– by Alli

It seems to me that in the times of my greatest need or frustration I feel like the words I pray to my Heavenly Father are falling from my lips and onto the floor. I know in my heart that I am not really alone during the winter seasons in my life, but it can sometimes feel as though I am. I am grateful, however, to be reminded that I am not alone.

As I left the Missionary Training Center (MTC) to enter the missionary experience, I felt a strong sense of certainty that there was in front of me a vast sea of experiences to be had. I was anxious to share the gospel that I had been taught all of my life. With a renewed sense of urgency and confidence in my ability as a servant of the Lord, I embarked on my journey.

The first six weeks of my mission were spent in Sacramento, California. I had been called to Portugal, but was awaiting a visa before I could travel there. I distinctly remember the feelings I had as I arrived in my first area and met my companions. A sort of realization washed over me and I sensed that the days of dreaming about golden investigators, packages from home, and letters from a “waiting” boyfriend were now becoming a reality about which I was very uncertain. The feeling, as I can best describe it, is not unlike the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you are sitting in your seat on a ride at an amusement park and the bar suddenly locks into place.

About six weeks later, in my first area in Portugal, my companion and I walked along the busy streets of Lisbon, contacting people as they passed by. I had only been in Portugal a few days and had found that the Portuguese I had learned in the MTC differed vastly from the language the people were speaking. I felt insecure in my ability to both understand and communicate. I felt ineffective as a missionary as I easily became lost in conversations. As we walked home one rainy night after a particularly frustrating evening, I felt discouraged. I felt lonely and hoped I was not wasting the Lord’s time. I felt very far from my family and friends, far outside of my comfort zone, and afraid that I was not going to be up to this task.

It was in this rainy state of mind, when I heard in my head the words to a hymn:

“Fear not I am with thee, be not afraid for I am thy God and will still give thee aid” (“How Firm a Foundation,” Hymn #85).

That night I looked up the scripture in Isaiah 41:10,13, which reads:

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”

I was able to derive from these words the hope that I so critically needed. I felt that I did not have to rely only on my ability, but that Heavenly Father was watching over me and would help me. Whenever I hear that hymn I think of that rainy night and feel in my heart a warm confirmation from my Father who believes in me.

(You can listen to an MP3 recording of this hymn. Read the full text of the hymn here. Find more hymns here. You can download MP3s of music as well.)

This post was originally posted in 2008.

Read more personal essays written by Mormon women here