Hey friends! I have a guest post coming to ya from my good friend Hermana Stokey who is serving here with me in the Florida Orlando Mission. I asked her to write me a guest post answering the question "what have you learned on your mission?" Here is her response.
People say you change on a mission. You don't really notice it (at least, I don't, not day by day) but it's a good thing. I think the change comes because you learn things on your mission. Maybe it's not your first time technically learning any given thing, but you recognize and accept and use said thing, and thus the change occurs. You're growing into your spirit and your personality and yourself.
I made a list of things I feel I've learned on my mission. This isn't everything, but it's still a comprehensive list, given in no specific order. I have:
Learned how to work hard. Like, really hard. I thought I had work ethic before my mission, but the mission is unlike any other experience. It's rigorous and unending and demanding and yet so amazing and worth it.
Learned how to bite my tongue and rein in the sass. This one is definitely a work in progress. My parents told me all the time growing up that I didn't always have to be right. The people I meet here basically tell me the same thing, just not word for word. I know I can respect others' beliefs even if I don't agree with them.
Learned how to love the Lord and love the people. Charity is a real thing! This is one of my favorites. I love these people and desire the best for them. Christlike love is an incredible feeling.
Learned how to follow a strict schedule. Yeahhhhh. I learned that I don't actually like getting up early. But I understand why we do.
Learned how to comply and find the good. There are a ton of rules on the mission. Like the strict schedule. But it all makes sense. It pushes us to do our best. And I can find ways to be happy with the rules.
Learned how to learn and teach. This is a big one. To be a good teacher, you have to be a good learner. To teach people, you have to know how to teach. It all goes back to charity and caring about them and adapting to them.
Learned Spanish. Learned tiny bit of Portuguese. Ha. Now I'm...quadlingual. Is that the right word? Is that a thing? Well, to be honest, I'm not fluent in Portuguese or German and I'm still learning Spanish. But I love Spanish! I'm never going back, people. The Spanish language and culture is something you want to be a part of. Trust me on this one.
Learned to eat food I don't want or like or can't fit in my stomach. Pretty self-explanatory.
Learned how to talk better. Yes, my parents say I never stop talking. That's not what I mean. I mean that now I can hold a conversation based off of very little information.
Learned how to miss and love family. Can I just say how much I miss them? The saying "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is so true. It does. I love my family with all of my heart and can't wait to see them soon.
Learned how to listen. This is a must if you're teaching in a language you aren't fluent in. More importantly, it's a must so you can teach by the Spirit and help people truly learn.
Learned how to feel for others. Sympathy is such a powerful tool. It can make you feel good and it can make you feel bad but it definitely helps you understand your fellow human beings and spirit siblings.
Learned that it's not about me. It's not about me. It's about these people and how I can help them and it's about our Heavenly Father and His concern for their eternal welfare.
Learned it's about others. See above point.
Learned to walk a tonnnn. If I don't have great legs by the time I go home...I'll be darned. Seriously. You know the book "Oh, the palaces You'll Go"? That is probably s book about missionaries. You go everywhere and you get to a lot of those places by walking. It'd be nicer if it wasn't the deathly Florida I walked in, but c'est la vie.
Learned I don't like the heat much. I thought I was okay with it before. I came from a pretty hot climate. But now that I'm here...give me the snow! I think I won't be living down south after the mission. (But Florida is beautiful, I'll give it that.)
Learned to catch a Pokemon. Do I even dare admit this one? ...yes. Because Pokemon Go is cool. And I've caught some cool Pokemon. And it starts conversations. And I can contact people by talking about it since people are always on their phones. So this is a valid point.
Learned how to make Spanish food. Did I say I was good at it? Nope. But I learned how to make empanadas and arepas. Arepas are seriously the best thing out there besides ice cream.
Learned I'm kind of an introvert. And that's okay! We're all different. You don't have to be a public speaker or charismatic human to be a missionary. If I talk to people all day long and no longer feel like talking by nighttime, that's okay. God qualifies those whom He calls.
Learned how to charity. This one is so important that it deserves a second point.
Learned how to work an iPad. Laugh all you want, but before my mission, I didn't really know how to work one. Ta-da. Now I do.
Learned that time is fast and yet so slow and still so fast. How long have I been out for? Forever. One second. Somewhere in between. Who knows? Time is crazy out here.
Learned how to kind of cook for myself. Good thing we have the members here to feed us because I haven't learned much. I can cook a mad quesadilla or crab puff. I can make nachos. Can I cook for a family yet? Probably not. I'll test it out on my family when I get home.
Learned importance of CPR. Yes, it is a medical term. No, that's not what I mean. Church Pray Read. They keep your testimony strong and your faith stronger. They are essential. I have learned that of you lack even one of them, it's like a three-legged stool with one leg removed. You tip and you fall and you can't truly get back up without reinstalling that leg.
Learned that there's no excuse for going less active and every reason to progress in the gospel. See the leg analogy above. For real, though, if we have faith, then we know all is possible through God and we can do all that is expected and required of us.
Learned how to tell people my skin is naturally red but yes, I'm probably sunburnt too. This made the list because I'm so commonly told that I'm red and everyone tells me I need to wear sunscreen. I just stick out like a sore thumb amongst all my Hispanic homies.
Learned that Brazil speaks Portuguese not Spanish. I blame my geography teacher for not clearing that one up. I love Brazilians. Imma go to Brazil someday.
Learned pure happiness of the mission. If you allow the mission to change you in all of the above ways and more, you will be so much happier than you could ever describe or imagine. I love my mission, I love what I've learned, and I love that I'm becoming more of what the Lord wants me to be.
Most of all, I learned that I'm still learning and I'll always be learning and that's okay and that's good. Learning is an eternal habit we should all strive to develop.
I've also learned that I'm not good at endings or goodbyes.
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Sister Whitney Reid