Elder Clark of the 70 came to visit the mission this past week and he said something that I am now applying to this situation: "This is not an event, this is a journey." Packing your bags and leaving your mission is not an event, it's a journey. It's a journey that certainly has a lot of ups, downs, mood-swings, crying, anxiousness, you name it. Last night was pretty rough.
From 7-9PM we had the closing shift in West Gate. It was snowing a lot so Temple Square was void of all forms of life. There was nobody walking around! So, we decided to turn off the lights (so we could see outside the big windows) and just watch the snow fall. And I cried. Mostly because a few hours earlier I had my departing interview with President, which left me feeling so sad and so empty to be leaving my mission. To be honest, last night and this early morning, I was pretty depressed. I just sat at my desk with my hymnbook and sang hymns because I didn't know what else to do with myself. But don't worry, I'm not depressed anymore.
This morning we all met in the big chapel in the Salt Lake Temple and we heard from the Temple President and his wife. Following that meeting we went in and did a session. I spent the session with Sister Ferguson from Arizona, and we shared a lot of thoughts with each other and it turned out to be a really enriching learning experience. As we left the Celestial room at the end, I turned to her and asked her if she wanted to go explore a bit of the Temple. Haha(: So.... instead of going downstairs we turned and walked down the hall and opened the door and just walked into the rooms that used to be the apartment Lorenzo Snow lived in! Don't worry, we weren't sneaking around disobediently! The Salt Lake City Temple workers let the Temple Square sisters wander around anywhere in the temple for the most part so they were around but they don't every say anything to us except for, "Hi Sisters!" hehe(: So I took her down some halls that lead to where the front doors are, and then we went down the spiral staircase and into another Sealing room. It was BEAUTIFUL! But yes anyways, so we explored a little bit and then we went back to prepare for pictures outside.
We all had our picture taken with President and Sister Poulsen in front of the Temple and then we all headed to Tucanos for lunch! YUM! (: We had a good meal and President had all of us share with each other what are plans are after the mission. After the meal we all came back to the square and checked out with Elder and Sister Moore (the mission secretaries). And yes...now it's over. We have pday the rest of the day so after this I will go home and...pack...and...do laundry...yes....
My last week as a missionary was full of miracles. We found twice as many new investigators as we have found the entire transfer... of course right before I leave haha(: We also had a miracle baptism take place, which was a neat experience for the last week of the mission. Missionary work-wise, it was just a very very successful week...probably one of the most successful weeks on my mission. And for that I am grateful.
I don't know what it's like to be a returned missionary yet, but I do know that I will never regret the decision I made to serve. Many young men and women will grow up in the church and wonder if they should serve a mission. Some will have doubts, some will feel defiant because of "rules" and "restrictions". But there are a few things they have to understand if they want to be happy in life:
"We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see." -Boyd K. Packer
"Jesus responded, (and here again I acknowledge my non-scriptural elaboration)...What I need are disciples - and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly, loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do." -Jeffrey R. Holland
And one more thing; the work is going forward. The gospel is going forward whether young men and women decide to serve a mission or not - whether members of the church choose to share this message or not. There is no person on this earth who can stop the work from going forward throughout the entire world; and I know I can say that I have seen it spread across the entire world for the last 18 months of my life. The world is being prepared for the day that Christ comes again, this is happening with or without you. So, are you going to be a part of it? Or are you going to sit on the fence, watch it go by? And then you'll be there, still sitting on the fence. Still waiting for someone to come drag you along with the parade. But nobody is going to force you to do the Lord's work. Because He is already doing it himself. It's your choice, all to gain, none to loose.
I'm eternally grateful and honored that the Lord would allow me to be a missionary for Him. He owes me nothing because He has already given me everything. And the work isn't over. Christ hasn't come. This life is not an event, it's a journey.
I love you family, and I look forward to seeing you. Forgive me if I am an emotional journey for the first 24 hours I will try to keep my emotions at a sensible level. (: Travel safe because there is snow all over SLC. See you in the morning!
After the temple with Sister Poulsen and President Poulsen. They are a perfect example of many things, but what has impressed me the most is their example of a righteous marriage. I want to be just like them someday. (: