My Dear Family and Friends,
It's been several weeks since I have written and I am writing to you now as I sit in front of my fireplace and Christmas tree in good old South Jordan, Utah. I would like to take a minute to explain some of the things that happened during the month and why I am home for Christmas.
Like all missionaries, I experienced all the joys and sorrows of being a new missionary. I struggled with learning Portuguese and adjusting to a new culture but also loved the many new and happy experiences I was having. I loved my companion, my branch, and the people I had the opportunity to teach. However, despite all of the joy I felt from sharing the gospel, I began to recognize that rather than becoming more comfortable with missionary life, I was becoming increasingly anxious. I tried my best to continue working, hoping that the anxiousness would go away. However, about a month ago I took a turn for the worse and recognized that I was suffering from a major depression. The following weeks turned out to be some of the most difficult weeks of my life as I struggled to cope with overwhelming amounts of sadness, loneliness, and all other feelings and symptoms associated with major depression. As I counseled with my mission president, parents, stake president, and mission doctors, we unitedly came to the conclusion that in order to heal and receive the treatment I needed, I would need to return home. This was an extremely difficult decision to make, and it was very hard to leave the people and country I have grown to love so much in the past 5 months. I never imagined needing to return home early from my mission, but the tremendous peace I have felt in relation to this decision have helped me know with a certainty that this is where I need to be and where the Lord wants me to be. I have been honorably released and will be spending the next while healing and beginning the next chapter in my life. I know that there will be ups and downs and to be patient with the process of overcoming depression and understanding the things that have taken place.
While this has proven to be one of the greatest trials I have experienced, I have seen God's hand work miracles in my life and know that He was there to lift me in my darkest hours. I have a firm testimony that Heavenly Father is keenly aware of each of His children and has a plan for every one of them. I am so grateful for the knowledge of our loving Savior Jesus Christ who knows us perfectly and will be with us in every moment. I am so grateful for my loving mission president, my wonderful companion Sister Smyth, and my incredible family and friends for all they have done to help me and show me so much love and support. It has been incredibly difficult, but I am now aware more than ever of the many blessings God has given me. It truly is a wonderful life.