Monday, May 28, 2007
Subject: The end.
Date: May 28, 2007 9:32:32 AM MDT
Well, this is it. My last e-mail as a missionary. Boo! :-( But...let me first tell you about the amazing last couple of days I've had. They have been jammed with tender mercies and I feel like they've brought perfect closure to a perfect mission. :-)
Saturday morning we had English class as usual. Usually on Saturdays it's just Jean-Guy and Michel, who come pretty regularly. They've been coming for a year or so. Anyway, they're so freakin' hilarious and just really cute old men. As usual, we start and finish with a prayer, but usually they're too shy to say it. But, at the end of the class Saturday, Michel said that he would offer the prayer. It was so simple and so cute. Then, immediately after ending the prayer, he said that he had prepared something for me. He proceeded to read a little 'goodbye wish' he had written out in English. Heart melting!
Then, Jean-Guy said he had prepared a prayer for me too. So, he offered a prayer to our Heavenly Father thanking Him for the service I had rendered and other things and then asked Him to watch after me for the rest of my life. I only share this because it did something to me. I felt at peace with my mission and the things I have done here in Quebec City.
Then, Sunday was probably the picture perfect last Sunday anyone could ever ask for. Ly came to church and of course loved it as usual. But, in Sunday School she raised her hand to make a comment on faith and how we must experiment to make it grow. She then went off to explain that she had so many doubts in her head before she met us. She mentioned that she still has a few doubts but that she appreciates the strong, firm testimony that we share with her and the invitation we give her each time to pray to know for herself. Tender mercy!
It gets better…Linda and her entire family came to church as well. A complete family. A husband and the 3 cutest kids ever! It was a huge miracle because they live an hour and a half away from the church. Everyone loved it! Oh family, I'm soooooooooooo sad to be leaving this family that we found!
Anyway, words can't do these last few days justice. I suppose it will always remain like that. No one will ever really understand the experiences I've had. Experiences that are so unique to me and my mission. But, I suppose it's better that way. I will always keep them dear to my heart.
So, the last little while I've been thinking about all that I've learned, how I've changed, the experiences I've had, etc. So, in honor of this last e-mail as a missionary, I want to share just a tiny portion of that…
The healing power and reality of the Atonement:
Christ truly did suffer it all for us (Alma 7:11). I've come to realize that the Atonement works in everyday situations and not just for grievous sins. It's not enough to just have faith in the Atonement, but we must use it.
We are in control of ourselves. No one can make us do anything. It's always a choice we make. We can choose to be happy, or sad. We can choose to get up again after falling so hard or we can choose to give up. But I can tell you the incredible joy found in getting back up (in using the Atonement). It's never too late to change. After all, that's exactly what this life is about; progressing and becoming like our Father in Heaven—perfect! But, how will we ever be capable if we never use the Atonement?…we won't!
God is always willing and ready to grant us miracles and give to us freely, blessings on the condition that we ask (3 Nephi 14:7-8). I imagine Heavenly Father to be so patient (among many other divine attributes of course). I imagine He longs to give us every star in the sky, every treasure in the ocean, and every joy to be found but He cannot if we never come unto Him, and ask. Seems so simple, eh? Then, why are we so slow to act?! I've seen many prayers answered simply because one of His sincere children have asked in faith and He freely gave. God's love for His children is real. I've felt it for myself and for others (especially for His children here in Quebec). He knows us so perfectly.
The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ:
Wow! Do you realize what this means?! So much! There's not enough time to go into detail but just think of what our unique message to the world is. Isn't it incredible?!?!? I can also tell you that I've seen this message change lives and the reason: BECAUSE IT'S TRUE!!!
The Gift of Agency:
This one took me a little longer to accept. :-) I struggled at the beginning of my mission with why people would reject the truth. But, I've come to better understand how vital free agency is to God's plan…we make choices all day, everyday and the choices we make determine our destiny.
The Power of Love:
No one can reject or at least they have an awfully hard time rejecting someone who sincerely loves them.
Of course there are THOUSANDS of other things I've learned and want to share with you but alas, I only have an hour for e-mails. But, most of all, when all is said and done, I will walk off that plane this Thursday and be able to say, I get it. Words cannot sum up all I've learned, experiences, or even all that has been engraven so deeply on my heart. It's true, I will NEVER regret serving a mission. Something extraordinary takes place when we serve the Lord with all our heart, might, mind and strength!
I'm still that same missionary that entered the MTC 18 months ago. Only, perhaps now, I seem to appear slightly different; perhaps aged by all these life altering experiences.
I've found my testimony more so than ever and it's written so profoundly on my heart that I can never deny it. This is what life is about. The gospel is true! Joseph Smith did see God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ on that Spring morning. And with a firm testimony of the reality of that vision—everything else falls in place. The church was restored by the power of God. God Lives. Jesus is in fact the Christ.
I know these things because they have been so firmly written on my heart by the Holy Ghost and that is a sure witness I cannot deny. It's true what Elder Ballard said, A mission is the greatest education in the world. They say a mission changes a person—and that it did.
…the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…
(2 Timothy 4: 6-7)
I love you family! Keep on keepin' on…I`ll be home soon. :-)
May 28, 2007
Hello Meghan and yes iamsoexcittedabouutyoucominghome!!!!! I can’t wait to hold my Megs again. Still, with all this excitement at your return it is a little, well, bittersweet. I feel on a small scale what you must be feeling—happy/sad, maybe a little weepy. All normal emotions, given the circumstances.
Have I mentioned often enough how proud I am of you and your goodness? Your decision to serve has been the very best thing for you as it has been a defining, refining and unique time in your life. You will never be able to recreate it and I am so happy that you were able to have this formative experience. And what an experience.
When you sit across from someone and you have to not simply explain but demonstrate the value of your religious system, it really causes you to question what value you do find in it, no? At that moment, when trying to communicate across cultural boundaries, it strips away a lot of things. And it really does come down to that notion of testimony. Either you are able to testify in the name of the Savior and by the Holy Spirit such that it can be understood by someone else, or you can’t. You can and have testified, Megs. You have openly declared your witness of the Savior and His gospel. Of all the things a mother hopes for her children, that witness, that assurance tops the list.
Also, Megs, a mission strips the gospel down to simplicity, don't you think? A missionary learns those fundamental principles of our faith—repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. I’m sure you saw this, probably a lot. And having seen it over and over again, well, it requires you to change.
I guess what I’m trying to say, Megs, (and this is something you already know well, but bear with me)—is it's a particularly humbling experience out there. Not only because there’s a lot of rejection, but you are stripped down to just you and the message, and the message is, if you read this book and pray about it, God will tell you it's true.
Then you stand with and by that person until they try it and if it doesn't work, then it's still OK; you just move on. But that experience, in terms of a coming-of-age experience, it changes you. If we all didn’t realize it then, we for sure know it now, that that change coupled with a new understanding of the dynamics of faith and its power is worth what ever sacrifice. It’s more than a fair exchange—18 months and look at the return.
So, well done my darling daughter. Pat yourself on the back. What you have done is huge and God will remember your service. You will never regret having served and we will never regret having sent you. You and your family will reap the blessings of having served for the rest of your life.
Now get home, girl. Your fam needs you. Especially your Mama.
Love, love, love you.
P.S. We all sat around last night excitedly discussing your arrival, you know, stuff like who gets first hugs, who will pick up the Cafe Río on the way home, important stuff like that. We even role played a little. But, ahem, just to be clear, first hugs go to the woman in the Levi skirt, with her matching Payless sandals. If that doesn't give her away, then look for the proudest Mother there, the one with tear stained cheeks :-)
Sunday, May 20, 2007
1) Why don’t you update your blog more frequently?
Well, I’m not quite certain for sure yet, but I think I am quite possibly a bum. Oh , and I am easily distracted.
2) Why are you so easily distracted?
Don’t know, but I am. It’s like a gene thing, I guess. Not only do I have A.S.S. but also apparently A.D.D.
This is evidenced by the fact that a few months back I went to church and I’m doing the ‘shake hands and greet the sisters’ thing. Only one sister keeps staring at me rather intently. Her brow is all furrowed up, and she keeps pumping my hand like crazy. I’m like panicking, thinking, “What! Do I have a booger flapping or a stray nose hair, er, what, what is it?’
I’m all self conscious now. So I quietly slip into the ladies room and check myself out. The mirror reveals the problem.
Turns out I had only applied eye make up to my left eye that day. Yup, my left eye had mascara, carefully drawn on eyeliner and smoothly blended eyeshadow.
The right eye had nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
I was , literally, wearing the face of distraction that day .
This is what happens when you answer a phone call in the middle of your make up session.
Word to the wise: Stay focused, ladies. This applies to playing checkers, applying cosmetics and blogging.
3) What is your favorite color?
Yellow. I love Yellow. Yellow is an unfathomable and complex color. While it’s true I never wear yellow and nothing in my house is painted or covered in yellow, I do love this color. On account of Yellow being so deep and all. I mean , like, is Yellow square or round?
4) What size shoe do you wear?
Funny you should ask, as I was just thinking about how shoe size tells a lot about a person.
My left foot is a size 7 and my right is a 7 1/2. Although before I had babies I was a size 6 1/2, in both feet.
5) So, why are you so, like, er, well, messed up?
A valid question and one I have pondered and puzzled over for nearly 50 years. I think I have finally found the answer.
See: Arnetts and their A.S.S.
I never stood a chance.