146. Tell Your Mission Story with Isabella Beals

Isabella Beals is a Senior at Brigham Young University. She is a theater arts studies major with a double minor in music and psychology. She is planning on attending graduate school to study therapy and eventually wants to become a certified drama therapist. Isabella also served as a full-time missionary in Albania from 2018-2020. She loves the gospel, her mission, and her discipline of theater and is always excited when any of those areas combine to create something spiritually powerful. 

She is very blessed to be working on a new project, a play about Missionaries, where she is taking the stories and insights of all kinds of LDS missionaries to create a full-length play. If you want to help support the project, please feel free to share your mission experiences (as a full-time missionary, service missionary, performing missionary, senior couple, mission leader, or any other experience you have with missionary work) by filling out the survey below: 

Share Your Mission Story Here:  The Missionary Play Survey

Learn more from Jennie:

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Get the Full Show Notes HERE

Free PDF Download:  Preparing Missionary Cheat Sheet

My Free Training for Preparing Missionaries:  Change Your Mission with this One Tool

RM Transition Free Video Series:  3 Tools to Help RMs in Their Transition Home

Free Guide:  5 Tips to Help Any Returning Missionary

Schedule a Free Strategy Call:   Click Here

Jennie Dildine 0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone? It’s Jennie Dildine, the LDS mission coach and you are listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 146. Tell your mission story with Isabella Beals. I’m Jenny, the LDS mission coach. And whether you’re preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next. Hey, everybody, welcome to the podcast, I am excited to share with you this conversation that I had with a gal that recently reached out to me and her name is Isabella Beals, and she is working on putting together a play all about missionary work. She is studying theater at BYU. And I was really interested in the idea of her coming on the podcast and her asking me the questions that she wanted to ask me, but then we could record it and then share it with all of you. So I’m excited to share that with you here shortly. And we kind of talk more about it. Also, in there, I talk about a link that you can go click on to fill out her survey, she is trying to gather as many mission stories as possible either. Preparing, currently serving, returned missionaries, anyone who’s served as a service mission as a mission leader, anybody who is a performing missionary, what you have a story to tell all of us have a mission story, and we kind of talk about that in the episode. But I’m going to include that link in the show notes. So that you can click that and go help her out and fill out your information and tell your story. So before we cut to that interview, though, I do want to remind you that there’s about 10 more days to get my birthday discount on mission prep plus, which is a buy one, get one free. So grab a friend, come join mission prep. Plus, I only run a discount about once a year to kind of kick off the summer, celebrate my birthday, and there’s so many of you that are leaving in the next little bit. So go either to the website, Jennie dildine.com, and check out mission prep plus and one of the really fun features that I haven’t talked about as much as that you’ll get ongoing email support from me and my team for the rest of your entire mission. Kind of a cool thing and as long as you need to ask to come home, and all kinds of other fun features. It’s an in not in person we’re not in person will be on zoom just like the online MTC but we will be face to face live classes. So all of that information, Jennie dildine.com, click on the preparing missionary drop down tab or if you have any other specific questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Jennie at Jennie dildine.com. So without further ado, I’m gonna let you learn all of the fun things from Isabella about this project and what she is about to do. And then she is going to ask me some questions. So I hope you enjoy. Hey, I am so excited to have Isabella Beals here on the podcast today. And she and I have been emailing back and forth a little bit and she is a student at BYU graduating this spring. And she is part of the theater department there at BYU and what is your degree that you’re working to get? Yeah,

Isabella Beals 4:04 so I’m currently working on a theater arts major. And then a psychology and music minor. So oh,

Jennie Dildine 4:11 all over? Yeah. Yeah. So I’m a bit of a theatre girl myself. Have we already talked about this? No,

Isabella Beals 4:16 we haven’t. So tell me more. Yeah,

Jennie Dildine 4:19 I was the lead in my high school musical.

Isabella Beals 4:21 That’s awesome. Yeah, it’s really easy. Cool. Yeah.

Jennie Dildine 4:25 So have you heard of The Fantasticks? Oh, yes.

Isabella Beals 4:28 I have actually. Yeah, I’ve sung a couple songs from the show, actually. Yeah.

Jennie Dildine 4:33 Yeah. I was Louisa in the fantastic. So theater has always been close to my heart for sure. And even now, like I can’t really go to a musical theater or any kind of theater kind of thing without like crying in that opening.

Isabella Beals 4:50 Absolutely. It has that effect on you. It does that. Yeah.

Jennie Dildine 4:54 That’s a very powerful medium anyway, so I was super interested when Isabella reached out and was like, hey, So, I’m working on this project, I want to create a play about missionaries and things like that. And she asked him, she could come on and ask me some questions about, like the work that I’ve been doing with missionaries and things like that to add into her place. So I’m gonna let her introduce herself. And then tell us a little bit more about your project and like, where you see it going and what you hope it will accomplish. And then, then we’re going to kind of flip the tables. Usually, I’m the one asking the questions on this podcast. But I told Isabel, I thought it might be really fun for her to ask me the questions that she wants to know. And then we can just have a conversation that way, and kind of see what comes out of it. I think it could be really fun. So

Isabella Beals 5:44 awesome. I’m so excited. Thank you so much for having me, Jenny. This is such a pleasure. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. So thank you. Yeah, so my name is Isabella, I am getting ready. Like Jenny said to graduate from the theater department and BYU this April. I grew up loving to do theater and really falling in love with you in this power, we were just talking about the emotional impact that theater can have and have kind of thought for a really long time. Like there’s something to that there’s even something spiritual about that when we can tap into that creative power in a very creative and expressive medium that way. So about back in January, I just kept getting this prompting and this thought of, you know what, I really love missionaries. And I love missionary work. I work right now as a teacher at the MTC teaching Albanian speaking missionaries, I served my mission in Albania from 2018 to 2020. I loved my mission, and my mission was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And so I think, for me, coming back over the last couple of years, trying to understand what was so great. And also sometimes what was so hard about missions, I think I’ve spent a lot of time figuring that out trying to teach other missionaries how to feel prepared and excited while also balancing Hey, this is going to be a lot and back in January, I kind of had this prompting and this thought of you love theater and you love missionaries, what would happen if we tried to tell a story about those things together? So I started following that prompting reaching out to missionaries that I knew that had experiences and just asking them, Hey, can I interview you? Okay, can I get your mission story? I just would love to hear from your point of view, why did you serve a mission, what was so important about it and what is still important about it to you what was great, what was hard. And it’s just been awesome to get all these stories, to get all these interviews, and just really and truly every single person of our faith tradition, has a mission story, whatever that looks like whether they served a full time mission, a service mission, a performing mission, a senior couple’s mission, or whether they have found themselves engaged in missionary work in other ways. I’ve met some people that will share those stories as well. And it’s just been amazing to see how the Lord really is doing missionary work in the hearts of every single one of his kids. And so that’s the goal is to put a story a play together with all of these missionary stories, put it up on stage and give other people the chance to come watch, watch a powerful piece of theater and think, wow, what was great about my mission, and also maybe what stories have I not visited for a while what’s maybe still uncomfortable or hard about a mission? And what can I do to process that and to tell my story and to move forward with nothing but love and joy for for my mission. So that’s a little bit of the goal of what I’m trying to do. And where I hope this goes in the long run is giving more people the chance to think about what is my mission story.

Jennie Dildine 8:37 That’s amazing. And I totally agree. We were chatting a little bit before we hit record about how I totally agree with you that everybody, especially in our faith tradition is connected some in some form or fashion to missionary work. And whether you have a grandchild, whether you have a child, whether you’re a missionary yourself whether you served a long time ago. It just affects so many of us and we were kind of talking about how it’s interesting, because it’s this interesting idea is that we talk a lot about missions, because everybody seems to be on one but then we don’t really talk about missions. Yeah. And one of the reasons I think, I suspect is because it feels like such a short time. It’s almost like a missionary goes maybe they struggle a bit then they’re home and then they just move on and so that little tiny piece of their life feels Yeah, like like they’ve moved on or it’s not. It doesn’t have to impact me now or something like that. But I love the idea of talking more about it and about the experiences that people have and the stories that they have because everybody has one

Isabella Beals 9:52 salutely Yeah, and just giving people the chance to so unapologetically like continue to unpack their mission experience. You know, 510 2050 years later, we talk in the church all the time about how a mission even though it is for such a short time, can impact your life for the rest of your life. And I hope that what this work does is it gives anybody who has ever had a mission, a mission experience of any kind admission story of any kind. Take a second after they leave the theater and go, Yeah, I should revisit that I there’s still more I can learn from that there’s still more that God is teaching me even though this singular experience may have happened in the past, and it may have been a long time ago. You know, God is a miraculous God, he teaches us the same from the same experience for a really long time. And so yeah, I hope that’s what this does for people to awesome.

Jennie Dildine 10:45 I love it so much. Okay, should we get going with this? So I’m gonna do it. I’m going to include I know that Isabella had asked if she could send her survey to all of you. And so we’re totally gonna do that. I’ll include that in the show notes, the survey? And if you’ve been on a mission, what’s kind of the like any kind of mission? What would be the parameters for that? Do you think? Yeah,

Isabella Beals 11:11 absolutely. So this is just for anybody that has feels like they’ve been involved in missionary work of any kind. And I’ve set up the survey. So you can I hope, no matter what your experiences you feel represented. So if you’ve served a service mission, a performing mission, a senior couple of mission, if you’re the family member of a missionary, and you want to talk about how missionary work LDS missionary work has impacted your life, then I want you to take this survey, I just want to hear what people’s experiences are with missionary work and put as many stories as possible into this play. Because this is all of our story. missionary work is all of God’s children’s story. And so I’m trying to get as many responses as possible. And I would love if anybody who wants to talk about missionary work would take a few minutes and take the survey.

Jennie Dildine 11:56 Well, what do you think about like mission leaders or mission presidents? Absolutely. Yeah. Okay. Yeah,

Isabella Beals 12:02 I think that’d be amazing. Yeah. mission leaders. I actually haven’t. I’ve tried to set up a couple interviews with mission leaders and haven’t had the chance yet. I would love as many mission leaders as possible to take this as well. Okay,

Jennie Dildine 12:12 cool. All right. So I’ll make sure we do that. And then I was just thinking, yeah, originally, when she reached out, she was like, well, you fill out this survey, or could we hop on an interview? And I’m like an interview? Sounds fun. Let’s do it. I’ll let you take it from here. Great. Well, thank

Isabella Beals 12:27 you so much. I’m so excited I originally reached out to Jennie just because I have I’m a super big fan of the work that you do. I’ve kind of followed your podcast and social media for several months now. And just I just am super impressed and super touched by the work that you do with missionaries as well. And so today, I would just love to hear more about your individual experience with this particular line of work of trying to be like a life coach for missionaries, and what that looks like. I think that is a beautiful story to tell. So I’m super excited to get to know a little bit more about you in the story today. So kind of my first question, actually, I would love to hear just kind of from you in this moment. What comes to mind of how did your story of helping missionaries in this way? Get started?

Jennie Dildine 13:14 Hmm. Yeah, it’s a good question. Um, so I feel like originally, what happened is my son went on his mission, my oldest son went on his mission. And that was really like, I was actually just talking to my sister about this because her son just got his mission call yesterday. And actually just texting this morning about I’m like, How are you feeling? How are you doing? And she’s like, I go from really excited to full of grief. And I actually think I need to record a podcast about this about the grief we feel when a missionary leaves as family members. Anyway, so I guess that is sort of the experience I was having, as I I didn’t expect that I would feel all of the feelings that I felt I didn’t expect that I would miss him so much. So there was all this stuff that I was sort of trying to figure out and process at the it was the same time that my youngest daughter, she started kindergarten. So I started really questioning like, Wait, now my kids are leaving, I’m not gonna see my son. We’re doing years. Now my daughter’s growing up to like, my youngest is not a baby anymore. And I really came to life coaching because it’s something that I needed. It’s because I was having a hard time figuring out here I had raised these kids to do what I wanted them to do and like hoped for them to do. And now like, Now what kind of how I felt. And I remember distinctly I’m sure I’ve told this on one of my podcasts at some point, but I remember distinctly I was crying in the bathroom one morning and my husband was there and I just like I don’t know what to do with my life. I just don’t know, I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know what to do with my life. And like, just coincidentally he just said well, maybe You need a life coach. And not because he even knew what that meant, or because he understood like the ramifications of what that was. Yeah. It was like I need help. In his mind. It was like, I need help with my life. So I need a life coach, right? Absolutely. So that’s how I originally came to life coaching. And then I got certified. And I’ve gotten a couple other like additional certifications since then in trauma and faith based coaching and things like that. But it was around the time that I wrapped up my certification and kind of was on this life coaching journey that that same son was coming home, and my other son, my next son had his mission called getting ready to go out. And what I started noticing with my son, my oldest son is just this sense of dread. Hmm, sort of, like, pervasive in his letters, it was like he felt, interestingly, the same way I had felt when he left, which is like, I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know what to do with my life. I don’t know. Like, his confidence, even though he started like this amazing missionary, you can see his confidence, like starting to wane. And anyway, so I just sort of had this moment where I was like, Wait a second. I think this could help. I think that things that I’ve learned over the last year or two years could really help and make an impact for returning missionaries. And what I started realizing is that we had worked our whole life, you know, many families and missionaries themselves work their whole lives, we we sing it at a very young age, I hope they call me on a mission. And I hope by then I will be ready. So we work on that. And we talk about it, and we plan for it. And then when we get home, it’s sort of like we just get dropped a little bit, I think is how many returned missionaries feel and I and I realized that we never teach these young adults how to come home, like and it is a very literal change and transformation that’s happened in your brain and in your body and your emotions in the experience you’ve had. So it it does require some skill and some transition like skills to get through that. So that’s actually where I started was in the return missionary space. And of course, the more I worked there, the more I had moms reaching out to me saying, hey, my son or daughter is really like doing a nosedive on the mission, can you help and so I started working with missionaries on the mission, one on one. And then I guess where my heart finally came to, and it did take some time was. And if we could help kids before they leave, if they had these mental and emotional tools before they left, how different the experience would be on the mission. And not only that, how much it would change their navigation of the post mission experience, it would it would be night and day. And that is what I have found. And I am sure you can imagine. It’s like this ripples sort of effect that happens. And I’ve heard of like, Mission presidents like teaching certain concepts like at a zone conference, and I’ve heard of like some of my clients teaching something in a district meeting and how it slowly is helping and changing and shifting. If I had to describe the work I do, it is slowly shifting and changing the way these missionaries and return missionaries see God, the way we see their lives and the way they see themselves. And that is powerful work to do. And all throughout the process. They really have felt. I mean, I don’t speak of this very often, but I have felt sort of this pole to just keep going. But this matters. Just keep going just keep because I have bad days where I’m like, I don’t even know if this matters. Like, does anyone care I have days like that. But I have still continued to just fill this poll like keep going, keep going. This matters. Keep going one one missionary at a time.

Isabella Beals 19:17 That’s amazing. And so clearly needed, as it seems like you have continued to find in all the stages of this work that you’ve talked about both before, during and after the mission. We were kind of talking about this a little bit earlier, but I just think there’s maybe some of those conversations or even some of those life skills that like you said, they’re just not taught very often. And so to have such a such a serious focus on teaching, those coping skills and those emotional well being skills to missionaries in particular like that, that just feels like such a niche thing. And yet I think it goes back to this idea of it’s the story we’re not telling About this story that we’re all a part of. So that’s just amazing. Yeah. You made this really interesting comment of If I could describe the work that I do, I would say it’s helping missionaries change the way they see God. They see their lives and they see themselves. And I’m wondering if you can maybe expand a little bit about each of those three things as much as you’d like to like, how do you feel like these missionaries are changing the way they see God and their lives in themselves? Like, what is the change there that that needs to happen?

Jennie Dildine 20:30 Yeah, um, so one of the things that I find becomes problematic on the mission is, I think we sort of go into it thinking that I think we understand like that it’s going to be hard, we understand, maybe we’re going to experience some anxiety, we’re going to experience some loneliness, we’re going to maybe experience some homesickness or depression, I think we all sort of like understand that. But what I’ve noticed, is when missionaries get out there, they sort of think that if they’re experiencing something that is just a human experience, like anxiety, or discouragement, or even just like being totally bugged by a companion, just like, I can’t even when this person, right, right, yeah, they add this level of like meaning to it, that somehow that means I’m doing something wrong, or somehow that means maybe I’m, I’m not, I don’t have as much access to the spirit, or maybe like gods disappointed in the way that I’m showing up. Sometimes I’ve even heard it go so far as to like, because I feel these human emotions, is the reason I’m not getting baptisms is the reason that that lesson didn’t go very well. And when we say that out loud, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, right? It’s sort of like, I don’t know, if it’s just the way we were sort of raised. Like, we’re all raised. You know, we live after the manner of happiness. And so, like, if, if we’re quote, unquote, on the right path, or like doing, quote, unquote, the right things, then we’re gonna feel happy. Sure. When we don’t feel those feelings. What I see most often on the mission is like, Well, wait a second, there’s something wrong with me. So what does that have to do with God? I believe that God sent us here to feel all have the emotions. I actually had. A missionary I’ve heard missionaries say things like, well, I know God doesn’t want me to feel sad. And I’m like, wait a second. Are you sure?

Isabella Beals 22:39 Challenge that for just a second? Yeah. Yeah.

Jennie Dildine 22:42 What’s true is without sadness, there is no happiness, period. We have to have both. And when I, when I think about the Scripture, I used to think like the scripture that talks about opposition are all things I used to believe that was like Satan, like opposing us and fighting us and all of that. And now I really, what I really believe about that is opposing just means, like emotions that balance each other out. I think it was ALMA, the younger that talks about like, I’m never such like, exquisite was my pain, as never as like, as marvelous as my joy was, and you probably know the Scripture way better than me. No,

Isabella Beals 23:24 you’re great. Yeah, that’s great. Yeah. But it’s like

Jennie Dildine 23:27 in a balanced, we can’t experience one without the other and the same as happiness and sadness. So what I really feel is like maybe on the mission, we have misunderstand, like misunderstood how God sees us, first of all, that he is like here for all of us that he trusts us, the understands we’re supposed to have, like highs and lows, and we’re supposed to feel doubt, and we’re supposed to feel sad, and we’re supposed to feel anxious. That’s part of being human. Because without those emotions, we wouldn’t even know what peace was. We wouldn’t even know what certainty was. I don’t think he’s disappointed in any of us. Actually, I think he trusts us. I think he sees us as creators. I think sometimes on the mission, we think we can get something wrong. Like we’ll hear missionaries say I worry I’m a bad missionary. Hmm. And I just don’t think that’s a thing. I think I think God sent each of us in into our different capacities to do what we’re supposed to do, because we’re the best person that can do it. And we can’t do it wrong. And I don’t think like he watches us on our missions or after our missions, and he’s up there going. And our Heavenly Parents are up there going like, oh my gosh, I hope they get it right. Right. I think they’re like, Yeah, you go get him. Just get him you go. I can’t wait to see what you you create.

Isabella Beals 25:02 That’s amazing and truly, truly profound. I even just as we’re sitting here talking, I’m thinking back to my mission and some of the feelings you described and talked about of like, we feel like, you know, just by feeling these emotions, we’ve done something wrong. And I remember thinking that as missionary a lot, I think I still deal with that sometimes as a kind of ripple effect from the mission. And it’s so interesting to try and figure out how to rewire that relationship with God. And to train ourselves to think a little bit more about the God that you just described so beautifully. The God that isn’t up there, you know, our heavenly parents aren’t up there just biting their nails, hoping all the time that we will figure it out eventually, but rather, they’re sitting there with us every step of the way, and empowering us to feel the entire spectrum of emotion and to figure out by experience, right, that’s why we’re here on this earth to is to live by experience. And that’s amazing. I would love to hear, like specifically a little bit more about in the work that you do. How do you do that? How like, what what do we do to help change that mindset a little bit more, as you’re coaching missionaries? What are some of the things that you suggest to help help that perspective change? Yeah,

Jennie Dildine 26:16 it’s such a good question. Um, so it’s definitely a process like, so my preparing missionary program that I have, it’s much like the MTC but for all all for your mental and emotional health, we do it all on Zoom, just like the home MTC. That’s 1010 sessions. We meet over two weeks, and all of my one on one coaching is 10 sessions. Let’s see if I had to boil it down. I think in session two, we talk a lot about becoming the compassionate watcher of our of our thoughts. And, you know, I think many of us would, would say like, there’s wrong thoughts to think but but when we really understand like, the way that our human brain just works automatically to, it’s actually a protective mechanism to like, avoid any sort of like harm or danger it it automatically defaults to negativity. So if any, anybody’s listening is like, I shouldn’t be thinking negative. Well, yeah, I mean, that’s just what your brain does, right? So the first thing is just like learning how to observe our own thinking with compassion. And so that’s a lot of the work is just like, how do we how to, first of all, become aware that we can even observe our thinking, second of all, how do we add a lot of love and compassion into that? One of the things that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, is because I’m gonna go speak to a group of young adults at Utah State, a young women’s group, the Relief Society group, they’re awesome. And so that’s been on my mind a lot. And one of the things I’ve been thinking about is, I think as missionaries, we understand like, a lot about Jesus. And that, if we’re going back to like how our relationships with the world or other people or changes on the mission is because we start to really understand how Jesus was with other people. But I’ve come to feel for myself, and I don’t know if this resonates with you. But one of the reasons that Christ walked this earth, and did what he did was not to just teach us how to treat other people, but how to treat ourselves. And so when we’re having a bad day, when we’re feeling grumpy when we’re feeling irritated when we’re feeling anxious, because we’re going into a new transfer, I was just talking to a missionary today. And he just got news that he’s getting transferred. When and he’s feeling anxious and worried about

Isabella Beals 29:01 absolutely as you do. Yeah, you. Yeah.

Jennie Dildine 29:05 So how, instead of like, I need to get rid of this anxiety. It shouldn’t be here, we observe it. And then we learn how to, like, add and pour in just like so much love and compassion, and talk to ourselves the same way like the Savior would be talking to us if he was here. My guess is he wouldn’t be like what’s wrong with you? You must not be reading your scriptures ever, or did you not get up on time? He probably be like, Yeah, this makes sense. How can I help I love you. And that’s how we should be talking to ourselves. So that and then I think the last thing I mean, all of those programs, we kind of flush all of this stuff out as far as like failure and relationships and joy and confidence. We flush all of that out like way a lot but as far as like the last kind of like main component, I think Here’s how to feel. So we aren’t good at feeling. And you might have just heard my dog bark. That’s great. We aren’t good at feeling. In fact, I feel like most of society is designed to help us either avoid feeling or distract ourselves from feeling. Or if we come up against something that feels like it might be uncomfortable, like a mission, or like maybe our first date after the mission or something like that. We just like nevermind.

Isabella Beals 30:36 Right? Yes, absolutely.

Jennie Dildine 30:38 Yeah. And so I think that’s it. Another really big components is we teach how to feel. And I just did a whole podcast about, we all go around trying to feel better, right, like, and so on the mission, like when we’re not feeling the way we want to, and then all of a sudden, we’re like, I need to feel better. I’m sure is, is it? Is it temporal? Is it this? Is it this, this, I need to feel better? When the answer isn’t feeling better? The answer is getting better at feeling, hmm. And when we can become so like, full of compassion and love, and then sort of carry anxiety with that together. That’s where the power is. And so that’s a lot what we do is like, Okay, what does that? What does it actually look like? How do you be with yourself? How do you be compassionate with yourself when you’re having these thoughts, and having all of these feelings that you’re just gonna have? Because you’re human? That’s, that’s why we’re here.

Isabella Beals 31:39 But makes so much sense, right? In theater, we talk a lot about the power of and right, and just absolutely, the whole time you were describing that is like, Absolutely, it’s just getting in the habit of adding more ants to our vocabulary, like we can be a good missionary and have a lot of anxiety, we can be very compassionate to ourselves, and still be trying to figure out how to be a better feeler how to become better at feeling. And so absolutely just giving us I think so much of Christ’s grace, is learning how to speak to ourselves, just like you were talking about with more compassion and love, and more hands, like just being able to accept this is what’s going on. In reality, I don’t need to fix it. I don’t need to change it. It just is and let’s just stop that embrace it. For once. Yeah,

Jennie Dildine 32:30 yeah. And I think another and to consider is like, some days I I really don’t like myself that much. Some some days. Like, if we’re all being really honest, some days, we do have thoughts like, I’m not good enough. I can’t do this. It doesn’t matter. I don’t I don’t even know if I can stay here. Right? I don’t even know if I can keep going. Those are not bad or wrong thoughts. They’re just thoughts that create feelings. And so I, you know, it’s interesting, because sometimes even when I say stuff here, I worry that people use that against themselves. Like the ideal, right? Is that 100% of the time we’d always show ourselves compassion, we weren’t sure. 100% of the time, like the only person that did that 100% of the time was Jesus. I really believe he showed that for other people and for himself, by the way. Right? And so just understanding like, okay, so this is a day where I don’t really like myself, I don’t have a lot of confidence. Okay. Hopefully, it’ll be better tomorrow. But then let’s not be let’s, let’s not make it wrong, that we feel wrong. Hmm. Yeah,

Isabella Beals 33:41 normalizing that a little bit more, especially in a culture where I just remember as a missionary thinking, like, we have to go go go all the time. So just kind of learning to take that time to breathe for a second and say, You know what, today might not be my favorite day, I might not like myself a lot today. And instead of just pushing that down and saying, but I can’t think about that right now. Because we up to this point, it was so and so or this dinner was so and so just giving ourselves grace and saying the thought is just a thought we can feel it for just a minute. And that’s okay. Today’s just today. Yeah.

Jennie Dildine 34:16 And I find it fascinating, too. I was talking. So in this preparing missionary program, I have some returned missionary mentors that work in there that are teaching in there and helping me out in there. And we were on like a team meeting. And he was like, Well, how does this work? Because when we’re on our missions, we want everyone to see that we’re happy. Hmm. And I was like, but again, what is more, Isabella? Let’s think about it. What is more connecting? If I’m feeling like I miss, I’m missing my family, let’s say, and I go to a lesson with you. And I’m just like, everything’s great. Everything’s good. You know what, like, I can be with my family forever, like, what is more connecting that or me being like, Listen, I’ve been gone for my mission now a while. And my family means so much to me. And I’m missing them today. And like to know what it’s like to miss your family and like being real, and like being open to those feelings, being open to those emotions or actually connecting, not disconnecting.

Isabella Beals 35:39 That’s a beautiful perspective. And a question I didn’t anticipate, but when that’s coming to mind is, what are your thoughts on what we could do better as even just a church culture to help normalize that with missionaries? I, I’m curious if you have any thoughts or experiences with that? Yeah, yeah.

Jennie Dildine 35:57 I think, you know, it starts just as things always do on an individual level. So it starts with the way that we are talking to our own missionaries. It starts with the way that we’re talking to kids, like they’re running a Michigan prep, being in our state right now. You know, and, and it, it starts with being real about what they’re probably going to feel. And then being real, and telling them, one of my favorite things that I repeat often on the podcast is like to normalize, validate, and then repeat over and over. So missionary calls home and they’re like, Oh, I just don’t even know what to do. I don’t feel like I’m good enough. I don’t even know if I can do this. I don’t even know if I can stay here. Normalize sounds like it makes so much sense that you feel that way. It makes so much sense. Like that you have these thoughts? And things like Did you know Most missionaries think about coming home? At some point. That’s actually true. Well, so we, so we normalize it. And we can even say, like, when I was on my mission, I thought about coming home to just like, normalizes it. And then the Validate part is, and it’s okay. So the Normalize is it makes sense. And the Validate is, it’s okay. And so, like, I think we can do this, like on in Mission leadership, like, when, let’s say you’re a district leader, right? And you’re you’re there are some sisters who are overwhelmed and aren’t meeting their goals or whatever. Yep. When that instead of being like, what’s wrong with you, you shouldn’t be anxious you like, you know, like discounting all of it. Yeah, you can say, oh, my gosh, it makes so much sense that you’re feeling this way. And it’s okay. That you are,

Isabella Beals 38:00 I feel like that would change mission cultures around the world to be able to learn how to validate and to normalize and repeats, right, normalize, validate, and repeat in that way more often? Because absolutely, I feel like just even looking back personally, the moments in my mission where I was brave enough to tell somebody hey, like I am struggling or Hey, like, I actually have been thinking about going home, those moments where I finally was able to reach out to people and hear them say like, you know what, me too. And we’re still here. And it is hard. Sometimes I’ll give you that. And I understand your point. Exactly. Like that was the moment I felt the most seen in the most love from God as a missionary was Oh, that’s okay. That’s normal. That’s okay. Yeah,

Jennie Dildine 38:44 and I think feeling that support from parents too. I think sometimes, especially I think parents who are so far away, right. And I’m Francis myself, like my second sun before COVID was serving an Australian, it’s literally on the other side of the Earth,

Isabella Beals 38:58 right? Can’t get much further away, further away.

Jennie Dildine 39:03 And then when COVID started happening, and you feel powerless, you really do and so those moments that you have with them, our tendency when someone’s like, I am not getting along with my companion or, like I’m thinking about coming home. I you know, I don’t know if I can do this much longer. Our tendency is to be like, Oh my gosh, no, you’re fine, right? Or even like, if someone says I feel like I’m a bad missionary, I feel like I’m not measuring up to this and this and this. Our tendency is to want to be like No, no, totally you are you are instead like, what missionaries here I think what chill children here even when we say don’t think that or don’t feel that is they start to wonder, then there might be something wrong with me if I do. And but when we can say just like you’re saying like, Oh, if someone just tells me it’s Okay, it’s a completely different experience. You feel hurt you feel seen you feel that?

Isabella Beals 40:07 Absolutely. That’s amazing. Thank you. And what a great thing for, honestly, all of us to keep in mind, not just when we’re talking to missionaries, but to everybody and everything they’re going through. But absolutely. As a church culture, thinking about what can we do to support missionaries? How do we help? In our wards, the missionaries from our wards in our family, that just seems like such a beautiful piece of advice. So thank you, I appreciate that. Um, I would just kind of love to double check and ask, are there any other skills or things that come to mind of, you know, I wish every missionary had a little bit of a chance to learn more about this before, during or after their mission that would help them? Is there anything else that that comes to mind? Um,

Jennie Dildine 40:53 I mean, so if we’re talking, like, I think one of the most powerful tools to learn is this like normalize, validate, repeat, that we can do for other people, is to learn to do that for ourselves. I just wrapped up 10 sessions with a missionary. And he was really a man he was struggling with, like mission culture, and, you know, just in the way the mission culture was impacting him in particular is like, he just kept feeling like I, you know, I’ll never measure up. And then of course, like, we sort of feel like if we’re not going to measure up, like, why even try kind of kind of an idea. And that is, like, I talked to him today. And I was like, let’s do a before and after, like, what were you like, when we first started talking? And he’s like, Yeah, I questioned myself, I compared myself, I, like, when I was having a bad day, I just thought that was wrong. And I thought that was bad. And then now he’s just like, I feel so empowered. Hmm. That no matter what is going on outside of me, and how everybody else is behaving, and whatever, like, rules are, you know, whatever it is, like sometimes mission presidents will actually like put in some sort of rule that maybe doesn’t make a lot of sense to you or something like that. Right? Absolutely. Whatever’s going on, I know that I’m the creator of my experience. And the best way to do that is to normalize the feelings and thoughts that I’m having for myself. And to validate for myself. I mean, I can hear it in my own head, even for myself. Like, listen, Jenny is okay. If you’re having a bad day, it’s okay. You know, maybe you don’t like yourself that much today. Totally fine. It’ll probably be better tomorrow. And so, really, that’s the ultimate, I think, I think it’s one of the reasons we’re here on this earth is to learn how to do that, not just for other people, but for ourselves. Because, I mean, just think about the power you create within yourself, to serve others, when you’re already good. Like when you know that in your hardest moments, you’ve got you and God’s got you. Like, it’s pretty amazing.

Isabella Beals 43:33 It’s pretty life changing. I feel like that is kind of the good. Ideally, right? The good news of the gospel, what these missionaries are out there sharing is, yeah, we believe in a savior that has you even when you don’t feel like you have yourself you, you can turn to Him, and He wants to empower you. I love that word. To learn how to do that more for yourself. He’s not just going to leave you hanging in there. Yeah, absolutely. I’ve had the opportunity to talk a little bit with some missionaries who came home early or unexpectedly. And I’m wondering, just as a life coach, what those sessions are like, in particular, because I think that would be very hard. To feel the weight of that decision to come home. Sometimes I think we don’t always talk about that as much. I’d be curious to hear what your experience has been with that and how that impacts the work that you do, too.

Jennie Dildine 44:29 Yeah, totally. So like, it is different. Right? A missionary who serves the entire time they were planning on is going to have a transition period. I that’s just going to be part of the process because you are different when you come home. Yeah. When we’re coming home earlier than we were planning. So like if I picture a returned missionary has a lot of emotions and thoughts to like, unpack. Yeah. Someone who comes home earlier than they were planning or expecting has a bigger suitcase. Stem pack? Not because they should not because I really, I really don’t believe like that that’s a bad thing when people come home earlier than they were planning on. To me, I do believe that that was part of God’s plan. Otherwise they’d still be on their mission. Right? Yeah. But just to help them see that again, it’s like, helping them see their relationship with God. And the way they see the world and the way they see themselves. That’s a little bit bigger suitcase to unpack versus someone who felt like they had a, an amazing mission. And they didn’t struggle, and everything was great. And everything was amazing, although they have other things, right, that we have to sort of work through, because maybe they come home and life isn’t amazing afterwards. And so then they’re like, Wait, now what I thought I thought this was how it was gonna go. Right. Right. But um, I think for I’ve worked with missionaries who have served seven weeks, I’ve worked with missionaries who served seven months, I’ve worked with missionaries, who were on sort of like, they’ll send them home for like a little mental health sort of respite for like, three months and then out. So if you’ve seen anything like that, but

Isabella Beals 46:12 I haven’t seen anything particularly like that yet. But that does make a lot of sense. I’ve seen a lot of the transition from coming from a proselyte admission to a service mission. Yeah, like, but yeah, yeah,

Jennie Dildine 46:22 I’ve had that as well. And I’ve had missionaries who come home for that little 12 week respite, and they just decide they’re done. Or transferred a service mission. So I think the biggest thing is, that helps with this sort of an idea of coming home earlier than we were expecting, as I think we have a lot of ideas about the mission being the very best place for us to grow, change and transform. And so when a missionary comes home earlier than they were expecting, it’s sort of like, they feel like they’ve let someone down. Like, I’ve let myself down. Now I can’t grow, change and transform, I’ve let my family down. Now I can’t grow change, and I’ve let God down. Now I can’t grow, change and transform. But what’s actually true. And I know this, because of the missionaries that I’ve worked with, yeah, is the growth change and transformation that is asked of you, when you come home earlier than you were expecting is miles harder than then just if your mission went swimmingly the way you thought it was going to go, hmm. And it’s required of these missionaries in in a in a succinct amount of time. So picture like, you know, maybe a transfer, like I figure, by the end of this life, we all have to learn certain things, right? We have to learn certain things about God and the way he works, our heavenly parents, the way the world works the way who we are kinship to other people, and some of us are going to learn those things on the mission. And some of us, even though it’s not pay me even what we wanted, are gonna learn those things coming home earlier than we planned. And we’re going to learn it in like, instead of learning it, and five years, let’s say in being a newlywed, or something like that, yeah, in five months, and really deep, and it’s gonna be heart wrenching. And it’s gonna make us question ourselves and our relationship with God. And then we’ve learned it done and and I’ve had actual conversations with, you know, missionaries who came home earlier than they were planning or transferred to a service mission. And I say, don’t you think if you were supposed to be on your mission, still, you would be? And the answer’s yes. Like, why do we as humans think, like, we can change God’s plan. We can’t change God’s plan. He’s all powerful, all knowing, all loving, all feeling. To why do we think, Oh, I messed up God’s plan. It’s just not a thing. Well, he’s part of the plan. We’re just gonna learn these things in a short amount of time. I think of coming home, I talked about this on my podcast, the episode where I talk about coming home earlier than expected. It’s really like a fast pass to learning those things in a short, intense amount of time. But you might need more help. Really, you might need a lot more help and support because it is a bigger suitcase.

Isabella Beals 49:34 That makes so much sense. I feel like even just the missionaries that I’ve talked to that came home whenever they did, but especially if they came home earlier than expected whether it was for COVID or for mental health or physical health or any other reason. There does seem to be this extra, this extra layer of weights, right? There’s this extra sense of I messed it up. I I failed, right? And yet I feel like something I continue to learn from my mission and that I hear echoed in so many of these interviews and things that I’ve had the chance to do is learning to accept that I don’t have enough power to throw off God’s plan. We’d like to think that right, we’d like to think that we’re that, that powerful, or, or right, faithful, whatever the insert our favorite adjective here that we wish we were, but we’re not and we feel bad about but absolutely learning to accept all the time that God is truly still in control, even when we would like to think or wish we were in control. And that’s, that’s a huge mind shift as well. And then that takes time to learn as well. But you do get this past past experience. I like love how you said that, to learning that lesson, I think when you are asked to go through that experience of coming home early, and what that looks like. So

Jennie Dildine 50:54 are any, like any sort of like difficulty or trial right after like, that’s actually why we’re here is to experience those kinds of things. And sometimes it’s going to be on the mission. And sometimes it’s going to be right after the mission. And sometimes it’s going to be when we’re newly married. And sometimes it’s going to be when we have our first baby. And sometimes, like we will learn what we need to learn to become like, our heavenly parents. That’s why we’re here.

Isabella Beals 51:23 So following that same line of thinking, something I’ve asked a lot of missionaries, as I’ve interviewed them is when do you feel like the mission ended? Really? Yeah. So I’d be curious to hear like, what are your thoughts on that? When When does the mission and when is it over?

Jennie Dildine 51:41 Hmm, such a fascinating question. I think it depends a lot on when you are able, and it’s going to be probably a different timetable for everybody. But when you’re able to sort of make peace with it, and come to a sort of, like ownership of it, that that it was your experience, that it was meant for you that God had your back the whole time. And, and, and that it’s all good. I have worked with return missionaries who’ve been suffering for like three years, just trying to like either make sense of their mission, or just dealing with sort of the ideas and the Remicade ramifications from the mission and things like that. So as far as like the actual like mission and the way we think about it. I think as soon as you’re able to like, sort of like, I don’t, this doesn’t, this may maybe sounds dramatic, but like, make peace with it and like send it on its way. And let it be what it was, as far as like, what is a mission? And what like when does that end? I think our mission is twofold. To learn what we need to learn while we’re here to become like our heavenly parents, and sometimes that’s gonna, it’s gonna be gut wrenching and soul searching. So that and then of course, to love. I have a lot of preparing missionaries who are like, Oh, I don’t know enough. And I’ll never compare to the missionaries that are serving in my ward. And I’ll never like measure up and how can I ever know enough about the Scriptures. And the good news is, is that’s not even the point. The point is to love, you’re out there to love, like God loves and like Christ loves. And to do that for other people. But to do it for yourself too.

Isabella Beals 53:55 Awesome. That puts a whole new meaning on what is the mission, right if the mission is to love others and yourself? Yeah, that’s a whole new perspective to think about. Thank you for that answer. I think, kind of. Similarly, along those lines, I would be curious to ask a lot of times ask the question, like who or what is a missionary? So for you who is a missionary?

Jennie Dildine 54:20 Yeah. I mean, there’s like our formal call, right that, like my nephew got his last night. He’s going to Virginia. That’s super fun.

Isabella Beals 54:29 Oh, that’s so exciting. That’s awesome.

Jennie Dildine 54:33 Interestingly, where he was born, he’s going to be serving in the mission where he was born, like really? Like yeah, like years ago when he was born and they don’t live there anymore. But anyone knows things like workout like that. Yeah,

Isabella Beals 54:45 it’s almost like there’s a bigger plan or something. Yeah, yeah.

Jennie Dildine 54:50 Um, but beyond that. Yeah. Like if we think about like our purpose or our mission just here on this earth as I do for Like that is what it is, is learning how to love God, learning how to love the people that we interact with, unconditionally, by the way, not like they need to be this certain way, and they should behave this certain way. But like, Okay, I see what’s going on for them. I understand it, it’s okay. And I love them. But then also being able to do that for ourselves. That’s what I feel like my mission is to teach people that and to help them with that. So awesome. Yeah,

Isabella Beals 55:36 absolutely. And it’s very cool to hear you talk about right what your mission is, and personalizing it, like I think you were talking about earlier, when you can personalize it, and even kind of make peace with that, I think is what you were saying earlier. Yeah, that’s such a beautiful answer. And hopefully, one that so many people get to get to understand as they come closer to God, you know, the mission may not just be for an 18, or 24 month period, or whatever it is, it’s whenever you have figured out what God’s mission is for you. That’s beautiful. Thank you. We’ve talked so much today about how you can’t feel sadness, or anxiety or hardship without feeling joy, and vice versa. We need both of those. So sometimes when I asked these interviews, I asked missionaries, you know, what was something hard? And then also, what was something beautiful or spiritual? And maybe upon thinking about this, maybe that’s the wrong way to ask that question, because I think they’re often intertwined. But if we were to ask that question, I’d love to hear what what are some of the joyful experiences you have found on this mission that you are on as a mission? Coach? What are some of those joyful moments for you?

Jennie Dildine 56:48 Huh? Yeah, and, and as I, the way I talk about joy is encompassed within joy. So is both happiness and sadness, I think sometimes we think of, I think, as members of the church, we have a hard time like describing joy, even like, what is joy, it’s more like, well, it’s an eternal happiness, or it’s like a higher version of happiness, right. But what I think finally tipped me off is in the scriptures, when it talks about a fullness of joy, which is happiness and sadness, like we’re describing here is without one, there is no other. And so joy to me is the surrender to God’s plan, where there’s both sets of emotions, where Christ has made up for all of it, and where we have the amazing gift to navigate this life and feel all of it, and that is joy. And so even in moments of sadness, that’s why we can be in moments of sadness, like when or when we have a family member pass away, or when, like, we, you know, don’t, you know, meet our goal, or whatever it is on the mission is an or maybe we’re older than we want to be, and we’re still not married or whatever it is, that we can have joy and that joy comes from an understanding of the plan. It doesn’t come from situations, it comes from an understanding of the over arching plan, which always, from the beginning, from the council in heaven included happiness, and sadness. Since the Garden of Eden, since Adam and Eve worked, the rest of the garden been included both happiness and sadness. So if I was to describe, you know, we hear missionaries a lot say, Oh, how do you feel joy? How do you feel joy? How do you feel joy? And to me when I see that, that’s like, let me tell you some of the stuff where I felt sad. And let me tell you some of the stuff where I felt happy because all of that together is joy to me, knowing that I’m living out the plan. And so let’s see times when I felt sad, um, I do wish I had back I remember I was working with a returned missionary, and she was telling me how she felt really hurt by some of the ways she was treated with a district leader. And I was a pretty new coach and and I feel like I wasn’t as compassionate as maybe I could have been with her. So I think back to that, and wish I could have that moment back. That makes me sad. It makes me sad when I hear struggles that missionaries have to go through. Knowing that it could be better for them. I feel sad when I get emails from moms telling me like how How their missionaries are suffering. That makes me sad. And I know that that is part of why we’re here. times I felt happy, I felt so happy today after I wrapped up the 10 sessions with that return, or with that missionary I, like if I could have a picture of a before and after, he’s not even the same kid. And, and so that seeing that impact, and it’s not even me, right? It’s the spirit. It’s Christ. It’s all of those, like, God, helping him change the way he sees himself and being open to changing the way he sees himself and the way he has power and creative ability over his life, his whole life and the way he sees it. It’s nothing I do, I just ask questions, and I just help him see what’s going on in his brain. But those times make me really happy. Because I’m like, Oh, this matters like this is really important. And just seeing the shift in him. Before I, I said, you know, when we first started working together, he was like, I might go home, I don’t know, I can do this anymore. And 10 sessions later, I did ask him, I was like, just so do you ever think about going home anymore? And he was like, I mean, it pops in my head. Sometimes I’ll be like, maybe we should go home. Right? That’s just his brain, his problem solving brain, right back to that chance yet, but, but he was like, but when it pops in, I just tell myself, but why would I? Like, he understands that he’s the creator. He understands how empowered he is. He’s empowered himself, to make decisions to make the mission what he wants it to be, he’s not at the mercy of it anymore. He is the creator of it. And that really makes me happy.

Isabella Beals 1:02:10 That’s so beautiful. And it’s so neat to hear your testimony, Jenny to you just you just have such a testimony of empowering God. And I think that’s not always maybe a quality of Christ that we think about. We think about him being powerful. But sometimes I think we forget, as we’ve talked about today, just how much Christ wants to teach us about what it means to be a creator, to be empowered, and to take that. So what a great opportunity in your personal mission to help someone feel the empowerment of Christ. That was beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. That’s beautiful.

Jennie Dildine 1:02:53 Yeah, you bet.

Isabella Beals 1:02:55 I think I had the chance to ask most of the primary questions that I wanted to ask you today and so many other great follow up questions. But I would just love to ask, is there anything else? That while we were talking came to your minds that you wanted to circle back to or share or anything else that you wish more missionaries had the chance to think about or know about that we haven’t talked about yet today? Yeah,

Jennie Dildine 1:03:19 I mean, one little thing comes to mind, which is Christ and our Heavenly Parents want us to feel empowered. And, and what I think we sometimes forget, is that we are, there’s, like, we are literally, their have their DNA in us. And so sometimes we think, Oh, I don’t I don’t have, you know, the ability to believe like that I’m powerful, or I don’t, I shouldn’t believe that. I’m a creator, I shouldn’t believe like that I have the ability to create the mission I want or to to do the things that I want to do. But we’re, it’s just mind blowing. To me, one of the things I love thinking about is like, our Heavenly Parents gave us everything we need. When they created us to create whatever experience we want to have. They gave us minds and hearts and bodies to create whatever, like you and I it’s just crazy, right? Like we emailed, we created emails, this call and now we’re gonna, I’m gonna create a podcast, all just with our minds and our hearts. We don’t need to question ourselves. I don’t think they are. They just love watching us do what we do.

Isabella Beals 1:04:45 Thank you so much as just what a perfect way to end and to summarize everything that we’ve talked about today. So thank you so much, Jenny. This was such a pleasure and I could just so tangibly feel your love and Christ’s love through you for the sweet missionary. that you work with. So thank you, I’m super excited to add this story of missionary work into a missionary place. So thank you.

Jennie Dildine 1:05:07 Well, it was so fun to hang out with you. And thanks for giving me a chance to like reflect on these things and, and to share my heart. And so it’s been an awesome conversation and I can’t wait to see where the play goes. So thanks for being here. Absolutely.

Isabella Beals 1:05:23 Yeah, such a pleasure. Thank you.

Jennie Dildine 1:05:28 Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can present a unique set of challenges. And many of those challenges you might not even see coming. So you’re gonna want a unique set of solutions. It’s easier than you think to overcome worry and anxiety, serve the successful mission you’ve always dreamed up and navigate your post mission experience with confidence. That is why I created some amazing free goodies that I’m sharing in my show notes. Maybe you want to grab the free training for preparing missionaries might video course for RMS or maybe you and I should hop on a free strategy call. If you’re ready to take your preparedness to serve or your preparedness to come home to the next level. Then go grab one of those freebies. And in the meantime, no matter which part of the mission experience you were involved in. Just know that Jenny, the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day.

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Hey! I'm Jennie - The LDS Mission Coach.

Preparing for, serving and coming home from an LDS Mission can present countless changes and transitions. I’ve seen these changes put missionaries at the mercy of their emotions and questioning their abilities. With the tools I teach, young adults empower themselves to navigate every moment of the mission experience with epic, unwavering confidence.

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