Yesterday, one of my mission buddies posted a link to Hark, a vagrant, specifically, a series of comics dealing with Canadian stereotypes. It made me remember an incident on my mission, when I was in Winnipeg.
I was in Canada from August of 2002 to January 2004. In 2003, America invaded Iraq, and Canada wasn’t happy about it. There were many protests, and Anti-American sentiment rose dramatically.
There were an average of 150 missionaries in the Canada Winnipeg Mission when I was there, and all but a bare handful came from the US. During this time, we had a Zone Conference (missions are divided into zones, and once a transfer, or once every 6 weeks, each zone would have a conference, or a meeting with the Mission President. We would be instructed as a group, then have individual interviews with the President) in which we discussed what to do if things got out of control and we had to evacuate the country. It was also stressed that this was a long shot, and probably wouldn’t happen, but the Church is really big on being prepared.
Basically, the evacuation plan was for all of us to go to Fargo. Except Elder Slyman from the UK. (And probably Elder Hastie from New Zealand, but he wasn’t in my zone at the time, and I remember Elder Slyman being singled out) Elder Slyman would go to Toronto, because Canada is a British Commonwealth, and his visa wouldn’t allow him to enter into the US.
I posted this on Facebook last night, and went to bed. As I was going to sleep, I thought it kind of sounded like something I had made up. This morning, I checked, and had a couple of replies from missionaries I served with saying, basically, they remember the protests, but not the evacuation plan.
Now, it’s fully possible that I’m connecting two unrelated incidents in my mind, and the evacuation plan could have been for any major disaster, like, say, if a meteor hit Winnipeg. And it was just because I was dealing with Anti-Americanism on almost a daily basis I connected it to the protests. To make sure I wasn’t TOO crazy, I pulled out my mission journals. I didn’t make it through one entry before I was sobbing.
A mission is like your entire life condensed into 18 months or 2 years. All of the problems, all of the joy all of the trials, all of the heartache are condensed into a very intense time frame. Well, if you’re not sure what the big trial is in my life, then you haven’t been paying attention.
It was on my mission that I discovered that I really would need to take an anti-depressant every day for the rest of my life. I struggled with many of my companions, and, if the rate at which I went through them is any indication, they struggled with me. Reading my entries, I was reminded of investigators that we thought were golden–who we knew felt the spirit, and knew it was true, but eventually dropped us. I remembered petty quarrels with my companions, and feelings of being excluded. I remembered the despair, the heartache, the stupid early mornings struggling to stay awake, the struggle to find motivation to get out and do the work.
I should mention that writing, for me, is a panacea. I would write more about the heartache and the problems I was having then about the fun I would have with my companions. In a series of a week, I would talk about the frustration I had with certain investigators, but not about Marjorie, who was planning on baptism. When I look back, I see the good times, the fun and remember how much I loved it. When I read my journals, I remember the struggle.
Basically, I don’t want to scare anyone considering a mission. Yes, it is hard work, but it is worth it. I count myself lucky that I’ll be able to go again when I’m old–whether or not I find a husband. Men don’t have that option.
It’s been a hard day for me. The emotional aftershock of dealing with E hasn’t been too bad–but the head cold I’ve been fighting for a week has kicked into high gear. Combined with the mission flashbacks…
I’m trying to cheer up before Institute tonight. Hopefully, the topic isn’t something else that’s going to kick me in the butt.