Returning home early from my mission was easily one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I had always wanted to be a missionary. I don't think anyone ever plans on coming home early, but painfully, it happened to me.
I understand that there are several reasons why a missionary may return home early from their mission. My goal is not to compare, but hopefully to uplift and encourage those who seek to do good even when times get tough. This is my story.
I was called to the Adriatic South Mission in June 2013, assigned to preach the gospel in the Albanian language. Excitedly, I reported to the Provo Missionary Training Center in January 2014. I absolutely loved my time there. I learned so much and grew spiritually. I remember being anxious to get to the mission field and teach real people! Finally, the moment came and two months later I started my journey for Albania. However, while I was waiting in the Salt Lake City airport for my flight, a life-changing event occurred.
I woke up in an ambulance. The paramedic told me 'you had a seizure in the airport and you fell and cut your head.' The doctors kindly attended to my wound and a few days later, it was decided that I needed to go home, sort my health out and wait at least six months before I could continue my mission.
I was devastated. Was this really the Lord's plan for me? My heart was already in Albania. I had no clue what I would do when I would get home. The pain and reality of it all didn't sting until I stepped off the plane and saw my family at the airport.
Coming home early was the most spiritually and emotionally difficult time of my life. Instead of being on a mission, I found myself struggling immensely. Old habits crept in, good habits were forgotten. My resilience to temptation grew weak, my desire to reserve my mission was fading and internally I was suffering deeply.
I came to a point in my life where I needed to decide what I was going to do. I thought of disregarding my mission to follow other aspirations and at a point, I was even considering abandoning my testimony altogether. In this important time, I decided to do what I had been taught my whole life - to pray. I got on my knees and begged for guidance for the first time in a while, and received an unquestionable answer. I needed to set an example for my little brother, shape up and serve the rest of my mission - so I did.
It wasn't the easiest process, but it was well worth it. I put my head down and made the necessary preparations. A year later, on the 5th January 2015, I was set apart once more as a missionary. I flew to Albania the next day.
Quentin L Cook said in the recent April General Conference,
'Adversity should not be viewed as either disfavor from the Lord or a withdrawal of His blessings. Opposition in all things is part of the refiner’s fire to prepare us for an eternal celestial destiny.”
I loved my mission and the people that I served. I look back with so much content and happiness, especially knowing that I overcame major trials to get there. The experiences that I have had testify to me that God has a unique plan for each of us. Sometimes it involves heartache and pain but it doesn't go unnoticed and is nothing that our Saviour doesn't understand. I have a testimony that He lives. That he knows and understands us, and still loves us. I have felt His love that He has for me. He is there for us every step of the journey even when we feel He is not. He stands with open arms, waiting for us to trust and turn to Him.
Jashon was at the Missionary Training Centre from January 2014 to April 2014. After returning home, he served in the Adriatic South Mission from January 2015 to November 2016). He is currently in the Ngaruawahia Ward.