Monday, November 24, 2014

The Refiner's Fire

We have been away from home for over a month now.  I can scarcely believe how fast it has gone by.  We have just this one last week here in Arizona before we fly off to Utah to enter the Missionary Training Center (MTC).

The page about the MTC  on the Church's website says:

"At the Church's Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah, young men and women as well as retired men and women from around the world come together to prepare to serve the Lord. The purpose of the MTC is to provide an atmosphere of peace, love, trust, confidence, and respect in which missionaries can prepare for missionary service".

 I look forward to our MTC experience.  However, we better not blink.  Unlike the young elders and sisters, we will be there just one week.  Then we move on to Salt Lake City where we will do an additional week of training specific to Family History.  Those classes will be at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  

After that we will be leaving the country to begin our mission in New Zealand.  I am excited.  I am terrified.  I am grateful for this opportunity.  Yet I also have been quite surprised by the levels of homesickness I have wrestled with since we left Boise.

I fully expected to miss my friends and family.  I knew I would miss my house, my yard and my dog.  I even acknowledged I would miss my job, despite the fact some people said it must be wonderful to be able to walk away from the world of work.

What I did NOT expect were the tsunami waves of emotion that would hit me with deep longing.  I did not expect the tearfulness.  I did not expect the crushing ache of being adrift, away from life that I loved.

Don't get me wrong.  I have ZERO regrets or reservations about the choice we have made to go on this mission.  I absolutely know beyond any shadow of a doubt that we are doing exactly the right thing.

But that does not make it easy.

Even when Boise got hit with an early winter storm leaving my friends dealing with THIS: 

From my garden pal Victoria's blog:  Our life in Idaho

and I had the luxury of THIS:

I still found myself missing home.   Ok, I do admit, missing out on all that cold, snowy weather did not exactly break my heart.  Still, I would get a lump in my throat every time I would think of my sweet grandchildren.   I ached to go for a walk with my best friend so we could just talk.  (I would have even settled for shoveling snow with her!)

In an Aug 16, 2014 article about Homesickness by Dennis Ho it says:

"...despite the way it's coined, homesickness isn't necessarily about home. And neither is it exactly an illness, experts said.  Instead, it stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security -- feelings and qualities usually associated with home, said Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama's School of Public Health. When these qualities aren't present in a new environment, we begin to long for them -- and hence home.

"You're not literally just missing your house. You're missing what's normal, what is routine, the larger sense of social space, because those are the things that help us survive," 

My situation has been different from that of most college freshman or young people who go off to join the military.  For one thing, I have been accompanied by my sweet husband.  That is a huge plus. Also the place where we are staying is actually very familiar to us since we have been in our son's home since October 21.  I know without question that I am safe and welcome here.

Still, forfeiting the familiarity of my old routine definitely set off an emotional whirlwind.  I found myself waking with a start from bizarre packing dreams.   One night I dreamed there had been a change, with the church notifying us we now would be sent to Bulgaria.  (Did I mention I REALLY don't like the cold?)  In that dream I was scrambling to figure out how I could possibly get long-johns, boots and a parka into my suitcase without going over the 50 lb limit.

I've been very blessed by how patient Elder Bennett has been with me as I've wrestled with all these turbulent emotions.  I know it makes him uncomfortable when some innocuous thing triggers me to again burst into tears.  I know he would like me to get over it and get with the program.  However, I also know that he will support me any way he can as I work my way through this.   And work through it I will.  I'm just very, very glad that we had this buffer time between when we left our home and when we will enter the MTC so I have a chance to get the most potent phase of it under my belt before I begin applying myself to learning the things the MTC will teach me.  I really do feel as though now I am in a much better state for giving my full focus to the task at hand.

When I get caught up in new waves of difficult emotions - fear, anxiety, longing for home, I remind myself of the quote that was passed on by  Gordon B. Hinkley:

“I enjoy these words of Jenkins Lloyd Jones which I clipped from a column in the Deseret News some years ago. … Said he:

“‘Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed.

“‘Most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise.

“‘Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.

“‘The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.’ (Deseret News, 12 June 1973.)” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 254).

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