I put a ring on it.

It’s official.

I’m no longer a visa waiter.

“Choose your love. Love your choice.” Thomas S. Monson

A year and a half ago I put my papers in and received a call to serve in the Brazil Ribierão Preto Mission. And honestly it scared me to death. I’m a little white girl from Oklahoma and after 5 years of Spanish–I could BARELY get by. How was I supposed to learn a whole other language? In six weeks!

But after some very long prayers and with a lot of encouragement, I decided to do it. I got my wisdom teeth pulled, got about 15 shots, and I put in for my visa.

Not surprisingly, five months later, I ended up in the Provo MTC. My visa hadn’t come through yet. But I wasn’t worried.  Most people didn’t get their visas–at least for the first few months. And that felt right to me. I’d always thought that I would serve a stateside mission. And I wasn’t too bothered about getting my feet under me before trying to immerse in a whole new culture.

My six weeks came and went and I received my temporary reassignment to serve in the Oregon Portland Mission. I was actually really thrilled. Oregon seemed exactly right. And it has been. It’s really been good to me in the last year.

And that brings me to the #visadecision.

A month and a half ago, President came to me and asked me to make a decision on whether or not I would stay in the mission. He gave me a week. That week was one of the hardest weeks of my life.

I felt like Adam and Eve in the garden. Given the option to “choose for [themselves]” what they would. I felt like there must be a clearly wrong decision. One that would completely change life as I knew it. But, hard as I prayed, I could not seem to come to an answer.

So I asked for a priesthood blessing. Because that’s the closest thing I can think of to having a sit down with God. In the blessing I was told that it was my choice. That neither choice would dramatically alter the course of my life. And that if I chose Brazil, that I would see its people and teach them. That should have been comforting. Knowing that I couldn’t choose wrong. But I still struggled. I felt that somehow choosing one would mean that the other was less important to me. That if I chose to stick it out for Brazil I’d be choosing against Portland and all of the people I’ve grown to love here.

Stupid. I know.

But that’s what was in my head.

So I deliberated.

I started out with going. Fully committed myself to that. And then, the next hour, fully committed myself to staying. Asked myself what would be different? What would be the same? What were the benefits? What were the drawbacks? How each option would help to prepare me for future service to God’s children?

By the evening. I had almost decided to go.

But I wanted to be sure.

So I asked for another blessing.

This time the focus was different. This time I was assured that I’d made relationships here that would last forever. That what The Lord wanted to happen would happen and that the decision I was considering was a good one. And feeling confident in that, I made the decision to go. I only had a month left before I was reassigned anyway. So why not??

And if there were any doubts, they were completely removed the next day when I received a very timely fortune cookie.

But as the weeks went on, I began to doubt. How could The Lord be sure that I would choose what He wanted for me? Unless my choice didn’t matter?

And then I heard that the powers that be in Salt Lake had adopted a new policy of NOT reassigning missionaries.

And then I called into the travel office.

And then I found out that once again my paperwork had to be redone.

So I decided to reevaluate the #visadecision.

Because with six months left to go. I’m not so sure anymore that I even want to.

First off. I love here. I love everything about here. I love seeing Mount Hood looming in the distance. I love the rolling hills of Damascus. I love going to Portland on P-days and finding any and every excuse to drive up the hill to the temple in Lake Oswego. But more than that I love the people. I’ve found a family out here in Portland. And it would break my heart to leave.

And then there’s the social media revolution. Here in the Oregon Portland Mission we’ve been given pretty much every opportunity to share the gospel. Every tool. Every advantage. And, being a
communications grad, I know a thing or two about social media. So there are things that I can do here to progress the work that I can’t do anywhere else.

So I took it to The Lord. Finally satisfied that He wasn’t going to settle this one for me. No matter how long I chose to put off the decision.

So I looked back over the past month. On how things had changed since I realized that no one was going to make my decision for me. And you know what. I discovered something very interesting. I’d altogether stopped. I’d stopped studying. I’d stopped checking my visa. I’d stopped even thinking about going. And it occurred to me that I’d made the decision a long time ago to stay.

So I got down on my knees. And I said a very different sort of prayer. This time I wasn’t asking what The Lord wanted me to do. I wasn’t asking what was right. I’d studied it out. I’d come to a conclusion. But I wanted to know that my decision was one that he would support.

And with that confirmation I called President and told him to let them know they could finally quit trying to push my papers.

They made a good effort. But I’m choosing to stay!


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