Sunday, September 21, 2014

"Then Sings My Soul"

Dear Internet,

Gratitude is welling up inside of me and is practically pouring out of my ears. Seriously there is just so much to consider when I think of all Heavenly Father has blessed me with. This past week I commemorated my first-transfer-versary; which means I have been home for six weeks. I have started to receive "friend requests" from the next group of missionaries returning from Montreal. It can't be real! So much has happened in six weeks and especially in the eighteen months preceding that.

I am grateful for the efforts of my sister, Jaclyn, my mom and Aly in the upkeep of my blog. Looks like some things were a little lost in translation and posts were certainly few and far between, but that is no big deal, or NBD as I like to say. I am back now, and I plan on posting somewhat often, according to the availability of my new life.

Where do I begin? There is just so much joy within me that I don't know where to start. Two years ago I was an apprehensive, secret, prospective missionary. Nobody knew that I had decided to go on a mission and had only begun speaking with my dear, sweet bishop about it. I had known for quite some time that I needed to go, but it wasn't until September 2012 that I accepted the Lord's will as my own. In retrospect it is hard for me to believe that I ever didn't want to serve a mission.

The people I met in Quebec and Ontario changed me. As we took them by the hand and introduced them to the Savior, we all grew together. The Gospel is amazing that way. Oh, how we need each other! Time after time I was taught from on high, given revelation that strengthened and reinforced my testimony that there was someone greater than  me in control. That was engrained in me over the course of 18 months, and it will never leave me again. I have a Heavenly Father who loves me! Because He loves me, He will do all He can to lead and guide my path to return to live with Him again. I make mistakes, there is no doubt about that, but that is what Jesus Christ's Atonement is for. While the intricacies of His sacrifice are still a mystery to me, I made so much progress in understanding how accessible His great love is to us. It is empowering, enabling, and completing. It is only through faith in Him that we are made whole.

I can't help but love the words in 3 Nephi 17. His invitation to be healed is real, and it is extended to all of us.  It is amazing that He says in verse 20, in response to their faith, "And now behold, my joy is full." The Lord delights in blessing us. For that reason I believe we have great cause to rejoice together, He and I. The blessings I have seen are many and marvelous, and I know there are many more to come.

Several people have inquired how I have adjusted to my new normal. I am happy to report that I am confident that this is where I need to be right now. That confidence reassures me that once again, there is someone greater than me in control. Yes, it was somewhat of a struggle to accept leaving behind all I had come to love so much. But I have decided it is not so much a "leaving behind" as it is a "moving forward." He has prepared great things for me, for all of us really. I received a word of encouragement from a friend towards the end of my mission that really opened my eyes to that. Part of it reads:

"[God] just wants us to be happy.  I was happy before my mission, I was happy on my mission, and it is ok to live and be happy now that I am off of my mission. [...] We can just be happy doing the things that God wants us to be doing right now.  God doesn’t want me to be on a mission right now, but He does want me to be happy that I was blessed with such an incredible mission experience, and happy that now I have an incredible opportunity to continue reaching out.  I am really happy."

Words to live by. My happiness does not depend solely on what has happened in the past. Those experiences certainly continue to have an effect on me, but my happiness truly lies in trusting each day that if I am obedient, I am in the Lord's hands. What greater place is there to be?

There are so many people in my life that I consider examples of this faith. I am particularly grateful to have two wonderful parents who turn to the Lord in every thought. They helped me build a strong foundation by lending me theirs when I was weak. My sisters are incredible examples of the enabling power of the Atonement. They are so strong and accomplish so much because of their unyielding desires to stand as witnesses of God.  Recently, Makenzie has influenced me with her dedication truth and I am beyond grateful to have sat in on her lessons with the missionaries. It has sincerely been miraculous to see how Heavenly Father prepares each of us on His time-table and certainly hears and answers prayers. My extended family may not be perfect, but they have been perfectly supportive of me and that means the world. There are so many blessings in store for them! The ten women who were companions to me for just a few days or a few transfers, honestly impacted me more than they will ever know. Their light and love will forever be a part of me. The impact my friends have made through their support is monumental. Encouragement from around the globe has always found me when I need it most. Heavenly Father even sent me all the way to Canada to meet hundreds, even thousands of individuals that I only spoke to for less than a minute. Truly they will never know, at least in this life, what kind of effect they had on me. But for those that invested in conversations that have collectively added up to hours, I must say, "thank you." In those hours we stood on holy ground. The Spirit of the Lord was with us. His love was made manifest to me from, "Je suis Soeur Landeen", to the First Vision, to invitations to baptism, to every second helping of dinner, to mutually committing to be stronger disciples of Christ, to teary "au revoirs," and everything in between. It was all evidence that Heavenly Father knows me perfectly and He has prepared a way, not just to return to live with Him- but to be the person He designed me to be when I get there.

I am grateful that most of these individuals continue to influence me daily. They point me towards the Light of the World. Jesus Christ is that light that leads me along. My soul truly sings, "How great thou art!" when I think of this beautiful world and the happy life that my Father in Heaven has created for me.

Now, it is past time for me to retire to bed. Tomorrow holds a new adventure and I must be ready to tackle it. So in the words of Steve (That's my dad), "Be good! Be happy!"

Until next time,

Sydnie Juniper