding to the promptings of the Lord to serve a mission. I know that she will be an incredible missionary. I have watched her grow up and she has specific talents for specific people that the Lord is planning for her to teach. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for blessing us with so many of our family missionaries out right now. Good luck Sister Ludwig!

What a beautiful sister missionary she is going to make!

The twins and I have grown up together and I can't believe we've reached this point in our lives! 
So proud of these two amazing women in my life. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I'm calling it providential.

Like many of you, conference was definitely on the agenda for the weekend. So Alli and my awesome cousin Chazz drove up with me and we stayed with the Sorensen family Saturday night while planning on going to a Sunday session. The Sorensen's are my friend Heidi's family, who happens to be in Australia on her mission right now. We were so excited to stop in and see them. Several conferences ago it was at their house with Heidi, that I first heard the announcement that would tweak my plans and ultimately end up changing my life. It was so great to see them all again, but we definitely missed Heids being there.

These guys are FUN. One of a kind family.

This is where it starts getting providential for me. Cindy, is the best "doctor" I've talked to since being home I think. I mean of course, I've had some great doctors who I am beyond grateful for, but Heavenly Father led me to Cindy's home for a reason this week. And I am going to recognize this as a HUGE blessing from Him instead of calling it coincidence. This terrific mom gave me so many ways to improve some of my health problems because she and Heidi have been through some of the same things I've been pushing through. 
God bless the Sorensens. 

Anyways, Chazz, Alli and I had a terrific weekend enjoying each other's company, jokes and of course enjoying the Spirit of Conference like I'm sure you all did. I've missed Temple Square since being on my mission. The Spirit is almost like being in the MTC again.  

Then it just got CRAZY!...

 Meet my adorable cousin Sister Victoria Silva who is serving in the Salt Lake City mission. I didn't expect to see her at temple square though and especially with that sea of people. God led us to each other and somehow helped her recognize the back of my head! Seriously...she's good, especially since I just dyed my hair and it was in a bun. How she recognized me, I'll never know.
Silva cousins:) 

And then...I turn around and recognize Uncle Peter and Tia Tina...MORE Silva family! 

Call it providential, God-given, heaven-sent or all the above. But it was my weekend miracle. 


I think my Heavenly Father may really love me...
I saw 4 people from my mission! 
Including Hermana Reza who used to come out with me in Albuquerque to our lessons. 
We have now switched places wearing those name tags. 
But...both of us have always been and always will be missionaries for our Savior, Jesus Christ.


If you didn't have the opportunity to watch General Conference this week you can watch it here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Call from Carmen.

My sweet friend Carmen that Sister Biancardi and I taught in Horizon City called me recently to see how I was doing and made my entire week. Best. Feeling. Ever. when an old investigator calls you. 

How I love the people I have taught on my mission, 
for they were the ones who actually taught me. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Procedure #2 done...and hoping for NO more :)

Thursday morning we took yet another trip to Boise to meet up with Dr. Harris at the Intermountain surgery center. Procedure #1 with only 5 shots in the spine wasn't so bad but since it didn't seem to work very well for me, he decided it best that we turn up the volume a little for Procedure #2...I was so completely nervous. I thought about it apprehensively all week long... 
This smile is a total lie. A total lie my friends.

This is REALLY how I was feeling.
 I started getting super nervous, which I've never had a problem with needles or anything before, but 
I looked at my mom with this kind of look like "get me out of here". I have no idea what my face looked like to her but she immediately got up and found a nurse to get me some Valium haha. They had told me not to eat or drink before the procedure which led me to believe that they'd put me out. Anyways, it turned out that they left me conscious and ended up turning up the volume with 25 plus shots in my SI joints, with so many steroids that my body is now beyond  jittery. It's so hard to sleep...I think I need more Valium haha. I've been sore for a few days but feeling some improvements! Finally. We are a step in the right direction. I still have an epidural to go in my L5 vertebrae to look forward to though. I've had more doctor appointments than I would care to admit in just this last month and have been put on even more and more medication. My body seems to be having so many side-complications and is so darn weak.. so, I've taken to walking by the river as MUCH as I possibly can. 

My goal now, is to not feel like I'm 90 years old. :)
wish me luck.

Friday, February 14, 2014


...my new best friend. 

Apparently walking around with a protonics machine attached to your leg...helps your lower back????? 
Since I am so "twisted" the therapist is doing everything he can to straighten me back out again. Therefore somehow strengthening my ham strings will help balance out my left torn ACL and THAT is supposed to help me do all that un-twisting my body just keeps doing. 
So along with this now, I'll just keep trusting in the Lord and taking pain pills :) 

Note: awkward can be at a whole new level with this thing.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

One year past.

For me it's hard to imagine, but this week on February 6th, I woke up and realized I'd hit my year mark. Nothing much to celebrate but its bizarre to look back and realize a year has past and gone already. I know they say this often but,

where has the time gone? 

When I left to the MTC, (craziest day of my life) I knew my purpose and had these words in my heart...
and a year later I still do, just with a lot more memories attached to it. 

"It may not be o'er the mountain height or over the stormy sea. It may not be at the battle's front, my Lord will have need of me. But if by a still small voice He calls, to paths that I do not know, I'll answer dear Lord with my hand in thine, I'll go where you want me to go. I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord. O'er mountain, or plane or sea. I'll say what you want me to say dear Lord, I'll be what you want me to be.
Perhaps there are loving words that Jesus would have me speak. There may be some in the paths of sin some wanderer whom I should seek. Oh Savior, if thou wilt be my Guide, tho dark and rugged the way. My voice shall echo thy message sweet, I'll say what you want me to say. I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord, o'er mountain or plane or sea. I'll say what you want me to say dear Lord, I'll be what you want me to be. There's surely somewhere a lowly place in earth's harvest fields so white, where I may labor in life's short day for Jesus the Crucified. So trusting my all to thy tender care, and knowing thou lovest me, I'll do thy will with a heart sincere. 
I'll be what you want me to be."

 Best moment of my life up to par. Putting on that tag is terribly awesome. 

I got an email from some of my favorite missionaries who are serving in the Monterrey/Puebla Mexico missions this week saying hello and reminding me of our MTC anniversary. 
Eternal friends are made in the Missionary Training Center.
I miss District B all the time. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

An almost perfect day in Brigham City.

I had an almost perfect day in Brigham City yesterday. 
We ran out of gas and got stuck in traffic and I may have thrown up the entire way home but it was so worth every not-so-fun moment for all those wonderful ones in between. I can't tell you how much fun it was to walk into that sealing room and see my missionary friends from NMAM (and yes, my shortness is more than evident here). (Elder) Jackson Eaton looked so darn happy with his beautiful bride sitting next to him and my good friends (Elders) Lincoln Baliff, Dallas Turnbow and David Steffensen were all there to celebrate the day too. I felt like I was back in MLC for a moment haha, (just missing the tags and President) but oh how it was fun. So. stinkin. fun. to catch up with them all and to be a part of that special day! What a sweet spirit we all felt there in the House of the Lord during our 'mini-reunion' of sorts. 
Missing ALL of my missionary friends from the Albuquerque, New Mexico mission. 
...Hermana Silva

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Every Minion a Missionary.

I've been so darn blessed to have been given the opportunity to get to know and work with so many awesome missionaries since I've been home. I've gone out with the Hermanas from the Rupert branch here locally and then I also go with the Elders from Paul 1st ward each week on Thursday to a part-member family's house who are progressing towards baptism! I've become such good friends with them and love seeing them come to church. I also met up with these two sweet sisters in Idaho Falls when I was up a few weeks ago. Have I ever told you that I LOVE the Lord's servants?! They are such hard workers and ever dedicated to our Father's great purpose. I try and go out with them whenever my body will let me. It is the BEST feeling to be able to share my testimony in the setting of someone's living room again and again. You don't realize how much you miss it until you don't do it as often as you used to...as in every. single. day. Missionary work is something that anyone can do! We all have a part in this marvelous work and wonder. All we need is...a testimony and love in our hearts.

 "Regardless of our age, experience or station in life, we are all missionaries." -Elder David A. Bednar 

I earnestly, earnestly pray that we will be ready and willing in heart, might, mind and strength as members of the true Church of Jesus Christ in these Latter Days to lend a helping hand in this work as we fulfill our baptismal covenant and work along side, shoulder to shoulder, smile to smile with His full-time servants in His vineyard for the last time. Don't Miss Out! 


And can I just please take this opportunity to include yet another sidenote about how much I dearly love and miss my sweet companion?????? She is a fantastic missionary. One of the most obedient missionaries I ever knew. And just look what she sent me this week?!! Just what I needed. 
Where she found this I have NO idea.

Re-living good "mish" memories through videos this week...

One of my favorites: Sister Adams "trying" to do a heel click Sister Missionary style. Someday she's gonna kill me for posting this. :) 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

If Life We're Easy It Wouldn't Be Hard.

So I've made a decision to continue blogging my recovery process. I feel that this entire experience/challenge is a part of God's mission He has given to me. And I don't want to miss a thing, so that later I can look back and be grateful for these times past and for what I have learned. 

Although, working towards a full-recovery is not exactly eassssssyyyyy. 

May I just point out all of those dreaded little red tags on pretty much every medication of mine that reads, "May cause dizziness and/or drowsiness"NOT fun. I feel like I just sleep allllllllllllllllll of the time. Sleep, get up and try to eat something, sleep, eat and then sleep again. Although sometimes, if I'm lucky, I make it out to Walmart! ;)
I feel as weak as a newborn.

Just call me- "Pill-popper" :P
I hate being dependent on medication...but I guess I'm grateful for them too.
I'm also grateful for brilliant physical therapists, doctors and healing angels.

So, Diagnosis: Ummm...right. Where to begin? All I know is I've worked with like 6 specialists now (some in NM and now here) and they've all had different theories and opinions. What we've been able to basically figure out is that my L5 vertebrae is bulged (some kind of disc disease) that's also slipped in the lumbar region of my spine and that I have SI joint problems going on as well in my pelvis. My ligaments are inflamed like crazy from sitting down so much in the field on a malformed SI structure. And so we are now working on re adjusting my body back to it's normal and original "sphere". However, we have also discovered during this whole process that because it went on for so long, it has thrown my entire body structure off, meaning my ribs are at a 54/32 and so I'm getting less oxygen to one side of my body.
Back problems cause all kinds of problems.
The doctor calls me, "twisted" haha. And he's right.

I had my first round of injections last week...talk. about. sore. I tried not to be a baby but I'm pretty sure I made the arthritis in my momma's sweet hand worse. It was a series of 5 different shots in my spine and I feel like it made a difference but not enough. I still can't sit down for more than 5-10 minutes without pain. It looks like we'll be back for round 2 in the near future.

As for right now we are in the middle of some intense physical therapy.
Mom came with me today to see what they've been "doing" to me the last several therapy appointments...
She discovered it's not always pain-free...(haha it looks like I'm laughing...yeah, I'm not)
But I have an awesome team of therapists who the moment I walked in their center asked me, 
"Ok, so what's the goal?" 
"To get back out."
..."Ok, let's do it!" 

They are my angels.
Learning how to re-sit all over again. 
I can't tell you how complicated the human body is, ugh! 
You have to sit juuuust exactly right or everything gets out of place.

If life we're easy, it just wouldn't be hard, now would it? 
(by the way, very much enjoying Sheri Dew's advice on this subject right now...great book.)

I wanted to share with you my first day in the field story to illustrate this very point. I never really talked about it too much before this but it was, for me quite honestly...one of the hardest days I have ever had to endure (in comparison with the day I came home). Which was weird because I had never, ever imagined myself being anything but happy, happy, happy my first day arriving to my mission. But it was anything but. However I learned from that day, the privilege of wading through the trial and paying the price to become better acquainted with God.

This is the beginning of my journal entry on that loverly first day..

"Ok. sluuuurrrred day. First day went something like this: Got back to dorm room late, coughed ALL night, got 30 minutes of sleep, coughed some more, got up at 4:30 am to make it to the bus on time, dragged my heavy heavy bags all by myself all the way to the bus, no breakfast, hugged my MTC roomies goodbye one last time, boarded bus, quietly cried on bus in the dark, arrived to SLC airport, security check, desperate plea to my Father in Heaven to help me last the day, called home from airport, sobbed the moment I heard my momma's voice, cried with her for a wonderful 20 minutes, forced to hang up, boarded rickety flight, arrived feeling more than disoriented, tried to smile and pretend I was ok, tears threatening to burst, first glimpse of President and Sister Miller, too many missionaries everywhere, picture outside temple, rushed to the church, lunch, first tracting experience, training all day long, I can't remember any of what they just told me, personal interview, testimony meeting with lots of people I don't know, dinner, REALLY going to burst out sobbing by this point, taken to random stranger's house, given bed and pillow...don't remember anything after that." 

The doctors in the MTC told me after doing X-rays of my lungs that I had a bad case of bronchitis, threatening to turn into pneumonia. They got me on antibiotics but only a few short days before I was scheduled to leave. It was only because of my pleadings that they let me leave. I had been confined to my dorm room for a week it seemed and I just didn't want to have to stay longer than needed there. Plus all of my dear missionary friends were leaving. A new group was coming in. I just wanted to get to my mission. Except I couldn't breathe. I felt like I was breathing out of a straw. The doctors hesitantly signed my release form and I was on a plane the next day. However, what I was not expecting was to get the call that Grandpa had bone cancer and only had a few short weeks to live. He passed away just a few days before I flew out. The day I left to the mission field was the day of his viewing. I was grieving...by myself. I was devastated. There was hope in the Atonement yes. I had an unfailing testimony of the great Plan of Salvation. But I was numb. I was hurting. My sweet Grandpa had just  stood in the circle to set me apart only weeks before! He was always so physically fit. The last of my grandparents I ever expected to go first. I felt a little shell-shocked and yet here I was throwing myself into a new culture, new way of living, new language, new everything. It was almost too much. (Actually at times it was...but I had help now that I look back). But I stretched. God stretched me. My empathy for others grew. Things are supposed to be hard! Because we grow tremendously! The Lord sent His angels to minister unto me during those first few weeks. I was surprisingly able to remain cheerful through it all. I had spiritual experience after spiritual experience it seemed. Strength came out of nowhere. I wish I could have seen "the behind the scenes" to it all. I know Grandpa checked in on me often. I was able to lose my sorrow as I concentrated on the work and truly forget about me. That's why I have grown to adore service. It forces you to think about everyone but you. I like taking a break from myself now and again, ya know?

That first day was a kicker...but I wouldn't change a thing about it.

A few weeks later, Sister Miller called me into President's office and told me that a new sister who had just arrived had just found out her grandmother had passed away that very day. I was able to go in with her and talk with her and just cry with her. It's amazing how God teaches you hard things so that you can in turn be there to listen to someone else and to actually  have the capacity to understand.
God puts you where He wants you.

I'm learning to...Be Firm in the Fire.

                                                       My heart still wants to smurf :) 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Comin' Home..

This is taking every ounce of my courage to post this for some reason. This isn't easy for me. 
But...I feel strongly that this can help someone else. I didn't realize the percentage statistics of missionaries who come home early until today. This post is for them. %%%

-So I got up that morning, (without much sleep in my system, I mean, how can you sleep when all this is happening??) we picked up the Panorama Heights Sisters and drove, faster than I would have liked to the mission home...well, but then again I had a plane to catch. President was waiting. I snapped one last picture of the Sandias and kept the tears back as best as I could. Which was, not. "This. Isn't. Happening. At least.. Not. To. Me. This happens to other missionaries, but not to me."  Reality hit me hard, as real as the pain I'd been feeling for months now. I was actually getting on a plane. A plane to Idaho. Suddenly I hated Idaho. It was the most ironic thought that's probably ever entered my mind. That I could actually hate Idaho...Home. My home. Let it be known to all now...I'm proud of Idaho. I am a country girl and ask any one of my companions and they'll tell you how much I love being from that potato growing, hard working, humble community of a place. But all of a sudden I disliked every bit of that place. I wasn't ready. One question that we often plague ourselves with as imperfect human beings, kept running through my mind that morning. The classic "Why me?" "...What have I done to deserve this? I have tried all my life to be good, why has this happened to me? If I had done something different? If I had been more righteous maybe? Does the promise of Ephraim not apply to me anymore?
You see, I thought I had tried. Tried real hard. But it hadn't been enough.

The thoughts start hitting you then at rapid speed. Almost more than you can handle at first. Your minds on fire. You start thinking things like, "What will my family think? What will my friends think? What will my stake president and my bishop think about all of this? I just can't show my face on Sunday to the ward. Will anybody understand? This is going to ruin my whole dream of a nice homecoming. (I guarantee at some point, every missionary has thought about that day getting on the plane and rushing into their family's arms). But it's not supposed to happen yet. Not like this. This feels all wrong now. I might have to have surgery...I hate surgery. Will I get to come back? How can I just leave my companion...we've been struggling in this area as it is. Not exactly the best send off. This just had to happen RIGHT NOW?! Seriously Father...GREAT timing. What about all these sweet sisters? I'm supposed to be taking care of them. And why on earth will they not let me extend? They used to do that all the time! I feel like I've been sick my entire mission. Why is God letting this happen? This. Is. NOT. Fair.

Then again, when is life E.V.E.R. fair?

You feel sad and then angry. And then sad again...and then angry...again and again. It's one big cycle.
And then you just feel guilty. Guilt. Guilt becomes the new out-breaking epidemic to your life. And would you like to know who's behind it all? You guessed it. Satan. He hates missionaries. If you've ever served a full-time mission you know this. He comes at you with every day, every success, every baptism. He hates you and he hates those wonderful people you teach. But with the shield of faith you can win. You're endowed with power and you're set apart from the world to teach. God never leaves you alone in this work. The Savior works hand in hand with His missionaries. He loves you so much. He will always pull through for you. It's His vineyard and you work for Him.
But all of a sudden the tag is coming off. I'm not officially working for Him anymore. "No. No. No. I'm NOT this strong. I absolutely love my mission. I have wanted to serve for soooo long now. It's never even crossed my mind that this situation could be a possibility. I have been serving in the best mission in the world (every missionary should say this)!! I love getting up every morning and putting this tag over my heart. I love all of these missionaries here. I love being a missionary. Being His servant. Am I now failing Him?"

"Pain and illness, can test the best of us."

If I have learned anything from this experience it is definitely empathy. Empathy for every missionary who has had to come home, whether it is because of rule infractions, health issues or emotional struggles. I feel for them more deeply then I ever would have before. In fact, I hate to admit this but I have always judged missionaries who come home early or those who don't even decide to go in the first place. Missions are hard. But in my mind it didn't matter how hard it gets out there, you just stick it out. But after having served for over 10 months my perspective has shifted just a tad bit. Having a healthy mentality is crucial if you are to serve a mission.

This article from Deseret News may help you to understand better.
Missionaries Struggling to Manage Stress
"Let's say you are someone who can handle a stress level of seven, and you live your life at a stress level of six by going to your room and listening to your iPod or going to the gym or playing Xbox or whatever you do to handle stress." "Then you add a new stress or rigor to your life. How many kids have worked a 13-hour day? They get above a level seven, and they don't know how to get back to a six."

I'll be the first to say that some days are just plain hard. It gets pretty stressful. And everyone is different and we all handle stress so differently. As a Sister Training Leader I saw sisters go home for a multitude of reasons. It was always so heartbreaking for me to see. However I also saw Elders and Sisters who stayed and worked hard despite their personal challenges.
These missionaries are my heroes.
I love them for having the strength and stamina to trust in the Lord and continue in His service. And even with sometimes having to deal with severe tragedy like a death in the family. It is no easy task. I lost my own sweet grandfather after only being out for 3 weeks, still in the MTC. I can specifically remember one particular Elder who's mother passed away right before his mission. He was one of the happiest and hardest working missionaries I knew out there. Some people can handle things well. Others, not so much. Tragedy. It's a shock to the system as it is, but out in the field, well...it stinks. It can take quite a toll on a full-time missionary who is subject to severe and constant change and is having to deal with everything all new and at fast speed. A mission will stretch you emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually, with everything else in between. The big 4 necessary keys to surviving. That's why being positive and cheerful is a must. If not, then you will endure your mission rather than enjoy it. Not every missionary who comes home, comes home for the right reasons. However, my empathy has deepened for them of what they go through.

Ok. Off the soap box.

There IS a happy

 to this story.

All those above questions...answered. Well, most of them.

-We got to the mission office and the outpouring of love began. From both God's earthly angels and His angels unseen. My sweet Mission President and his dear wife who had become parent-like figures to me those last several hard-working months couldn't have been kinder. The members I had been living with were incredible as well. Sister Laws took my face in her hands and said, "You, Sister Silva, are braver than you think." My eyes rarely were empty of tears the rest of that day. I made my farewells to those who I had grown to love so much. Including my companion.
Drove to the airport. Checked in luggage. Printed boarding pass. Told President I absolutely hated this. He told me to instead, positively envision him picking me up in a few short months. Walked down the terminal, waving my last goodbyes and boarded one of the worst flights of my life (no matter how smooth and lacking in turbulence it was). I wasn't going to be wearing the tag for much longer. Didn't feel much like eating anything so instead of stopping for lunch in between flights I decided to give out all my pass-along cards. The well-developed inner missionary in me talked to everyone I could in the airport and on board the next two flights. God gave me that day, more spiritual experiences then I could have ever asked for on a usual given day. One particular stewardess I met sat in the back with me and she and I became good friends as we talked about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There was only a few weeks until Christmas (talk about bittersweet) and so as I turned to leave I stopped the stewardess and said, "This is the best gift that I can give you for Christmas." I explained the card and the website and told her there was a number on back to call if she had any questions. I will never forget the look in her eyes as I exited that plane. She had felt something. Something familiar. I love that look. I wanted to cry from joy and cry from anguish all at the same time as I would not be doing this on a regular basis anymore.
Flying into Twin Falls through heavy snow was terrible. One lady was so happy for me as we landed saying, "Oh look! We have a missionary on board who's coming home. How fun. I can't wait to see you reunite with your family!" I think I would have probably corrected her if it hadn't been for the cry threatening to burst from my tangled-up throat. But this is where I really started to feel God's love for me. The confirmation that I was to come home at this time in my life from perhaps the best decision I had ever made came a full 100% before I even walked down the plane's stairs. I can honestly say a FULL 100%. Not that I had all the answers in front of me or anything. No angel had appeared and explained the reason for all this. I just knew that this was part of His specific plan for me. I don't think I could have handled coming home without that blessed confirmation delivered to me by the Spirit. I had pondered my scriptures and various general conference addresses all day long and had decided to read my Patriarchal Blessing right before we had landed. The revelation that came from what I read didn't stop every pain and every fear I was feeling but the comfort most certainly came. God's hand was not stayed. He had been with me all day. Angels surrounded me. I felt it. This was only a small moment in time. I was to triumph over all foes. "To be victorious." I was a daughter of God. My name wasn't and isn't Job. I realized then that the Savior is the ultimate healer. A healer of all things. And I qualified for His help. The Atonement was never so real to me then in that moment. All was well in Zion. My heart had been prepared for this I suddenly discovered. God had strengthened me and would continue to do so.

 "The Lord always suits the relief to the person in need to best strengthen and purify them." -President Henry B. Eyring

And He had done just that. I got off that plane with renewed hope as I realized that great blessings come from great adversity...despite the cost. I saw my mom's red hair through the window then and without too much detail, we had a tearful reunion of very mixed feelings but the love was so evidently felt in that small airport. I have not felt judged one whit this entire time as I have been home recovering (except by myself).
I ache for missionaries who do feel judged by others, for I have never been so grateful to have such loving parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, my precious ward family, fellow missionaries and dearest of friends. They have called and sent flowers. They have held my hands in theirs and have looked into my eyes and have said, "Don't you let Satan in. Don't you let his lies get inside your head. You are so loved. You've done nothing wrong." Agh! These people are so wonderful here. I feel loved. I don't hate Idaho anymore. Perhaps I never did. This I do know though...
New Mexico still has my heart. 
It is my greatest desire to return to the work I so dearly love but it's (literally) one step and one day at a time. It really is, all in the Lord's timing. I'm learning to pass every test. I'm learning to keep the faith. I'm learning to rise through every trial.

Just because I'm home does NOT mean I've lost my testimony. In fact, it's been doubly strengthened.
I now am trying to practice what I have been preaching from the pulpit.
I'm now a member missionary! I do what my body will allow me to do of course but I can't tell you what a joy it is to accompany the Hermanas from the Spanish branch here (who I love oh so much) and the Elders occasionally to visit part-member families. I've also had the opportunity to speak at a baptism and to share my testimony with many. I still force my dad to turn the car around so I can give pass-along cards to people on the street. And I find time every morning to do my studies. I feast on the scriptures as often as I can. This is how I acquire my much needed spiritual therapy.
As for the physical therapy...My next appointment is on Friday :)
My body is taking it's sweet time to heal and I have some bad and some good days. I still feel at the depths of despair occasionally but every time I go down, I'm lifted up with a tender mercy to withstand the storm. Whether it's the Hermanas calling to check up on me, a cupcake from my best friend, an old Elder from my mission stopping by to visit, a visit to the temple, a perfect letter, message or thoughtful package sent from a close-friend missionary from my mission, a phone call from President, a proud look shot my way by dad or just a big hug from my mom. God is mindful of His precious children. You are cherished. You are prayed for. How indebted I am to Him! How I cannot wait to return full-time to His service (even if that means serving with my husband someday). And to return to His ever-waiting arms again.

Been home for a month now.
And how grateful I am for Mosiah 15:17. (Thanks Lincoln Baliff for that one)

printable lds general conference quotes - april 2013 | icreate...with love