Oh my goodness, I can't believe this is my last email as a missionary. As I have reflected over these past 18 months I feel so grateful to have been able to serve God.
This Sunday I was invited to share my testimony in Sacrament meeting, and as I did so I felt so much love for all the people I have had the opportunity to serve (and may have shed a tear or two). I was also able to translate in Sacrament meeting for the new senior couple in Udon, and as I did so I thought to myself, "This is a miracle, I am speaking Thai right now.. and not really even thinking about it." Heavenly Father will work miracles through us for the benefit of his children.
Reflecting over these past 18 months, I can't believe how much I have learned and how far I have come from where I used to be. I remember starting out my mission in the MTC and thinking that there was, "no way I could do this." I remember praying and learning that the atonement of Jesus Christ casts out all fear.
Then I went to Thailand and started out in Chiang Mai. There i learned that missionary work is fun, and that it is so important to have hope. No matter what obstacles we are facing, if we have hope we are guided through.
In Mahasarakham I was amazed to see miracles happen, as my companion and I were new and didn't know Thai perfectly..As such I learned that the Lord works through the weak.We were able to meet Brother Seens family, and see them be baptized as well as others. I learned that life isn't just about enduring, but that we can endure happily.
Then in Lampang a tiny town in the north, we worked hard and had fun. We met some amazing people ready to give up there old lives for a new one in the gospel.. And I learned that the love of God can change anyone and any circumstance.
Then onto Asoke! Oh man Asoke! The Big City! I remember being there and meeting SIster Sa from Cambodia and seeing Heavenly Fathers love change her life. I remember my companion and I learning that all things (even hard ones) work together for your good.
Oh and Udon! A wonderful place, where I realized how important service is.
Writing all of this, I realized I can't even begin to describe all I have learned through the past 18 months so I just want to share my testimony and a few final thoughts:
The first is a poem that I wrote at the beginning of my mission, here is a version that was changed a bit by one of my friends, and I think it is fitting to share on my last week.
There is a mountain not far off
But rather close at hand.
Rocks like spires twist to the sky, and
At its base I stand.
Vast boulders seem to block the way
To the summit...a great height
One step forward and then I climb,
Climb with all my might.
Time drags slowly onward,
As I move along the trail.
I see a storm encroaching, and I think,
"I very well could fail."
The way's not easy, not a bit,
And I trip and fall.
Over and over and over again
Until I hear a call:
"Take courage. This way's not easy,
But worth it in the end-
Stand back up, keep walking...
Go just around the bend."
My heart heavy, faith low,
I start to wish I had not begun.
But I get up, walk forward...
And then I see the Son.
He takes my hand and helps me
Take those final steps.
The smile on his face seems to say,
"My child you did your best."
"The way was not easy,
Your spirits often low.
But you listened and heard my voice-
that led you here you know."
I [will] at glorious vistas,
Once hidden from my view
With gratitude for the savior,
[when] my journey's [fin'lly] through.
The second is the seventh verse of how firm a foundation.. it really struck me as I was watching conference:
I know that God lives and loves us. I know that Jesus Christ is his Son..and is our Savior and Redeemer. I know that the perfect love of Jesus Christ casteth out all fear. The atonement isn't just for sins, but it is for us to do and be better, as well as for burdens we carry. Joseph Smith is a prophet,and we have a living prophet on the earth today. This church is true. The Book of Mormon is true, and we can receive answers to all our questions through prayerfully reading and pondering this book. God hears and answers our prayers.I know that in living the gospel we find true peace and happiness.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.