Dear Family & Friends,
I may not have had that golden convert baptism yet on my mission but I have seen one person converted to the gospel, and that has been ME! I know this church is true and I cannot not deny it. Each time we tell someone about Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon, or even about how families can be together forever, I feel the Spirit testify to me that it is in fact truth. I know Joseph Smith was called by God to restore His true church back to the Earth, which we so desperately need to help us return back to our Heavenly Home. I know the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith through the power of God and it compliments the Bible in testifying of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know my family and yours can be together forever through the blessings of the holy temple. I love serving a mission because I get to see the light of the gospel change people. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings me such joy and even though being a missionary isn't always fun, it's the best thing that I have ever done.It's hard to believe this is my last "Sacramento Letter". When I started I figured I would make it to number 9 or 10 but the Lord knows better than I do of course, so here we are 23 weekly emails later.I will get on a plane and fly to Brazil. Yes, . I just have to type it out because I still don't believe it yet. It's really happening. There has not been a day that has gone by since I opened my mission call in May of last year that I have not thought about this. NOW I'M REALLY BRAZIL BOUND!!!!!!!!!
Highlights of my final week as an English speaking missionary...
two young women from another ward came out with us on splits as part of the stake youth conference. I went with a girl named Meghan and we went to visit a few less-actives and do some street contacting. Sister Cleverly took the other girl and went to a lesson with one of our investigators, which ended up being a super awkward Law of Chastity lesson where we found out we needed to stop teaching this investigator due to some issues. Anyway, on a lighter note, Meghan was going back and forth about wanting to serve and she told one of the other missionaries that coming out with me made her decide she wanted to go! So I'm glad it was a good experience for her. I thought that was a really cool idea for a youth conference- to pair off with the missionaries in the stake for some real missionary life experience.We tried to take advantage of the rest of the week so we could see as many people as possible (just using me leaving the country as an excuse to actually SEE and TEACH something to them). We got to see Craig & Amanda and their family and we taught them about the importance of having a forever family. I wrote them a letter and took pictures with them. I am not giving up on them, or Jason & Shelly, being sealed in the temple one day. Yes, they do have to get baptized first, but it's going to happen! The rest of the week was filled with lots of good byes to our other investigators and some less-active members we worked a lot with, which was hard. But I know Sister Cleverly and her new companion will keep up the great work and continue to see many miracles. Unfortunately there wasn't a miracle baptism for Larry this weekend but that's alright, we tried our best and did all we could!
Yesterday at church was like my mission farewell at home all over again! Now I realize why they don't tell visa-waiters about getting their visa until as late as possible. I hate good byes! The Northridge ward isn't just a ward of really great members; they are my family. There were so many people that came up and said good bye, wishing me well on my next journey, and thanking me for all the hard work I had put in there. I felt so loved! That helped me feel like I had in fact made a difference and that I won't be forgotten. Sister Cleverly and I sang with the choir for Easter, gave the prayers in Sacrament meeting, and taught Gospel Principles class for my last Sunday. I also got up in Relief Society and said a little something, thanking all those ladies for all they do for us as missionaries. I will cherish the memories I have in this area forever.
As I reflect on my past (almost) 7 months, I realize that serving in Sacramento was truly a blessing and an opportunity that I will never forget. There were many times of trial and hardship, but those were crucial growing moments for me when I had to rely on strength beyond my own. He has poured out His tender mercies and carried me through when I didn't want to stick it out any longer. Heavenly Father knew I needed this experience to help me become the valiant missionary he wants me to be.
My favorite scripture is D&C 84:88 (go look it up, I am not writing it because I want to entice you to search it on your own!). I have felt the promises of this verse and I know the Lord doesn't ever leave us alone.
My state-side mission chapter is coming to a close. Now it's time to write the next chapter... in Portuguese... (deep breath) HERE WE GO!
P.S. Pics of final biking adventures! Oh how I'll miss that bike. The other is some of the missionaries in our zone (I'm on the very right end because I had to put my camera on timer to squeeze us all in)