Saturday, March 21, 2015

18 months to serve and an eternity to remember

I'M HOME! It still doesn't feel like real life. Do you know how weird it is to wake up in my own house? My family. English. America. Cold weather. Peanut Butter. Technology. Music. TV. Internet. Jeans. The real world is crazy!

Being released as a full-time missionary and having to take off my name tag was a lot more difficult than I ever thought it would be. That`s my identity! I don`t know how to be anyone else but a missionary.

Good thing I still can be. And will forever be.

I've always heard returned missionaries say that their mission changed their life. Now I have seen it for myself. I am not the same person I was when I left. Well, I'm still Sydney of course (do you know how weird it is to hear my first name??) but my heart has changed. I feel different, I am different! And this change doesn't stop here. I'm on the journey to become the person I once was. The person Heavenly Father knows I can be.

What an honor and privilege it has been to represent my Lord and Savior every day and every minute for the past 18 months. It is He who has lifted and carried me, who has been by my side every moment, moments of happiness and moments of trial. I can`t even express the joy I felt as I walked down the escalator stairs at the airport and saw my family for the first time. Knowing that I returned with honor. Knowing that I made them proud. Knowing that I was able to find lost sheep for the Lord and bring them back into His fold. Just imagine how Heavenly Father will feel when we will return to Him. What joy!

The day before we left Brazil, all the missionaries in my group that were going home had the chance to eat a special lunch with our mission president, President Farnes. His last counsel for us was this phrase: "No Empty Chairs". Now that we have completed our mission, we are on to the next- to keep our spot that is saved for us in the celestial kingdom.

My chair is there waiting for me. Yours is too. What can we do TODAY that will assure that our chair will be filled?

And I will give him grace and assurance wherewith he may stand; and if he continue to be a faithful witness and a light unto the church I have prepared a crown for him in the mansions of my Father (D&C 106:8)

I know God lives, He is our Father, He loves us, and He has prepared our place in His kingdom. More than anything, He wants us to return to Him, and this is why He sent us His Son Jesus Christ. Only through Him, His Atonement and His gospel, can we return with honor. No empty chairs!

Let us all strive to LiVE Valiantly!


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