April 18, 2012
Well here is my final entry to my mission blog! I know it's been seven weeks since I returned home but those seven weeks have given me time to really ponder on my mission and realize what a big blessing it was in my life to know that this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ!
So where do I begin to start … well finish, my mission blog for all the people who have been following me for the last 18 months of my life! Let me start by telling you about the day I arrived back home! It truly feels like it was yesterday! I remember having a good night sleep in the mission home and waking early in the morning to head off to the airport … but not before first taking a side trip to IHOP to enjoy a final breakfast with President and Sister Crawford! That was fun, even though I really didn't want to eat because I was really nervous about flying, but I thought to myself, “Heck if I can do a mission, I can for sure get on an airplane and fly home!”
Once we arrived at the airport we found out our flight plans had been changed due to weather and we would be flying right into Salt Lake and then on to Idaho Falls which was great, one less flight for me, but the time got pushed back and so I would be getting home later then planned. Needless to say, it was a long day of flying and waiting around in airports to get on planes. My first flight was alright; I sat by this guy from Israel. He was nice but it was really hard to understand the things he was saying because of the language. But me being a missionary I still tried to share the Gospel. Unfortunately he said, “No thank you, I have my own religion and we believe in God differently.” It made me think to myself, “How can we believe in God differently? Aren't we all His children and isn't He our Father in Heaven to give us all that guidance and direction in life!” I didn't pursue on because I felt it would only begin to be a Bible bash and I don't do that. The turbulence was terrible on my first flight and it took us three times to try to land the plane. I must admit I was getting scared and gripping onto the arms of the seat and looking out the window and just praying to my Father in Heaven that we can land this plane. Well eventually we did land safely.
There were two Elders traveling with me from Houston to Salt Lake and Salt Lake was their final destination. We all got off the plane and they went their separate ways to go see there family and I went my way to go find my next flight. I had an hour and half layover before we finally got on the plane. They then had to de-ice the plane which took a whole hour longer and finally we took off into the Utah night sky! It was so beautiful to look down at the earth at night and to see God’s creation! The closer we got to Idaho Falls the more excited I was getting to see my family. I wondered what it was going to be like to see them again and wondered if I was ready to see them. I was really nervous, scared and very anxious to see who all was going to be there.
We finally were approaching Idaho Falls; I could tell because I could see the beautiful Idaho Falls Temple out my window and I knew I was home! I was back home! We landed and it took a bit to get off the plane plus I was like the last passenger to get off the plane! I had bought myself a Cowboy hat when I was in Baytown Texas and so before I got off the plane I put my hat on and said to myself, "Let's Do This!" Then I started to walk to the exit and headed down the stairs. As I was going down the escalator I saw a cute sign that said “Welcome Home Sister Emily Hawkins!” (I know I posted it before but I wanted to post it again!)
Super cute! And then I saw my friends and family. I was so excited! I couldn't believe I didn't cry, I usually cry at things but I was okay. I got to hug my mom first and she was of course crying.
She couldn't believe I was home, she couldn't believe that I did it! That I served a mission! Then I hugged my dad and then my sister Rachel and brother-in-law Jackson. Then my mom said, “Look behind those signs over there.” And I went over to them and out from behind the signs came my nieces and my sister Melanie! I was so excited to see them! I had been told they were not coming until just before I spoke in church so they had indeed surprised me. I got teary eyes on that! I then hugged my friends and it was just so amazing and awesome! I got a Jamba Juice too! Super good! Loved it!
Well it was super late when I finally landed. I was originally supposed to be home at 6 p.m. then 8 p.m. and by the time I landed it was ten o'clock at night. Unfortunately my luggage did not make it onto my plane and so we had to wait until the next flight from Salt Lake arrived which was 11:30 p.m. Thankfully my luggage was on that plane! But it was fun to catch up and be with family and have some Jamba Juice while we were waiting! Yummy!
Because I was so late getting home Wednesday night I couldn't get released until Thursday evening. So Thursday I spent time with my family. We had to find things I could do while still being a missionary. Rachel, Jackson, Mom and I started the day off by going to the temple which was great! Later that morning my mom and I went to see some of my friends at my old work while Melanie did some homeschooling with Kadie and Ella. It was really fun to catch up with some of my friends. Then we all went to the Museum of Idaho and that was really fun hanging out there with the girls. Because I was not yet released, I got to wear my Sunday best and wear my missionary tag! After the museum we stopped in at WalMart. While at the check out stand I was just totally talking and visiting with the cashier which really surprised my mom because before my mission I would never have done that. All that day I surprised my mom with how much I had change! Later that afternoon when my dad got off work we went out to eat as a family.
Well it came time to go see the Stake President to be released as a full time servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. President Searle was out of town so it was actually one of his counselors, President Hanson, who released me. It was really great to see him. He brought me in first to visit with him and I told him about some of my mission and how much I was missing it and how I wanted to still be in Texas and be in the warm weather. But I know my time is done and I must go on to the next chapter in my life. Well then he brought in my parents and we talked with them and he told them he could see how much I have changed and how there is a light around me that is just shinning bright! Then he gave me a certificate that says I served an honorable mission and also a nice letter from my mission President. He then said I was released as a full time missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I sat there and I felt different, I knew that wonderful spirit that had been my constant companion for the last 18 months was gone. I still have the Holy Ghost, but he isn't going to be that strong around me like he is when you are a full time missionary. I thanked President Hanson for my papers and we were on our way. I was just crying and sad that I'm not a missionary.
It helped when I got back to the house to have family around. We visited for awhile and then I headed to bed. Before turning in I knelt down by my bed and asked God to help me get through this time. I knew I would need his help to know where to go from here and what to do in my life. I knew I needed His direction and I needed Him especially now to be my friend. I thanked my Heavenly Father for my mission. I prayed to Him that He has accepted my mission. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and is proud of me and is deeply grateful for my service. After my prayer I crawled into bed feeling at peace knowing that things are going to be okay!
The Sunday of my homecoming was awesome! I had the love and support of many family and friends! I even had three missionary companions come up from Utah as well as one of the Elders who also served in my mission who also is from Shelley. I had fun seeing everyone!
Here are some pictures of how my parents and sisters and I set up for my homecoming luncheon.
Here are just some of the people who came to my homecoming!
Companion, Sister Mary Brosnahan
Companion, Sister Nanette Singleton
Companion, Sister Sarah Hatch
Me and my gals!
Elder Josh Wilde, Sisters Brosnahan, Singleton, and Hatch
Good friend Stephanie Haywood
Nieces Ella, Rylee and Kadie and their cousin Leah.
Grandpa and Grandma Hawkins, Pat and Carol McCabe
and honorary Grandma Ida May Hall
I want to end my missionary blog by sharing my testimony. I know that God lives and that He knows each one of us individually and He has a plan for us. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true! This is the true church restored on the earth and Christ will help us in this life to return and live with Him. I know the Book of Mormon is true and it's the word of God and that it is here for us so that we can have that guidance and direction we need in our life! I'm grateful for the Prophet Joseph Smith and for the things he did to restore God's church on the earth! And it's so amazing that we have a living Prophet to guide us today to receive revelation for the people to help us return home! I'm grateful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost; he is a companion of comfort of guidance and of love. I am grateful for that gift God gave us when we are baptized with that proper authority! I hope if anyone who reads my blog that has not yet read the Book of Mormon or who has not read it in a while will pick up the book and read it and then ask God if it is true! I know it to be true! I encourage ya'll to do it! :)
Well my life after seven weeks has changed. I am not living at home I moved in with one of my siblings to go to school to get my CNA and to find a job and then figure out the next chapter in my life. Moving to Utah and getting my CNA is truly a big step for me and very different from my missionary life. But I'm so grateful for the blessings of my mission because the tools and skills and the things I learned on my mission have been a blessing to help me make decisions in my life and to help me be the person I am today!
Well I hope you enjoyed my mission blog as much I have! I am grateful to have been able to share my mission experiences, both the triumphs and the trials! Just always remember that God lives and He is there for you! Bye Ya'll! :)