[2016 Goal 6/12 • Life Goal #360]: Be a House Leader at YLC.
I feel so super blessed I was able to attend YLC this year! Miguel Martinez's workshop had a huge impact on me. He said that before he came to the conference he felt prompted to scrap what he already had and instead "bring to a remembrance how much [the youth] miss their Heavenly Father." At the end of his workshop he played a clip of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing Come Thou Fount from last General Conference. As we listened he posted 4 photos and told us to choose one we resonated most with. I chose the one below. The reason I chose this photo was because this was similar to how I imagined myself when my missionary service was coming to a close.
I had told one of my companions I felt like we were like warrior princesses - warriors because we go out everyday with a purpose, exhausted from the constant search for people to serve and teach, the constant battle with satan, and the constant battle of fighting my own weaknesses and inadequacies; princesses because even though it's tiring, we know we are Daughters of God, we love and search and serve and teach because we know that everyone is a Son or Daughter of Heavenly Father too.
A couple weeks before I left the mission field, I got on my knees thinking about why I was on a mission. As I went through every good reason I originally had I began to realize those things didn't matter to me anymore. The only reason that was left had grown tremendously throughout my 18 months: I was there because I loved my Saviour. Even though I was going home, I was more excited for the day that I could return to my heavenly home and be embraced in the arms of my Saviour.
I made a few promises to my Heavenly Father before going home, one being a couple lines from the hymn Come Thou Fount:
Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
I did not want to forget how much I loved my Father, my Saviour, and the Spirit. I did not want to waver. I did not want to forget that special spirit I feel when I serve.
But one of the hardest parts about coming home from a mission is no longer feeling the Spirit you did as a missionary. I've tried and tried to feel the same Spirit in my life, but I don't. It's different. It has taken me a while to accept that hard reality, but I've accepted it. I've also learned it's not a reason to give up on living the gospel - it's a means for me to try harder. And sometimes it's tiring. However I'm grateful for the times I get to catch a tiny glimpse of that Spirit. I catch a glimpse of it when I talk about my mission experiences. I catch a glimpse of it when I am with my Young Women. I catch a glimpse of it when I am with my visiting teaching companions. I caught a glimpse of it when my husband and I were sealed. I catch a glimpse of it every time I unexpectedly share my testimony with someone.
Going back to Miguel's workshop, after having that mission flashback, I could not stop myself from crying. For the first time in almost 2 years, I have felt almost the same Spirit I did when I served as a missionary. It was a HUGE tender mercy for me because I have accepted I probably would never feel it the same way again. But here it was. It reminded me how much Heavenly Father really does know me and knows that part of my heart that has been yearning so silently.
It really set the tone for the rest of YLC. It blew my mind how many times I felt it, how many times the words speakers said were already literally written in my mission journals. They were great reminders to me of why I press forward.
The youth are so, so special. They have such a special spirit when they are gathered together like this. I loved being a youth and am grateful for all the leaders I had that helped me be who I am today. It was my final year at YLC(2010) as a youth when I finally knew I had to serve a mission. I know that these programs are inspired by God who loves us all too much to not give us opportunities to gather in strength and numbers like this.
Thank you, Miguel, for acting in faith and following a prompting. Your decision made a huge impact on many and I will be forever grateful for that.
Mucho Lovin', folks. Keep on keepin' on.
- Ariana del Mundo