So this is it..
HI family! At the beginning of my mission it was hard to imagine that this day would ever come..but time is a funny thing. Before I knew it the months were passing like weeks and the weeks were flying like days until there were none left...here I am.
It's hard to think about leaving this life behind. I'm really going to miss it. I'm going to miss being on a schedule (having every minute of every day accounted for . I'll miss having two hours to study every morning and not having to worry about anything BUT STUDYING. I'll miss going to bed at 10:30 every night. And I'll miss putting on my name tag every morning. I'll miss the people - the way they say "yous" instead of "you". The way they can talk and talk and talk without us even having to respond. I'll miss hearing the testimonies of so many converts at church. I will even miss all of the cats..I'll miss the insane amounts of snow in the winter and having to shovel the car out every morning. I'll miss the sensation of having my mouth literally freeze making talking to anyone a real challenge. I'll miss the awkward and uncomfortable moments that don't seem as awkward or uncomfortable any more. I'll miss being so close to the sea..
Yet I'm excited for the adventures to come. President Pratt told me in our interview this week that he couldn't believe it but each phase of life really seems to be better than the last. Lucy sent this quote today that I loved (from "Hope Floats") "Beginnings are scary. Endings are usually sad, but it's what's in the middle that counts. So, when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up. And it will." I just need to have hope.
This week I have been reminded of a very profound and simple lesson. That of humility and diligence. When I got to the MTC I learned very quickly that my mission wasn't going to be easy. I felt weak and inadequate and I wan't sure if I could succeed. Then Sister Purcell reminded me of Ether 12:27 - God wanted me to work on my weaknesses but not be immobilized by them. He wanted me to be HUMBLE so that WITH HIM I could become strong. That night in the MTC I knelt by my bunk bed and prayed that He would help me put everything "on the alter", my fears and frustrations, my homesickness and all that I struggled with. It is amazing to look back on that day and see how He helped me. Some of those initial weaknesses have become strengths to me through diligence and hard work. Now I'm entering the last week of my mission and the Lord is reminding me of that very profound and simple lesson. One night this week I was sitting on my bed with my scriptures. I was pondering on what kind of an offering my mission has been to the Lord. I let my scriptures fall open and when I looked down of course I saw Ether 12:27..with the words "MTC experience 2014" in the margin. I wrote about this in my study journal the next day. I said, "I've been studying humility because something I've realized coming to the end of my mission is that I STILL have weaknesses. I was able to hand a lot of my weaknesses over to the Lord and I have seen some become strengths but now I realize that this is in ongoing process. It will never end until we reach perfection in the next life. And some of my weaknesses have been with me my whole life and through my whole mission, I'm still struggling with them. Studying Ether 12:27 again gave me HOPE. Even though I'm not going home perfected..I know how to work toward perfection. I know that I will continue to NEED to rely on my Savior every day of my life. In Doctrine and Covenants section 4 (which we recite every day) it lists several Christlike attributes..verse 6 says, "Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence." I love that humility and diligence come at the very end because that's what the rest of my life (our lives) will require - HUMILITY AND DILIGENCE - humility to turn to and trust in the Lord. Diligence in working to overcome the natural man and our weaknesses. I know that the Lord loves us despite our weaknesses." What a wonderful reminder!
I'm grateful that God knew I needed to serve so He provided a way. He knew I needed to come so that I could learn the importance of obedience. I needed to learn the importance of honoring the Sabbath day. I needed to learn what actually matters in life, what is actually important are the things that are important to God. The way we keep our covenants and the way we treat PEOPLE is WAY more important than getting 300 likes on instagram or having the nicest clothes and car. I needed to come so I could learn how to live the Gospel. What it means to HAVE FAITH, how to repent, the importance of our baptismal covenants and the sacrament, listening to the Holy Ghost and ENDURING TO THE END. I needed to learn patience and how to love unconditionally. I needed to learn how to listen. I needed to learn the importance of living by the Spirit, of planning and setting goals and of working hard. I needed to step outside of my comfort zone so I could gain greater perspective. I needed to learn what true conversion meant. I needed to lose myself so that I could, in the end...find out who I'm meant to be.
I'm sorry this is getting kind of long. I just want to end with my testimony. I know without a doubt that God loves us. I know that He loves us because He provided a way for us to be happy. Happy on earth and happy in the eternities. Happy living in His presence again someday. I know He loves us because He sent His only perfect son to earth, to suffer and die for my sins, my sadness, and my imperfections. He sent Him to SAVE US! I know that He loves us because He has called prophets throughout history to guide His children home and He still leads ustoday through a living prophet. He loves us so He reached out to a 14 year old boy in the 1800's and called him to be a Prophet..to restore Christ's church and Christ's authority to the earth. So each of us could have access to personal revelation, access to the fullness of the gospel, and access to the Priesthood power which power can bind our families together forever!! Exaltation is possible because He loves us. God loves us so much that He has provide scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon to guide us in our journey here on earth. I know the Book of Mormon is true with every fiber of my being. It is the "keystone" of my testimony. I know that as we live its teaching we will COME CLOSER TO CHRIST. He is the only way.
I am so thankful to have been able to spend 18 months in His service. It's been the happiest time of my life.
Thank you for loving me. Thank you for believing in me and praying for me. I couldn't have made it here without your examples and unfailing support. I LOVE YOU ALL VERY VERY MUCH!!
I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOU ON FRIDAY!!!!
Love, Sister G ...saying goodbye to the sea
PS - I'm eating LOBSTER tomorrow!!