There was a member in one of my other Ward who told crazy stories from his mission all the time. We/the elders would say, "So Hermano, we don't remember...did you love your mission?"
And he would say, "Did I love my mission? Did I love my mission?! Come on, I LOVED MY MISSION!! You can't even imagine, you can't even comprehend how much I loved my mission. It was the best!! Man, you don't even KNOW how much I loved my mission!! You think you love YOUR mission...I LOVED my mission."
And that's how it is.
We talk about living/serving without regrets. We talk about leaving it all on the field, walking away knowing we did our best. I can honestly say that this past week I have been better at talking with everyone than I have been my entire mission. Leaving is strange because I still feel like I have the potential for improving. I am still making forward progress, working smarter, planning better, and growing. But they say the mission is the MTC for life. Sigamos adelante.
There are so many things that have marked me profoundly. The people, the hard times, the good times, the bikes (some literal scars), and especially companions. We did my last role-play of the Restoration this morning, because I wanted to. As I said those words, I could hear my trainer's voice. For the last 16 months, I have carried the same phrases, ideas, and explanations that she taught me. And it is still as true now as it was then. Hopefully I have taught my companion something of value too.
These feelings are hard to describe. I keep waiting to get a call from the mission president telling me that for some strange reason I need to stay here a bit longer. Leaving is one of the hardest things I have ever done. But I can't help being excited at the same time. For 18 months, I have avoided remembering the morning I woke my sisters up to say goodbye. Every single time I think of it, I still cry.
I know that this gospel is true. I know it is life-changing. I know that the Lord has a special place in His heart for missionaries, and I hope He has a special place for returned missionaries as well.
See you soon. I love you all so much.
Imagine me with my hands extended in front of me, like when a little kids says they are "this many" years old. My days fit on two hands.
A few weeks ago we had 5 lessons, then 8, then finally last week we got up to 10. We were so excited last night when we counted them up.
Last week consisted of a lot of miracles and heartbreak, the usual for missionary work. Our investigator passed her baptismal interview on Saturday. On Sunday we talked with her at church. She said she finally brought up baptism with her husband and he is opposed to the idea because he believes it would create a division in their home. She came to give us back the Book of Mormon and all the pamphlets we had given her. I almost cried right there on the spot. We told her that she should keep the books and keep coming to church. We called her this morning to set up another lesson. She sounded really happy. I think she expected us to give up on her. Turns out, missionaries are some of the most persistent people in the world.
We went on exchanges last week and I ended up back with an old companion. Luckily we were on bikes, or we would have been really tempted to drive back to our old area and hang out with the people we love.
I am guessing that soon people will start asking me what I learned from my mission. A bit thing that I have been learning is the beauty of repentance. I love the idea that I can be better every day. I decide who I am every morning. If I don't like the way I have been doing something I say, "That was yesterday." It is great.
A quote that I have been thinking about a lot is from a talk by Elder Holland. He focuses on the conversation that takes place as Christ finds Peter back at his old job fishing and calls him again to God's work. "What I need, Peter, are disciples-- and I need them forever."
To me, this means that my work does not end this week. It doesn't end when I get on the plane or when I have a first name again. Later in the talk, he says, "'If ye love me, keep my commandments,' Jesus said.
So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back. After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before."
Nos vemos pronto!
The problem with learning a new language is that sometimes you can't fully communicate your feelings. This was a bit of a problem for my companion this week. Saturday night, after lots of plans falling through, we knelt down and she began our planning session with a really heartfelt prayer. Some highlights, translated from Spanglish to English were, "Please bless my companion with patience" and "We try to being obedient, but no one we they listen! Please, to help us!
(Muffled laughter from both of us) Father, please to forgive me." I have never laughed to hard in a prayer. And it was definitely the most sincere prayer that I have heard in a while.
That being said, there is a three ingredient formula for miracles.
Sincere prayer, concerted effort, and recognition of duty. (Maybe the fourth ingredient would be the Lord's timing.) On Sunday, so many of the people we teach made it to church!! When we got home my companion was like, "That was awesome! To be honest, I wasn't really enjoying being a missionary. But it was so cool to see everyone there! I love them so much!" And that made me feel successful.
We (my companion) gave piano lessons to a group of 11 and 12 year olds. It was fun. Hooray for C scales.
We have been having Mission Leadership councils and it makes me think of marching band because we have been talking about cadence and marching as one. I have learned the importance of goals on my mission.
Sometimes we set goals to make ourselves stretch. Sometimes we put the goals a bit lower because we need to all be able to step as one with confidence. There is beauty in both.
One of the things I have learned on my mission is that often it really doesn't matter what we can or can't do. I would tell one of my companions "No puedo" "I can't". She would say "Tiene que" "You have to". Today I realized that it is more like "You GET to". What a privilege to have seen so many miracles, to have done so many impossible things.
Dear Sister Pace,
there are many changes. That is just the way it goes. However, there are some things that will always remain, like family or the mountains around my town that I love or the utter joy of eating pumpkin pie for breakfast. Or, like this button. I still don't know how to get rid of it.