Actually a year ago today, God gave me the greatest blessing ever. He transferred me to serve in the St Johns Ward with Elder Steven Taylor Anderson. This is transfer was the most crucial of all my mission for so many reasons. Many people have asked me since coming home from my mission on which area was my favorite and I try so hard not to answer this question because God gave me five amazing areas that I hold deeply in my heart for different reasons. However, St Johns is an area that I hold the deepest and the most sacred. This is area was an answer to so many prayers. I refer to St Johns as my grace for reasons that I have only shared with a few people. On this anniversary I’d like to come clean on why I love this area so much as I’ve been reflecting on it for the past few months lately.
Prior to be transferred to St Johns, I was battle two major trials: depression and a torn Achilles. While serving in the amazing Arlington, I witnessed something that startled me. Something that was so horrific that it shook me to my core. Instead of asking for help, I figured that I could shake it off. I was wrong and in doing so, Satan was able to attack me in a way that I never thought could be possible. He began feeding on my insecurities, my struggles, and the problems I’ve never solved with my life. He attacked me so much for nine months. I tried so hard to fight it and fake a smile each day but in time it becomes harder to smile when it’s forced. I lost my ability to laugh above all. There were three months where I couldn’t laugh at all. I feel so bad for the Cheifland Ward because they had to see me at my all time low. Depression is a true thing that can hit even the strongest of people.
When I tore my Achilles, satan was able to feed so much more on me. I was in so much pain and I could barely walk which made me feel like a terrible servant of the Lord. I felt so bad for having to slow down my companions. I felt bad that I allowed myself to become weak. The perfectionist in me saw it as a flaw that I couldn’t let anyone see. However, the truth though, I was dying in so much pain. Each step I took was agony and I couldn’t handle it. So the combination of the two trials were killing me and I became a wreck. I felt like a failure and was not happy by any means. I began crying daily and I finally realized that I couldn’t do it alone. I needed the help of my savior’s atonement and I needed relief. I just so desperately needed laughter and happiness. I needed to know that all the hard work that I was doing was paying off. I finally had the courage to ask God for help and told him I could take it any longer. Going home early from my mission was not an option and I let him know that. However, I asked God for relief and help.
God answers all prayers. Before I continue, everything I’ve mentioned prior, I mention it not to have one feel sorry but instead to show that God really does answer our prayers. To show that God has a much better way than how we feel it. For me, God answered my prayers by sending me to the St Johns. This transfer did three major things for me.First being able to see my best friend at least once a month for the last four and half months of my mission. Josh Cordon has saved my life on so many occasions. He is my person in which I tell all my problems to and he so gratefully listens and then lifts me up. He there for some of the worst doctor appointments and was there when I needed him the most. I am forever in debited to this man for all that he has done for me.
Second, God gave me Elder Steven Taylor Anderson. This man is a life saver in which I can’t wait for November 13 to come because he comes from his mission. Elder Anderson was a huge answer to my prayers as he listened to me. He loved me and he inspired me. He allowed for me to not think about all my problems but rather think about how I could help him with his. He did the most service to me in biggest time of need. I’ll never forget the week in which I couldn’t walk after biking all week due to be out of miles from doctor’s appointments. I felt so bad that we had to spend a whole week biking. My ankle was so enlarged, throbbing, and absolutely the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. Worst week of my life! That man, carried me up those stairs with no questions asked when I was struggling to crawl up the stares. His huge heart was exactly what I needed. Though I tried to fight his service, he wouldn’t let me refuse it. He brought laughter back into my life as the two of us were able to laugh through so many things daily. He saved my life. He woke the lion that was inside of me dying to come out. He was the biggest blessing ever.
Thirdly, God gave me the St Johns ward. For those of you that don’t know, St Johns is by far the richest part of the FJM. It has large beautiful homes and everyone there is rolling in dough. Its made up mostly of young families and they have no time for anyone between the work, PTA, golf, swim, soccer, band, football, dance, play dates, school, parties, vacations, and the list goes on. Each person there is beyond busy that I have no idea how they do it all. It’s the prime and the priss. When I first got there, I was beyond scarred of these massive homes and the wealthy families that are trying to keep up with the Jones on the conner of the street. However, these people are the best. This ward showed me so much love that it is beyond real. This large and loud ward taught me the most lessons of all. The St Johns ward has the best members of the church with the biggest hearts. For example, the Hicks, in my mind, are the most model family ever! They were so inspired as they just so happened to feed me after every doctor appointment that I had. They have four amazing kids and the parents are beyond spiritual. They are laid back and so funny. Best part, they eat everything off paper plates and plastic forks. I don’t think they know of grateful this gesture was because I was so scarred that I would break a plate or glass in this area. It took so much pressure off haha. Their crazy kids were the best to sit next to on Sundays as they let you eat their treats in the pews. So great! Mike Hicks gave me the most guidance ever! He is one that I truly look up to.
Teylor Sonognini was the biggest part of St Johns that brought laughter and happiness to my life. Tey is a special gift! She is handicap but doesn’t let that stop her from living life. She became my very own best friend. I am convinced that she and I knew each other before coming to earth as we have a special connection. She let live my inner child again and always had the biggest smiles when I would see her. I think my favorite time was when her dad took her out of sacrament because she was not having a good day. She saw me sitting on the couch waiting for a meeting and ran up to tell me a joke. That day, I needed a joke from Tey more than anything as I was able to crumble inside. She taught me not take life so serious. I am so grateful for her parents as they are my heroes! The work they put in with Tey and the rest of their siblings is breath-taking. They have done so much for me that it can’t be numbered.
I am so grateful for the Mcintosh family. Brother Mc is by far the best ward mission leader ever!! Bless his heart because had to do so much to keep me sane. He had to see my biggest break downs and see me on my worsts and yet he helped me to fight through it all. The Greers are the coolest family ever! They have all the latest technology and are so humble! I have never once heard them brag about anything but rather be so willing to offer it to help others. They also have swag above anyone else! The Reinhardts taught me to own the swag that you do have, especially Sister Reinhardt. Sister Reinhardt became one of the most helpful to me as she unselfishly made room in her busy schedule to help almost all my investigators. The Lewis’ are a breath of fresh air. Sister Lewis helped me on so many levels and never blinked to do so. She helped me laugh through the hardest of days. The Postons are the biggest inspiration ever!! They taught me to trust in God through their circumstances. They are incredible. I look up to them so much. I love their love for the gospel and their willingness to do so much! The Fosters were my safe haven. They were the family that let just relax. They were by far the funniest family ever!! Sister Foster can really get me laughing! Brother Eckery taught me that each you need to relax and a little dosage of gossip is a good thing! Every Saturday, we had cookie party which really never had a gospel aspect but rather it was a chance to destress from the week. He is an amazing man!! Bishop Moody is the greatest bishop ever!! Hands down the bishop with the biggest heart. The Bakers are coolest people in the ward by far! Sam was best young men’s leader I have ever seen. Truly inspiring. Brother Jordan is the greatest Elder’s president ever. I have always hated going to the third hour of church till I got the joy of being taught by him. The Jenkins challenged me spiritually and expanded my love for the scriptures every time we went over to their place. They helped me to learn so many amazing things in the scriptures. MAMMA MARRA is the heart of the ward!! That women is best!! I can’t express how grateful I am to her! Richie Williams taught me it was ok be a normal person as a missionary. In my whole two years, he was the only person that actually had an interest in who Riley was and not Elder Frazier. He let me be my true self in a time that I strongly needed to find my self again. The Burmeisters are just amazing!! I love them so much. They are the funniest. The Garlands make the best food ever and have the biggest hearts! They have showed me love even when I knew it was struggle for them. They are the greatest neighbors ever. I am so grateful that I still get to see them. Jackson Crandal and his family were the kindest when it was cold! They saved me on so many cold nights when I thought I couldn’t peddle again. Words don’t express how grateful I am for them.
The Sister’s I got to serve with in this area were so amazing and helped to carry on. They were an inspiration to keep fighting. Thank you so much to Sister Larson, Sister Sorenson, Sister Hawkins, and Sister Bolos. The four of you taught me much and were so amazing. Such hard working and caring. I am so glad that were able to serve together.
Lastly, God gave me Lesile Manna to teach. This women is the funniest thing to ever walk this earth. She was the person that taught me to laugh at the hardest of things. To thank God for being there to wake you up and to take a step forward when life is hard. She taught me that you can rise from the worst things. She taught me to embrace life and just carry on. If anything, there is always something to laugh at at the end of the day.
I know this was long and forgive me for that. I know there are so many that I failed to mention in this post but I am also grateful for them. I couldn’t go on and on about the love I have for this amazing place. Words can’t express how grateful that God gave me this special place. I am so grateful for the lessons this place has taught me. I couldn’t have moved to Utah if it wasn’t for this beautiful place. Thank you for all that you have done for me! Thank you for saving me! This post can’t do it justice.