For whatever reason, here are some things that I KNOW FOR SURE that I wrote to him in my letter:
You survived that first brutal week! I am so proud of you! I know it's hard. I don't think you can ever prepare yourself for how hard it is going to be. I am glad you are focusing on "Forgetting yourself and going to work!" because that is really the best thing you can do. I thought about what I could say that might help you when things get hard. And trust me, they will get hard(ER) again. But you have proved you can do hard things because you have been taught to do hard things and you have done so many hard things already. I wanted to share with you some ways that I get through hard things in my own life in hopes that down the road it may help you.
Here are just a few suggestions to help you when things get hard:
**TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME. Don't think too far in the future because that's too overwhelming. When I run a marathon, I am in big trouble if at mile one or two I start to think that I still have 24 more miles to go. Mentally it messes with me and makes those miles ahead seem so unbearable because 26 miles is SO far! Just as two years is SO long. I have to STAY IN THE MILE THAT I AM IN. When I do that, and just think about that mile and focus on that particular mile, then each mile just comes and goes and before I know it, I have crossed the finish line. Two years is a long time, but in the eternal scheme of things, it really is a very short time. And I promise you, it WILL go fast. Just think about ONE DAY AT A TIME and what your goals are for that day. Just make it through that one day. There have been times in my life when things were tough, like when Tyson was sick, that I had to take it just ONE HOUR at a time. Don't let the future overwhelm you.
**DON'T WORRY ABOUT THINGS AT HOME. We are all doing really well. That first week was really hard for us not having you here and feeling the hole you left, but Heavenly Father has blessed us all with peace and comfort knowing you are where you are supposed to be and that you were supposed to go when you did. I was not sure I would survive that first week, but now I am at total peace and I am so happy you are serving the Lord and I know we are going to start receiving some awesome blessings for your sacrifice and service. It's hard to be away and you may feel like you are missing out on things, but you have to try not to think about home and try to not be worried about what is happening at here. There isn’t anything that you’re missing at all! You are not missing ONE THING by being on your mission. And don't worry about any of us because first of all, worry can't change a thing and second of all, it is out of your control and to worry about things that you have no control over is just a waste of energy that you need to put elsewhere. Pray to Heavenly Father to help you not worry about things and ask Him to ease your mind of that burden. He will.
**WRITE IN YOUR JOURNAL. Writing is really good therapy and if you can write about how you are feeling, it will really help you. Sometimes just getting your feelings out on paper is is the only help you need. Take advantage of your journal and write in it every single day.
**BE GRATEFUL. I tell you this all the time, but when you are struggling with anything in life, STOP and FOCUS on what you have to be grateful for. If you are feeling homesick, then think about how blessed you are that you have a home that makes you feel that way. Also focus on the fact that you were able to go on a mission. Think how sad you would have been if you couldn't have served due to health or worthiness issues. For me, when running gets hard, I think about those who can't run and I run for them. You can think about Tyson and how bad he wanted to serve a mission and because you are, he will get to experience it too. HE WILL BE WITH YOU. If you need extra help just say a prayer that he can be near you...and he will be. President Thomas S. Monson said that the Lord has promised His blessings on the missionaries. “Each missionary who goes forth in response to a sacred call becomes a servant of the Lord, whose work this truly is. Do not fear, young men, for He will be with you. He never fails. He has promised: ‘I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.’”
**SERVE OTHERS. Even while in the MTC if you can just do little things for your companions, then that will help you forget about yourself which is always the magic cure-all for everything. Polish his shoes, iron his shirt, make your companion’s bed while he is in the shower. Put on a happy face and take control. Serving them will also help with being able to deal with feeling that you have nothing in common. Let people who aren’t like you just entertain you. Don’t worry if you don’t relate perfectly to them, just find something humorous about things they do and say. Accept their little idiosyncrasies. None of your companions will be just like you and that’s OK. Try and be their favorite companion and you will find that you will love them and they will love you.
**WORK HARD! As you keep writing in your letters the quote from President Hinckley's dad when he was on a mission, "FORGET YOURSELF AND GO TO WORK!" Work truly is the thing that will help you the most. I like President Benson’s statement to newly-called mission presidents in 1982: “One of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry. Work, work, work—there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work”.
**REMEMBER..."This too shall pass." No matter what we struggle with in life, it will eventually pass. The scriptures say "it came to pass", not to "stay". Sometimes it might pass painfully like a kidney stone, hah, but it WILL pass! Just concentrate on studying and working. The bad times will pass. Your mission will go so fast. Just enjoy it! I love Ammon, he was one of the great missionaries of the Book of Mormon. He faced some serious trials on his mission. Recording the Lord’s words to him and his missionary companions at a time of deep discouragement, he wrote: “Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success” (Alma 26:27). Sometimes we just have to bear it with patience, but success will come as it did for them. Success will come for you as a faithful missionary after you patiently persist in doing the work you have been called to do. Sometimes there is nothing you can do in the hard times except to wait them out. Just try to relax and don’t worry about so many things. Hard things help you grow. They really shape who you are. You just have to face them with a good attitude and realize they are making you a better person, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
**PRAY! Prayer is something that you can do anytime in your mind and heart. It can immediately calm you and it can give you the faith you need that your Heavenly Father is beside you. Prayers are always heard and answered. Maybe not in our way or on our timeline, but they are still heard and answered. I love what the Bible dictionary says about prayer: "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7: 7-11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings."
I know these suggestions work for I have applied them all in my life. I also know they will work for you in the mission field. I also know that Heavenly Father is willing and wanting to bless you. But, you must ASK first. When you get on your knees, explain to your Heavenly Father how you feel. Tell Him how you want to succeed but need His help to keep things in an eternal perspective. Promise Him that you’ll do everything in your power if He will help you through this time. Then get up off your knees and go to work!!!
I LOVE YOU MCKAY! I have total faith that you are going to be one of the greatest missionaries that has ever "preached the gospel". Just keep telling yourself that YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS because YOU CAN! You will be okay and when it gets hard just remember to TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME, DON'T WORRY, WRITE IN YOUR JOURNAL, BE GRATEFUL, SERVE OTHERS, WORK HARD, REMEMBER HARD TIMES WILL PASS, PRAY and never forget how blessed you are that you were called on a mission! YOU CAN DO THIS!
Love, Mom :)