I wish I could tell you everything I learned, experienced, and felt while serving the Lord these past 18 months. It's been a crazy ride. There were ups, downs, laughter, tears, hugs, sleepless nights, love, and mostly joy. If I could describe my mission, I would say it was joyful. That's exactly what the Gospel is, it is joyful. It is lasting happiness that enters our lives and makes us want to change to be more like our Savior Jesus Christ.
This experience has been a privilege. I'm grateful for members who loved me and treated me like family, I'm grateful for companions that became my best friends, I'm grateful for mission presidents and their wives who would do anything for us. I'm grateful for the stranger on the street who would stop and talk. I'm grateful for the little Romanian kids on the metro who played the accordion and always made me smile. I'm grateful for trials and times that tried my faith. I'm even grateful for 18 weeks of straight contacting and porting in Cannes. It was all my pleasure and I am forever changed because of this beautiful experience.
I love the scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 that says, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
Whenever I was weak, Christ's grace always made me strong. He loves us. He loves us so much more than we can understand. On my mission I truly have come to realize that Love is the key. Love is what enables us to change our hearts so we can help others change theirs. He loved us enough to give His life for us. He loves us so much that He asks us to give up our will and follow Him so that we can make it back home one day. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." It all goes back to love, when we love others we selflessly do things for their behalf. I cannot adequately express the love I have for my Savior Jesus Christ.
I learned that God truly loves all of His children, as I served them I came to understand how true the scripture is in D&C 18:10that says, "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God."
I learned to truly trust my Savior. To trust Him we must come to know Him. I spent my entire mission trying to know my Savior rather just knowing about Him and what He did. I'm not perfect, but I feel that I have come to know Him. We can trust Him because He is perfectly trustworthy. President Roney once told us to make the decision to trust the Savior one time, and never go back. He will guide us through our mortal journey if we put our trust in Him. It all goes back to our faith, we must have faith enough to trust the Savior and do what he asks of us, I love the account in the New Testament of the man born blind. Jesus tells this man to go and wash in the pool and that he would recieve sight. This man had faith enough to trust the Savior and do what He asked of him even though it probably seemed impossible. After the man recieves his sight everyone around him asks him how it was done. After responding with the same answer many times the man finally says, "He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." A dear friend of mine who served in this mission compared this scripture to the end of a mission, starting off blind and now as we leave the mission we see. My eyes have truly been opened and I don't know everything but I do feel like I am begining to see exactly what Heavenly Father wants and expects of me.
My heart is filled with so much joy and gratitude for the opportunity I had to serve a mission. Serving a mission was never something I planned on but it was exactly what I needed. I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father is smarter than I am and knew exactly what I needed. Serving a mission was the best decision I ever made. Hands down. I needed this. I needed to change and be humbled and grow in so many different ways. I needed to meet the people I met.
I know my Savior lives. I know He loves us individually and perfectly. He died for every single person who as ever lived. I know He died for me and I know that if He had to do it again, even if it was just for one of us, He would. His love is infinite. He knows us so much better than we think He does. All He wants is for us to be happy, happiness comes through the Gospel. The atonement is real. My life has changed as I have used His atoning sacrifice in my life.The Book of Mormon is the word of God. It was the most correct book on the Earth and brings so much joy into my life. I know Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God and I know the church was restored through Joseph Smith. I know the church is true and it was my privledge to give up 18 months of my life for these people that I love so much. It meant everything to me and I will never be the same.
A quote to end, D. Todd Christofferson gave a beautiful talk in 2011 called "As many as I love, I Rebuke and Chasten" He tells a story of a currant bush and compares it to a life experience of Hugh B. Brown, I love this quote that says, "Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.’”
I'm glad that the Gardener (Heavenly Father) loved me enough to cut me down and tell me to go on a mission. He knew what I needed to become, even if I couldn't see it at the time.
I love my Savior. I love the France Lyon Mission.
Avec beaucoup d'amour,