A year ago today, I came back to America from Ukraine. I touched American soil. I saw the Rocky Mountains. I hugged my family for the first time in 18 months. And I entered into a dizzying world of trying to find my place in this world again.
Being me, my one-year mark is a time for reflection. So, without further ado, here are:
*All of these are in no particular order. They just are. Feel free to put down your biggest lessons you've learned since being home from your mission in the comments below.*
1. Keep up your mission language.
Just do it. Do your best, anyway. We all know that your language will never be as good as that one transfer when you were in some podunk town in the boonies of Brazil, or Russia, or Germany, or fill-in-the-blank, but it's important to keep it up the best you can, even if that means that all you can do is continue to read your scriptures in your mission language.
2. Relationships Are Crucial to Life.
And I don't just mean dating/romantic relationships. Relationships with family, friends, roommates are vital. Strengthen these bonds. This includes people you new on the mission--members, former investigators, and other missionaries. You have to keep your friends close and be willing to form new friendships. It will fill your life.
3. Disappointments will come. But don't stop dreaming.
Life is full of ups and downs. Just because you worked your tail off as a missionary doesn't mean that all of your dreams will are going to come true all at once. You'll be disappointed--but that shouldn't turn you into a cynic. "Pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the light." Sometimes dreams take time, and sometimes you realize the dream you thought you always wanted isn't really what's best for you. But no matter what, keep hope alive.
4. Keep close to the Spirit.
Because you're going to need the guidance of the Holy Ghost more than ever before. So keep the patterns you had on your mission. Daily scripture study. Meaningful prayer. Regular temple attendance. They really do make a difference.
5. Never Give Up.
This is tied to #3. But it is extremely important. You can't receive all that God wants you to have and you can't become who He wants you to become if you give up. So keep your head up, no matter what. Keep walking. Keep moving forward. You'll find that as you start walking, God will guide your steps. He will grant you peace and you will make a difference in this world if you are determined and choose to trust the Lord.
These are just a few of the lessons that I've learned. It has been a full year, and I am excited to see what God has in store for me next.