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July 08, 2011

This was NEVER supposed to happen,
she thought as she packed in disbelief.

Through her tears, Marta wondered why she was returning to her native Spain unmarried, unemployed, and unable to renew her visa. How could someone who had served an honorable mission, earned both BA and MBA degrees in the United States, served faithfully in many church callings, fasted, prayed, searched, and done virtually everything she could think of fall so short of accomplishing her goals? The enormous gap between the life she expected, worked for, and dreamed about and the life she was given just didn’t seem fair!

Unemployment rates in Madrid are at 40% in her age bracket. Church singles branches are nonexistent and inactivity rates are high. Promising dating opportunities seem few and far between. And to top it all off, basement flooding caused severe damage to her home—not to mention completely freaking out the pets!
Things seemed pretty bleak at first, but one interview really turned things around. Only it wasn’t a job interview . . .

Shortly after returning to Spain, Marta met with her new bishop. She felt sad and exhausted and was searching for any purpose to the upheaval in her life. It can be difficult to acknowledge you are struggling, especially for someone as independent as Marta, but she decided to be honest with him. When she described her situation, her bishop said, “It must have felt like the ground was pulled out from under you.” That was exactly how she felt. She was amazed this man she barely knew could describe her feelings so accurately.

As the discussion continued, it was obvious that this loving leader was just as concerned about Marta’s success and happiness as she was. At the end of the interview, the bishop asked Marta if he could pray for her. It was a very tender experience to listen to her bishop petition the Lord on her behalf, and she felt tremendous peace.

Seeing the love and concern the father of her ward had for her reminded Marta that she also had a Father in Heaven who loved her and was anxious for her happiness. He understands how difficult it has been for her to watch the majority of her friends achieve the things she still hopes to experience. Now she looks every day for evidences of Heavenly Father’s love for her and she always finds them. Always.

Marta may not know all the reasons she went back to Spain almost a year ago, but she knows she has had some priceless opportunities and experiences because of it—teaching early morning seminary, serving in the Young Women presidency, being closer to family, and working at the Madrid temple, to name a few. It can be difficult to recognize our blessings when we’re continually praying and looking forward to future blessings, but working in the temple has helped Marta focus on blessings she is enjoying right now.

After spending many years very far away from home and family, she especially appreciates the time she is able to spend with her parents and two sisters. Whether it’s searching for jobs, shopping, or watching live coverage of the royal wedding, Marta and her sisters have enjoyed being together again.
Present blessings, current challenges, and loving leaders remind Marta that God knows her and loves her, that He is aware of her, and that He has great things in store for her.

So maybe this wasn’t all part of her plan for her life, but it was definitely part of His.

And she wouldn’t want it any other way.