#nolongeravisawaiter

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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Concerning Portland, Brazil, and Trusting in the Lord

You’ve been asking, so here’s the answer.

“Why aren’t you in Brazil?”

For those of you who don’t know, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, mission calls are assigned by a member of the 12 Apostles–men called as special witnesses of Christ.

These men look over EVERY application for missionary service.

And there are a lot.

And they pray over each one. They ask for the Lord’s assistance to determine where each missionary ought to go. Then they make the assignment and the applicant decides whether or not they would like to fulfill that call.

My call hasn’t exactly worked out the way that they normally do.

#visaproblems

So I’m here in Portland. Tracting, teaching, serving, and doing all of the stuff that missionaries normally do.

And I absolutely love it.

I couldn’t be happier.

“But I bet you’re anxious to get to your real mission.”

My call letter didn’t specify that I’d be here in Portland. And it certainly didn’t specify that I’d be in a temple visitors center, but I like to think that this is what The Lord had planned.

I like to think that the apostle who assigned me paused over my call–not really sure where to put me–that there was some hesitation.

Portland.

Or Brazil?

Visitors center.

Or full pros?

I needed to be in the MTC, when I was there. I needed to meet and teach and learn from the people I met there.

But I need to be here too.

I’ve learned so many lessons that I, personally, need. And I’ve met so many people who have changed me forever.

That could only happen here in the Oregon Portland Mission.

People always ask me if I’m anxious to get to my REAL mission.

I’m here.

The Oregon Portland Mission IS my mission.

And maybe Brazil is too.

Only time will tell.

If I never make it to Brazil, I’ll be satisfied. Because I know that this is where The Lord wants me to be. Right now. Consulates and red tape don’t stop Him.

Nothing can stop the Lord.

He’s got me right where He wants me.

And that’s right where I want to be.

I feel so very grateful to be here: hastening the work of salvation in the Oregon Portland Mission, in the Lake Oswego ward. I feel so strongly that this is where The Lord needs me right now. And whenever and wherever He needs me to go, I’ll be happy to do that too. Because I trust Him.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Yesterday was transfer day.

Transfer to the mission field.

Pretty scary, exciting stuff.

Mostly exciting. But a little nerve racking at the same time.

I started the transfer at 2:45 AM when I got up. Tried to be a little more presentable. And shoved the last of my belongings into my suitcase. Then I did a last minute weigh of my suitcases to make sure I wasn’t over 50 lbs. and rushed out the door with my temporary companions to the Travel Office.

Then back into my building because I forgot my itinerary.

And once again back to the travel office.

I waited in line, dropped off my key, handed back my lock, and swiped my card to pick up my ticket. Then I walked outside to find my place in line for the bus.

And there were our Elders. Just waiting there to say goodbye.

They woke up at 2:30 in the morning just to see us off.

I love them.

So we said our goodbyes. And with a firm handshake we were off.

We loaded our luggage in a truck.

Loaded ourselves into a bus and took a ride to the train station.

Then I got really excited.

Because I’ve never been on a train before.

Turns out its not as exciting at 4:00 in the morning.

When we got to our stop, 200+ missionaries filed up an escalator and into a TRAX car headed for the SLC Int’l Airport. Then we yanked our luggage off the truck that was waiting there for us and went inside to check our baggage.

Delta had additional staff to accommodate us and they were very gracious.

And the people at the airports were nice enough to let us use their cell phones to call our parents and let them know we made it out of the MTC alive (:

And then after about an hour waiting around in the airport I met up with my travel companion on the plane.

Her name is Sister Lyons. And she is super fly.

She studied in Jerusalem last year.

And when we finally made it to Oregon, she marveled with me about the ridiculous number of clouds. They cover the entire Portland area like a blanket.

I wanted to take a nap in them.

She agreed.

She didn’t, however, marvel with me about the number of trees.

Because she is from Colorado.

And they have just as many.

We don’t in Oklahoma. So I kept marveling.

And am actually STILL marveling.

I mean whoa!!

It is so green here.

Even the parking garage is covered in green. Literally, the vines have almost reclaimed that edifice.

So, yah. Portland’s green.

And lovely.

And I’m super stoked to be here.