Now that I'm here ending the mission, I want to send a special email. For 18 months of service, 18 things I loved about the mission. These are things that I have especially seen and loved (or learned to love) here in the Misión Chile Antofagasta these last 18 months.
1. Power and Authority From God
Starting Day 1 in the MTC, most of the talks had to with the revelation that was recieved with our mission call. I remember that day (feels like yesterday) that I recieved my call. Read CHILE ANTOFAGASTA and knew. Knew that CHILE was the place I needed to go. And now, being here, there has been SO many times that I've felt that same assurance. I am called by a prophet of God, someone who speaks in His behalf, to be here. GOD called ME. HERE.
Then, that we are set apart with the power of God to do this work. For just a short amount of time, we are given the authority to talk to people, teach, ... not to be shy or embarrassed. Its our responsibility. My natural self is like that, a little shy or nervous to get out of my comfort zone. But I reminded myself, I decided to go on a mission, knowing I'd have to do it. Why be shy? Be valient. Just do it, just talk to them. It might be a little awkward, but who cares? That's my job, to just talk to people! I'm a missionary! It's expected of me!
2. Focus and Dedication to the Gospel
I love 100% focus and dedication to the Gospel. It's the only time in our lives we have to do it, and its great! In these 18 months, I've learned SO much more about the doctrine of Christ than I ever had before. I thought I knew it before... It was nothing! haha I love everything I was able to learn and try and do and see. Life has a greater meaning and potential when we put all glory to God and follow His plan. I feel like now, I am more determined, more decided with what I want to do in life, all because I had this time to really focus on it.
3. Being with a Companion
I never thought I'd love so much being with a companion! haha As you know, before the mission, I was usually by myself. Doing things alone, working, studying, ... and I was fine with it. Starting the mission, it was a little difficult being with someone always... but now, I learned to love it! I love the company! Its great to have someone else that supports me, helps me, grows with me, makes me stretch, makes me learn, ... Someone else who's always there to fill in where I can't make it.
4. Meeting New People
I've had a great opportunity to meet many great people. Missionaries, Members of the Church, or Non-Members, this world is full of good people. It was fun to meet people from Chile, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Brasil, Ecuador, ... but even greater to learn from them.
I've learned to not be as shy. It's not as hard as I thought, to extend the comfort zone a bit. Talking to strangers, becomes as a game. My companion and I started having a contest together how many contacts we could do in a day, how many gave us their address, and how many lived in our sector. It became fun! Like the Lord says (open your mouth and it will be filled), I've seen and experienced that! It's amazing!
5. Seeing How Much is Possible in One Day
I always thought before the mission, that once I was in school or working 7 or 8 hours a day, that was sufficient. I had done a lot. But, in the MTC (and even more since then) I've learned that with good time management, we can do SO MUCH in just 24 hours! In the MTC we were in "class" 6 hours, AND studied an hour, AND studied language an hour, AND had exercise an hour, AND planned for the day, AND had an hour three times a day for meals, ... etc etc. WOW! I realized how much time I had wasted before!
Then, here in the field, that we can do SO MUCH! Studying an hour, really is just a little bit of time! Then, we go out to work, how many people can we talk to today? And have a lesson with? And plan a next appointment with?
Time is valuable. Time is short. Use it wisely. Budget it according to your priorities... and put God first ;)
6. Feeling Closer to God
I have felt closer to God than ever before since being here on the mission. From helping me learn the language, to finding investigators, to comforting me on a hard day, I have felt his love and his presence. I feel like he knows me, he puts me where I need to be, with who I need to be with. I have no doubt that he loves me, and has a plan for me. He knows what I need to grow more, what I can handle, and what I need to learn. He hears my prayers, and answers them, according to my needs. But he hears me. And I know he always does what will be the best for me.
7. Learning/Studying/Developing Attributes of Christ
Here in the mission, I feel like it's the best time to focus on our Savior Jesus Christ, and how we can become more like him. Every day, in every aspect, there's something we can learn about how Christ is and how he would do the work. These last 9 weeks, my companion and I have focused on one of the attributes of Christ found in Preach My Gospel, and how we can develop it better. It was amazing to see certain things that happened during the week, that helped us better to learn the trait. For example, the week of "humility" we had a hard week of work and lessons. The week of "patience" we had 4 more sisters living in our apartment... ;) haha I feel like here in the mission, I learned more about Christ, I loved studying about him, and trying every day more to be like him.
8. Seeing Miracles
Witnessing miracles is a testimony builder. It's amazing to see miracles, big and small, every day. And we see MORE when we are more focused on it. Everything is a miracle. Miracles are based on our faith. If we have faith, we are able to do great things, because we have the help and confidence of the Lord.
We have the potencial to do miracles. We just need to have the faith. I know miracles are real, and they testify of Christ, and help us learn more of him.
9. Trials = Blessings
Hard times are times to learn and grow. Its the perfect opportunity to change something and do something different and better! I've learned to "love" trials, for that reason. After they've passed too, I feel more accomplished, stronger, and better.
I heard someone say "When you have opposition, you know you're doing something good" That's so true! Satan attacks us when we are about to do something good, because he doesn't want us to do it. I've learned about that in the mission too. Through problems of health, people preparing for baptism, or going through the normal day, always before something great happens, its hard. But, you know you're doing something good ;)
Here in the mission, I've had a few great adventures. haha From the dog bite in Copiapo, to the earthquake in Arica! And I gotta admit, now looking back, they were fun! Maybe some of those "trials" that turn into blessings ;) haha I got to experience things that I would have never experienced in any other way. And it was fun! Life is full of adventures. That's what makes it fun and unique. Especially the mission! It's an adventure in itself!
11. "Other Knowledge"
On top of coming closer to Christ, I was also able to learn "other things" that were great too! I got to learn Spanish, knowing the gift of tongues is real. That will be a great help in other aspects of my life too. I got to learn more of budgeting money and making it last through the month. I got to learn more of cooking! (Heads up, Ill be sharing that with you at home!!) Stuff from Chile, and Argentina too! I learned more of "not being shy" and talking to everyone. I learned to live with someone and how to get along with them. I learned self-reliance. I LOVE THE MISSION ;)
12. Recieving Revelation
I was able to strengthen my testimony of revelation more here in the mission. From our Mission President and his teachings, to the leaders, to my companion and I in our sector, revelation is necessary to do the things right, and how God wants them done. Revelation really is the communication with God to his children. He knows us.
Revelation is received in many ways. Through the power of the scriptures, prayer, words of someone else, thoughts, music.... in a personal way, but a real way. From God.
13. Seeing Blessings Immediately
Blessings are given immediately based on obedience. There were many times that I was able to fast or pray, and saw the blessing immediately. But, there are also other times, that God needs us to wait. But the blessings always come. I loved being able to experience many times that God knows me and hears my prayers, and blesses me in the way that is best for me.
I remember a few times, fasting for new investigators. Either immediately after ending, or still during the fast, we found someone great, recieved a referral, ... something that was a great answer. or Praying with faith, for help and direction during the day, and seeing God's help in obvious ways.
14. Learning that Change is Good
Change is a good thing. It's hard to get out of your comfort zone to go into something new. For example, transfers. At the start of my mission.. it was SUPER hard for me when transfers were close. I got anxious, nervous, and just wanted to know what would happen! But, I learned that they are always for a new experience to learn and grow. We get to meet new people and try new things.
Change is an opportunity to grow. To keep progressing. And now, I like change ;) Look at change as a blessing, because that is what it is. A chance God gives us to keep moving forward.
15. Power in the Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is the word of God. I was able to witness great conversions through the power of the Book of Mormon. People that at first didn't seem to progress, would read the Book of Mormon and not be able to put it down! It's a great witness of Joseph Smith and the restoration, the divinity of Christ, and how the Holy Ghost works. It is necessary in the power of conversion. It is full of answers to fill the soul. It contains the fullness of the Gospel. It is a perfect and true book!
16. Putting on the Armor of God Daily
Studying the scriptures daily is a great way to fight temptations. Putting on the armor daily is a big strength that we need. I loved being able to recieve answers and revelation during Personal Study, and also with my companion. It's the only way to stay good on the path. At least a little a day, but it gradually brings this "hunger" to keep learning.
The Gospel is a wonderful thing. We are promised to know the "mysteries of God" if we dedicate ourselves to studying with the desire to learn more. I know that if we do, we are revealed many great and important things.
17. Power of Conversion from the Spirit
The Spirit converts, not people. Something we always tell people is that we aren't here to convince them of what we have, we are here to invite them to hear our message, then to ask God directly if it is true or not. It's interesting how it changes the outlook of people, knowing we don't want them to do anything because WE say it, but because GOD says it. It makes us different from other missionaries and puts the glory to God and the Holy Ghost.
A true answer from God and a testimony from Him is what makes a true conversion. If God says something and witnesses something, it cannot be denied.
Seek a testimony and to always strengthen it. It's the best tool you have to stay strong.
18. Strengthening My Testimony
The experiences I've had in the mission have helped me strengthen my testimony. God always knew what I needed to help me become stronger. I think my favorite thing I was able to learn from the mission, was my testimony. I always believed these things before, but now, I KNOW.
I know the church is true. I know it was restored by Joseph Smith. I know he translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God. I know the Priesthood also was restored by him. I know this authority is important and essencial. There are prophets in these days that lead and guide us. Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet. I know Christ lives. I know our Heavenly Father loves us. We are His children. He knows what is best for us. Families are forever. The Temple is a sacred place to perform eternal covenants.
We are blessed when we obey. God is always there to listen and answer our prayers. He is always there.
We have the Atonement of Christ to become perfect, try harder every day. We can be forgiven. We can be comforted. We can feel his love and his presence. He can take our trials and our pains and relieve guilt, and anguish. He loves us. He did it all for his love.
I know God is real. I know we have potential to become like Him, and that is our purpose in life. I know the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to be able to return to live with him. It's the only way.
These things I know, because of the power of the Holy Ghost. He testifies of all truth.
I have loved these last 18 months of my life. So far, the best 18 months I've ever had. The best times of good and bad, where I've learned the most, and grown much more than I've ever expected.
Thank you for all your love and support. I have felt it, being this far, every day in my mission. I think of you all often, and hope you can too have the experience of serving a mission. So you can really understand the happiness it brings.
Love you!! See you SOON! :)