I wasn’t originally planning on posting much about my personal life, but I think it’s only fair with how personal my content is to provide a bit of background on who I am and how I got to be the person I am today.
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My family joined the church when I was about four years old and I remember every moment of having the missionaries over and learning for myself, at such a young age, the truth of where I came from, why I’m here, and where I’m going**. It was then that I decided I was going to be a missionary someday. On July 20, 2016, that dream came true. I entered the Provo, Utah Missionary Training Center (MTC) to begin my 18 month service for the Lord. I was assigned to the Tucson, Arizona mission and I was to focus my efforts in helping and teaching those of the Spanish-speaking population. And I loved it.
Being from the rainy, cold state of Washington, being in Arizona was like being in an entirely new world. I had never seen desert before. The cacti, tumbleweeds, roadrunners, and distinct lack of almost anything green made me realize just how different my life was going to be, and I didn’t want to be anywhere else. Arizona very quickly took hold of my heart and I decided early on that I never wanted to leave.
Unfortunately, that dream of never leaving was cut short. I became extremely ill about two months before I was supposed to return home and complete my mission. Without going into too much detail, I was unable to keep down any kind of nutrients. I couldn’t eat anything, and I couldn’t drink much other than water and gatorade. They were my lifeline. This lasted about five weeks. I didn’t want to leave, so at first I just kept working as hard as I knew how. I felt an extra sense of urgency because I knew I didn’t have much time left and I wanted to use every second of that time to work and do everything I possibly could to help the people around me. Not long into my sickness, I lost almost all of my energy. I couldn’t get out of bed or the car without falling, I couldn’t walk very far without needing to sit down to rest, I couldn’t even focus my thoughts for too long without feeling weak and defeated.
But I kept going. It’s interesting how, when you really want something, you’re able to pretty much do the impossible. I know I had the help of Heavenly Father, because through all the tests they ran, I should have at least been dehydrated, but everything kept coming back perfectly fine.
Eventually, after five long weeks, it was clear I needed to be sent home early to determine a better treatment plan than what I was able to receive while being a missionary. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much as I did when I got on the plane to return home. I didn’t understand why I had to leave early, only having been able to serve 16.5 of the 18 months I expected to, but I knew there had to be a reason.
Upon my return home, I was taken to the hospital to run more tests in an attempt to determine what was causing me to be so sick. Originally, the thought was that I was so sick because I have generalized anxiety disorder and they thought I was just anxious about going home. They put me on antidepressants and an anti-anxiety medication, but, while it definitely continues to keep me sane, it didn’t fix the issue at hand. I had ultrasounds, full body scans, blood work, and I was even tested for H. Pylori which causes ulcers, but the only thing we found was that I was perfectly healthy, except for the fact that I couldn’t eat anything.
We never did figure out what was making me so sick, but after about a week at home, and some heavy duty medication, I got better and I was able to keep down my food again, just in time for Christmas!
While we don’t know exactly what made me so sick, we did find something else that was even scarier. Upon returning home from my mission, it was recommended that I got tested again for tuberculosis. I will never forget the moment the doctor told me I tested positive for exposure to TB. I cried. I was so heartbroken. Everyone told me that I would be so blessed for serving my mission, but it just seemed like everything was against me. I felt so hurt and alone and like my efforts weren’t enough. Thankfully, my chest x-ray was clear, so I just had to go on a 9-month daily medication to “cure” the TB that decided to make my body it’s home. If I took the medication every day, I wouldn’t be at risk of active TB ever again.
Now, almost 9 months later, my immune system is still rebuilding itself, but I’m so happy to be almost done with the medication and done with tuberculosis!!
At the time, it seemed like the TB diagnosis was the reason I had to come home from my mission when I did, and being so sick could have been the first stages of the TB trying to activate. Looking back, I could clearly see Heavenly Father’s hand guiding my life. I guess someday I’ll know for sure exactly why I had to come home when I did, but for now I get to just keep guessing.
Coming home when I did allowed me to return to school at Brigham Young University for the winter semester. I loved being back in school, but it was hard for me and I struggle for a while in finding my place again. My first week I felt so overwhelmed, trying to remember everyone’s name and major and apartment number… it was a lot to take in having only been home and in normal life for a few weeks.
It wasn’t long before I met my husband. We lived in the same apartment complex and I was friends with a few of his roommates and best friends with his dog, Zander. About a month before the end of the semester, I came home to find him and his roommate in my apartment with Zander, who was already the love of my life. We only talked a little, but when he left, I turned to my roommate and told her that I needed to go on a date with him. I didn’t know why then, but thankfully he felt the same way. Long story short, and a few short months later, we were married.
The night before our wedding, we decided to write each other letters that we would read by ourselves before the wedding. It was the perfect idea and the greatest reassurance to read his letter and how perfectly it mirrored the one I wrote to him.
When I read his letter, I broke down in tears. It was in that moment that I knew, with zero doubt, that I was exactly where Heavenly Father needed me to be. It wasn’t coincidence that I was sent home early, that I was sick, that I went to school when I did. It was all a plan for my own happiness. It was all designed so that I could meet this wonderful man and, somehow, be a blessing in his life as much as he was a blessing in mine.
I know, this is suddenly really sappy, but I have learned so much in this journey. This year I have learned what it means to truly love someone as well as how to let someone truly love me. My story isn’t unique. It isn’t even that interesting, really, but it’s the reason I believe in every day happiness. It’s the journey that shaped me into a confident woman, who is willing to stand against everyone to do what I know is right. Not everyone is going to understand the things we go through. Not everyone is going to be supportive of the decisions you are most sure about. But by following what you know is right, by loving those around you no matter how difficult it may be, you can find true happiness in your own life. You can learn that the opinions of those who aren’t involved in your situation really don’t matter as much as you think they do.
I believe we each have miracles in store for us, and if you haven’t found yours yet, keep going. I promise it’s not too far. And on your way, remember that there really is a plan, and you really are noticed and loved and important.
**for those of you who want to know more about where you come from, why you’re here, and where you’re going, head on over to lds.org or mormon.org to learn more!