"When I finally decided to go on my mission I was incredibly excited and a lot naïve. My brothers tried to tell me that the mission would rock me to the core at times, that it would be the hardest thing I had ever done. Their warnings went in one ear and out the other. All I knew was that I knew I was supposed to go and I wanted to go more than anything.
"Within two weeks in the mission field, in Italy, I understood what my brothers were saying and it rocked me to the core. This was going to be hard.
"I’d say the mission is 80% extremely hard and 20% wonderful. There was depression, extreme fatigue, lack of understanding, rejection, guilt, questioning why I’d come and extreme loneliness.
"Had I known how hard the mission would be I would never have gone. I remember writing my Dad and asking him, 'Why didn’t you tell me this would be so hard? How could you do that to me?'
"His response was simply. 'You wouldn't have understood. You can’t have the mission experience without the mission.'
"This week I had somewhat of a meltdown. It happens every so often with me. When the economy hit it took us and many others with it. This week I was reminded that seven years later things still aren't much better. Sometimes that gets hard.
"My husband and I talked about in the scriptures where we read that each of us shouted for joy at the prospect of coming to Earth. And suddenly it hit me. I remembered the night before I went on my mission, the excitement, the childlike innocence, the immense faith. Even though my brothers had tried to warn me, I couldn't understand. How could I? Perhaps it was the same in the pre-existence. In that state of complete innocence, how could we possibly understand what it would be like to lose a child, or not be able to have one. To lose a spouse or not be able to have one. To suffer addiction, to have a terminal illness, to have children stray and spouses who are abusive. To not be able to provide, to suffer from mental illness and many other things.
"Maybe we didn’t shout for joy at the process. Maybe we shouted because we knew the end result.
"Perhaps the pre-existence me was a little like the pre-mission me.
"I remember sitting in a zone conference and looking around the room at the other missionaries. They were dejected, exhausted. A lot of them felt like failures. An elder that I knew well—he was amazing, one of the best, full of faith- raised his hand. He asked, 'Why aren’t we having more baptisms?'
"Then came the well meaning, but harsh reply, 'Because you don’t have enough faith.'
"Thank goodness for the spirit which in that moment spoke to me and told that was simply not true.
"Afterword I went up to that elder. I explained to him my feelings. I told him that faith will lead us to those who are ready to hear, faith will give us what we are to say in the moment we need to say it and faith will sustain us in those incredibly difficult times, but faith cannot make someone else be baptized. Everyone has their own agency.
"It is the same with life. Faith may not cure a child’s cancer, faith may not bring back a dying spouse or cure their terminal or mental illness, faith may not bring back a straying child, or cure a horrible addiction. It may not cause parents to get the child they so desperately want or someone to find a spouse in this life. Faith may not cure a handicap or depression.
"In regards to all of those things, often on the mission, people would say, 'Why would God do that to people?' The answer is simple— He wouldn't.
"Life is life. Life simply happens. Children get to choose just as adults do, addiction has consequences, people get sick, life is full of depression, extreme fatigue, rejection, guilt and extreme loneliness.
"Perhaps we will all return and ask like I did of my earthly father. 'Why didn’t you tell me this would be so hard?' Perhaps our Heavenly Father's answer will be the same as my earthly father's. 'Because you would not have understood. You cannot have the life experience without experiencing life.'
"God did not cause us to lose a job and neither did lack of faith, just in the same way that faith may not cause us to make more money, find a better job or get us a house.
"However faith will sustain each of us in our darkest times. Faith will make our burdens light.
"Life is not fair because none of us chose the plan that was all about fair. We chose the plan that would get us back to Heavenly Father with more understanding, humility, love, patience and faith.
"QUOTE:'The fact is that most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. . . . Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.'― Jenkin Lloyd Jones
"And then on my mission there was the other 20%. And suddenly the other 80% was all worth it. There were moments of incredible faith, understanding, love, friendship, compassion and yes, even miracles. Rare moments of knocking on someone’s door and having them say, 'I’ve been waiting for you.'
"Had I known how incredible the mission would be for me, what it would do for me personally, what it would do for my testimony. I would never have missed it. It is the same with life. There is so much good in this world. Faith will allow us to see it through those hard times. Faith is incredible. How else do people not only survive those horrible situations, but continue smiling and laughing and hoping despite of them? They believe. They know the gospel is true. They have faith that Jesus Christ will and has provided a way to make it all work out.
"Quote by Jeffery R. Holland: 'Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
"'You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work [and life] is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders [and all of us] have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders [and all of us] have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.
"'Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators [and all of us], to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.
"'For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is [nor that life is]. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.
"'If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, ''Abba, Father [Papa], if this cup can pass, let it pass,'' then little wonder that salvation is not a whimsical or easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.'
"Life is full of good. Perhaps 80% of it is about enduring to the end and trying to be happy despite some extremely hard circumstances. The fact is, we do have a guarantee. Jesus Christ died for us so that we may live again if we remain faithful.
"Faith is seeing that there is another way to live in hard situations. Faith is optimism. Faith is believing that eventually-- and yes sometimes it isn't until after this life, that everything will be OK. It is not the cure-all. There is no cure-all in this life. That comes later. That's when addictions that have been fought are conquered, marriages that endured are blessed, we finally get our mansion, children come back and families are together forever."