I moved back to North Carolina just before Christmas of 2011.
When I'd come home for Christmas in the past, I could impart all the fervor my personality has to offer for a few weeks, and then whisk back to school before I started to lose steam, and started to miss my life in Idaho too much.
But that wouldn't be the case this time around, and I knew it. I graduated in mid-December. BYU-Idaho had given me everything it had to give, and now it was time for me to face the next steps on my own. From the time my summer internship ended, I knew that if my life was a house, I was watching it burn to the ground.
I sat in the ashes in the drab winter months that followed, unsure of what to do. By the end of February, I still hadn't found work. I missed my friends from school desperately yet was unwilling, or perhaps unable, to branch out. The relationship I'd been pouring my energy into just wasn't working out like I'd hoped, and although I was living with my parents, I felt a long, long way from home.
I went as far as to approach my parents about getting me on medication for the mounting irrational anxiety that I no longer knew how to surpress. They were dark days, and I needed a way out.
That's about the time that Sister Gallego and Sister Felton were assigned to my family ward. These sisters, with their fresh faces and little black nametags, passed around a sign-up sheet, inviting sisters to help them teach people investigating the church. Even in a fog of disillusionment, I recognized the opportunity. I had an inordinate amount of free time, and my need for young, single, female, in-the-flesh socialization was growing frantic. Perhaps, finally, here was my chance!
So I signed up. We three women braved the ghetto of Durham together, in my fire-engine red, sporty Pontiac, and laughed until our sides were sore. These missionaries brought enthusiasm back into my life, a source of joy and sense of purpose that I had been floundering to grasp ever since I graduated and left BYU-Idaho for good.
Sister Gallego, our "little brown sister," was such a spitfire. From California, she had a little ghetto attitude of her own that (honestly) made Sister Felton and I feel a little more safe traipsing through Durham. I still admire her lack of inhibition and the way she enjoys who she is, no apologies. After all, there was nothing to apologize for.
Sister Felton was beautiful in a gentle yet spunky way. Every time I saw her, it seemed like we had a new reason to turn to each other and say, "we're, like, the same person!" with wonder and delight. She had been studying History and English before the mission, after all, and her Utah upbringing gave her a sweet and matter-of-fact attitude about the gospel that I could relate to easily.
These women were living sunshine. In a way, although I was supposed to be helping these sisters save souls, they were actually saving mine. Saving me from a place of discouragement, loneliness, and inaction. Their vitality and action-oriented love of Christ got me going again in a moment when I never could have done it on my own.