Sunday, May 19, 2013

Flashback #28: Still Collecting Miracles.

My mother is going to kill me.

You might think that I'm not sleeping now out of excitement. Ok. That may be partially true, but I'm actually not sleeping because I have one of the most overpowering and overflowing feelings of gratitude I have ever had. I remember only twice feeling more blessed than this. The first occurrence was in college when I was the recipient of a very unexpected and inspired gift. The other and still strongest feeling of gratitude came at the end of my mission realizing what Heavenly Father and the Savior had done for me allowing me to learn from them for the last 18 months of my life.

To all of you recently returned missionaries out there, or maybe prospective or current elders and sisters- I advise you not to fall into the social trap of "trying to get back to normal." It is overrated. Hold on to that feeling and attitude of love, service, kindness, and spiritual sensitivity that you hopefully acquired on your mission. It's much more difficult to get back once you realize it is slipping away.

I have now been home for five months and seven days.

It has been a conflicting five months and seven days.

I miss Tennessee so much. I am grateful to be with my family. I am grateful to interact with the people that I have. I have been so blessed to have EVERY opportunity that I have ever wanted in my life presented to me. Every. Single. One. I attribute it to my missionary service, and to the lessons I learned there, but I still miss it. I miss the food, the people, I love the humidity, I love the trees, I love the culture, I love the beautiful artistic homes, I love the cozy more humble southern homes, I love the fireflies, the smell of the hot summer morning, the street performers, how it seems like you can hear music playing from anywhere if you listen hard enough, and of course I love the people. So much.

Ok, Sister Franson, er, Kimberlee... time to move on.

 My gratitude comes as the result of nothing less than a miracle for me. I am so incredibly blessed with an opportunity to go back to Tennessee for a week. I had someone that motivated and helped me through this whole process for it to happen. I don't think that this friend realizes how much it means to me. He may. I hope so.

My dear friends, brothers, and sisters,

 I want all of you that I have met to know that I love you and I am so grateful for each and every one of you who allowed me to enter the walls of your home and share a piece of your lives with me. I could easily spend years in Tennessee serving you again. I would love nothing more, and that is not what I am called to do anymore. There are others who have stepped up to the call. I have one week, and although I may not make it to each of you, know that I wish I could. I still remember the funny stories you told me from how you met your spouse to how you found the gospel to how you shot a mouse behind the neighbor's refrigerator. I remember the funny moments when your kids would say something embarrassing at the dinner table, and my companion and I would suppress our laughter until we got in the car. We sure love you for that :) I remember the prayers said in our behalf. I remember how I felt strengthened when you would pray for my companion and me by name in church services. I remember the rides you gave, the dinners you served, the investigators you fellowshipped, the pictures you took, the family moments you invited us to. It was you who helped me to be the woman I am today.

 I am grateful for you. In May of 2011, I was a very scared little sister with purple glasses and fuzzy hair. By December of 2012, I had ditched the glasses for contacts, and still had fuzzy hair, and found some confidence. Taking one more off the Flashback list, here's a post from two years ago this summer:

"Lately I've been working on the Christlike attribute courage. Working on it- I may be not as successful as I'd like. Even still, there is plenty that I need to be more courageous about.

Like sharing the gospel, for one. You may be thinking, "Sister Franson, you are on a mission right now! Isn't that being courageous?" To which, dear friends, I may say, "Well that may be true, but I've already conquered the fact that I am here, now it comes down to conquering the fear!"

I'm going away for a while, you see
To find what the Lord has in store for me.
I'm going on a mission, far far away,
To have "much so fun" teaching about Jesus each day.

I'm going to Nashville! How exciting! I'm told
That in Tennesee, it doesn't get nearly as cold
As it might in Idaho, snowing and blowing.
I'm ready to leave! Come on, let's get going!

The MTC food isn't as great as Mom's cooking
Sometimes, I trade nametags with friends who aren't looking...
The first few days are hard and there's no telling when"

.... I was right. There's no telling when. With anything. At the beginning of my mission you couldn't convince me that I'd be where I am now.

And I am grateful.

Seriously though... I broke out into random poem in this blog post. No wonder I didn't finish it.

Have an action-packed day, friends :)
Still-a-sister-but-not-a-missionary Kimberlee Franson

Monday, March 11, 2013

Flashback #23: Busy, Busy, Busy!!

Going slow and steady, but I will finish.

From August 4, 2011

Oh my goodness! Sister Valentine and I have been so busy this week! We feel truly blessed. It has been a week unique to any other on my mission. It starts with no GPS, so we are now reliant on the ancient art of maps. Then it goes to a ton of people we had at church on Sunday- ten nonmembers! We have had teaching appointment after scheduled member visit after teaching appointments all week! We have a few times double booked our days because Sister Valentine writes something in her planner to see someone and then I schedule something else... 

This week is one that I have never forgotten on my mission. It was at the time of so many miracles flowing out of Heaven! Overbooked teaching appointments, people just walking into church asking where to go, there was a baptism the following weekend... this is every missionary's dream! It was wonderful. I am so grateful that I had a companion that was diligent and obedient and taught me to work hard, because I learned right at the start of my mission that it was by those things that the blessings would come, and it is so true!

Being busy with positive things is one of the greatest feelings in the world. I knew that it would be so essential for me to maintain a positive attitude and busy schedule when I came home from my mission. I admit that is is so incredibly hard to not fall back into old habits, and I am sad to say that on a few occasions I have, but I am SO GRATEFUL for repentance, knowing that I can change anything in my life to become more like the Savior. It is such a joyful blessing to my life.

I miss being a busy missionary though. I was in contact with President McKee recently (I still love that man and his amazing family!!) and I told him that I want to add my testimony to the returned Elders and Sisters that have gone before me, that although life might seem easier outside of the full-time mission life, I would trade places with them in an instant. I miss the people that I love so much, I miss what I was able to do every day. Tonight I even thought to myself, "If I could just go to sleep tonight and wake up in Tennessee in the morning...."

My dear Tennessee and Kentucky friends, I miss y'all. I wish that I had more time to spend with you. There is so much more that I know I could learn from you. I'm grateful for the snippets of time that I did have.

Aside from that mushy stuff though, I do want to say that I am so blessed to have the life that I do now! And it is crazy. Just so that some of you might get a better idea of why I might not be in as close of contact as I would like, it's because Heaven has blessed me with this life:

Story for another time, I turned down the option to go to BYU. Big change in plans. Not expected. Heaven told me loud and clear that it's not time to go back yet. To this day, I am still thinking, "WHAT??!!" As a result of that, I needed to figure out what I WAS going to do with this time. My loving parents mentioned my predicament to my dear sweet grandparents who shared their experience when my aunt returned home from her mission. I suppose that there wasn't much opportunity for her at the time, so they lovingly loaded up her car and sent her to find a job and a place to live. I guess she just packed up and left, and landed in Provo, Utah, and found a great job, got accepted into BYU, and later met her husband and all that great stuff.

Well, wanna know what my parents helped me do next?

Loaded up my car, drove to a town in Utah that I had never been to before to live with a dear sweet sister that I barely knew (my two sisters do know her well) who offered to let me stay for as long or short as I like and has a spare room for me to rent. She has been my angel in more ways than one. I couldn't ask for a better roommate. I'm grateful that I at least had that to go on.

Next few weeks was job hunting. I had some GREAT leads. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, I didn't feel right on the first few offers that I had. Finally I was to the point where I was in need of a paycheck, and I got a call back from one place a friend told me to apply- Good Earth Natural Foods. I love that job. I also went in and took a job at Five Guys because I worked there before my mission and knew I could get hired on easily. People tell me that my two jobs are conflicting. That may be true, but they're not conflicting to my bank account.

In the middle of all of this, I was attending a singles ward where I didn't know a single soul. I think that one of the most surprising things to happen in my life occurred when I was called and sustained to be in one of the the Relief Society presidencies (there are two) of that singles ward. I knew the RS president and maybe one other girl I could call by name, and the bishop who was actually released to fulfill a stake calling that day. I guess God knows best. Strike that. I KNOW God knows best. Still trying to figure out His sneaky plan for me though.

Also, the first Sunday I attended was coincidentally ward conference. The stake leaders were there and brought a stack of applications for us young'uns to work in the temple. I knew that this would be a great way to keep the temple in my life a priority, so I took one. A couple of weeks later, I was interviewed, and a month later, I began my shifts as an ordinance worker. It's quite the daunting task, but I love it. If you hold a current temple recommend, and the thought just came to you that you could work in the temple, DO IT. At lease meet with your bishop about it. You will be amazed at the blessings that will come.

And on top of that, I am dating like crazy, and I'm having a party with it. I average one date a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I've lost count on how many different guys... I'm enjoying it while I can because I don't know how long it will last.

So, between two jobs, relief society meetings, working in the temple, dating, and trying to keep my life somewhat organized... My book is full. I usually work four days a week 8am-11pm with an hour break between the two jobs, and on the days I don't work at both places, I am at the temple, in a RS meeting, or squeezing in some time for a date. Sundays are amazing. I get to sleep in. Meetings start at 1 and then my night is full with family and friends and church firesides. I live for Sundays.

I love it that way.

So, just a shout out to my friends, no matter where you are: I have not forgotten you. I pray for you, and I hope you are doing well, and that we can talk soon :)

The other purpose is to say that I know that filling life with the most important things makes most of the difficult or seemingly impossible things easy.

Say "yes" to doing something good that you didn't think you had time for.

I love you all!
Sister Kimberlee Franson

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Flashback #27: Tough Days and Decisions

Dear friends, I am here to finish what I started. I have six more draft posts to publish. This post is unique because it was drafted twice while I was still a missionary. I'm home now. I spent the holidays in Idaho and then moved to Utah. More details on that to come. The stats on Blogger says that I still get occasional page views even though I haven't posted anything for night on two months. That almost makes me want to cry just knowing that I've been away from Tennessee for that long. I miss everyone there so much and I think of so many people every day that I want to call or write a letter or send pictures to. Anyway... that's not the point of this post! No mission-sick mushiness here! Not yet! Anyway, the italicized part is obviously from the first draft in September 2011 and the rest of this post with the exception of the concluding paragraph were written as I was preparing this to be my next flashback.

Hello friends! I remember this day. I also remember many other days like it. So, for those of you who think that going on a mission is fun and exciting, I am here to tell you that it is not always fun and exciting. But is it rewarding? Absolutely. 

September 21, 2011

This week... has been one of the most challenging weeks of my entire mission up to this point. I've had some really tough moments before, but this week it has been spread out gradually day after day. People just aren't home for some reason. We had one of the ward members who was so sweet to drive us around for two nights in a row, and we visited house after house, knocked on door after door, and Sister Anderson and I are to the point where we are trying to find people who have been taught over a year ago to try again just so we can have someone to teach. Want to know how many lessons we have taught this week so far to a non-member? One. And the member that we brought with us got along so well with that non member that they did most of the talking to each other. And that is GREAT! We love it when members come out with us! But this week that has been it. The only people who have let us into their homes this week besides that are members, active and less active. People have cancelled and not shown up to appointments. Yesterday we couldn't get a ride to meet one of our appointments, so we had two choices: walk or ride our bikes. We figured it would take us an hour to walk so we decided to ride our bikes. Up and down hill after hill we went, fixing broken chains and waiting at stop lights along the way until we finally got to the church where we were meeting our appointment. Annndd.... no one was there. We rested for a little while, tried to call, and then headed right back.
   Today has been pretty much the same. We walked to a christian thrift store that we volunteer at every week putting clothes away, hanging them on hangers, organizing, and whatever else they need us to do. It's something that I sincerely look forward to every week because I know that they can use the help.

... The part of that story with the thrift store is that we went there and it was closed for whatever reason. It was indeed a bad day, friends.
We were blessed here in the Tennessee Nashville mission to have a general authority named Elder Perkins come and teach us last Thursday. He and his wife (and our mission president and his wife!) gave us many words of wisdom and ways that we can improve as missionaries and help the work to move forward. There was one thing he said though, that I really love. Please forgive me for not having the direct quote, but it went something like this:

Your mission shouldn't be the best two years (or eighteen months) of your life, but it certainly can be the most important two-year decision.

A mission only lasts for a short time. There are other things that happen in life that are vital for us to draw closer to Heavenly Father, and a mission can definitely prepare us for making those decisions when the time comes.

And let me tell you, sometimes those decisions are hard. The most important thing we can do is to make those decisions wisely and with Heavenly Father in mind. I can testify to you that God doesn't only make up the difference for the sins in our life, but He makes ALL the difference for the choices we haven't even made yet. So, dear friends, for those of you who are wondering about how to decide to go on a mission, be sure that you take it to Heavenly Father. I testify that He will give you a clear and concise answer about what He wants you to do. And I have never met anyone who regrets that decision.

Have an action-packed day!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Flashback #26: Ch-Ch-Changes

Let me tell you friends, I love my mission, and my mission is not easy. You've probably heard me say that before, and you've probably heard a lot of other missionaries and returned missionaries say that before. It is the greatest thing ever. 
I've gotta admit, my mind has been on overload lately. I am going home next week. Monday night I felt a lot like this: 

Post from last fall 2011

I confess, I had a hard moment yesterday. As a missionary, you have a lot to remember, and I also had a lot on my mind, and then I was told something I didn't really want to hear.

I was frustrated. One of my favorite talks came to my mind about a currant bush. I was very much feeling like the currant bush, and I was sympathizing probably a little too much. Sometimes when we face a trial, we feel beaten down, neglected, like we're being punished, like we are worthless, but that's not true in the eyes of the Lord. 

I really felt miserable! With my mind going everywhere I also ran into the problem of not having a filter when I would say stuff. I really made myself look really silly, especially at dinner time. I went home that night asking myself, "What is wrong with me? Why can't I pull it together? Why can't I clear my mind?"

I still don't have the answers to everything. I sure as heck pretend like I do sometimes! Confidence can go a long way! That may be a slight character flaw of Sister Franson. I think that God doesn't give me all the answers to keep my humble. Strike that. I know that's why God doesn't give me all the answers. I still woke up this morning and I took some extra time to pray to ask Heavenly Father to help me clear my mind and to apologize and ask for forgiveness for my pride and personal flaws. I just really want to be a good missionary! It is a constant battle.

I then began pondering and quickly became so grateful for repentance and forgiveness, just the simple ability to move on. To me, that is the great message of the gospel- that we can CHANGE and one day we will changed ultimately to be perfected through Christ forever. (See Enos 1:27)

That's the great hope of the gospel to me. I am constantly messing up, constantly making myself look crazy, and constantly needing to repent. So, for my last week, I am still focusing on trying to change. I know that because of my Savior, Jesus Christ, that I can change and that it is never too late. 

"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God." Moroni 10:32

These are the last words from the great prophet Moroni in the Book of Mormon. I know that these are wise words to live by. So, my dear friends, I extend to you that same invitation: Change your life today. Come closer to Christ. Rid yourself of your burdens and your sins and your sorrows. He can help you to change. He will help each of us to one day be perfected and live with Him again. 

I sincerely hope that you all have an action-packed day!
Love, Sister Franson