Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

My Transition into RM Life

*Disclaimer: I know there is a lot more to the transition between full time missionary work, and post-mission life, but this is just a small portion I thought I’d address :)

Part 1 The Jet Lag

getting off that plane is the BEST moment

It’s expected coming home from the complete opposite side of the world that there would be an affect, especially when the entire way home you could not sleep!!! I knew I was so close to seeing my family, yet furthering from the land I had come to love so much, and all the while surrounded by people who I couldn’t speak their language with anymore (ex: Koreans instead of Mongolians), and annoying little boys in the seat next to me, so I did NOT sleep at all the whole 3 flights home. But, good for me, the secret to kicking jet lag’s butt is to stay awake until the new bedtime you would like to have. Then, FORCE yourself to get up at a decent time the next morning like 7 or 8 or 9 and then make yourself active and busy because you will be exhausted in every way possible!! Keep this routine for a few days and you will be set.

Part 2 Getting Released
I had a weird situation getting home. I got home on a Thursday night, went all day Friday as a missionary still with my mom as my comp, and Saturday morning was finally released. But getting released is kinda strange. You are excited to begin RM life, sad to be ending mission life, scared to death of what comes next, feelin loved and proud as your stake president and family say nice things to you, and lots of other feelings. As my stake president interviewed me about my mission, he told me how proud he was, and read a letter from my mission president about me and my service and also gave me a blessing as I began my new chapter. I felt an overwhelming confirmation that the Lord accepted my service and that I had done a wonderful work in Mongolia. I was touched deeply as I thought back on all the people I had met and taught and helped. He then had me bare my testimony in English and Mongolian, and boy was the spirit thick in the room. I felt all my emotions about my mission hit me at once and I truly realized what a huge impact this mission had made on me. I knew this was God’s plan for me, and I was so incredibly grateful. And then the big moment hit… He asked me to take off my name tag and told me I was officially released from being a full time missionary, and I left with my family to begin that supa scary RM life…

Part 3 The Ward
the homecoming talk...

You go through this strange period of fame in your ward. Everyone knows who you are, misses you, wants to talk to you and drill you about your mission. You give your homecoming talk and they all stare at you with huge eyes and smiles on their faces. Everyone suddenly feels the need to hug you which is super hard to adjust to- every old and young man alike want to hug you, and well you’ll freak out on the inside as you haven’t even touched a man in the last 18 months let alone hugged one… AHHHH! You are re-introduced in every class. Suddenly you are booked for primary sharing time, achievement girl’s day activity, young men and young women’s mutual, reporting to the high council, and FHE’s. It’s kinda hilarious, mostly awkward as you are some star...
and you may feel like this...

...or this...

… but it goes away. In about a month some other missionary gets home and becomes the star or they just kinda forget, but they will eventually leave you alone, haha. In the meantime soak it in and take the opportunity to tell EVERYONE EVERYTHING about your mission, cuz pretty soon they’ll think you’re annoying if you share another mission story.

Part 4 Alone for the FIRST TIME
ITS WEIRD. Straight up weird. You haven’t been alone for 18 months and now all of a sudden you have all kinds of freedom and people are letting you go places by yourself. I found myself looking around wondering where my comp was, and remembering I don’t have one anymore. I also found myself wanting to be around my family 24/7 because I felt like I had to be with someone. Oh, and following my mom or sister closely around the store as they shop, and then realizing it’s okay to be alone… But, it’s also quite refreshing to go shopping or for a drive or whatever by YOURSELF. No matter how awkward it may feel, you will enjoy it. #feelinlikearebel And the feeling will go away.

Part 5 Clothing
The first moment you take off that skirt and put on that magical pair of jeans or leggings is wonderful indeed...
I personally, ran out into the living room where my family was, started telling them excitedly “look, I have legs, I have legs….” As I kept touching my legs…. Truly a strange moment it was. And from every moment on, leggings and pants mean so much more to you. You feel as though you will never be parted from them again. Now, to prepare you, the closet. I remember opening my closet, which my mom had hung up all my clothing in before I got home, and I was in shock. I mean I had been wearing the same few skirts and dresses the last 18 months with an occasional lend from a comp… I felt completely overwhelmed as I stared at the shear amount of clothing I owned and then proceeded to try on every single piece, and give more than half of it away. You will go between emotions of hate for yourself for having so much unneeded stuff and pure joy because it’s like your own personal mall. Also, there may be one habit that will be difficult for you to break- the name tag. You will find yourself reaching for the name tag to put it on, but then go through a moment of disappointment as you realize that phase of your life is over and you won’t be putting it back on… sad. But, put it somewhere you can see it and be reminded of the 18 months you proudly wore it as a servant of God.

Part 6 Culture Shock
This will be different for everyone depending on where you served but let me give you a little taste as to how it was. This is how it was for me:
-white people everywhere…..where’s the diversity?
-why aren’t the cars honking? It’s so quiet…
-it smells weird (although I’m sure I was the funny smelling one)
-DOG!!! Pick up a rock!!!! Oh, wait dogs are friendly here.
as one of my mission comps
shows oh so well.... a washer
is something you should
 NEVER take for granted!
-going for a cup of water from the sink, reaching to pull the trigger for the filter, and confused when there isn’t one, then asking yourself if it’s safe to drink… IT IS…. Weird
-the shower… you are prepared for the cold water that you usually endure for the first 50% of your shower, only to realize that its already warm…. What?
-carpet….. my feet aren’t dirty or cold? What in the world?
-washers and dryers----- the oh so real confusion when you can’t remember how they work… and the awe as they come out so warm!!
-salad…. Without mayo, what?
-walmart…. I’ll just leave it at that
-realizing I don’t need to look down when I walk to keep from tripping over rocks or something
-driving- which pedal do I use again? How do I signal, or drive or …. Why is there no traffic?
-money-it’s all the same size and color? How do I tell the difference?
…the list never ends. Culture shock is a real thing, but it goes away.

Part 7 Communication
trying to speak English post-mission
video chatting with old comps
 is the best way to keep those
language skills up, and oh so fun!
You have spent the entire last 18 months speaking an entirely different language. It’s normal to struggle to speak English again. You may, as I did, find yourself stumbling over words, forgetting the word in English you need but completely knowing what it is in Mongolian, seeing a foreigner and automatically start speaking Mongolian only to realize they are Korean or Japanese or American or Spanish or….., awkwardly whispering Mongolian words at the end of a sentence because no one else would understand (“yum chin”, “yum shig”, “shuu”, ….), speaking Mongolian out loud on walks by yourself because you just miss speaking it, and all around missing Mongolian. You might not even feel like talking because you feel like you can’t express yourself the way you’d like. But there is a way to deal with this: message mission people on Facebook, listen to Mongolian music, pray in Mongolian, read your scriptures in Mongolian, etc. (or in whatever language you learned of course)

Part 8 Social Media
Getting back on social media and using technology is going to be weird, exciting, sad, frustrating…. You will have forgotten how to use some things, may not know how to use others as those updates came out while you were gone, will be so happy to get in touch with old friends and add all those new mission buddies, you will be so confused as you notice people with last names you don’t know and then realize it was a friend who got married without telling you while you were gone (thanks guys, not feelin forgotten at all), blown away by all the friends who apparently have CHILDREN now, what?!!!!, and so on. It will be weird. So put some restrictions on yourself. Don’t be an Instagram or Facebook stalker, don’t be a NETFLIX binger, etc. Just use it to catch up and whatnot. Don’t become an ADDICT.

Part 9 Calling
I made a list of goals coming off my mission and one of my goals was to get a calling immediately. Throughout my mission, I learned that what every new member or less active needs is the word of god, a friend, and an opportunity to serve (aka a calling). And I’ve heard the statistics that 1 in every 3 RM’s go less active and frankly, that was not going to be me. So, my first Sunday back, I walked up to my Bishop, and asked, “Can I have a calling?” He was a bit caught off guard and told me he would need to pray about it and let me know. And my 3rd Sunday back, I was called as a ward missionary. It’s definitely helped a ton!!!! Callings add to our purpose and busyness factor, and it’s just plain nice to still be serving. You will have huge yearnings to be back out teaching and preaching again, so having and magnifying a calling will help fulfill that need. So, go get that calling!!!! Not to mention the fact that as an RM, you now have very well honed skills available to share and bless the lives of those in your new ward, so go serve!

Part 10 Work and School
The leadership of this church has strongly urged RM’s to get busy after their mission. Whether that be school or work, get to it. It will seem extremely overwhelming, but it is for your good. Like I said earlier, I got home late on Thursday night, and Friday morning, very jet lagged, confused as heck, and super awkward, I went to a job interview (with my mom in the room as I had not been released and she was my companion and a name tag on my chest). Well, let me just say it was the WORST job interview I had ever given, but the Lord blesses his servants, and well, I got the job! #missionblessings And about 1 week later, I started working. I have been working full time since and it truly has helped me. It’s kept me busy, given me a purpose, allowed me to save for school, and forced me to transition socially as well! So do it. Go get that job or head straight back to school!

Part 11 Social Life and Dating
Guess I haven’t quite transitioned this phase yet. Hehe. I am still working in my hometown where there just aren’t people my age to hang out with. And absolutely no one to date either. I did try going to a couple YSA FHE’s (where there were usually less than 10 people), and even a Regional YSA event a couple hours south, but not super major social stuff or dating at all, so I guess I’ll let you know when I get there on this one, or leave this one to you to figure out. Amjilt! J

Part 12 Personal Study and Prayers
I have found this to be the most important part because you were doing it all for 18 months! Personal study for an hour a day, comp study, language study, prayers constantly, teaching the gospel constantly, and reading the scriptures in the extra time… now, I have other things occupying my time. My calling, my family, college prep stuff, my full time job, etc. I have had to find a time that works each day to read my scriptures. Some weeks it was during my lunch break, some weeks before I got to sleep, some weeks in the morning when I wake up, and well, it doesn’t matter when you are doing it during the day, but the point is you need to be doing this. You need to read the Book of Mormon every day and pray as much as possible. I admit I am not perfect and some days it is a struggle, but I have found that as I make the time, my day turns around and I am 100% happier and more at peace. Keep close to the Lord by doing these two simple things and you will be blessed, your testimony will strengthen and you will not be shaken. I can promise that.

Part 13 Missin your Mission
This is by far the hardest part, I’ve found. You’ve spent the last 18 months giving your all to a people in a far off land, and by doing so witnessed miracles. Miracles in others as well as yourself. You grew and changed and developed and became a whole new person. Through serving the Lord, you became converted. You fell in love with the people, the country, the culture, and the language where you served so diligently. This is expected, and just know you will miss them. You will miss absolutely everything about your mission and think about it a lot. You’ll find yourself wishing you were still there or being a little jealous of the missionaries who haven’t finished yet. It’s totally okay to feel this way. But don’t let it consume you. You shouldn’t feel depressed because you finished. This is a happy thing. Instead channel these emotions into other things. For example, continue to study the language or write letters to your converts or others you taught to encourage them. Find a way and do it. Miss your mission, but don’t ever feel regret or sadness or guilt. You did well, you served the Lord and his people, and you’re not done serving. The Lord still has a work for you to do, but now it’s where you are working or studying. It might be your neighbor, or classmate, or coworker, but someone needs you now. Continue to be the amazing missionary you are, even without the name tag.