Wow. It's hard to know where to start. My thoughts and feelings recently have reflected those of Nephi in 1 Nephi 4:
"I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep. He hath filled me with his love."
Do you ever feel so overwhelmingly blessed it humbles you because it makes you aware of how undeserving you are? I don't know why Heavenly Father decided to bless me with the gospel, or the qualifications to serve a mission, or an incredible end to my mission when He knew I'd accept it if it was His will that our area wasn't on fire at the end. I don't know why He keeps blessing me, one of 7 billion of His children on earth, so much that I feel completely "filled with His love."
On Monday during a lesson with Mary-Elizabeth*, she told us that she'd officially received an answer about baptism as her fellowshiper was testifying of it to her. It was amazing!!! Although her close family and friends will not be able to make it to her baptism Wednesday night, so we had to push it to Saturday. So I won't be there for it, but the important part is that she's being baptized, and even though I'm disappointed, I could not be more excited for her. She's making the right choice!!
We also got the Blackwell* family on date for baptism!!! December 20. What a neat lesson:)
Sam*'s baptism is still on for this Wednesday!!!!! We are so excited for him! His testimony is growing and you can tell because he is different! He is changing! This is so exciting for him! He's about to make his first promise with God!
I remember preparing for my mission, and probably for the 100th time in my life I decided to read the entire standard works. Didn't happen. But I started in Genesis, and I remember wondering why the story of Adam and Eve was important enough to be the very first story. As I continued my mission preparation, studied, attended missionary preparation, went through the temple, and went out with the missionaries, I realized that there was something very important about the Fall of Adam and Eve that I was missing, and on my mission it's turned into a bit of a focus. And it didn't really start to hit me until last week.
Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, things don't have to stay in the same state they were when they were created! They can change! Things don't have to "stay that way". Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, things can change, people can change, I can change. I can repent. I don't have to be stuck with the same old problems and the same old weaknesses I've had for 20 years. Because of the Fall, I don't have to stay that way. Because of the Fall, I can change. Because of the Fall, I CAN BE CONVERTED.
How exciting is that?! Nothing has to stay the same forever! Tomorrow, I don't have to be the same as I am today.
What would I have done if on my mission, I stayed the same, brand-new, naive missionary the entire time?! My mission would have profited me nothing! But instead, because of the Fall, I applied the Atonement, worked my tail off, and I am different. I have changed. I have become more converted. I didn't have to stay that way.
I am so grateful that Heavenly Father loved me enough to inspire me to leave on a mission for Him--which is absolutely, hands down, the hardest thing I've ever had to do--because He wanted His other children to be closer to Him (and I tried my best to do that), but also because He wanted ME to be closer to Him. I have experienced the miracle of conversion myself throughout my mission, and I now feel closer to my Father in Heaven than ever before. I've been doing His work, I've had to rely on Him (I couldn't rely on anything else), I've better understood His gift of letting His Son suffer because I've had my mini-ministry and my mini-Gethsemanes. I feel like I've come to know my Heavenly Father and His Son better, and I'm so grateful for that.
At the end of his life, Paul was imprisoned and sent out lots of epistles to members of the Church throughout the world. Just before his martyrdom, he writes an epistle to Timotheus--his very last epistle. He reflects on his mission and what he learned. He exhorts us, in his dying wish so to speak, to do one last thing:
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."
So he asks us before God and our Saviour to preach the gospel! To give everything we have to help other people understand it.
"For... they [do] not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts [do] they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
"And they... turn away their ears from the truth, and... [turn] to fables.
"But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."
He tells us to "make full proof of thy ministry," or to make the most of the time we have.
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand."
I add my testimony to Paul's.
I can say that I have fought a good fight.
I have finished my course.
I have kept the faith.