Thursday, July 9, 2015

the NINETEEN months that changed my FOREVER.

I'm HOME. 

I still can't believe it's all over.

It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in this exact same spot nervously writing my first blog post. I can still feel the butterflies in my stomach. I can still remember all of the worries and all of the excitement. And all of the determination to serve the very best mission I could. And now it all kind of feels like a dream.

A dream that changed my FOREVER.

And even though it seems like a lifetime ago, I want to record my last week in Fiji. Because it was fabulous and heart wrenching. All at the same time. All of the Goodbyes were so tender. Sister Kesa and I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday farewelling and having our last lessons with the people we've come to love SO much. A highlight was definitely chopping off Pelekina's dreads to prepare for his baptism. I love that boy so much and I'm so proud of him. I cried when I heard his tender testimony. Mostly because that's the same time the Holy Ghost whispered to me that "This is what it's all about." And that's just the beginning. I BAWLED in our last lesson with Joeli as I reflected on everything he's taught me. He is my Hero. I'm gonna miss these people so much. But they'll always be my people. And I'm so excited to hear all about their baptisms!

Thursday we spent cleaning and packing and finishing up projects. PLENTY WRITING. I think I wrote over 40 letters in the past 6 weeks. And although it was tons of work, I'm so grateful for the sweet experience to reflect on some of the people that shaped my mission. Thursday night we said a few final goodbyes. The hardest of which was my precious daughter. Sister Kesa. She has taught me SO  much these last 3 months. And if nothing else, I'm so grateful I extended to be able to be her companion. She has changed and grown so much and I am completely confident leaving everything in her hands. She is gonna have a rockin mission.

Friday was mission home day. And I just tried to soak in every last ounce of wisdom from President and Sister Layton. Sister Layton shared some fabulous advice from returned missionaries. My favorite was something my old Zone Leader said. He said something to the effect of.....

"Be excited to be home! The next phase has a lot in store! If the Lord wanted you to still be in Fiji, you would still be there." 

That one caught me a little off guard! But I felt the Spirit so strong as she read that one. Because I think a lot of people think that if you come home happy, it means you didn't enjoy your mission or serve well. But that's when I realized .... it's not true. Heavenly Father wants us to be happy at every stage of our lives. So I'm  trying my best to be just so happy! Happy that I served! Happy that I'm Home. And Happy for the future!

Then, after a fabulous farewell dinner, a powerful testimony meeting, some serious hugs and tears, and a sleepless night..... we were off! FOUR hours on a bus back out to the west. SIX hours in the airport. TEN hours on a plane to LA. FOUR hours in customs and immigration (ok, not really. But pretty close!) And TWO more hours on a plane. HOME. It was so fun to travel with the other Elders coming home with me.

But I'll always remember how my heart sank when I felt those little airplane wheels kissed the land of Fiji goodbye. The land that I just love SOOO much. With my whole heart. And part of me stayed there. It will always be there. And part of Fiji is with me! Here as I write this post. It's inside of me. Like they say.... "You can take the girl out of the island, but you can't take the island out of the girl." And I will forever be so grateful to all of the people and the experiences that changed my life. In the tiny island country right in the middle of the ocean. And most of all, I'm so grateful for my Heavenly Father. For knowing that Fiji is where I needed to be. And for sending me there. :)

I have LOVED being a missionary and I wouldn't change it for anything. And I look forward to being a missionary the rest of my life! This Gospel is true. I have absolutely seen too many miracles and too many lives changed to ever deny it. And it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL.

Loloma LEVU,
Sista Matheson :)

                     Combined Zone P-day                     
 Last ZTM
 Our cute investigators :)
Chopping Pelekina's Dread! Poor guy!
 LOVE the Kumar Family!
 Exploring Sister Kesa's new area. 
 Long Live the Suva 3rd Missionaries!
 The Louis Family :)
 "Re-Planting" our hair. It's way bad to just throw it away in island culture.
 Our Favorite Korean friend :)
 Gillian is 10 yrs. old. And she's a stellar artist!
 Sister Parata (replacing me), Sista Kesa (na luvequ), and me.
 Isa! My Tongan Family! The Koroinamuas
 Last Dinner!
 Our Out Take 
 After TWO years of no suits....
 Last Joji's by the seawall. Gonna miss this!
Ready for the BUS (LOVE THESE GIRLS!)