Sunday, February 24, 2008

Called to Serve

Well, that scary time has come. As of today, I've officially been home from my mission for a year. It's crazy to me how fast time has flown. It seems like just yesterday that I opened up my mission call to serve in the Canada Toronto East Mission. When I actually served it often felt like I had been there for a long time. I think it's because I was doing so much; but, then I would look back and think, "I haven't really been here for a year have I?" Then the second year seemed to go by faster than the first. I still remember the beginning of January 2007 when I found out my release date was February 2nd. I told President Callister that I was willing to stay for longer if he needed me to. "That would be wonderful!" he said, and we promptly went out of his office and arranged everything with Sister Saxton. I was given my new return date of February 24th. I felt like a medical patient that was told by his doctor, "Well, it looks like this is still going to finish you off, but the good news is you've got another three weeks!"

How it felt
The whole idea of leaving my mission was so surreal. I loved my mission. I remember that I had cried before leaving each of my areas, but it wasn't really hitting me that I was leaving. People would ask me what it felt like to be going home, but I didn't know what to say because I didn't think was leaving. It didn't seems real. Sometimes it didn't feel like I even had a family. It felt like I had just written them e-mails my whole life and I'd always been a missionary in Toronto. But, the day finally came. President and Sister Callister dropped me off at the airport. I was the only missionary leaving that day. I remember finding out that my plane was delayed so I wouldn't make it back home until about five hours after I was supposed to arrive. I hugged President and Sister Callister goodbye and tried to take everything in. I had been blessed so much on my mission and I had truly seen the Lord work miracles in my life and in the lives of others. I had truly learned to love others and I had learned how to pray and how to receive answers to prayer. I felt a sea of different emotions. I was grateful, and I was happy. I felt that I had served an honorable mission and that I had worked hard. But, at the same time, I felt as though I were leaving everything I knew and loved behind. They were the feelings that we all experience during seasons of change. But they'd never felt that strong before. I didn't think it was hard at all to leave for my mission, but I was so sad to leave from it.

Looking Back
As I look back now, I truly can say that I've thought of my mission every day since last February 24th. It has impacted me in so many ways. My testimony grew so much on my mission and has continued to grow since that time. I can think of many blessings that have come to me as a direct result of serving a faithful mission and there have been times that I have seen indirect blessings as a result of serving my mission. I remember someone saying in a sacrament meeting soon after my mission that the Lord would never forget the service that I had done for Him. I think that it is true. No good deed goes unnoticed. I have felt of the Savior's love since that time and have felt of the power of His infinite atonement in my life. I know the Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that He lives. He is the living God and will deliver all things unto the Father of All. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the boy prophet, Joseph Smith, in the Sacred Grove. I know that Joseph was called to restore truth in this, the dispensation of the fullness of times. I am grateful for the organization of the Church and the pure doctrines that we are able to learn from the living prophet and apostles. I know that God has spoken, that He speaks, and that He will continue to speak through His prophets, seers, and revelators; for, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I am grateful for the power of prayer, for the scriptures, and for the blessings that are offered to us in the House of the Lord. I testify that the Plan of Salvation is real and that through Jesus Christ we can be saved. I have learned this through studying the Bible and the Book of Mormon and through feeling the Spirit bear witness to my spirit that these things are true. I have both felt and borne pure testimony by the Power of the Holy Ghost and know that the words of the prophets must come to pass. "Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may known that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise" (2 Nephi 2:6-8). I was able to teach these things and more on my mission. I was able to truly understand these things, for the first time in my life. I wouldn't trade my mission for all the wealth of the world, because I have what money can't buy. "Remember that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; for, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and ocme unto him. And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance. And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth. Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people. And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!" (D&C 18:10-16)

No comments: