Wednesday, December 17, 2014

If you're curious what I'm doing with my life now that the black nametag is off, you can find out at my blog-

There and Back Again

I've been home from my mission for a week now. It has been a wonderful week. I've loved being able to see family and friends, and my dog, and be home. It's been good. It's also been a little hard, and a little sad. I can't believe I'm not a missionary anymore. I miss it.
What I'm realizing now is how much my mission has prepared me for the rest of my life. I've learned so much during the last 18 months, and I've developed so many good habits, and it's been really cool to see how my missionary self can fit into my "normal life", although I'm still definitely adjusting and learning to make myself fit in here again.
Before I left on my mission, my mission prep teacher gave us some really good advice. She suggested that when we get to the end of our mission, we take a minute and think about the things that we know now that we didn't know before. During my last personal study on my mission I did that, and I'd like to share some of what I learned.

  • Missionary work is all about following the spirit. If you don't listen to the spirit, you will never succeed. If you do listen to the spirit, you will always succeed. 
  • Make decisions with the big picture in mind, think about what's best in the long-term, not just immediately. 
  • We can have hope even in hopeless circumstances because of Jesus Christ. 
  • Life is about learning to make the best of less than perfect circumstances. 
  • The gospel is for everyone, and any point in their lives. Living the gospel is always the right thing to do. 
  • To be a sister means to love unconditionally, to always see the good, to forgive quickly. 
  • Never postpone a prompting. 
  • If you want something, make it happen. 
  • Being clean means we clean up our mistakes quickly. 
  • Miracles don't always have picture perfect happy endings, and it takes effort to make miracles happen. 
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not the only good church in the world, but it is the only true church. 
  • As we use the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we will become so much more than we though we were ever capable of becoming. 
And then this was the biggest thing I learned, the theme of my mission. 

Trust in the Lord. 

His plan is better than my plan. His timing is better than my timing. His way is better than my way. His measure of success is better than my measure of success. 

I will always and forever love South Carolina, and always and forever be a missionary. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and it has made all the difference in my life. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to dedicate 18 months of my life to sharing it. 

To everyone who wrote me, prayed for me, fed me, served with me, and in any other way helped me, thank you so much. I couldn't have done it without all the support I had. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Best and Worst of Times

This is a really hard email to write. I can't believe it's my last one. This week has been so incredible and so sweet and also so hard. But everything has worked out so well. We were able to say goodbye to everyone we wanted to, which is a miracle all in itself since we had so many people to see. And everyone has been so wonderful to us, and said so many kind things. And Mom was right, saying goodbye makes it easier to leave. With each goodbye I've felt a little more closure. 

It's hard to leave because there's so many good things that are about to happen in the next month in this area. But, my work here is done. And it's been so sweet how many members and other people have told us that they're not going to forget us, because I think that's the thing that I fear the most right now, being forgotten and forgetting my mission. I want to move forward, but I don't want to forget these people and my experiences I've had. This ward is such a special ward, and in a lot of ways I feel like I'm leaving home all over again. I guess the best way for me to make sure I won't forget my mission is to apply the things I've learned when I go home. It's been amazing how the people here have prepared me to come home. I've had so many good examples of faithful families to help me recognize what I want my home to be like.

The best part of the week was going to the temple with our member. It was a wonderful day. It was just us, her, and her escort. Her husband came as well, and waited outside for us. She was so happy; we all were. It was great to be in the temple after so long, and it really helped me remember that that's what this is all about. The fullness of the gospel is found in the temple. It's amazing how the temple completes everything else that the gospel and the church does for us. I'm definitely excited to be able to go to the temple more often, and especially to eventually come back someday and see them sealed in the temple. I know it will happen.

Sunday was really special. The fast and testimony meeting was really powerful, and there were several people who mentioned how much they appreciated the sister missionaries. Needless to say, I cried a lot. Saturday night we found out that they'll be replacing us with elders instead of sisters, and it was funny and also sweet that when we told that to people they all expressed a bit of disappointment and sadness to be losing sisters. We definitely know that we're going to be missed. It was so hard to say goodbye to people after church, especially two of our sisters. We've gotten so close to both of them.

After church we went to say goodbye to one of our less active members. She doesn't come to church because of health challenges. She said exactly what I needed to hear, telling us how we had made her life happier and that she wasn't going to forget us. What she said really helped me to feel that I have accomplished enough on my mission. We've brought light into people's lives, and strengthened their testimonies. And that is enough.

I'm excited to see y'all soon. Hopefully I'll be able to fit everything in my suitcases:) Thank you for all the sweet emails. I also got a wonderful letter from Grandma Terry this week, and that really helped me a lot too. I love you all, and I'll see you soon!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Stop and Think

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Actually, a couple great Thanksgivings. On Wednesday we had dinner with a family; there was a lot of good food, and it was fun to be with their family. The Elgin sisters spent the night at our apartment on Wednesday night, since we were all going to a service project together the next morning. We had a lot of fun together. It's nice to have sisters in our district so we have someone else to talk to. 

We got up early on Thursday and went to a Methodist church and helped put together dinners for elderly and shut-ins. It was a lot of fun, and we made some good friends with the other people who were volunteering. One of the girls took a picture with us and put it on Facebook, so when I get back I'll be able to show it to y'all. After that, we had dinner with the person we had planned, and her daughter surprised us by coming down from Virginia. We had a lot of good food, and the pumpkin pies we had made turned out very well, so we had a good day.

We also spent a lot of time this week updating our records and the map of our area. We want the missionaries coming after us to know what's going on. We don't know yet if they're going to have sisters to replace us, or another set of elders, or if there's just going to be one set of missionaries. It will be interesting to find that out.

Telling people this is our last week has been very effective at getting us appointments with everyone. So we're going to be very busy this week. I hope we can get to everyone that we want to say goodbye to.

One of our returning less active members who I love is hopefully going to go through the temple this Friday, and President Turner gave us permission to go with her! We're so excited for her. We're just waiting for her to get her temple clothes and then everything will be set. We went over there this week, and she was so excited to show us her temple recommend. 

She said something that really made me stop and think. As she was showing it to us, she said, "I didn't think I would ever have one of these." When she said that it really made me stop and think and ask myself if I think of having a temple recommend as a privilege. It made me think about how much I take the blessings of the gospel for granted sometimes. Being able to have a temple recommend is such an accomplishment and such a blessing. I am grateful to have a temple recommend.

Yesterday at church was so wonderful. Bishop asked Sister Torino and me to bear our testimonies. And as I was standing up there, looking out at everyone, I realized that this ward feels so much like my home, bearing my testimony was like being at my mission farewell all over again. Everyone here is so wonderful, and I love them all so much. I'm going to miss this ward a lot.

I'm excited to see y'all soon. It's crazy to think I only have one email left. It's a good time to come home, since I'll have so many opportunities to see people at Christmas gatherings.

I hope you all have a great week, thanks for all the prayers and letters.