Well everyone I am sorry it took a little bit longer to get this up. This week was more impacting mentally, physically, and emotionally than I had originally anticipated. Thank you for your patience. Here is what I have to say.
Two years ago I began this journey. I had been excited to go on a mission almost my whole life. I had studied and prepared, dreamed and schemed, and many other things that one does leading up to a mission. In terms of what one can do to prepare I had done a lot, but nothing really was going to prepare me to do what the next 24 months were about to bring. I thought I knew what hard was, but I had no clue. I thought I knew what hard work was, but I was kidding myself. I thought I was ready to serve a mission, but I wasn't. No one ever really is, because this is not an adventure where you go teach the gospel life is just peaches and cream. Missions are partly that, but they are also this. Missions are the chance for you to give up everything and let the Lord fill that time with whatever HE wants to be there. You give up school, sports, fun, work, really just life. He then fills it with trials, troubles, struggles, and afflictions. With successes, joy, new friends, new culture, and amazing learning opportunities. He fills it with everything you need to be ready for and to be successful in the rest of your life. Your purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, but His purpose is to help you know how to do that. Not just on the mission, but for eternity. He does not only have these 18 months or 2 years in mind while you are out here, but rather eternity. I testify that what I experienced and went through on my mission, everything, both the great, and the terrible, was because my amazing Heavenly Father was thinking not only just about what I would experience on the mission, but everything I have to do and that He has in store for me for the rest of eternity. I learned lessons on how to be a genuine person and disciple of Jesus Christ that will benefit me forever. I learned about overcoming pride, about focusing on others, and about developing Christlike attributes not just because it would help me be a better missionary, but one day a better husband and father, church member, friend, classmate, coworker, and everything else you can think of! Missions are about you learning how to come unto Christ. Your purpose is to invite others to come unto Him, but you can't bring them any closer than you already are! While you are being someone else's missionary, the Savior is being yours.
I learned so many things. I learned how to adapt in unexpected circumstances. How to be comfortable and confident in new situations. How to "embrace it till you make it". I learned that I am often going to fail, and that's ok. I learned that as long as you are trying, everything will work out. You do what you know you are supposed to do and then trust that God will bring about what needs to happen. Then when whatever happens next does happen, you need to trust it is the Lord's will. Don't freak out if it isn't what you wanted or expected. Trust it is what is right. I learned how to love those who don't love me. I learned how to love someone who is hard to love. I learned how to love someone when I don't really like them. I learned how to be someone who is easier to love. I learned how to do all this not just in word, but in deed and thought. I learned how to have pure motivation; to be motivated by my love for the Savior rather than for anything to do with me. I learned how to better do hard things. I learned how to love what I am doing, no matter what that thing is. I learned how to recognize and understand the Spirit in a way I never have before. I learned more on how to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost and to trust that when I am doing those things He is there even if I don't "feel" Him there. I can instead trust He is with me and guiding me in a way that works best for me. Oh I could go on but really what it all boils down to is I learned how to come unto Christ. Whilst inviting others to do so I learned for myself how I can do it. Before my mission I could say I knew of Him and kinda a little bit knew Him. I still have a long way to go in life but I can say by true experience that I now know my Savior. I know what He wants of me, for me, and that He will always help me become who He and my Heavenly Father want me to become.
I love them. They have helped me through these first few days of being home. It has been hard. Harder than I had anticipated. Just like going out on a mission I thought, "I got this", and in a sense I do, but not really. It's nothing I have ever done before, but I'm learning that I don't have to do this alone. I don't have to be alone. It will feel like I am sometimes, that's the unavoidable truth. There are times right now where I feel very alone. It is not for very long or very often, and I am blessed with an amazing family that loves me and great friends. It's in those times however that I try my best to remember my Savior. That's how I really get through it and everything else, and I testify that it is the only true and real way to get through anything and come out on top. Bad things happen to good people, and so do hard things. The purpose of them, and the purpose of life, is to bring us closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Nothing bad in this life lasts forever, no matter how much it feels like it. Everything that was hard on the mission did come to an end. Everything in your life that is hard will too. It is because of our Redeemer that this is a reality. I know He lives. I know He gives us things like the Book of Mormon, prophets, and families to help us overcome the bad and improve in where we are good. This works because all these things like prayer and church bring us to Him. It is through Christ and His Atonement that we go from bad to good, and good to better. We do this till one day after experiencing countless hardships and numerous joys, we stand before Him at judgement day to hear him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" and then be led to live with our Heavenly Father for eternity. All of us can make it, just come unto Christ. This is my testimony that I leave with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.