More than I Deserve

Sorry the update this week is a few days late…given the circumstances this might be the last of these weekly emails and I was feeling pressure to make it a good one, but it’s still a little bit difficult for my brain to focus long enough to write. So this is a pretty inadequate summary of the latest happenings, how I’m feeling, and what’s ahead, but I wanted to make sure anyone who was concerned knew the latest, and I’ll just use the old standby ‘car accident’ excuse as the reason for the inadequacy J

Anyway, as most of you know, I think, I’ve been released as a missionary and am back at home to rest and take some time to get back to 100%. It’s not that there is really anything to worry about, it’s just fatigue and other pretty minor stuff (typical of things like this) which wouldn’t have allowed me to do the full-time missionary thing. I would have been slowing things down and not able to contribute the way that is needed, plus it’s apparently just good practice to take some ‘rest’ time after these things. The plan is to ‘rest’ and once I feel back to 100%, we will figure out what’s next. That could mean going back to Ohio, or it might mean staying here and having my four months as a missionary be it.

It’s been a weird couple weeks to say the least, but the theme for those few weeks (and really the four month of being a missionary, the last year, even beyond) has been that I’ve received more blessings of all sorts than I deserve.

Though I don’t remember the accident or much of what happened for the following two weeks (March 2nd is the first day I really remember), what I do know about that time is that I received more love and support (especially in the form of prayers) than I ever could have thought possible. The total volume of people who were aware of me and concerned, despite the fact that most hadn’t and probably wouldn’t ever meet me, frankly just blows me away. I started to list out specific people here and what they did for me but had to stop because my memory of that period of time is iffy enough that I’m sure I would forget too many. But the point is, I’m in awe and so grateful to all of you.

As far as how I feel about being released and what might be next…there’s a lot that I probably haven’t processed yet, and I imagine that it’s going to be pretty difficult when I do, but the very first thing I remember after the accident (no idea when this was or where I was) was just knowing that things were going to change, and that it was all going to be fine. I have no idea what that means exactly, but I believe it.

If it means not going back to Ohio I will be sad because there are people there that mean a lot to me. But really, despite the fact that missions are HARD, it was privilege to get to do that, even if it was just for four months. It was a privilege I didn’t deserve, being late to the game at 27 and for all kinds of other reasons, but I am really grateful to have been given the chance.

I don’t know how to define a missionary experience as ‘successful’ but I would think it ought to be related to how much a missionary helped people. In that sense I don’t know if my four months could be counted as ‘successful’. But no missionaries go and come back without being helped themselves, and while I wouldn’t call that ‘success’ per se because the purpose of a mission isn’t to help the missionary, I would call it an incredible blessing and if missions were evaluated based on how much they changed the lives of the missionary, I think the impact of mine on me would be too astronomical to measure on any kind of scale.

It was a privilege to be a missionary, to meet the people I met, and learn and grow and change as a result, and while the last couple weeks aren’t exactly what I would have planned, it’s been a privilege to be on the receiving end of so much love. I don’t know what’s next but I know it’s all going to work out fine because ‘I know in whom I have trusted’ (2 Ne. 4).

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9 thoughts on “More than I Deserve

  1. Sister, I want to stand with the others in saying that I think your Ohio mission was a success. Many people who have heard about your experiences have increased their faith in prayer. Your dedication and sacrifice have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. I’m sure we would like to have you back in Ohio, but we will leave that in God’s hands. I know that God is preparing you for the next step, whatever that is. Remember that life itself is a mission. You can bless people wherever you are. Just follow God’s word and spread the light of His love wherever you go. Thanks for the update, I am encouraged that you are making a recovery. My family prayed for you.

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  2. Jenn: I am so happy you are feeling better and you are safely home. We found out Kaylie was in an accident Monday on her mission but she is OK just stiff and sore. It just made me think of how precious every day should be. No regrets and do your best. I am so proud of your service as a missionary and know your life will continue to be full. I wish you all the best and wherever your path takes you I know you will “move mountains” as they say in your own way. You have returned with honor!! Love ya and God bless!

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  3. I am sure there are many people in Ohio who would consider your 4 months mission a success. My husband and I were there for 23 months and I really miss it. Our prayers will still be with you as you rest and heal. May our Father’s blessing be with you always.

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  4. Hi, I’m Sister Saunders’ mom. I, like so many other OCM missionary parents, have been praying and fasting for you and Sister M since Day One. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to know that you are on the road to recovery, even though life didn’t go the way you were expecting. What a miracle that you are still spreading goodness and inspiring so many people. Thanks for sharing your story!
    Love, Jana Saunders

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  5. We love you very much. Thanks for enlightening and inspiring us with your blog, and thanks for putting up with your mother and me as your companions for the past few weeks. One thing you don’t make clear in your blog but that we definitely learned by being with you was that you did your very best while you were serving. You worked tirelessly and with devotion to follow the rigorous requirements of being a missionary, but more importantly, you truly loved and cared about the people you served. … and they loved you back. As a parent, I couldn’t possible have prayed for a better experience for you, regardless of the length of the mission.

    It is an honor to be your parents, and a delight to have been able to learn from you. We are looking forward to the days/weeks/months and years ahead, no matter what direction your path takes.

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  6. Jenn, So glad you are home and safe. I hope that the recovery continues to go smoothly. I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, even if some of those things that happen are really crummy. Still there is a reason, and we may not know the reason until a lot of time has passed. We Love you! And we look forward to seeing you again soon! Jan

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  7. Dear Jennifer,

    I’m so relieved you’re alive and on the road to full recovery. Life is interesting. I love this quote:

    If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans!” I don’t know what His plans are for the rest of your life, but you served honorably. He gave you an honorable release. You actually gave the ultimate sacrifice any missionary can proffer…..your life. You honored the covenant of sacrifice in the temple “even your own life if necessary……..”

    You are an example of a faithful, righteous and dedicated missionary. We’re so proud of your service and willingness to put it all on the line. Very, very few will be tested as you were and are.

    Be of good cheer! We love you

    Aunt Rebecca

    ________________________________ > Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2016 14:57:57 +0000 > To: rsgardiner@hotmail.com >

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  8. Hi Jenn, welcome home! I am really sorry about your car accident, but happy for you that you are still with us! I have been so impressed with your thoughts before, during, and now after, your mission. I look forward to more, and truly am glad you are doing so amazingly well after what you and your companion experienced. All is well, and life is beautiful, and hard. Thank you so much for your honesty, strength, and perseverance. Like you said, and I love it so much , you know in whom you trust, , and that is everything.

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  9. Jenn, the Lord knows the desires of your heart. I do firmly believe that all the experiences we have in this life are for our good and if we seize the opportunity to learn from them, we will be greatly blessed. I know that you have done, and will do that. Let me know how I can help you in this transition. I love you and I am very proud of you! Welcome home:)

    Called to serve!

    >

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