Sunday, October 1, 2017

Heavenly Father Does Answer Prayers, But In His Own Timing

It has been over two years since I posted something on here, but that's because the last time I wrote I thought I was closing that chapter of my life. But Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways, doesn't He? Almost three years ago I came home from serving my LDS mission in South Carolina due to an injury I had while out there. After a lot of physical therapy, a lot of praying(a year and a half of praying), and a lot of faith I realized that it wasn't part of my plan to go back and finish my mission.....well at least not then. I will be going to finish my mission! How crazy is that? This completely shook me to my core. It has been almost three years and I finally closed that chapter and accepted how it all played out, but Heavenly Father has other plans. I am so excited for this opportunity to be a missionary again, and do things over and be a better, more devoted missionary. It is amazing how everything has fallen into place for this next step in life.
It is also unbelievable how the Lord starts to prepare you for things and to receive direction on where to go next.
About four months ago I received a blessing that said that in 30 days my foot would be healed and no longer cause me any problems in my life. I thought that was very interesting since it wasn't something I really focus on anymore and just have learned to live with it, but I had faith in that promise and went with it. About three months ago I had a prompting to not sign another contract for my apartment for the winter semester, but being who I am and wanting to not lose my spot I signed a contract. I kept feeling though that I wasn't going to be in Rexburg by then. Then two months later, driving back to Rexburg from visiting my family, I had a really difficult time going back. I just felt like it wasn't where I wanted to be or where I needed to be. While driving I had the thought pop into my head, "you need to go back on your mission." I quickly pushed it out of my mind not wanting to open that again. I kept thinking how I already got my answer for that and it was always no, it must just be me still not fully accepting that answer. Just a few minutes later it came back but with even more power behind it, "you should go back on your mission, you could start saving now and leave the first of the year..." For the next four hours driving I thought about this and I kept trying to figure out in my mind how I could make this happen and if I could even do this, or if I even wanted to go through it all again. Returning back to Rexburg I spent the next week praying and going to the temple trying to figure out if this was really what Heavenly Father wanted me to do next. I decided that I would meet with my bishop on Sunday and whatever he had to say about it I would accept as my answer. I figured he would have questions or tell me it probably wasn't possible, but to my surprise as I begin to tell him I wanted to go back out I started to cry and the spirit filled my soul. Bishop Young got a big smile on his face and said, "I think that is a great idea." No questions, nothing. In that moment I knew I was receiving an answer to a prayer that I had been waiting for for a long time. He told me he had done this before with one other missionary who had been home for about two years and said that they probably will send me to a new mission, but that he wasn't really sure. The next step was to get permission to open up my papers again and that took about two weeks. As soon as they were open I filled out all the paperwork in about an hour and the next day called for medical appointments. Amazingly I was able to get in for a dentist appointment that same day I called, and then a doctors appointment the next day. Everything went smoothly there. That following Sunday I had my interview with the Bishop and then the next Thursday interviewed with the Stake President. My application was submitted that Friday. Only about a week and a half after I started them. I also decided that I need to spend some time with my family before I leave so I had to sell my fall contract for housing and cancel my winter one. I hadn't even had the ad posted for 24 hours when I had received about three different offers on my contract. It seemed like everything was working out in my favor, but at this point there still was a possibility I could be told no. It wouldn't be a growing experience if there wasn't a time period of a trial of my faith. A month has gone by and no one had even looked at my papers, they hadn't moved at all. I begin to start questioning if I made the right choice and if I really wanted to do this again. I thought I was nervous the first time...I have been about ten times more nervous and terrified thinking about going back out. There are so many fears and worries about trying to do this all over again, and it is harder this time knowing exactly what I am signing up for. I started to give up on the idea of being able to go back out and honestly wasn't sure if I wanted to. Friday morning I received a call from my stake president asking when I wanted to enter the MTC and gave me some options. He then told me, "Alright Sister Rice how does reentering the MTC on January 3rd sound? You will be going back out to your mission in South Carolina."
And just like that all the doubt and questioning left. I am still not really sure why this has all happened the way it has and why I had to wait three years before returning, but I do know that I have faith in my Heavenly Father. If there is one thing I have learned in the last three years through all this is that there is a Heavenly Father who loves me and is so aware of my every need. I have learned to put all my trust in Him for He knows what is best for me. I am so grateful for an answer to my prayer and for the chance to serve and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ for a second time. I cannot wait for what this next year will look like. I know this is not going to be easy but nothing worth learning is easy.
Thank you for everyone who has supported me through this trial and journey and those who will continue to support me as I put my faith in the Lord and His next step for me.
One of my favorite scriptures is 1 Nephi 3:7 "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

Friday, July 10, 2015

Come What May And Love It!

"Sister Rice let's get you home."
That moment creeps into my mind as I sit watching the sunrise. I instantly am back in that tiny little room feeling trapped. As I heard President Turner say those words I can feel my heart sink down into the pit of my stomach. I try to argue what he just suggested but I open my mouth and no words come out. I had never felt so alone in my life. He calls my companion in and as she sits down and looks at me I force a smile on my face through the tears. As she was updated on the situation and looked at me I could feel the love and the bond grow stronger. I knew right then that she was a blessing and that I couldn't have asked for a more caring person to be with me for this moment.
My mind wanders..."Sister Rice you are hereby called as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the South Carolina Columbia mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months." My friends and family clap and congratulate me as I sit down my head is spinning. It was such  a surreal moment. 18 months. My mind just keeps repeating that. "18 months...18 MONTHS...EIGHTEEN MONTHS!" Then I begin to feel small as a voice whispers, "you were there for only five months....just 5 very short months. You couldn't even make it a third of the way!" A tear rolls down my cheek and for a moment I feel as if I failed. That feeling of failure grows until it becomes anger. I began to be filled with pride. "I was willing to give up 18 months, why did you take that away from me? Why did you cut my time short?" But guilt begins to eat me alive and I apologize to Heavenly Father. And for a short moment I feel His love.
I close my eyes and suddenly I'm back 9 months ago sitting in a transfer meeting listening to such a beautiful and powerful musical number that still rings in my head. I meet my new companion and were off back to a place I start to call home. The next thing I know a doctor is sitting across from me telling my companion that I need to be off my foot for 3 weeks. I'm thinking to myself, "Yeah right like that is going to help anyone."  I try to listen to her as much as possible but my pain isn't going away. There are nights I feel as if  I have no control over my foot and wish that it wasn't apart of me. The sun begins to become warmer and I open my eyes. I glance down at my foot and am filled with resentment. That voice comes back...."You could have done more."
I begin to talk to myself, "No I couldn't".
 "Yes you didn't even try to stay, you didn't even ask."
"Well they would have just told me no."
"How do you know? You didn't even try. You could have done more. You could have completed your mission. You FAILED."
As I begin to believe this I start to cry even more. My mission feels like it didn't happen and that I did no good. But as I spiral down I hear a much more softer voice, "Micaela I am pleased with your mission. You accomplished great things."
This is a cycle that happens more than once a week. I have a constant reminder of the reason I couldn't finish my mission because it's still a problem, and with that comes this vicious cycle of the biggest lie I could tell myself, "You could have done more."
Knowing Heavenly Father to be such a loving creator that wants us to succeed, do you think He would ever tell us we didn't do enough? NO
That is our self, and that is Satan! It took me a long time to learn this and is something I still struggle with, but through it all(especially these last 7 months) I have come to realize that faith is the key to overcoming. Can I just state that one more time, Faith is the KEY to Overcoming! I have learned that as long as I have faith in my Savior and His Atonement, and my all knowing, loving Heavenly Father that everything wont necessarily go away but that I am given the strength to endure it and overcome it. Elder Holland said, "The formula of faith is to hold on, work on, see it through, and let the distress of earlier hours(real or imagined) fall away in the abundance of the final reward." I know that final reward is eternal life, and so whenever there is a moment that I feel as if  I can no longer hold on or see it through, I remember my Savior and the sacrifice He made for me and every single one of you so that we could have eternal joy and life. And that moment of despair, anger, pain, or loneliness diminishes and love begins to fill my soul. May we remember that Jesus Christ is so very aware of each of us. You are never alone! Do not let Satan feed you lies that you have not done enough, because Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ KNOW you are ENOUGH!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"It is a Work...but it is also a Wonder. And it is Wonderful. And you are at the heart of that Wonder." - Elder Holland

I have been home for about four months now, and the longer I am home the more my mission seems like a dream. I'm so afraid that I am going to forget things that I am constantly thinking about it, or writing down things when they come to my mind, and talking about it whenever I can. Even though I love talking about my mission, I always get nervous realizing that it's going to come up that I came home early. And there is always that awkward moment when that person pauses to try to read how you feel about that, and then you say, "its okay, I know it was the Lord's plan for me." A relief comes over their face and you continue on with the conversation. I feel like I am learning very well how to handle this situation  before it becomes depressing though. One of my favorite parts of the conversation though is when the person asked if I loved my mission and that they are sure I had an impact on so many people. My mind begins to leave that conversation and drift back to my mission when I first stepped off the plane into South Carolina and how I felt I was breathing in water it was so humid, and looking up at the sky and seeing clouds that were so huge you thought you could reach up and grab them. And to my first transfer meeting where I met my trainer and how she told me, "You are going to love Anderson. The people there are amazing." When I realized there was no sidewalks and every one just parked on people's lawns, and that everyone had side doors, screen doors, a front porch, rocking chairs, and tire swings. Or the first time someone said we could come back and share more. Or the first time to ever quote the first vision word for word standing in the middle of the road on the side of a mans truck and you both got choked up it was so powerful. And after weeks of pleading with an investigator to come to church you finally saw them walking down that hallway. And then I start to think about the people I taught. Did I really have that big of an impact on them? I mean all I did was teach them about the gospel and answer their questions to the best of my ability. The real impact was the Holy Ghost. It told me exactly what to say and when to say it, and when I listened, the investigator felt the Spirit. I taught, the Spirit testified, and the investigator began to act.
Since I have been home I received pictures and messages of baptisms, endowments, and sealings. Joe was baptized in December, Lauren was baptized in February, Erica and Brian received their endowments and were sealed together and to their three beautiful daughters in March, and Susan was baptized just this last weekend in April by Joe, her grandson. My heart has just been full to see and hear about these amazing changes for people I have come to love. It all finally clicked.....yes, I did teach these people and maybe something I said affected them, but it doesn't even begin to compare how they affected me. I realized all the years of me thinking I was being called to a specific place to help specific people, I had it all wrong. I was called to a specific place so I could meet specific people that would teach me. Joe taught me that it's never too late to change, and you can overcome any fear with faith. Lauren taught me to never let anything get in your way of doing something you love, and that if you believe and have faith in something it does turn into something you will know with all your heart, and what it really looks like to serve someone willingly and lovingly. Erica taught me to never ever give up on someone you love and to have patience in the Lord's timing. Brian taught me and reminded me the sacredness of the covenants we make and what it looked like to value the priesthood. He also taught me how to forgive and how to still care and love someone that doesn't believe the same way you do, he helped me realize my dad truly did care and respect my beliefs. Susan taught me that Satan only has as much control as we give him. She taught me that no matter how long we have been doing something that you can break the habit with faith, and taught me the value of scripture study, and what it really meant to study not just read. I could go on and on and on about all the things I learned from people on my mission, but the most important thing that I learned from every one I met on my mission, was love. These people taught me how to love someone in a way that Christ loves us. They taught me what it meant to forget myself and focus all my faith on them so that they could come to know the truth. And doing that made me feel a love that is indescribable, that burns in my heart, and that I will never forget. So when I feel that my mission is fading and that it didn't end the way I wanted it to, I remember that my mission was for a divine purpose, and it wasn't for them, it was for me.

Monday, March 16, 2015

An Answer From the Lord

Another month has gone by...can you believe it? I sure can't! I feel like it was just yesterday that I was in South Carolina as a missionary. I guess that just shows that time goes on even when you aren't apart of something anymore. But lets get to the point...right?! I'm sure there's a few people out there that would like to know if I have decided to return or not. I know I was asking myself that question every day up until a few weeks ago when I finally got the answer I have been waiting for for months. I will tell you the story of how it all came to be.....
After about two months of going back and forth I couldn't handle it... I was getting so many mixed messages and didn't know what to do. So I went to my bishop. As I told him how I was feeling and how I couldn't decide. He counseled me on how to pray about those decisions. That often we try to ask Heavenly Father, "tell me what to do" when we should really be saying "I think this is what I should do because of this, so please help me know is this what I should do." Heavenly Father wants us to use our agency, so he won't tell us what to do, he will let us know if he thinks our choice will be the one that is right for us. My bishop told me, "I'm giving you one week to decide what to do and I want you to come back and tell me what you chose, and I want you to sell it to me! You have to tell me why and what the plan is. Can you do that?" I timidly said yes, but inside I was thinking how in the world am I going to do this. The week went by and I planned for both scenarios and then prayed about both decisions, and went to the temple to confirm that decision. I made a choice and I felt at peace about it. So Sunday rolled around and I went back to my bishop, sat down, and told him the plan. He said, "That is a great plan Micaela and I feel good about it. You made the right choice for you."
So what was my answer??? I received an answer that was very clear that my mission was a success and that the Lord needed me there for that time, but now he needs me here for this time. I have decided to return back to school once my foot heals, and to find ways to be a missionary to the people around me. It is no longer my calling to be doing that every day and I have accepted that. This answer as clear as it was and as much peace that it brought me was still hard to understand and to accept, but I think every missionary does that whether they serve the full time or not. It's hard to leave a place and people you have gained so much love. People that you love more then yourself because you were never thinking about yourself as a missionary. And I'm not sure if I will ever know in this life time why my mission was only five months and why this was my trial, but right now I do know that Heavenly Father accepts and is pleased with my service and that now He wants me to do some things for myself to prepare for my next stage of life, whatever that may look like. 
There was this girl on a early returned missionary facebook page that posted something that just made it click with me what it really means to come home early. She says, "A member in my ward the other day told me this and it really helped me. He said that in the temple video God says,"Call it a day.." For the creation. He says call it a day after the things got done that needed to be accomplished. God doesn't have so say a "time". His time is when the things get done or lessons are learned, then it is called a day. So for us it doesn't matter if we served a day, week, month, year, or 18 months. Once we finished what God wanted us to, he called it a day. He sent us to the next place that needs us, for "a day". I love this. in gods eyes a mission is just as long as it takes to learn or teach what needs to be, after that he needs us to complete the next task. I find lots of comfort in this. We served a complete mission and now we are in the middle of our next mission. Isn't the plan of salvation fabulous?!"

I am truly happy with where I am right now. I love being here with my family, and I especially love spending my days with my 3 year old sister Rylee. She brings me so much happiness and makes me grateful for my call to come home. We have lots of fun together, and I think with the time we have now together will be the foundation of our relationship for the rest of our life's. 
I know that the work of the Lord will continue on and that each of us have a responsibility of helping to do that if it's by putting on a name tag and serving as a full time missionary, or if it's like what Elder Nelson said, paint a name tag on your heart and serve whenever you can. So that's what I am going to do. I'm going to be a missionary for Jesus Christ by my example and the way I live my life. I love my Savior and the things He has taught me and I will testify of Him any chance I get. He is my Savior, my Redeemer, and He lives. He lives to help us get through this thing called life. 
Thank you for all the love and support!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Feelings of An Early Returned Missionary

As a return missionary you go through so many transitions and emotions, but as a missionary who comes home early you have the same transitions but twice the emotions. There are days where you are glad to be home, days when you miss the mission, days you feel like this was part of the plan, and days where you feel guilty and like a failure.
It was hard for me to accept that this was my trial, I have always wanted to serve a mission since the day I met with the missionaries for myself. And when I was out in the mission field I loved what I was doing, every second. There was hard days of course, but overall I felt at home, like it was truly my calling and that it was something I was good at. So when I found out I was coming home I didn't understand. I kept asking why me. I was obedient, I was working hard, I loved the people, I felt I was doing everything the Lord asked of me.
But after being home for a while I realized that's just it...the Lord knew that I would go out there and give as much as myself as I could do answer my call. He knew that I would work hard and put my wants aside. He knew that my trial on my mission would be coming home early, not a companion I didn't get along with, not an area where no one was listening, not being home sick. He knew that in order for me to learn what He wanted me to on my mission it included me coming home after five months. I have come to accept that He knows best for me and that He doesn't give me anything I can't handle.
I have realized that my emotions are normal. And those moments when I get frustrated and ask why me, I should be saying thank you for having enough faith in me for this trial, and now I'm going to do everything I can to have enough faith in you to get me through it.Christ never leaves us, He is always there to help us and we have to let Him. We have to do the things to invite Him.
I like to think of my mission as a growing experience and something that I put all my energy in to. It's been a hard transition and trial but I am thankful for the things that I have learned from it. And that to me is worth every minute and every emotion I go through. Like my favorite song says right now, "And I hope that you don't suffer but take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you'll say...
I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived" (One Republic- I Lived)

Thats how I want to look at my mission.

There have been so many things that have helped me cope with how I am feeling. From family and friends, scriptures, institute, the temple, support groups, videos, etc. I am thankful to know that I am not alone and to have so many resources to remind myself that coming home early is okay and not something to feel ashamed or guilty about. Below is a link to the latest video that has helped me:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Question Everyone Is Asking

It's been almost another month since I have been home and it seems like time is just flying by. I have been still trying to figure out why I have been called home for this time, but am also focusing on just getting better. I am currently on my third week of physical therapy and I can't tell how it's going quite yet. My foot has hardly any swelling, so that is a good sign, but it still hurts, especially during and right afterwards. Today the physical therapist said hopefully soon it wont hurt anymore. I like doing physical therapy though because it makes me feel like I am doing something to solve the problem rather than when the doctor just told me to stay off of it.
To keep myself busy I started a CNA class last week. It's only twice a week but I will be  CNA by the end of April. I hoping this will help me to be able to get a job, and start working towards my degree to become an RN. If I decide to stay home or go back out on my mission, at least I will be certified to do nursing when I come back or where ever I go.
So will I return to my mission or not? I'm sure that is what a lot of you might be wondering, and to tell ya the truth I am wondering the same thing. I thought it would be a clear easy decision, and that I would just know. Just like how I knew I was suppose to go on a mission in the first place. When I got home my stake president told me that there would be days I would feel strongly one way and strongly the other way, and he told me to allow myself to go back and forth, that that was normal. I kind of just blew that off thinking that wont be me I will know what I am suppose to do. Well I don't know if Heavenly Father saw that as a moment to give me a trial of my faith, or if Satan saw it as a weak spot to attack. ha. Right after that I felt strongly that I was done. I accepted that my mission was only five months and it became only a memory that began to fade. I felt that the Lord must of needed to see if I was willing to do whatever he asked for him, and not on my terms. But after a month of being home I was reading an article in an LDS magazine one day when it hit me like a brick wall that I wanted to go back to South Carolina and finish out my mission. I was called for a period of 18 months not 5. I began to feel cut short of my time to serve. I set goals to return as soon as possible hoping to be back by May of this year. But that didn't last long either as I began to think of all my other dreams, and how hard it would be to go through all the emotions of leaving again.,
In the midst of all my back and forth I have also dealt with the question from almost everyone I talk to...."so are you going back out there?" or "when will you be returning?"
I know no one means any harm and they are just being supportive but I hate those questions. And I think the reason why is it makes me feel like I need an answer so I can be prepared the next time I get one of those questions.
In the end of all this I have been home for almost two months, I am slowly healing, and still have no idea why this happened, and if I need to go back. Maybe I wont know in this life time why it played out this way, but I do have faith that if I am living the way I am suppose to that the Lord will prepare me for what he wants me to do next. To return as a missionary in South Carolina, or to return to my education. Either way I will return to something I love, and the promised blessings in my call letter are still true. I only want to do what the Lord wants of me. I hope it becomes more clear as May approaches.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Transition

Well I'm home! I know it's almost been a month but my mom has encouraged me to keep posting in my here I am!
Now that I am home and have had some time to think about my situation I can finally wrap my head around what happened and can share my story...
All the walking in the mission field became a problem week 2. By the end of the day my foot would be throbbing and swollen. I tried icing, ibuprofen, elevating, compression socks, and yet nothing was helping. So after about a month of that I just decided to put it in the Lord's hands and keep working. In October my lovely new companion Sister Bartholomew noticed my foot and highly recommended me going to the doctor. So I finally did which is when I got put in a boot for about a month, when I went back for a follow up appointment the doctor said it wasn't getting better. This was the first time I was told that it might be a good idea to go home. She told me, "you can't help anyone else if you aren't well." I knew the truth behind that...just like we can't preach the gospel if we don't have a testimony for our self. It stung to hear her say that, I had worked so hard to get there and I didn't want to leave. I loved what I was doing, I loved the people. So being stubborn like I am my  mission doctor suggested seeing another doctor for a second opinion...well that doctor didn't say much different. He told me to go to physical therapy for 2 months and then to come back to see if I need surgery. I was worried and concerned, but was going to be able to see my mission doctor in two days at zone conference. It was just after lunch when I was called back to go see him. I sat down, he asked me to go over with him what the doctors said, and then he looked at me and asked "how long have you been out?" I instantly knew the meaning behind that question...I told him about 5 months and he looked at me with disappointment and sighed and the next words that came out of his mouth was, "I think its best for you to go home, I obviously don't make that decision but I am going to highly recommend it to President Turner." I began to cry. I felt as though my mission had ended right there, I lost was so hard to walk back in that meeting, I sat down next to my companion and she asked how it went, I told her I was getting sent home and that was it, we weren't able to talk about it until later that night when I met with the President. When President Turner brought me in he asked how I was feeling, and I couldn't even say a word. We sat down and he said, "Well sister Rice lets get you home! and get you better!" He counseled with me about taking the time to heal and to figure out what Im suppose to learn from it all. He then told me how slim it is that missionaries return back to the mission after getting sent home but that I would be welcomed to come back. I just sat there crying...I didn't get it at all. We drove home that night in silence..
The next couple days were rough! I had to start packing, saying good byes, and waiting and waiting and waiting for a phone call to tell me when I was leaving. I found out Sunday night, drove to Columbia Monday, and by Tuesday was on a plane back home. It all happened so fast.
The day I flew home was very long...I was up at 2 a.m and didn't fly in until 6:30 p.m
I was so excited to be surrounded my family and friends, it was so nice to be able to see them all again and especially right before Christmas.
Now I look back and can't believe I have been home for a month! Time just flies by. The transition has been a roller coaster ride and each day has a different emotion or feeling about my situation. I've been angry, hurt, frustrated, content, happy, depressed, but over all at peace with my Heavenly Father's plan for me. I am taking it one day at a time. This has been one of the hardest things I've faced in my life but I am trusting in the Lord. I miss the mission, I miss Anderson, I miss the missionaries, the rocking chairs, the clouds, people saying Yall, my investigators. But I know that this is where I am suppose to be right now, and maybe I dont see why but Heavenly Father knows why, so I trust Him and take it day by day.

That Saturday after I got home was rough but also one of my best days ever! Joe, a man I had been teaching since the 2nd day in the field, got baptized!!! I was heart broken to miss that and not be there to support him but I was filled with joy to know that no matte what the future holds(returning to the mission or not) at least I helped one person change their life and make those covenants.

 " And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!" Doctrine and Covenants 18:15