NOTE: While Sister Denson was here, I asked her to write her story about coming home. She sent me the following in a letter.)
Walking off the plane that landed in Salt Lake City was the hardest thing I've ever done; especially knowing Mom was right at the gate. It wasn't time. I wasn't ready to be in Utah or to see my family. My mind was set for February--not August. Everyone was excited to see me, but I couldn't look them in the face. I wasn't ashamed for being sent home, I just wasn't prepared for it. The car ride home was torturous. They tried to make small talk, to help comfort me, but it wasn't working. Walking into the house was even harder. While I stood in the driveway, mom told me something that completely changed everything. Two sisters that I had served with and have grown to love completely "happened" to be in Layton that day. Heavenly Father is so good to me because they were exactly what I needed. Once they walked into my house, it was like all my cares and fears were gone. It was a little bit of Ft. Lauderdale in my home. I was with my sisters once again. Things got a little easier from that point on.
The next morning I started physical therapy. I had a great physical therapist who was so considerate of my situation and had a personal desire to get me back in the field as soon as possible. I grew to love him and his assistants quickly.
I was able to do plenty of missionary work while I was at home. I had the pleasure and opportunity to answer questions and tell what it is like to be a Sister Missionary to the beautiful Savannah Birch. I'm grateful for her example and her desire to do what Heavenly Father asks of her, even if it is hard and something she doesn't want to do. I know she will be blessed for it.
I am grateful for all the help, love, and support the Layton 37th Ward gave to me. I wouldn't have been able to do it without them, the Bishopric, and Stake Presidency. I owe them all SO much! I got the opportunity to spend time with the Relief Society sisters who I sat with on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. They were so kind to let me stay with them.
I was able to attend four of the beautiful temples we have in Utah: Ogden, Oquirrh Mountain, Salt Lake, and Draper. Each time I went, I felt completely at peace. I knew I was going to go back to the field and I knew it was going to be October 5th. Some days when my back hurt more than usual, I would get sad because I would start to doubt that I was going back. I know it was Satan and I know he tried to get me to not go back. I was not going to allow it. He worked in many other ways too. Hardly anyone called me "Sister Denson." I was always called by my first name. It started to make me feel comfortable...like I was back to "Sammi" again. That affected me more than I expected.
As hard as it got sometimes, there were definitely more good days. One that will always stick out to me was Sunday, September 26, the day Maddi received her Patriarchal Blessing. It was so amazing to have the opportunity to be there for it.
That next Monday, I was able to get the letters from my doctor and physical therapist letting the Missionary Department know that I was physically able to return back to Florida and continue serving a full-time mission. I took the letters over to President Dibble that night, after writing my own letter. He said he would fax them off first thing in the morning. We were all a little nervous of how long it would take the Missioanry Department because it was the week of General Conference and we know they don't do mission calls that week.
Mom and I went to the Draper Temple that morning with our friend, Heidi Fitzgerald. I was super excited to go that day because that is the Temple where I received my endowments and I hadn't been back to that one since.
Going into the Celestial Room, I felt absolutely peaceful. I knew everything was going to be okay and that I was going back to Florida on October 5. We went to lunch after our session and while there, I received a text from President Hale asking if I was approved to fly. I responded back that I was and about 10 minutes later, I received another text from him saying, "You are now approved to fly on the 7:00am flight on October 5!" Of course, it made me so excited! Although, it made me wonder if President was just jumping the gun, or if I really was approved that quickly.
Later that night, I was doing some errands with Mom when we got a phone call from President Dibble. He wanted to let me know that I was going back to Florida and that he had my flight plans in hand! I guess President Hale wasn't jumping the gun! When we picked up the flight plans, he told us that only three hours after he faxed them in, he got a call letting him know I was approved. WOW! We couldn't believe how fast it was!
By Monday afternoon, it still hadn't sunk in yet that I would be on the plane in less than 24 hours. It was a fun, calm, peaceful night that I was able to spend with my family.
Tuesday was exciting! I said goodbye to Dad, Mom, and Maddi at the security point and my adventure started there. I had to be searched and patted down. When my stuff was being searched, the two security guards were talking to me about their missions! HAHA! It was hilarious! So I got through the security gate, and onto the gate. I checked in and got my seat assignment. Holy cow! I was on my way back to Florida!! The flights were great and it was fun to get to know the new Elders.
I was able to have dinner in the mission home that night. It was so good to be back amongst these people who I love so much! I got to go out with the Nova YSA sisters that night to an appointment. Sister Zitting and Sister May are such great teachers and I look up to them so much! We had a great lesson with 19-year old Sarah Montlouis. She is so prepared and is completely embracing the gospel.
Wednesday morning before transfer meeting, as we were all getting ready, we got a text from President Hale telling me to leave my bags in the apartment because I was staying in Nova with Sister Zitting. I was so excited!! I love the YSA so much and being able to serve in a branch. It was funny because the night before, at the dinner table, President Hale asked me if I could serve anywhere in the mission, where would it be. I said YSA. He probably got a kick out of that! Especially because when I was put in YSA down in Snapper Creek, I wanted nothing to do with them.
Getting started again with missionary work was rough. I went through all the emotions again of feeling inadequate and not good enough to be here. Prayer and faith have played a big role as well as two great companions.
I know that Heavenly Father knows my needs right now, and as long as I am faithful and obedient, He will always be there to comfort me. I know I will be doing my best for the short amount of time I have left in the mission field and I will be here for as long as He needs me.