Ok, first of all, I fell today and hurt my foot really bad... went to the hospital and was there almost all day. Now I have a brace and crutches... So, just so you're not surprised when I come home like that. Anyway, minor details.
SO! You all are very much aware that it is my last week... even though I don't think I've really even realized that yet. Anyway.
Really, the mission has been a huge blessing in my life. Even though I wouldn't say that in any moment it was what I was expecting or hoping for. When primary kids sing, I hope they call me on a mission, they really don't know what they are getting themselves into! A mission is hard. And long. And sooooo frustrating. But so rewarding, and uplifting, and gratifying, and beautiful. I have learned more about myself and the Savior in 19 months than I have in 21 years, and for that I will be forever thankful. I just wanted to repass a little of my mission with you all so you can share with me some of what I've experienced in the last 19 months with those I've been with, wherever we´ve been.
Alcobendas, where I first learned how to be a missionary. There, I learned just how much you have to rely on the Lord in this work. This is where I first ever saw the promise of Doctrine and Covenants 100:5-8 play out. I really developed my faith in the Lord and in the Spirit, for once it wasn't about me and what I could do, but about what they could do with me. I really felt as though, even if it were just for short moments and in small ways, the Lord made me an instrument in his hands. My trainers taught me more than I ever could have given them. Hermana Fuller made me the missionary I am today. She made me independent and competent and even though I hated her for it in the moment, I will be forever grateful for her for it. And Hermana Clements taught me truly how to love. I know it´s no surprise that we weren't exactly best friends, but she taught me how to love people. Not just the people we teach, but especially those we serve with. She made loving everyone else I met from then on, so much easier.
Barrio 3. The ghetto! I learned there that it´s not so much where you serve, but how you serve. Was it beautiful, no. But was it my heaven on earth, yes. I learned so much about myself there. I realized how much the Lord really trusts us and to really trust that because the Lord called me, I could do whatever was necessary, and it worked! He really trusted me, because he put me with Hermana Sykes and we were throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what stuck for 12 weeks. We didn't know what we were doing, but the Lord sure did because we saw more miracles there than I've seen in any other area. So blessed to have had the opportunity to be there with her and have shared those experiences with her and with the marvelous people there in Barrio 3.
Barrio 8... that was a rough time for me. I don't know if that was because it was the Lord trying me, or because it was just incredibly hot! But really, center of Madrid in the summer? I wouldn't suggest it. Anyway, the most bearable part of my time there was being with Hermana Spencer. She is an angel. I learned that the attitude you have in whatever situation, really affects how things turn out in the end. She is the most positive girl I've ever met, and that was soooo what I needed in those months. And she was what got me through that hard spot in my mission. She kept me going everyday, and the fact that I'm here right now, is thanks to her.
And oh what a blessing it was to finally leave B8 and go to Las Palmas. I was scared of Hermana Marsh at first... mostly just because I never really knew anything about her. But, I just clicked with her. And boy, did that girl make me work. She taught me so much about diligence. Never once did we take a break and we were constantly running, and I never felt as though I wasted a minute of the Lord´s time with her, and that´s why I love her so much. She just made it so enjoyable to be a missionary and helped me see what it was really like to lose yourself in the work. And boy, were we blessed as we did.
Leaving Las Palmas was the hardest thing I had to do in the mission until that point. Barrio 4 was... another testing point for me in my mission. I realized what the Lord´s work is like if its only done by missionaries... its not the best way to work, people! And having a disobedient companion at first, did not make it an easier adjustment, but it did make me recognize the importance of obedience in all we do. As we strive to be obedient, the Lord blesses us. Most of the time, those blessings are tender mercies in the moment that we most need them... which is how it was for me. And so the Lord sent me the biggest tender mercy thus far in my mission, Hermana Charlesworth. Loved that girl to pieces and really just had fun. I realized after so many trials with other comps, that you just need to have fun sometimes! And that is ok! And that being obedient and having fun, go together. As your obedient and diligent, it´s a good time! So we did, and those were the quickest, most fun 5 weeks of my life!
And Alcalá. Wow. I started my mission here, I don't know if you know, I did my first intercambio here and I also did my last here. We´ve gone full circle and I couldn't think of a better way to end the mission. It´s been amazing to see how the Lord prepared these last few months and transfers for me. If I had never extended, I never would have been with Hermana Turina or Hermana Workman here in Alcalá and never would've had the amazing, life changing experiences I've had here these last few months. Hermana Workman has been the best person to finish my mission with. I never stop laughing, we never stop working, and I can also always be 100% open with her about anything, spiritual or not. Which is why it´s been a blessing to serve with her. I have been 100% myself for the last 5 weeks and it feels so great. Being here now with her, seems like the thing the Lord had planned for me in my mission. I always thought at the end of my mission Id feel some overwhelming joy or something that the Lord was proud of what I'd accomplished in these months. And though I never got that feeling, being with Hermana Workman has made me realize that what the Lord really wanted me to do was live the gospel. It´s not so much preaching, or teaching, or baptizing, but its living and applying the gospel in your own life. And that is the biggest thing Im taking from my mission. I feel like I can say, I know how to truly live the gospel.
I feel like I can truly echo the words of Paul, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have Kept the faith." I´ve done it! And all though it was never easy, it will always be worth it!
I know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I know he is our Savior and Redeemer. I know our Heavenly Father lives and answers our prayers if we but only ask. I am grateful for the opportunity to have preached and testified of Christ for the last 19 months. I testify that he lives and loves us.
Until we see each other again!