It's selfless service, selfless love, Discipleship, simply turning outward instead of Inward that keeps even the most exhausted missionary driven to do the Lord's work. President Hinckley's Father spoke the truth when he wrote to Pres. Hinckley on his mission, "Forget yourself and go to work." I've found the greatest happiness I've ever felt from just forgetting myself and caring for those I come in contact with. But with that comes disappointment and heartache that produce even the saddest tears. Seeing those I want the best for and love so much come so close to receiving some of God's greatest blessings. Motivation always seemed to fill me though as I remember my Savior who never gave up. Loving parents who taught me to look up and to keep going when disappointment comes my way. Sports coaches, General Authorities, Best friends, the world's greatest missionaries cheering and encouraging me to get up when I fall, and to keep pressing forward.
Iv'e had 11 companions and served in 8 areas. With those 11 comps and in those areas came an unwavering testimony, the most knowledge and intelligence I've ever received, and a changed heart. I fully understand my place and purpose in this life now that it had to do with Christ's words "Feed my Sheep" and "Cry Repentance." Seeing people become better acquainted with Christ and tasting of his goodness has brought me great Joy. Whether it be seeing someone pray for the first time, someone understanding a principle of the Gospel, someone entering into the waters of baptism, or helping someone go to the temple all made it worth it for me.
I've taught athletes, lesbians, Ex gang members, Hell's Angels, prostitutes, people from so many different diversities, atheist, satan worshipers, etc. Iv'e taught old and young, rich and poor, the wise and the unwise. I've seen it all! I've learned so much from these people that I will never forget! Crazy stories and experiences were obtained these past 2 years. From companions lighting fireworks in our study offices to getting accused in front of a bunch of members of a religious group called the 12 tribes! Drunk and very high people trying their very best to hold a conversation with you, to challenging missionaries to food competitions that end up throwing up in public! Or even strange people or strange events happening right before your eyes that you thought would only happen on TV or something. I knew from Day 1 on my mission when a random hobo, who only knew a lick of English, stopped us on the road and tried to get into our car multiple times that it was going to be a adventurous and interesting mission! And I was right!
I've gained a strong testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He sure did go through a lot for this church. He still gets accused and laughed at today. There is so much Anti and so much hatred that I've seen towards God's only true and living church. Many people trying to tear down it's members, tear down the Book of Mormon, doing whatever it takes to make one believe that it's a hoax or a fraud. That it was made up and that Mormons are delusional and so on. If so much ridicule and hate towards this church from so many people isn't a sign of it's truthfulness, I don't know what is! Satan himself knows it's true and he's doing his best to convince people not to believe. But God's church will Prevail! It will continue to grow! God is on our side and with him there is always victory!
The scriptures are the word of God and that includes D&C and the Book of Mormon. Answers to so many questions can be found in the scriptures. I know it for myself! One more thing before I end the email. One great and huge benefit of going on a mission that I had not realized before coming out, was the amount of true friends I would receive. Eternity long friends. I only truly had a couple before coming out but now I have many. Friends I can count on and trust of which are companions, families and individuals I've met in different area of my mission, church leaders, and other missionaries friends. For those of you reading this know who you are and I thank you with all my heart! I thank everybody for there support and encouragement. It's helped a great deal and has even saved me at times from breaking down or giving up. So thank you!
This email will be continued next week which will be my very last pday! There's to much to talk email about the mission.
Info about this week: Elder Kaku is really cool! Kind of a weird transition, really it always is when getting a new companion! But he's a good guy! He is from Ghana and Nigeria! His dad was a mission president in Nigeria so that's pretty cool! We've been able to see a lot of less actives. The ward has a 15 names list that focus on those that need help so that has been really helpful! Some hard core service for some new people in the ward. Cutting down branches and trees and putting into the chipper.. it was pretty hard but it was good. He appreciated it! Got some people inviting us over for dinner that never have for a very long time! So that's always nice! Bishop even invited us over for dinner! We are getting places here! I've really enjoyed Owen sound. It's a great place!
Well my fingers hurt.. haha I can't wait to see you guys! I love you all!
Just a reminder to not send any letters and packages from now on cause they will just disappear forever!
Forever and Always,
"My daughter plays violin..and it is my daughter's violin...a gift from her brother when she turn 15..he always told us that he wasn't good at it..but we found out on Saturday that he play really good.. They are coming tomorrow for dinner..we are going to take them to eat beaver tails and maybe for pizza later." -Sister Cepeda