Remember Bryan from my email last week? We met with him this week, and he told us how badly he wants to change. He's never known God, and really wants to know more. I shared with him Alma the Younger's conversion story from Alma 36, and we discussed the Atonement and our Savior, Jesus Christ. The Spirit was so strong in that lesson. He later told us that this was the first time he had ever invited missionaries to come back, and asked us to continue teaching him. He said, "If you had been any older, or 'chicks' or something, I wouldn't have let you in." It would seem that he needed Elders to teach him - the Lord has been preparing him, and when he was ready, the Lord took the Sisters out of this area and sent us here. I felt amazingly blessed to be one of the Elders who the Lord sent to reach out to one of His sons who's ready to accept the gospel, and that I had the chance to help one more person before my time as a missionary is up.
This ward has been very, very kind to me as I prepare to return home. Encouragement and well-wishes, pictures, a lobster dinner from one family (maybe my mom will post the picture for me?), and many, many people thanking me for the impact I've made and the service I've given. It's been an indescribable blessing and privilege to have been on a mission for the last two years of my life.
It's hard to believe that my two years are already at a close...time truly has flown right on by. I'm going to miss New England terribly, but I know that I'm headed in the right direction. This is the last email you'll receive from me as a full-time missionary - I'll spend the next six weeks at home with my family for the holidays, and then head up to BYU for school the first week of January.
My first whole lobster dinner
I remember the first time it hit me that I would be going home, that I wouldn't be a missionary forever...that was about six months ago, I think. I was distraught, and I hated thinking about the future. Whenever someone asked about my plans or about how long I've been in the field, it just really bothered me. But now, I've not only come to accept that it's my time to go, but I feel calm and confident about everything. A few weeks ago, I came to the realization that the Lord still has a work for me to do. Since then, I've coined a motto that I now live by: "The work doesn't end when the tag comes off." My part in the Work of Salvation and my life of Church service is just beginning. I know that the Lord will continue to bless and strengthen me as I put Him first and seek to lift and bless the lives of others each day. I still have a lot of growing to do, but the changes within me have been significant and lasting.
I'm eternally grateful for the opportunity to serve as a full-time missionary, as a representative of Jesus Christ Himself. I'm grateful for what I have learned and for how He has transformed me through the Atonement. His enabling grace supports and succors me each and every day. My sorrows, pains, struggles and trials are lost in the light of His love. I'm not sure what the future holds, but I know that He is with me every step of the way.
"Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren [and sisters]; and on, on to the victory!" (D&C 128:22).