If someone was to ask me what I was doing on any given day before 24 March 2010 (the day I left on the mission), a safe bet would be that I was with my niece's and nephew's. They are my everything. It all started when I held my oldest nephew Parker for the first time almost 14 years ago. The relationships I have with them give my life so much meaning and fill it with some of the greatest joys I've experienced. Each one of them saved my life. That's the honest truth. It's because of them that I pulled out of the funk I was in for 10 years and decided that I needed to be a better person. I first changed for them. They have taught me so many valuable lessons. It was the 9 months I spent right before coming on the mission being a "nanny" that I learned the most.
After getting active in church again, I had difficulty deciding whether I would come out on a mission or not. After getting my Associates Degree I came to decision making time. I knew I did not want to continue on at the same school for my Bachelors, so I needed to decide if I would go on a mission or continue in schooling elsewhere. After much prayer and fasting, I knew that I needed to come out. I had some things to take care of before I could go, so I decided to move to my brother's house in the Salt Lake area. It was after bumming around at his house that I kind of fell into watching his kids while he and his wife were at work. I had a 3 month old bouncing baby boy that I cared for from morning until between 3-5 pm as well as the other four at various different times in the day. My love and appreciation for the sacred trust of being an uncle grew more and more over the 9 months I was privileged to spend with them while I prepared to come out.
Today is a sobering reminder of what I left behind. One year ago today, I came out on the mission. Today is also OJ's 2nd birthday (my youngest nephew...he's in the picture on the left). The greatest obstacle I have faced while being out on the mission is missing him and my other nephew's and nieces. There was one day in particular, the hardest day of the mission for me, that I wanted to go home and see them because I missed them so much. I tried to put it out of my mind. I tried to just work through it, but none of it helped. I went into a room and just sobbed and sobbed. For anyone who knows the type of relationship I have with my nephew's and nieces, they can understand how difficult being away from them is for me. I was praying for help and guidance, and this scripture came into my mind. It is Alma 7:11-12 and it is talking about what Jesus Christ would do for each of us.
"And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions...of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains...of his people.
12And he will take upon him.... their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."
I remembered this scripture and was reminded that Jesus Christ took upon himself all things, even when I have a case of the wheepies and am missing the fam. With this reaffirmed knowledge, I was able to get out and go to work trusting that I will be able to see my family soon enough and that He would make sure they are ok. It always gives me comfort to know that we are only away from our loved ones for a little while. Christ gives us the opportunity to have our families be forever and eternal. I know that is true, and I will do all that I can to make sure that that happens for my family. I am out here on a mission working to bring that same possibility to the people of Montana and Wyoming. It's a great day to be a missionary!
To learn more about how families can be forever, click here.