Well family, this is it. And I can't even believe it.
It is really hard to put into words how I feel about the last 18 months of my life. But what I do know is that the decision I made to serve a mission is the best choice I have made thus far in my life. Being a set-apart representative of Jesus Christ is the most incredible, fulfilling, and meaningful thing you could ever choose to do. I feel so blessed that I have been able to feel that and see that this last year and a half. The reason that missions are so special is because they are a front row ticket to watching the Atonement work. You get to watch the Atonement work in the lives of everyone around you, but most importantly you get to watch the Atonement work in your own life. Missions are really hard. And they literally wouldn't even be possible without the Atonement to help enable us to accomplish the things our Heavenly Father has asked us to do.
I have learned a lot.
I have come to know that Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ love us. They love us so much! They love us each individually and perfectly. They show their love to us by the tender mercies that we see in our lives everyday, and often times through other people. They love us so much that they want each and every one of us to return to live with our Father again and be exalted in the Celestial Kingdom. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what is best for us and he knows what we need to become better- even if those things are hard. Jesus Christ understands us perfectly because he has felt and experienced everything that we have ever felt and experienced. God loved us enough to send us His only Begotten Son, and Christ loved us enough to perform His infinite Atonement. That is love.
I have also learned that the Book of Mormon is true. I enjoyed reading from the Book of Mormon before my mission. But not until now have I come to understand its role in the Restoration and its importance in helping us to learn more about Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ EVERYWHERE. I truly believe that the real reason that missions are so life changing is because we devote this time to not just reading but studying from the Book of Mormon every single day and helping others to learn about it as well. The Book of Mormon is how I learned about the Atonement. There is a special power that comes into our lives as we read the Book of Mormon every single day. I can't even describe it. You just have to do it yourself and find out the difference that reading the Book of Mormon makes. The Book of Mormon is also how we can come to know the church is true and that the gospel really was restored through Joseph Smith. If the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith really was a prophet and this is his church on the earth! The Book of Mormon is a book with a promise. I have done as Moroni directs and asked God. I will tell you this much- The Book of Mormon is true.
I have learned that Eternal life= Family life. Living with God and our families forever! The gospel blesses families so much! I already knew that because I have seen what the gospel has done to my own family. But on my mission I have seen families that don't know about these principles start to apply them, and they are forever changed. They are happier and they are closer! When your family starts to live the gospel, you can't even stop the blessings from coming! Families can be together forever because of the binding and sealing power of the Priesthood. The authority to act in God's name has been restored to the earth for us today through a prophet. We can all feel the priesthood giving us power in our lives as we keep true to our covenants. I am so grateful that I was able to serve a mission because I have been so blessed to have to knowledge that I can be with my family forever and everyone deserves to know that!
Even though missions are full of life lessons and hard times, they are also a lot of fun. I have met people- investigators, ward members, less-active members, President and Sister Cutler, and especially companions- that have changed my life. Preaching the gospel is fun and it makes me happy. That really is why I love this gospel. It brings peace and happiness into our lives. So while this year and a half has been hard and a huge struggle, I also don't think there has been a time when I have felt happier and more fulfilled. Serving others, and most importantly, serving God is the best thing we can do.
Having to leave all of this behind is going to be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But I have learned that God has a plan for each and everyone of us. I know that God always has greater things in store for us than we will ever be leaving behind. My mission will be a part of me forever.
I love God. I love my Savior Jesus Christ. He is the Savior of me, you, and anyone you will ever meet. Even though my full-time missionary service is coming to a close, I look forward to continuing to serve and love God through out the rest of my life and the rest of eternity.
I love you and will see you soon!