"I felt like I failed the Lord by not finishing out my mission. I was in the belly of the whale like Jonah of the Old Testament...I did not know what to do. "
Nathaniel had to leave his mission in Mexico City due to anxiety, but he found another opportunity to serve the Lord as a full-time Service Missionary
Elder Juan Uceda once said, “It is comforting to know that we worship a God who is merciful and who allows His children many chances to learn His ways and be obedient to them.” I know this was the case with me.
I have wanted to serve a mission all my life. I love being with the missionaries. So when the time came to put in my papers, I was so excited and also nervous like most people. I still remember when I received my call. I was in Lake Tahoe with the Priests from my ward, and I waited to open it the day I got back. I invited many of my friends over including the Elders. They were all excited for me. When I opened my call, I messed up while reading it. I said “…you are hereby called as a México” instead of “…you are hereby called as a missionary”. I was embarrassed but went on. I was excited to go to México. I would finally be putting my four years of Spanish to good use.
Fast forward three months. I received my call to México, México City South Mission in June of 2014, and in September I reported to the Provo MTC. I was scared and really sad to leave my family, but even though I had my hardships, I loved my experience in the MTC. I was there for six weeks and had two wonderful companions both from Washington State. Elder Stout from Sammamish who is actually giving his homecoming today and Elder Peterson from Camas. Elder Stout and I were the only ones in our district to go to the México City South Mission. The others went to Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Panamá, Cancun, Guadalajara and Tuscan, AZ.
One of my most memorable experiences was being able to sing in the Priesthood Session of the 184th Semi-Annual General Conference with my two companions. I absolutely loved every second - from practicing for 8 days, to the actual performance. It will forever be one of my fondest memories.
A few weeks later, early in the morning Elder Stout and I boarded a plane to México City. I was so excited to be in México. It felt a little weird being in a different country with a different language, but I really enjoyed it. We got settled in with another district and met our trainers the next day. I actually met my trainer on the ride from the airport to a place they called “La Casa Amarilla” or the Yellow House.
At first, I was really enjoying the mission life, but latter on it became really difficult. I remember one time I was in the restroom of our apartment, bawling my eyes out from the stress and homesickness I was experiencing, and thinking “I cannot do this.” Then lyrics from a song I used to listen to popped into my head. They read, “Don't worry about a thing 'cause every little thing gonna be alright…” From then on I knew the Lord was on my side.
Unfortunately, things got harder, and at five weeks and five days of being in the field, I came home due to my anxiety. I felt happy and disappointed about being home. Happy because I was out of that hard time, and disappointed because I felt like I failed the Lord by not finishing out my mission. I was in the belly of the whale like Jonah of the Old Testament. I did not know what to do.
I found out that I could not return to the field as a full time missionary due to my anxiety and, surprisingly, I was elated because I did not feel good about possibly going back out. I still did not know what to do though. Then, one day, my dad and I were talking and the topic of serving a service mission came up. I thought to myself, “Why didn’t you think of that?” After that conversation, I went to the places where I knew I could find service missionaries. I went to the Family History Library where they needed service missionaries, and the institute where they did not. The Family History Library sounded fun, but it did not feel right. My father and I had another conversation after I went looking and he mentioned serving in the mission office. That idea hit me like a ton of bricks. I really wanted to serve in the mission office.
So I brought this idea up to my Stake President when we had one of our interviews. I will never forget what he said after I told him that I wanted to serve in the mission office. He said, “You have a three percent chance,” because this was where every service missionary wanted to serve. I felt a little sad. I really wanted to serve in the mission office and I felt like I was denied that opportunity.
Then President Marston of the California Roseville Mission said that he wanted to see me, my parents, and my Stake President in his office. We walked in, started with a prayer, and then got started. President Marston started out by thanking us for coming in and then told me that he was in need of somebody to serve with a Hmong Elder who was in need of a companion. He asked me if I was willing to do so, and I accepted. He then said I might have to learn Hmong, which was very prevalent in the Yuba City, Oroville and Chico areas of the California Roseville Mission. I was excited because I wanted to learn a new language, and was excited to do so. He then told me that I was a blessing to the mission and was an answer to prayer.
Later that day I met with Elder Mitchell (my new companion) and President Marston to talk about how to find Hmong people in the southern parts of the mission. That is where my life changed for the better. I got a second chance at serving a mission, and I was so happy! Thanks to this wonderful mission, I was able to learn a little Hmong, go to many Zone Conferences, go to Hmong Conference, help out with transfers, get another wonderful companion, use my Spanish, travel throughout the mission, and help the missionaries and the Mission Presidency. This has been a wonderful experience and I am sad to be ending it so soon.
[Disclaimer: We at Mission Fortify have asked ERMs to submit their experiences with returning home earlier than anticipated from their mission service, and we will begin publishing a new story every week on the "ERM Blog." While we encourage ERMs to be honest about their feelings and experiences, Mission Fortify does not necessarily endorse or support the views expressed in every story. It is our hope that these shared experiences will fill other ERMs with hope and encouragement - as well as reassuring them that they are not alone in their struggles.]