Idaho, Idaho Falls Mission
I was called to the Idaho Idaho Falls Mission in November 2018. While I was a little disappointed to go stateside, since my twin brother had left to Brazil on his mission just two months earlier, I knew it was the right place for me. I had struggled with anxiety before my mission and I knew Idaho would be a good fit for me. I felt stable, confident, and ready for the challenges of a mission.
However, just days into my MTC experience, it all began to fall apart. Overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and fear began to plague me. Feelings of optimism and excitement were replaced with stabbing anxiety and despair. Yet I was determined that I would stay on the mission. I knew I was worthy and had many strengths to offer to the Lord through my service. I made it through the longest three weeks of my life with the help of family, fellow missionaries, MTC doctors and counselors, and a lot of prayer and priesthood blessings. I felt optimistic that I could make it through the adjustment to the field as well.
However, exhaustion and anxiety returned in even greater force once I arrived in Idaho Falls, and just two weeks into the transfer I made the decision to return home.
I was devastated. It felt like my whole life had been leading up to my mission, yet here I was after just one month of service. An emotional wreck and a failure. My self confidence was all but gone. So much of my self worth had seemed to hinge on my missionary service, but that dream was over much earlier than I wanted. Or so I thought.
Pretty soon after arriving home, I met with my stake president and we agreed that I wouldn't be released as a missionary. Rather, I would transition to a service mission, a brand new program instituted by the Church just this year.
Since that day, I have slowly recovered and increased my confidence as I have served a different mission than I ever thought I would. I live at home with my family, but serve throughout the week at different locations such as the Bishop's Storehouse, temple, and charitable organizations. I also hold a ward calling as the Primary chorister, which I LOVE with all my heart. For me, the answer to my earnest prayers to finish my mission was a service mission. I am growing and learning just as much, if not more, as a service missionary than during my time as a proselyting missionary. I am learning the joy that comes from service to others.
I am so grateful for modern revelation that has provided a way for me to keep serving as a full-time missionary, but at a pace I can handle. Service missions may not be the answer for every early returned missionary, but for me and many others, it has allowed us to finish our missions and serve others how Christ would serve. I have grown closer to the Savior Jesus Christ as I have followed His example and trusted in His plan for me, even when it was vastly different from what I wanted.