Our journey is acceptable: As mission presidents we have realized almost from the very start that a missionary comes in all different shapes and sizes. It is absolutely amazing to me how every single missionary is so different. (We've served with probably over 500 missionaries over our 27 months and not one of them has been like another.)
I have a deep respect for every one of these missionaries and their own personal journey. I have seen wonderful young Sisters and Elders who struggle with various things like: depression, anxiety, homesickness, OCD, ADD, testimony issues, perfectionism, and social skills. They work hard and try hard and fight to progress and overcome their fears, doubts and negative emotions. They are truly in a vulnerable state on their mission and it’s great! That is why they learn so quickly and make so much personal progress on their missions. They have to turn to the Lord if they are going to be successful, and if they are going to find happiness and joy in the work. This isn't like any other work they have done before. This is a spiritual work so they have to rely on the Lord to find and teach with the spirit.
I’ve have seen many missionaries mourn about how great they were in high school; about how much they could do and accomplish and wonder why they feel so different on their mission. We just try to teach them this work isn't the same. Its spiritual work and you have to rely on the Lord, listen and obey that voice in your heart and let Him direct the work and you.
I have seen so many physical problems with missionaries that just break my heart. Really good young people who want to serve the Lord and they have things like: chronic migraines, ulcers, diabetes, crone’s disease, chronic back pain, lots of various kinds of abdominal pain and many other things. We have had 3 gall bladders removed, 2 appendix removed,1 missionary who was hit by a car, and many bike accidents, not to mention every p-day we have several injuries. L (We had one elder who got injured every pday so we finally grounded him from pday activities for a month to try to encourage him to not go full throttle and sacrifice his body to win.) J
I am in charge of mission medical and several hours almost every day I spend on the phone doing mission medical things. I love to help the missionaries, but sometimes, especially when we have a lot of problems going on at once, I feel tired of it. I was in a natural man state one transfer not too long ago when the Lord taught me a profound lesson about these good missionaries who struggle with health problems. We were receiving a missionary who we were surprised made it past mission medical. Her problems were great, her health history complicated and her list of medications she was taking was very, very long. I was kind of feeling tired of having so many missionaries with problems and feeling a little doubtful about this sister when these new missionaries were arriving. We went to meet the plane to greet them.
We left the airport to go to downtown Spokane to go fear busting. (That is when we take all of our brand new missionaries, fresh off the plane to the city and let them go right out and find with some of our seasoned missionaries to guide them.) We arrived at the place where we meet up with the seasoned missionaries and I started to go around and personally talk with the new missionaries to get to know them. I came to the sister who has all the health problems and I felt a distinct voice say, “This is my missionary, not yours. Her journey here, however long it is, is acceptable to me. She is here because she has a great desire to serve and the part she gives is perfect, no matter how long.”
I instantly felt different. I knew the Lord had just spoken to my heart about His missionary and how He feels about each one of them. Every time when any of them need something now when I’m tired, I remember the Lords words to me and I feel happy to do it. I know the spirit gave me knowledge and understanding to my heart that changed me instantly.
Every one of these missionaries has a different journey. All of them struggle at least a little; many of them struggle a lot. I feel their work is sacred. Whatever they are trying to give, do, learn and sacrifice for Him is acceptable to Him. They aren't mine, they are the Lords, and whatever they give is just fine.
I know the Lord feels the same about each one of us. I have felt that personally so many times. Early on in our mission I started feeling unhappy. I was feeling guilty about everything and then feeling guilty about feeling guilty! I remember one night praying; sincerely thinking, “I just want to be happy like I use to be.” I couldn't even think of everything, I just knew I needed to repent of all the care and worry that had built up. I asked my Heavenly Father if He would apply the atoning blood of Christ to my life and let Him carry all of my stuff. I felt instantly free of all of it and just knew my savior was happy to hold it all. I went from being miserable to amazingly happy in an instant. With it came the feeling that God accepted my struggle, He was OK with where I was at and wasn't that worried about my performance as much as He just wanted me to turn to Him through it all.