Monday, February 18, 2013

Post-Mission Postcard

Well, It's been one month now.  A few days ago I got a letter in the mail--from El Salvador!  Elder Bailey sent me a message.

The mission was the best thing I've ever done in my life.  There's not a day that goes by when I don't think about it.  In fact, I can't even carry a conversation without having to say something about my mission or the Gospel.  

My last couple of days in the mission were a mixture of feelings.  I was very excited to get back--I wanted to study, I wanted to see my family, see Utah, and step on AMERICAN SOIL again.  I absolutely loved the mission, but after two years...well...I really missed my family.  Mom, Dad, Joseph, Mike, Scott, Jen, Caleb, Kathryn, Joshua, and Abigail.  I missed them a lot.  

Monday, after writing my family for the last time, we went to Los Chorros (see picture of waterfall on postcard).  It was absolutely beautiful.  El Salvador is one of the "paises mas hermosas" in the world (once you get past the idea that everyone throws their trash on the ground).  Now I'm not gonna lie: it was hard to work the last couple days.  But I still did it.  We found new investigators, taught some good was great.  I said goodbye to all the members and took a quick picture with each of them.

Thursday Morning.  We got up a little early, got ready, and went to Hermana Veraliz's house for a delicious, typical Salvadorian breakfast of beans, eggs, and cream.  After, we went to the Cerna Family's house and taught them lesson 2: The Plan of Salvation.  Great lesson.  It was a good way to die.  For lunch, we went to the Figueroa's house and ate some bean soup.  Then we returned to the house, I changed into my brand new, WHITE shirt, and grabbed the bus to Santa Ana.  

I got to the office, and then had my final interview with President.  He is such a genius.  He gave me some great advice, and released me as a missionary of the Mission El Salvador Santa Ana/Belize.  After, I went to President's house and we had some delicious pork loins with a tasty pineapple sauce.  Mmmm.  Hermana Cordón is a good cook.  After, we had some ice cream, and then they took me into the living room for the "eternal family" talk.  I liked it.  I want an eternal family.

We ended going into another room and singing Placentero Nos es Trabajar. It's one of my favorite hymns in Spanish.  After, President offered a prayer and I said goodbye to my family in El Salvador.  I honestly felt very happy.  I was excited to go home and see my family; but that night, as I was writing in my journal, it hit me.  I was leaving all of that.  I started to feel kinda sad--like I was leaving a good part of who I was behind.  I didn't really like that too much, so I quickly went to sleep.

Then at 4:30, my alarm went off.  I got up, got ready, and got in the van when President Vargas arrived to pick me up.  It was dark as we started pulling out of the neighborhood where the assistants live.  They live at the top of Palmar.  I had been there so many times.  We started driving out of Santa Ana.  I had walked and driven so many times down that road.  It was hard to think that I was leaving it for... who knows how long.  

Now look.  I'd never really considered myself a crier.  In fact, I could probably count the number of times I had "cried" before my mission on one hand (after childhood, obviously), but the mission made me soft.  As we started driving away, I just started bawling.  I loved my mission.  I had grown so much, changed so much.  Everything I wanted to achieve, I achieved.  But  the Lord had something much bigger planned for me.  I honestly learned and realized so many important things that I never even realized I needed to know.  I had learned to be happy.  I had learned to always smile and that, as President Eyring told us before the temple dedication, "things WILL work out."  I had learned who my Savior was and how to trust in Him.  I had learned to trust in other people, and love them.  I love a lot of people there.  I miss them.  They have forever changed my life.  I learned how to get along with people and how to endure trials.  I gained a testimony.  The list goes on.

I loved my mission.  So that's why I cried.  It's hard to leave something that means so much to you.  I can honestly say the Lord directed my mission.  It wasn't much how I expected--it was much better.  I left with a testimony that God exists.  He is mindful of us.  He wants the best for us.  He restored His church in these last days so that we can find the truth.  He's given us the Book of Mormon: more scripture that helped me every day of my mission.  I feel happy every time I read it.  It teaches me and guides me.  He gave us a family.  Now no one has a perfect family--but they do have people who love them.  My family is eternal.  I'm very grateful that I can be with them for not just this short life, but forever.  God has given us commandments.  They protect us, and also make us happy.  And that's really God's purpose, isn't it?  He wants us to be happy.  He loves us a lot.

He loves us so much that He prepared a plan for us to return to live with Him.  He offered up the greatest sacrifice known in our universe.  As Amulek explained, "not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice."  God sent his Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die for us.  And HE DID IT.  Now we can repent.  We can change.  We can be happy.

That is really what the atonement of Christ has done to me.  It has made me happy.  I am forever grateful for that.  

Well, those were my two years.  I served well, and I'm happy with them.  Later that same day, I got off the plane and got to hug my mom.  It was the best thing ever.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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