While growing up as a young man in the LDS church, the phrase "the best two years" is thrown around as something to look forward to accomplishing. Serving a mission is something you plan for as a youth, never really expecting the time to arrive.
Naturally, it does.
"The best two years" usually begin shortly after your nineteenth birthday and logically shouldn't end anytime before your twenty-first. Usually.
This past friday marked the one-year anniversary of the beginning of my "best two years." Unfortunately, I only made it eight months.
I thought this week would be one of the hardest weeks of my life.
Monday: I was working the drive-thru at Wells Fargo Bank in Riverton. I was doing fine until a car full of five missionaries came through to cash a check. It was difficult for me to speak to them, but I had to ask one of them for his ID. Their smiles and the way they carried themselves took me back to my months spent in Belgium. Back to my "best two years." I haven't cried since my farewell, but that moment was the closest I have come to shedding a few.
The next day, Tuesday, was much, much worse.
Tuesday: My cousin Michael was getting set apart as a full-time missionary on tuesday night. All day long I debated whether or not I should go. After Monday's episode, I wasn't sure if I would be able to make if through such a spiritually and emotionally draining situation. . . stress aggrivates my condition. About an hour before it was scheduled to happen, I jumped up, got dressed in "pross" and headed to the church, an hour early. I took my scriptures with me and read while I waited.
The whole family gathered in a big room at the church, and to start things off we each took turns saying anything we wanted to my cousin who was about to leave. There were tears shed by almost everyone. Bittersweet tears of pride and love. I thanked Michael for his example. At the end, a leader pointed out the support system that Michael has. Again, I found myself transported back to my mission, back to every time I was struggling. Every time a door was slammed, or every time I was in a hospital waiting room I would have this mental snapshot of all the people who were in the congregation at my farewell. I literally felt their support. I had that same support system, and while I still have all those people who love me, it is still difficult to fight feelings of failure. When I first came home, I felt as if I had let all those people down.
Wednesday passed without any sort of sorrow. I went to the State Fair. I have never been so thankful for Side-Shows and Funnel Cakes. Without them, this week would have been unbearable.
When it was time to decide whether or not to come home, I took great comfort in hearing things like "there is a reason for everything" and "the Lord will put you where you are needed."
Thursday: I endured another long day of work despite feeling a little under the weather. I had almost forgotten that I had an appointment to teach a family friend with the missionaries that night. I went over to the house and we waited for the elders to arrive. We waited for over an hour until deciding they probably weren't coming. While we were there, our family friend (who is planning on being baptized) asked me if I would baptize her.
I humbly admit that -as far as I know- I played no part in her decision to be baptized. But, things like this help me see that there is no reason this time in my life can't be my "best two years."
I love my mission. I love Belgium and France. I love the Gospel.
I know that the Lord is in charge and He brought me back for a reason.
I just have to find that reason.