I was besotted with my mission. It was the best experience of my life; I didn't want it to end. The time came for me to consider what I would do after I was released. I wanted to know how best to continue to carry the missionary spirit with me, into the next phase of my life. I wanted to have confidence that my Heavenly Father had a plan for me.
Like many young missionaries, I wondered whether I should go to BYU. The thoughts came: an honour code requires students to live by the standards I expect of myself; classes are designed in a way to spiritually uplift (it would be cool to start each lecture with a prayer); there were opportunities to listen to general authorities speak at devotionals. My spirit would soar.
In the end, the decision boiled down to be one of two: go to Zion, or build Zion where I stand. My answer came one morning during personal study as I read the allegory of the olive trees in Jacob, Chapter 5. I remember very clearly hearing in my heart the words, “I have placed you in the outermost region of my vineyard”. And then I knew.
I knew that I was born in England for a reason. I know that I have been blessed to grow up in the Church for a reason. I knew that nothing happens by chance. I could suddenly see all the conversations I'd had with people at school about what I believed. I remembered the light that came into their eyes, as I related to them what the Spirit had told me. I remembered my classmates to whom I was enabled to give some comfort because of what I knew. I remembered those that strengthened my faith by their simple acts of human kindness.
The thought came, “give me three years as a returned missionary, and just see what I could do.”
Through a lot of prayers and serious nudges from the Spirit, I arrived at university in Preston, England. There I found a small but growing wonderful group of Young Adults. They gave me strength to brave the day. They taught me so much by the way they lived their lives, about what it meant to be a disciple of Christ; each one in their own way. I have seen in so many ways that the Lord truly has ‘placed’ me.
I've been home from my mission for about a year. What has happened in my life since returning was not what I expected. But I have seen that the Lord truly loves His people. I know He is mindful of me. He is leading me by the hand to my own personal land of promise. I have come to realise that I am finding Zion within myself