This post was from March-ish 2012, before I served an LDS mission for an abbreviated 4 months.
I suppose this would be a bigger deal if I were 21. There's really not a whole lot to do besides buy a few more items of more-modest-than-usual clothing and get my driving record from the DMV... I don't have to sort out housing or leases or transportation information. The whole talking to strangers or moving around to different places doesn't intimidate me, nor does living with people with whom I may have nothing in common.
The things I worry about can be boiled down to health things. I'm afraid my neck injury I worked through about four years ago will flare up. I'm going to miss yoga classes a lot, a lot a lot. This has become a huge part of staying injury-free and maintaining my sanity. Luckily I'm not going to Siberia like Elle so I will have access to fruits and veggies all the time, phew. I'm a bit of a health nut, kind of a flaming organic hippie with a "pious" Judeo-Christian Mormon shell. Yay!
This week I became REALLY, I mean REALLY worried about the energy required to pull this off. I am someone who has, since college when I found out, for better or worse, the joys of napping when you pull a late night... or in the working world, when you can catch up on sleep on weekends. This week I really forced myself to acclimate to "mission hours"- for those who don't know, it's a schedule that is planned down to the last half hour from 6:30am-10:30pm every day.
This week I had a really out-of-body meltdown of many tears, rooted in sheer exhaustion, over whether or not I'll be able to have enough energy to keep to this schedule. I honestly haven't tried to sleep this little since high school, the greatest grind of my life, a time where I remember little down time and immense stress. I still bear some scars from that schedule, but I guess if I could do it for four years I can do a mish. But seriously, uh, pray for me....
I haven't been doing too much "research" on my mission, because let's face it, it isn't too foreign in appearance from what I am used to in the East. BUT! This week I also found out that Charlotte is a sort-of Evangelical hub of the South, where apparently The 700 Club is broadcast, or something? I'm kind of amped about this "challenge" of coexisting with Evangelicals. I'm not trying to sound irreverent about the religious practices of others, it's just a fact that in American culture, the Evangelicals put out the worst press and harbor the most negativity and misconceptions than any other religious group toward us Mormons, and are very vocal about their opinion that we are generally misled and hell-bound. Of course, there are more tolerant and educated members of this religion on a personal level that do not believe this. Unfortunately I don't have too much experience with them personally, so I have to resort to stereotypes I've heard and read about. Going into this Southern experience, it's honestly hilarious to me as I am presently (and yes, maybe a facade for how sad I really think it is) that someone, anyone, would believe that any positively contributing member of society is in any danger of going to hell. I've grown up in a religiously tolerant home, I don't subscribe to thinking I am any way "better" than anyone else. At risk of sounding terribly religiously intolerant, I hope that I can have some great dialogue with them, my most earnest hope being that I learn more from them than I could ever impart. Isn't it how it always works- in roles of teaching, we end up learning the most from our students?
Of course, in the above paragraph, I have used the label "Evangelical" for lack of a better way to describe their beliefs. However, it is, from my understanding, the label with which they are most comfortable. When we were in Jerusalem visiting with my mom's friend, it became more apparent to me that it's really detrimental for religious groups to "label" each other. She asked us about our "Mormon" label, and we told her it is nothing more than essentially the title that others have continued to perpetuate. I suppose it's fine to a certain extent- not offensive- but less telling of our beliefs than our official name The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, we don't hold anything that Mormon, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, in higher esteem than anything of the other prophets in the Book of Mormon, the Old and New Testaments, and certainly not to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Essentially, we could just as easily be called Moronis or Ethers or Almas. It would be interesting to find out where this nicknaming originated. Part of me feels funny I don't know exactly how this label originated, but perhaps it's just not that big of a deal to me beyond what I've stated above.
Hopefully the above does not come across as offensive to anyone. It's just what I know presently from my very, very limited knowledge of what "The South" means religiously.