|Hna. Olson on her last day in Barcelona|
I'll start at the beginning. Shortly after coming home from the mission, I started losing track of and contact with converts and members I'd come to love during my eighteen months in Spain. I decided I would be better about maintaining contact by sending out mass emails every few months or so with updates on how I've been, what I'm doing, and with my testimony. Most, if not all, of my dearest friends and I have been able to check in with each other this way over the last three years, and still stay close. Facebook has also been an excellent tool in this regard, and the primary reason I still have an account is because it connects me to the daily lives of so many people I met on my mission. One of my converts in my last area, however, never responded to my messages-neither to personal emails I sent him. I wondered if he wasn't receiving them; I wondered if I had offended him and he'd never bothered to tell me. But every few months, I would still include his name on mass letters, and I would check to see if he'd set up a Facebook profile. After a year or so of this, I gave up, and though he would frequently cross my mind (because who doesn't still think about the mission daily?) I figured I'd never hear from him again.
Fast-forward a year and a half: after some personal spiritual slumps, all of a sudden, everyone I love is deciding to go on a mission. I'm asked to teach temple prep in my ward. I resolve to be a better member missionary by inviting myself to appointments with the elders serving where I am living. I start having dreams in Spanish again. I am reminded just how much my time in Spain meant to me with every farewell talk I hear over a pulpit, every testimony I hear shared in an appointment. My sister is called to Lima, Peru. An amazing convert who becomes my best friend and eventually my boyfriend is called to Calgary, Canada. My cousin is off to North Carolina in a couple of months, and two more are going to British Columbia and coming home from Winnipeg. My former roommate is excited to leave for Milan, Italy, and a current roommate is starting to fill out her papers for spring. With the missionary age lowering, it seems that everyone is embracing the call to enact the Lord's work and it has only served to show me all over again the many blessings that came from my own service.
But that last convert in my last area - I still didn't know what's going on with him, and he was coming to mind more and more frequently as a result of all these events happening with friends and family going on missions. Eventually (and I should have thought to do this well before) I decided that I would start praying for the chance to hear from him. I prayed more fervently for the people I left behind in Spain - members or not - and finally, one day, I felt prompted to look for this convert once again on Facebook. I plugged in his email, and a profile came up with his name! I immediately added him as a friend and sent along a message saying hello. A few months went by with no response, and then finally, I got a message back right before Christmas. We spent the next few days catching up and talking about how things are going for him. He hasn't been able to attend church as often as he was before, since he found a job working at Ikea that makes him work Sundays, but we reminisced and it was a joy hearing from him again. Working on Sundays has taken a toll on him, and he recognizes that he needs to go back to church and put the Lord first in order to be happy again. I didn't want to make him feel more guilty than he already did for not attending, but did say, with the same frankness I'd employ as a missionary, that re-embracing daily scripture study, prayer, and church attendance were part of keeping the covenants he so enthusiastically made at baptism. Not too long after our conversation, I received a follow-up message that among other things said that his faith was renewed, and his desires to keep his covenants along with it. He thanked me for having spoken with him so plainly, and told me I was family to him.
It meant so much that I was able to find this convert and be able to help him again, despite the fact that I have been home for almost three years now and all that time had lapsed since we last spoke. It was a miracle that I was able to establish contact with him when I did, and I have been so blessed in the past few months to feel my own testimony revitalized because of the spirit of missionary work reintroducing itself in my life.
I know that the Lord is aware of what we need to hear and when we need to hear it, and there's no doubt that He uses His children as instruments to bless one another. I was able to promise miracles to my convert as a missionary, and after, because I have seen them in my own life and know that they happen when we keep the commandments and continue enduring the way we are commanded to do in 2 Nephi. I am grateful for the tender mercies that we are shown when we express desire to align our will with the Lord's and do as He would have us do. Getting back in contact with my convert was a tender mercy for me, and every week when I hear from loved ones on missions, I can reflect on the privilege I had to bear the name of the Savior alongside my own as I went about His work
Emily served in Murcia, Benidorm, Hospitalet and Zaragoza. She returned home in February 2010 and lives in San Luis Obisbo, California, where she is earning a masters degree in English at California Polytechnical State University. She works as a teaching associate at Cal Poly, teaching English 134: Composition.