I always wanted to go on a mission. When it was time, I submitted my papers for a proselyting mission. I only made it about four months into my mission before I had a complete meltdown and couldn’t continue. The disappointment from coming home early was really hard. It’s like I did something wrong. It was difficult for some people to understand that this isn’t an issue of faith.
My struggle with anxiety started when I was only a month old and was abandoned in a park in Shanghai, China. I was one of many girls abandoned during those years when girls weren’t valued in that society. Park workers found me and took me to the police station. I was then placed in an orphanage. The rules at the orphanage didn’t allow for the workers to play or associate with the children because they felt it would create an attachment. A lot of times people in my situation suffer from a condition called attachment disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. My mother was a volunteer at the orphanage and fell in love with me. The adoption process was long and challenging. I was somewhere between three and four years old at the time.
When I first came home from my proselyting mission, I began living with my grandparents in Utah. When my mother joined me a week later, she suggested we take a tour of Welfare Square. She had heard about Church-service missions from her stake president. She’s like, “It’s a good idea, but it’s your choice.” I thought to myself, “I can do this!”
I had mixed feelings about serving a Church-service mission. I really wanted to, but at the same time, I didn’t appreciate that this was a “real” mission. The way I saw it, a mission is about proselyting; it’s not about serving. What I have since learned is that a Church-service mission is a real mission. Every day I would come to Welfare Square and view the beautiful pictures of the Savior along the wall of the storehouse. They became a reminder to me that the Lord wasn’t only teaching and organizing His Church; He served. He was all about service. I guess my biggest thing is knowing that what we’re doing here has the same amount of spirit, the same amount of miracles, the same amount of joy as anyone could have on a proselyting mission.
My mission at Welfare Square included a lot of serving. I would host patrons at the bishops’ storehouse, stock shelves, and keep things clean. One of my favorite tasks was taking visitors on tours. When visitors from other nations came, I knew what I was doing mattered because the impression I left might influence the growth of the Church in their countries. I'm truly convinced that the Lord is pleased with my work!
My mission taught me how to serve not only those who are less fortunate but those of different cultures and those who struggle with mental or physical challenges that I may never fully comprehend. What a joy and gift they are! We are able to teach each other in different ways and enjoy each other's company. There is love in this mission. However, just like any other mission, there are challenges, but these missionaries know how to be there for one another. I have the utmost respect for our leaders and senior couples. I love them. They truly care about us and the work that is happening.
My testimony has grown stronger from my service. I know that having difficulties somehow allows us to be stronger. I know, too, that I’ve been called by the Lord to do this great work. I have more peace in my life from serving this mission. Why? Because loving our fellow beings is so important. The Lord's work is pushing forward!