This is the week that I would be returning home from my mission. In fact, it would be this Thursday that I would be walking off the plan and seeing my family for the first time in 18 months. But seven months ago, I came home early. My health wasn’t going to allow me to stay and finish the last part of my mission and it was devastating for me. I loved being a missionary. I loved sharing my testimony of the Savior every single day. It was the best thing that I have ever done in my life.
For the past seven months, I’ve wondered a lot about why I had to come home. Why couldn’t I have just gotten over the bronchitis/phenomena and regained my health back? Why couldn’t the doctor’s find out why I kept getting sick? Why, why, why? All I wanted was answers. Seven months later, I’ve found them.
Coming home early one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. It was so incredibly hard. I felt like a failure. I felt like I hadn’t fulfilled my purpose as a missionary 100%. I felt like I was being deprived from the best part of my mission. I felt judged. And I really questioned if my reasons for coming home early were the “right” reasons.
90% of my reasoning for coming home early was from my health. I entered into the MTC with a cold that turned into bronchitis then phenomena. I was sick with it on and off from January to the beginning of June. Then August rolled around. I got sick . . . again. I was sick until March. It sucked. I hated it. And I hated that I had zero energy all of the time. 10% was because of things that were happening with my family. As time went by, I got my health back and it became very clear to me that I wasn’t going to be returning to Maryland.
I remember the day I called my mission president to tell him I wasn’t coming back. I called four times, each time hanging up before it rang. I wanted to go back. I wanted to finish the last six months. Finally, I dialed his number one last time and told him what was going on. I cried. He reassured me and said, “Most of life is ‘Plan B’ and Sister Brand, you returned home with honor. You were a stellar missionary. You served the Lord to the best of your ability and that’s all He asks of any of us.” Though his words were sincere and true, I still struggled with coming home early.
I questioned my faith in Heavenly Father and I even questioned my testimony a little bit. Satan really worked on me. He helped me doubt myself and my faith. He encouraged the thoughts of failure. He helped me believe that I wasn’t a good missionary, and that I really hadn’t done everything that I was supposed to do. Needless to say, I was struggling. Then out of nowhere I was spiritually speed slapped.
I came across a scripture that I love very much and would share with everyone. It’s in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 4:20 which reads, “My God hath been my support; he hath led me though mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.” I realized in that moment that my afflictions were part of God’s plan for me. I realized that He had always been there. He had given me so many blessings since I had returned home, one of them being my health was finally restored. He had placed people in my path that I was able to share my testimony with and help them turn to Him. He had given me opportunities to be a missionary without wearing my name tag. He had blessed me in so many different ways that I hadn’t even realized.
Looking back, I’m still seeing so many blessings and the real reason why I came home early. It’s been a hard road but it’s helped me put so much more faith and trust in Him. Today, there is no question in my mind if there is hope in God’s plan because I know that there is. He knows what is best for each of us. He loves every single one of us. He wants to help us in every way possible. There is always hope in His light. There is always hope that He will make things work. It may take patience, waiting, faith, and some bad days but He will always show us His ‘Plan A’ when we’re ready.