I was sixteen when I graduated High School. I remember being a part of the Seminary Council and planning out my life after graduation. I was going to finish my BA in the years I had before turning 21 and then go on a full time mission. I was going to change the world. I was going to be successful and my life was going to work out just as I had planned.
My world fell apart. I had to work full time and go to school part time. In the four years it took me to get my Associates Degree, I could have received my BA and right now be working on some masters program. I finally finished my Associates degree and I wasn't proud of it. I felt that I had failed my sixteen-year-old self. She knew what she wanted, she had it all planned out and me? Well, I was confused to say the least.
I was twenty and still had a year to go before I was old enough to serve a mission. I enrolled at the U, planning on taking a semester or two of classes before heading off to my greatest goal.
Instead of taking classes and leaving as soon as possible to serve my Heavenly Father, I made the decision to fly across the world and teach English in China. Ten months of being in a completely different world, separated from everything I had ever known to be normal.
My sixteen-year-old self would have been so confused. I remember talking to my bishop before leaving for China, I wanted to enter the temple. He said I was not ready, he was right. Every trial I faced in The Middle Kingdom strengthened my conviction of wanting to serve a mission, of standing as a daughter of God, of trying every day to become the woman He needs me to be.
Younger me wasn't ready then, and I hardly feel ready now, but as soon as I came back I started on my mission papers. I figured with the Chinese experiences I had obtained in the past year I would be sent somewhere Mandarin speaking. Taiwan? Chinatown New York?
With my family and friends all around I opened my mission call. I could feel the support coming from each of my loved ones, those on different continents, and those at home. TOKYO JAPAN. haha, whaaat?! I'm excited to say the least. You may now refer to me as Shimai Lopez Ruano. Wow. All of the hugs. All of the excitement. All of the planning will be starting now.
I have so much to work for now. Planning on taking a Japanese course over the summer and finishing up my temple prep classes so that I may get my endowments soon. I can't wait. I wish It could all just go as planned. Get everything figured out and spend the next three months preparing and enjoying Utah before I leave it again.
One word I'm sure will keep popping up.
:) Already the trials are piling up. Already the temptations and the possibilities have presented themselves. Yet I'm happy. This is what my Heavenly Father wants me to be doing right now. My plans have obviously not been what I needed and looking back- I wouldn't trade my pains for anything.
I am who I am and hopefully I'll be able to tell sixteen-year-old me that it was all worth it. I'm here. I'm ready to serve you Heavenly Father. I'm ready to serve you, my brothers and sisters in TOKYO JAPAN.