This is Only a Beginning…

En frente del Templo

March 25th, 2016 — It has been exactly a month now since I was released from my service as a full-time missionary. I still remember that moment when my Stake President released me from my full-time service as a missionary. It is a moment that I will never forget. I have never experienced something like that before, and I didn’t know what to expect, neither do I have something to which I can compare it. My parents walked into the president’s office, and the time was approaching. Throughout my whole mission I was scared about that time when I would have to remove my name-tag. I sat there, pondering and thinking deeply, praying for the Lord’s help. In that moment, the witness of the spirit came over me and I felt these words like a whisper: “This is not the end of your mission. This is only the beginning. You do not need this plaque anymore. His Name is engraven in your heart. You carry Him with you.” Peace and comfort engulfed me. And that moment has helped me every single day since then.

This past month as a return missionary has been a month of joy. The Lord speaks to me a lot through my feelings, and I remember my last day in the mission and how I felt: “I don’t need to be here anymore. I have completed what I needed to do, and now I need to be in San Antonio. There is something I need to do there.” And that is how I feel about going back to school in a few months: that there is something I need to do there. People ask me all the time: “How do you feel being back?” My response? I feel at peace. I gave my all while on the mission, during those 18 months of intense training on how to be a missionary for the rest of my life. And now that I am here, I can see how missionary work can be a part of everything I do. Baking cookies and taking them to the neighbors, talking with the people in the grocery stores, helping someone in need, serving, giving a big hug and encouraging those with their heads down, reaching out in love and friendship and supporting others along this path, serving in the temple, what I say in Facebook and how I use technology, helping and serving my roommates and family members, church callings, family history work, supporting the missionaries wherever I may be, etc. There is so much for me to do! My mission didn’t end the 25th of February. I am still a missionary; I may not wear a black name tag with His Name on it, but Christ’s name is engraven on my heart. That is what Christ has helped me do throughout my mission: engrave His name in my heart. And wherever I go, I am still a missionary, a representative of Him.

Last night I started reading through these my journal entries from the beginning when I received my mission call to when I reported to the CMM, and this afternoon I read through the letters I wrote home to my mom while in the CMM. As I reflect back on all those experiences now with a greater and deeper perspective, it is amazing to me how the Lord truly keeps His promises and catered my mission for my personal growth. As I reflect back over all that I learned and went through, I am so grateful that the Lord loves me so much to put me out of my comfort zone so I can grow, to give me difficulties so I can rely more on Him. I have learned more about the work of angels, and that is missionary work: love, service, care, following the spirit, sharing this joy with others, shining Christ’s light, and reflecting Christ’s Character in my countenance.

I’m collecting my thoughts and am going to write a few posts about what my mission means to me in my life, how it has impacted me for the better, how the Lord was refining and purifying me, tips I would give to other young women preparing to serve a full-time mission, etc. Before my mission I felt impressed to create the blog “Continually Coming Unto Christ,” and that has now become my motto. I am still on that path, and I can support all that I know along that path to the Promised Land with our Heavenly Father.

I will be continuing to write about life as a return missionary on that new blog: https://continuallycominguntochrist.wordpress.com/ There is so much I want to share, for example: my experience learning Spanish, going on a mission with a food allergy and my experience with that, tips for prospective missionaries, etc.

I feel impressed to use those pages to share my experiences and feelings along this journey as a return missionary. I hope these words can be for a benefit to other return missionaries, others who want to come unto Christ, and anyone who might pass through these pages.

Come join me as I continue forward on this journey continually coming unto Christ. ❤

Advertisements

Week 34 and My Last Week in the Utah Orem Mission

Me, Hna Mena in front of the SL Temple 3

Here are Hermana Kathleen and her companion, Hermana Mena, by the Salt Lake City Temple.

Thanks so much for the questions. I will probably have more time to think and answer them after I get home or while I’m in the mission home on Wednesday. I’m not exactly sure what it going to happen that day other than going to the temple and the private testimony meeting in the mission home.

Hna Kathleen in front of the SL Temple 2

Hermana Kathleen stands by the side of the Salt Lake City Temple. She loves the temples and the ordinances that seal families for eternity.

  1. What miracle from your mission stands out to you?
  2. What companion did you enjoy the most? What companion did you learn the most from? What companion helped you grow the most?
  3. Which investigator impacted you the most?
  4. What was the hardest day of your mission?
  5. If you go back and have lunch with one person you met as a missionary, who would it be and why?
  6. How have you changed spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually? Your relationship with Christ, with members, with people in general?
  7. What counsel would you give the youth today about serving a mission? Why?

We don’t have a lot of time today to write. We have spent most of our time today cleaning, organizing, and packing because elders are going to be working in American Fork in our little Spanish-speaking branch after we leave and living in our apartment. We will be the last sister missionaries in this area for a period of time.

Last zone activity

Hermana Kathleen attended her last zone activity with some of the other missionaries.

We received a phone call from President Killpack, and Hermana Mena is going to Saratoga Springs to be a Sister Training Leader with Hermana Flores! (Two of my companions I have trained are now going to be Sister Training Leaders!) I am so excited to find out what will happen with all of these and other sisters as I have come to love them while on my mission and through the temple open house.

Us and Garcia Family

Hermana Kathleen and Mena share a few moments with the family who was sealed in the temple.

Saturday afternoon we had the privilege to attend a marriage sealing in Salt Lake City for one of the families we have been teaching. It was absolutely beautiful! The spirit was so strong and the counsel, promises, and doctrine taught and bestowed by the Sealer was incredible. Tears just filled our eyes as we watched that beautiful ordinance take place by the priesthood of God.

Yesterday Hermana Mena volunteered me to share my testimony in Relief Society, and as I stood up, the spirit touched my heart, and I realized how much I truly love the sisters in this branch — it is so hard for me to leave them, but I know the Lord has His purposes and He will take care of them.

Brunch with branch member

Here is the sister who just returned from her mission in France. We’re sharing brunch with her family.

This morning we had a brunch with the Kitchen family. Their daughter just returned home last week from her mission in France, and she just glows! As we were talking about her adjustments after the mission, what she told me struck me to the core: The Lord doesn’t want me to be a full-time missionary right now. She can tell by the spirit I carry and the light in me that I have served faithfully, but now the Lord has other plans for me. After brunch, we asked for priesthood blessings from Brother Kitchen, and what the Lord told me in the blessing is this: God loves me. He really loves me. He loves me and is aware of my thoughts and worries. The service I have given on my mission is acceptable to Him. There are trials ahead, but I will be able to overcome them. He has a plan for me and a mission for me to fulfill. He has more spiritual gifts in store for me to develop. And he blessed me with a greater understanding of my patriarchal blessing. During the mission I have seen parts of my patriarchal blessing accomplished. And there is only more in store.

Kat in front of Church headqtrs 2

Here is a surprise picture of Hermana Kathleen in front of the LDS Church Conference Center near Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

And one thing that one of the missionaries just told me as he left is that he can see that my spirituality is high, but the mission won’t be the highest point — that after the mission, my spirituality will only increase. Hermana Mena told me that by the reactions of the elders in our zone, she could see that they look up to me.

The work is real!

 

Week 33 in the Utah Orem Mission

Saturday morning went two temple with Saldana family, received their endowments 3

Here I am with our special family who went to the temple for the first time.

Tuesday morning we had Zone Training Meeting, and at the end the zone leaders asked me if I could share my testimony with the zone (as it would be my last ZTM). As I stood up, tears came down my cheeks as the realization of what was happening got to me. I have watched my companions stand up for these testimonies and have watched friends return home from their missions, but now I was standing there in their place, and it almost seemed unreal to me what was going on — now instead of watching others go through it, I was experiencing this for myself. And I felt the spirit take over as I bore testimony of my Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His All-powerful and enabling Atonement.
Hna Mena taught me to make tortilla -- El Salvadorian style.

My companion Hermana Mena taught me to make El Salvadorian style tortillas.

These past few days I have seen the Lord’s hand working in the lives of His children. It’s hard being here and knowing that I will have to leave it all for a while and return home, but it has been beautiful to me to see the Lord working miracles in the lives of His children. Friday afternoon we visited a young woman we are teaching, and she shared with us that after she prayed to know that Joseph Smith’s experience was true, she had a dream where Joseph Smith appeared to her and told her that he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. She told us that she knows it is true and wants to embrace the Gospel more. The Lord is the Miracle Worker.
 
Hermana Mills came to the Temple Open House this morning!

One of our former missionaries came down to the Utah Provo City Center Open House. It was wonderful to see her.

These past few days have been extremely difficult, but I have also come closer to my Savior and He keeps teaching me more about the purpose of the Atonement in my life. I now have a strengthened testimony of the power of priesthood ordinances in our lives.
 
After being so tired, Hna Mena made me lunch. She is such a sweetheart.

After we have been so tired with the Open House and all the traveling, Hermana Mena made us lunch. She is so sweet.

Saturday morning I had the privilege to go to the temple with a family we taught in Orem when they received their endowments. It was the first session I have experienced in the temple in SPANISH, and I LOVED IT! It was amazing to me to reflect back on the first months on my mission when I was so frustrated with myself for not picking up Spanish faster, but to be in the temple and understand what they were saying brought tears to my eyes. The blessing I received while being set apart as a missionary came back to my mind, and I am humbled to see how even when I thought it was impossible, He made possible what seemed impossible at the moment. To see the light in the eyes of the family after they received those special blessings in their lives — my heart was full of gratitude, and I could see that every effort was worth it in helping this family along the path to the temple. In the Celestial Room I could feel the spirit telling me in my heart that this was just the beginning of the fulfillment of what I felt in the temple and the blessing I received from President Killpack. Afterwards when I returned to Hermana Mena, she told me that I had a light in my eyes and I needed to keep glowing and not let despair dim it.
 
Yesterday morning I was nervous and anxious, but by partaking of the Sacrament and pouring out my heart to Him, He filled my day with light. During Sacrament Meeting the spirit guided me on what I needed to remember — that I had been called and set apart for this work, and with that work comes the spirit and power through Christ.

Week 32 in the Utah Orem Mission

provo-city-center-mormon-temple1

This is the Provo City Center Temple.

This week has been a wonderful week at the Provo City Temple Open House. It has been amazing to me that even though lately it has been extremely busy and crowded (so much so that the parking lot was completely full of people; we can’t even describe how crowded and busy it was), the families who come through the temple feel the spirit! They come out crying and touched. It’s a privilege for me to be a part of this open house and to feel so close to the temple.

Serving at Provo City Temple

A temple open house visitor took this picture Hermana Kathleen and her companion Hermana Mena.

The video we show to all the visitors that describes the history and purpose of temples is absolutely amazing this year. (Because we watch it so much, we’re starting to memorize it. I’ve started to write it down, so when I get home, I can share it with you. It is absolutely powerful doctrine that Jesus Christ is the center of everything we do in the temple, that families can be together forever, and that ordinances are essential.)

I feel this tug of war inside of me — I want to stay on the mission, but I have this feeling that there is something more for me to do at home and at school. I can barely believe that I only have a little more than two weeks on my mission. It has gone by so fast, and I feel a great joy in the work.

Ryan Brady family and Hermana Kathleen at Temple Open House

Hermana Kathleen’s cousin and his family found Hermana Kathleen serving during their tour.

I’ve been keeping up with My Plan this week. I’ve fit it in during a couple breaks at the temple. Each time I begin working on My Plan, I say a prayer, and as I prayerfully seek His guidance in my Patriarchal blessing, I have felt the spirit guiding me and helping me know what He wants me to do, be, and become after my mission. My Plan is inspired. I’m grateful for all that I have learned and become, thanks to my mission and this training I have received as I’ve helped others come closer to Christ.

Yesterday we had a Sunday like no other. After our personal studies, we drove down to the chapel. And when we arrived, we found some people setting up a projector. We were super confused, as it was supposed to be our Fast and Testimony Meeting at 9:00 am. And then we found out that the other stake (our branch meets in a stake center of another stake to which we do not belong) was having their Stake Conference that morning. So after talking with the high councilor, our branch president announced that they would be having a partial meeting, only up to blessing and passing the sacrament, and then we would all go home (because there were not sufficient chairs in the building to have our meetings and for stake conference). We were all in shock, and all I could do was laugh inside. It is an experience that NONE of us will forget.

So with that extra time we had on hand, we decided to attend the stake conference (because it is one of the stakes that we cover) and receive inspiration. Throughout the rest of the day, we applied what we learned to help those we taught and visited.

Later that afternoon we went to another sacrament meeting in Alpine to visit a ward where one of our investigators was going to come. It is a Fast and Testimony meeting that I will never forget. And our investigator came with his family. Their whole family is incredible! They have such great faith in the Lord, and they just glow. At the end, Hermana Mena and I shared our testimonies in English and Spanish. I felt that I needed to share my testimony, but I didn’t know what to say, so I prayed and told Heavenly Father that I would put it in His hands. I felt the spirit guide me as I shared my testimony of Christ and of the Restored Gospel. And while I was up there, I felt this overwhelming reassurance that the Gospel is true and of what I have done and will continue to do after the mission.

Burnt waffle 2

Here is what a forgotten waffle looks like after a few days. Hermana Kathleen described it as “pretty gross.”

I have felt a change occurring in me throughout my mission. I look back at the pictures from the beginning of my mission, and I can see how the Lord has been molding me, healing me, refining me, and helping me develop more of His Sacred Character.

It’s been a beautiful experience witnessing the change occurring here in American Fork and the spiritual growth of the members and of those investigating the church. The Lord is softening hearts and preparing His children to receive the gospel.

Week 31 in the Utah Orem Mission

DSCF3489

Kathleen received her mission call in May 2013to serve a Spanish-speaking mission in the Utah Provo Mission. She was so excited to begin this new journey.

[This week’s pictures cover a journey that began with her mission call in 2014 to her last few weeks of her mission where she is serving in the Provo City Center Temple Open House.]

Thank you all so much for all your kind words of encouragement. It has been a wonderful week: equally challenging, but rewarding spiritually. I feel discouragement attacking me more than ever, but it is beautiful to me that the Lord doesn’t give up on me, and I have a wonderful companion who is so patient and caring with me. She helps me focus on the good in me and not get buried by my weaknesses. Yesterday night I didn’t feel I was accomplishing anything. But then Hermana Mena — she is so precious and wonderful — sat with me and helped me overcome those feelings of inadequacy. She reminded me of the blessing I received from my Heavenly Father through President Killpack: that these families that I am serving will one day receive those ordinances. She helped me see through my Heavenly Father’s eyes — that I am here to do all I can. And that night, we entered a new home for the first time and we had an amazing lesson where the spirit was present and testified to their hearts of the truth of the message we bring. I now feel like I can relate to Abraham (Genesis 15), Moses (Moses 1), and Joseph Smith (JSH 1). Satan really doesn’t want us to be happy. He knows us well and attacks us at our weaknesses. But I am learning about the power of Christ — He can lift us out and give us hope when we feel there is no way out.

MTC Christus

This is a picture from the Mexico City Temple Visitor Center near the Mexico MTC at the start of her Spanish-speaking mission in August/September 2014. She was learning then that she was an “official” representative of Jesus Christ. She was acquiring the Spanish language and the skills of how to be a proselyting missionary in her new language in just six weeks of training.

Yesterday afternoon I was reading in Alma 26 and verse 4 called my attention: “And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.” As I read that, the Spirit spoke to my heart, saying: “That is what has happened with you. Here in the mission, the Lord has made you into one of His instruments, and He will continue to ‘tune’ you and strengthen you throughout your life.” That brought me great comfort to my heart.

Payson Temple Open House Christus

Here is Hermana Kathleen again in front of the Christus statue at the first temple open house of her mission: the Utah Payson Temple Open House in May 2015 when she was half-way through her mission. She was gaining experience and continuing to learn how to best represent the Savior.

Throughout my mission I have seen how all these experiences I have had and continue to experience are helping me develop the Character of Christ. He is teaching me, molding me, and helping me develop patience, faith, humility, hope, charity, etc. And now that I am working on My Plan and reflecting back in my mission, I am making plans on how I will continue forth with these spiritual habits and gifts I have received. [She will complete her mission the end of February.]

Provo City Temple Open House Christus

Here she is at her second temple open house: the Utah Provo City Center Temple Open House. This time she is with others in front of the Christus statue. She has gained a firm testimony that she has represented the Savior all along in this journey by serving Him every morning and every evening these past eighteen months by speaking and teaching the words of Christ and by sharing His love for others by loving those she has had the opportunity to serve.

I have been writing down the miracles I am seeing in the temple open house this week. One aspect that is intriguing to me is that I have been meeting so many return missionaries, and they just glow. I intend to do the same.