This post is a 4 min read
As an independent 20 yr old millennial enjoying life in its grainiest fullness, I can say that I absolutely love to travel. However, I didn’t always like to.
I used to have a lot of fear. A lot of anxiety. A lot of doubt. I didn’t think this was a safe world, nonetheless that it was worth seeing. The only places I really wanted to visit was New York and maybe Korea. New York because it was the home of innovation and Broadway, and Korea because I wanted to experience my heritage a bit more.
I grew up in Utah, so I felt I had seen all that was really worth seeing in the West Coast. Now, it was time to see the East. Or rather, New York.
I had to exercise a lot of faith- a lot of faith- to move to Arizona last summer, where I lived and worked at the Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge. I was going through a hard time, so when my friend offered to work for the summer and travel while I was at it, I took it. I felt good about it, even though this was something that I had nightmares about. I was extremely scared of getting lost, dying somewhere, getting kidnapped, seeing and experiencing things I didn’t want to experience, and other worldly things that just scared me into my shell in the first place.
But soon enough I was all set. I was packing, planning my trip, looking at flights/shuttles, looking up weather, etc. And then… my friend got sick. Like, really sick. Just, boom, out of nowhere. Completely out of the blue. I was soooo confused. Am I still supposed to go, Lord? Do I need to wait? No, I need to go. But alone? Well, I guess so….
And I went. And I went with a heart full of fear and anxiety, but I went with the Lord by my side. I felt confident deep down that everything would be alright, but I didn’t feel it on the surface. On the surface I was shaking and sweating. I was also wondering.
Just a few weeks before this decision was made, I received an insanely strong prompting that I needed to go on a mission. I knew I was going to go one day, but something told me this trip was the beginning of my trek towards the day I would get my mission call. My own personal Exodus, Hajj, migration, whatever you want to call it. I was on my way. And I felt SO lost.
I felt like a child who’d been pushed to the front of a crowd, not willing to turn around and humiliate herself. I needed to keep going despite my doubts and fears.
I loved working there. And I had experienced the worldly, uncomfortable things there that I predicted. I hadn’t realized how impactful they would be negatively but also helpful.
I emailed my sister (who’s currently about 15 months in on her Chicago Mission) about my experiences. The people I was around, the sights, the smells, the ambience. It was all very overwhelming. I felt so alone. I was literally the only member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on that entire mountain. I was the only person who didn’t drink, smoke, have sex, do drugs, cuss, or more. I felt like a complete and utter outsider.
I mean, take this from someone who’s primarily been surrounded by those of the same faith most of her life. I was sheltered in the Gospel growing up. This was new and exposed territory. One that was equipped with barbed wire, traps, and alarms. I was careful to watch my step at all times (D&C 87:8; Ruth 3:11).
Then, one day, while having a poor day thinking of my loneliness, a group of nuns walked in to my deli. They were literally radiating light. I just knew that the Holy Spirit dwelt with them at that moment. It was a Sunday (as most Sunday’s are unusually beautiful) but they- just those women’s countenances- were radiant. The Lord had answered my prayer. The Spirit can dwell here, where I was, even though I felt it unfit. The Lord was always there. He heard my prayer the moment it was asked in my heart. This was one of the many comforts I’ve felt since my journey began.
Soon, I began to feel more love and inclusion. I didn’t complain. I didn’t say, “Why did you send me here, Lord?” every night. I would then start to say, “Lord, please help me fulfill what you sent me here for.” And I could see the gifts and skills the Lord gave me help others. Some, dear friends whom I truly hope to see again. One of those friends was my bfffffff Win. He was wonderful. Truly sent to help me. He was a wonderful friend to me when I really needed people. He helped me make good decisions (‘No. You should go to church if you feel you should. We can always watch a movie another time.’). He appalled me. He cared about what I cared about, and in that sense, he cared about me. I had never felt such love from someone before until I met him. I felt like a bird under his wing. He truly took care of and watched over me. He might disagree, but I consider him to be one of my ‘guardian angels.’
I’m talking about all of this because I want all of you to know that God is real. He cares about every single one of us. He cares about me, Julie Andrews, you, your cousin, your enemies, your teachers, the milkman, that clown from your 2nd grade birthday party, your parents, your siblings, your loved ones. He KNOWS you. He is watching over you daily and is waiting to fill your spot in heaven.