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