This is WAY long overdue, but this is the last email that I wrote home when I was a missionary:
I'm not even sure how to start this email. It still feels like I am a new missionary! How is it possible that it's already time to go home?
I will forever be thankful that I came on a mission. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father has given me this privilege to serve. I have seen people change so much and be happier than they ever thought that they could be. I can definitely say the same about myself. I am a different person because I served a mission, and I have found a happiness that I didn't know that I could have.
A while ago someone asked me about things that I love about being a missionary. Here's the list that I've come up with.
Things that I love about being a missionary:
Seeing the Atonement work first hand
Loving people like I didn't ever know that I could
Learning about the pioneers!
Gaining a whole Visitor's Center full of best friends
Talking to people (Never thought that I'd say that)
Change (Or that)
Quoting The Testaments and The Joseph Smith Movie
Reading the Book of Mormon every day
Constantly learning new things (Even though most of the time I learn the hard way...)
Trusting in Heavenly Father
Coming to know The Savior
And the best part of it all? It doesn't have to end here! There is always more to learn and there is always something that we can do to be closer to Jesus Christ.
On my mission, I have had 12 companions, 5 areas, served at 2 Visitor's Centers, and have had too many incredible experiences to count. I wouldn't trade a second of it for anything, even the hard times. It's during those times that I have learned to use the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That's the most important thing that I have learned on my mission. We can always change because He always loves us. The Atonement is available to all of us. It doesn't matter how far we have gone away. It's always there. I think of this quote from Elder Holland's talk "It's Never Too Late":
"I do not know who in this vast audience today may need to hear the message of forgiveness inherent in this parable [see Matthew 20:1–15], but however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or distance from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines."
I know that this is true. The Atonement covers all of us, no questions asked. The only decision to be made is ours: Are we going to use the Atonement in our lives?
I am SO thankful that I came on a mission. It truly has been the best decision that I have ever made.