My childhood was bumpy road for me—and for my parents. Because of my autism, I didn’t relate to other kids, and sometimes I’d get so mad I’d hurt others and even myself. It got really bad when I was 14. I had to go live in a facility away from home to learn how to deal with all the anger inside me.
But these last 18 months? Total, complete change! I don’t think it’d be bragging to say I’m kinda popular around here now. And I’m loving my new life.
So what changed?
I got called to serve a full-time Church-service mission here for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And where is “here?” The Mesa Deseret Industries (DI) and the Mesa bishops’ storehouse in Arizona. I’m at the DI on Mondays and the storehouse the rest of the week.
But the coolest part about my mission is that I’m part of a new pilot program in Arizona. All young Church-service missionaries in my area have a mission structured like a proselyting mission, meaning we go to mission conferences, we send in monthly reports to the mission president, and every single day we study Preach My Gospel!
I always wanted to serve a mission. My parents and I had been praying that I could have a proselyting mission experience, and then we got a phone call from our YCSM facilitators telling us about this new program. It felt like a miracle.
The missionaries in my zone joke around with me, they have nicknames for me; they’re true friends. On my birthday this year, they surprised me by coming into the room singing “Happy Birthday.” Another miracle, really, considering my previous loner status!
I’ve found my fit after all this time—the place I belong. This experience has taught me that Heavenly Father knows me personally. He knew where I would be the most useful, and He has been with me all along this journey.