Tuesday, January 12, 2016

an attempt to sum up the last 18 months

Hi everyone! 
This is the last post you'll ever read and the last post I'll ever write as Sister Hickman. Can you all believe it has been 18 months? I can't even feel. I'm numb. And when I do feel sporadically, I feel like I'm going to throw up. I'm so nervous. I can barely eat. Yesterday while we were at the mission office for transfers, it started to hit and I just broke down in tears. As President Jardine hugged me (I think he forgot he couldn't hug me or he just didn't care), with tears in his eyes, he said, "sister Hickman, you have served faithfully. Your Heavenly Father is so proud of you." I felt comfort from my mission dad and from my Heavenly Father. It will all work out. My last Sunday I didn't shed a tear. I don't think my heart and mind knows how to react right now. My world is about to turn upside down. For the last 18 months, my purpose has been "to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." I have worn a skirt or dress everyday, not had a phone, not had internet, not listened to normal music/watched movies/watched TV, not been referred to by my first name, woken up at 6:30am and gone to bed at 10:30pm for the last 18 months. I have biked around trying to talk to anyone and everyone about Jesus. This has been my world and my heart for the last 18 months. I cannot even begin to describe how this has been the most enriching, spiritual, trying, joyful & fulfilling experience of my life. 
As I reflect the lessons I've learned, 3 main lessons come to mind. The first is that I understand living the principle of the commandments and not the requirement. I used to be a total "letter of the law" person. Like tell me the requirement or bare minimum and I will do it. Now, I have this desire to truly make the most of the commandments and allow them to mold me. The second lesson is the ability to recognize and follow spiritual promptings. Before my mission, I felt the spirit at church and in spiritual settings, but I didn't recognize the spiritual promptings in my life to lead me to be a more effective disciple of Christ. The third lesson is this new passion of wanting to always improve, progress, and become Christlike. I don't even think I thought about becoming a better person everyday before my mission! 
I will miss the people here so much. The members, my companions, my mission president, my investigators, my recent converts & and the crazy randos on the streets of Sacramento! Truly, they have all had such a large impact on me. A piece of my heart will always be here.
This past week, sister Sobotka and I were both sick. People kept asking why two sick girls were showing up on their doorstep. While I wasn't able to bike, we could share our testimonies with those we taught. I realized that I didn't need to be upset. I have worked hard my whole mission and truly given it my all. I don't need to have this urge to go crazy my last week and drive it into the wall! I've given it my all the whole time! I'm not making up for loss times! I felt love and peace from my Heavenly Father as He is preparing me for another crazy adventure 3 days after I get home. College. 
My last zone training was this week. They now have departing missionaries give their testimonies there. President and Sister Jardine came to our zone. I didn't want to give my testimony because I felt so awkward being the only departing missionary in my zone. But when your mission pres is in front of you, you don't really have a choice! of course I cried. I said "see president, I do show my feelings!!!" He thinks I try to act tough all the time and hide my sensitive side hahahha. It was special to have them there, and I'm grateful for the support they've been to me. And sister Wright was in my zone, so it was super special to have one of my companions there also, along with sister Sobotka of course :) 
I got to go back to east Sac and Carmichael on exchanges this last weekend. It was such a tender mercy ending my mission with this experience. I got to see all my African converts!!! They are doing sooooo well!!! I was so so happy and full of joy. I love them so much. 
I know this Gospel is True. I know that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and goes hand in hand with the Bible. It is simply a record of another group of people on the other side of the world. I know that as we study it, we grow closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet, just as Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, etc. and that the fullness of the gospel is on the earth. I know that Jesus Christ lives. He is our Savior and Redeemer and He brings hope to all. Good thing it was Him I talked about all day everyday :) I know that Heavenly Father loves His children so much. Don't ever give up. Don't quit! There are blessings ahead!!! He truly is watching out for us. He has never given up on me. He will never give up on you. 
Some great, uplifting messages and info is on lds.org or Mormon.org....they are great websites if you feel down or have questions!! 
I want to close with a verse: Alma 26:29-30 about Ammon and his brothers as missionaries. 
"And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets: yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon.....and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again. And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some."
It is my hope and prayer that I served the last 18 months pleasing unto my Heavenly Father and Savior. If but just one soul has been saved, it has been worth it. In the least, my own was saved. 
Thank you for your love & support. I especially want to thank my parents! It isn't easy sending your kid off for that long! I know my family has been blessed eternally. 
My homecoming talk will be at 9am on Sunday at 3640 S. New Haven in Tulsa. Anyone is welcome!! See you all in TWO DAYS!!!! January 14 will be the most bittersweet day of my life. I'm comin Oklahoma! 

For the last time,
Sister Hickman 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

"And their joy shall be full forever" (Week of January 4th)

Hi everyone!!!
Wow, next week is the last time you'll hear from me over email/blog.
THAT IS CRAZY! I hit 18 months on Saturday, and it's like my body
knows it's all coming to an end because it is following that too. I'm
sick, and I haven't been my whole mission. That's okay. I'm going to
share the gospel with every last breath I have. If they can even hear
me haha I barely have a voice. Sick or not, im still working hard this
week because this is my last full week as a missionary!!! We are
pumped. We are still biking as much as we can this week!
We biked all day Saturday, no one let us in from morning till night,
we were frozen, tired, hungry, I was sick, and to be honest, I cried
silently to myself biking home wondering what the heck I'm doing. I
laugh to myself thinking about how many youth think missions are so
glamorous before they go...I thought that too...no worries. We think,
"I'm going to put on the name tag, bear my testimony to everyone I
see, and go baptize nations." Well, I will tell you straight up, that
missions are hard work and a lot of rejection. But I will also tell
you, they are they are greatest experiences we will ever have. Why is
it so hard? This is the gospel of Jesus Christ! To paraphrase my
favorite person aka elder holland....if it wasn't easy for Christ, why
should it be easy for us? Salvation isn't a cheap experience!
The last 18 months are indescribable, and when I come home and get
asked questions, I may not know how to answer most of them. I'll never
find the right words! Yesterday, I bore my testimony in church with
the little voice that I had. At the end, as tears filled my eyes,
memories flashed through my mind from the last 18 months. All I could
think of was how incredibly thankful I am to my Heavenly Father for
allowing me to do this. He has been so patient with me.
The last couple of weeks, we have been teaching this woman, named
Susan (I guess that's a golden name for me), and she is so sweet. Her
cousin is a member in Texas and referred her. She is so prepared.
Every time we teach her, she says "this just makes sense!" It has been
such a special experience teaching her and seeing the lessons light
someone up. It will be hard for me to leave the people we are
teaching. I know another missionary will come and pick it right back
up, but we get so invested in them. When we leave, our heart stays.
That is the hard part of all of this!
I love my Savior. It is an honor to wear His name on my chest. I love
this gospel. I truly truly love it. It is a gospel of love, hope, and
progression. It brings fulfillment, meaning, and understanding to our
lives. I love my mission. I love Sacramento. I adore the people I have
met. They will never fully comprehend the impact they made on my life.
I'm nervous but excited about 2016. It will be a year full of changes
and the unknown, but hey, I know it will all work out!
I will never be able to put into words how much the love and support
of you all has meant to me. When I hear about missionaries who have no
support from their family or friends because of various reasons, my
heart breaks for them. One of the things that keeps me going when no
one wants to talk to us is....well I have people back home that I love
and they love me! Thank you for the emails, letters, packages,
pictures....all of it! Everyone back home says it feels like I'm
coming back from the dead :) haha. Well get ready because in 10 days,
I get to give you the biggest hugs!!!!!

All my love,
Sister Hickman
Pday is Tuesday next week because it is transfer week :) I will be
here with sister Sobotka and her new companion and then they turn us
over to president and sister Jardine Wednesday morning and we are with
all the departing missionaries until our flight home Thursday!