Monday, May 19, 2014

From the one who had to take off the nametag

Well, it's crazy to sit here and think that it's already been 2 1/2 months since I got home. Aaahh!

I doubt anyone reads this blog anymore, considering the fact that I'm HOME now, but I figured I could at least tie up this blog with one last post.

I am being completely honest when I say that it was fifty times harder to LEAVE my mission than it was to go on my mission. It truly was the most incredible, life-changing experience that I have ever had. I am so grateful for the lessons I learned, for the people I met, and most importantly for the person that I became.

The "transition" back from a mission is a whole new experience in itself! I definitely had my fair share of awkward moments and running away from boys and talking to myself in the car because I missed having a companion. I still find myself missing the mission almost every day, especially because right after I left, the Ft. Lauderdale temple was finished and they had an open house and then the dedication. It was hard to leave right before that, but I've had multiple experiences since being home that helped me recognize that I am WHERE God wants me to be WHEN He wants me to be here. Even though I wanted to stay in Florida for six more weeks, God's timing was, of course, impeccable. I was needed here. And within the next week, I'll be moving onto the next adventure and I fully trust that God will continue to lead me to the people I am supposed to meet.

I think one of the coolest things for me to recognize since being home is that even though I'm not a missionary anymore, I am STILL progressing spiritually. I am STILL growing in my understanding of the gospel. I am still becoming a better person. In fact, I think that I am a better person now than I was 2 1/2 months ago when I stepped off that plane. I am still dedicated to becoming more like Christ and I've learned that it is possible even without that black nametag. I remember at one point during my mission when I was at a church meeting and someone said, "The real test of your mission is going to be AFTER you get home. Being a missionary is easy. Continuing to apply the things you learned in the real world is the hard part." They were SOO right! It is difficult to be here in the world where there are so many distractions. There is a lot more temptation and a lot more opportunity to go astray. However, there are still many opportunities to serve and to be a good example in ways that I think you don't get as a missionary.

Well, I guess this is my final blog post. I can't live on my missionary blog forever. ;)
I haven't started blogging again back at my home blog, but I love blogging too much to stay away for an extended period of time. I'm sure I'll be back soon enough.

For now, enjoy this letter that I emailed to a bunch of my sisters the first week after I got home.


My lovely sisters,

Oh my goodness, here I am writing to you as an RM (returned missionary). Yeah, it's weird.
I hope you are working hard and having the TIME OF YOUR LIVES! I know everyone says this, but it really does go by WAY too fast. When I walked off the plane I literally felt like I had just left. It was so strange. For the next couple of days I kept expecting to wake up, because surely I was still in Florida and this was just a dream, right?!
Going to Orlando to go to the temple with the other departing elders was AWESOME. The temple was AMAZING. It was (obvi) the first time I've gone since the MTC and...WOW. Mindblowing. Super spiritual. I loved every moment of it and the second I left, I wanted to go right back. I'm definitely excited for you all to be able to go soon when the temple opens!

Thursday was hard. Basically I just cried a lot all day, ESPECIALLY in my interview with the stake president when he was going to release me. It was kind of weird, though, because he didn't really release me and he didn't make me take off my nametag. So I wore the tag the rest of the day and still felt like I was a missionary for the next couple days since I didn't feel like the mantle was really "removed" from me. However, it was interesting to note how the more I let in the distractions of the world (be it worldly music, not having the missionary schedule anymore, getting on Facebook for the first time on Saturday, or watching my first movie Saturday night--"Frozen", which was super good), the more I could feel the mantle leave me. It was sad, and I wanted to hold onto it really badly and keep pretending like I was a full-time missionary. But I realized that I'm not anymore, and so I need to be able to move on and start this next part of my life.
On Friday I got to go to the temple again with some of the ladies from the relief society and again, it was so awesome. I'm learning a lot about the things that I will need to do to be able to keep the Spirit with me strongly, including regular temple attendance and studying my scriptures FIRST THING in the morning--even before exercising. The world really just has so many distractions. As a missionary, we almost take it for granted how close we are to the Spirit. Now, don't get me wrong, I haven't done anything too crazy and I still feel close to the Spirit. But it is a different feeling and I miss the ease with which I could hear from the Spirit as a missionary.
I guess the moral of all this is that you are in such an amazing place right now. You get this incredible opportunity to eliminate all distractions and just learn and grow from the Spirit. Wow! What a blessing our Heavenly Father has given us! Continue being exactly obedient and work hard every minute. One of the weirdest things being home is not feeling purposeful every minute. Take full advantage of your purpose and of your opportunity to bring souls to your Heavenly Father. I know sometimes it can be tempting to look forward to the end, but I promise you, there's nothing here that can't wait. It really isn't that exciting. I would give anything to be back on the mission, serving alongside you!
You are incredible and you truly are changing lives. And don't worry about me....I am doing okay. I really am happy. It's definitely a weird adjustment, but I know that this is going to be good. In relief society today I felt super lonely without a companion, I still feel weird every time someone calls me "Kelli," and I feel a little lost without the missionary schedule. But life is good. I've only had one awkward manhug....I went to visit my friend Natalie and her husband and he tried to hug me and I like awkwardly sidehugged him and patted his back. He just laughed and said, "Wow, you really are straight off the plane!" *sigh* I guess all those transfers in YSA didn't make me any less awkward around boys. Oh well. :)
I love you and I keep you in my prayers!

(the late sister dougal)
PS- I skyped with Sister Stegelmeier today....OH MY, it was so fun to talk to her. We laughed for an hour. She sends her love. :)
PPS- Yes, I DID wear my wig off the plane like I said I would. And I included some pics so that you have proof. ;)
Orlando temple!

Sporting my fancy Florida wig

They look thrilled, don't they?


  1. I am going to share this with Sister Henry's companion who is coming home in about 10 weeks. And the others sisters who follow. Brilliant writing, Kelli. Thank you for sharing your experience to bless the lives of others!

  2. Excellent blog! Valuable information you offer in your articles. Its need to aware this topic. Great!

    Fort Lauderdale


Few things make a missionary happier than getting letters! And...comments are kind of like comment away!