I never thought this day would come. It is so surreal. This is my last p-day on my mission.
This is it.
It's a weird feeling because I feel like no matter how I start this email, or how I finish it, I can never really describe all the millions of bajillions of thoughts and feelings I have had on my mission, let alone this week.
Heavenly Father taught me a very interesting lesson this week about His timing. Earlier this transfer, lots of things were falling apart and I was trying to stay positive, but it was overwhelming, and I felt like I was being really put to the test. We all have those times, right, when we are doing everything we feel is right, but still nothing is falling into place. In fact, quite the opposite. But then this week was like a rain storm of miracles, where all the broken pieces kind of came back together.
Our recent converts, that were struggling, had a spiritual experience and really decided for themselves to come back to church. The dad of the family said the closing prayer and said, "Thank you for bringing me back to the Latter-day Saints, where I belong." And I just wanted to sing and shout, and pretty much did that, after casually getting in the car after saying goodbye. And then, one of my favorite families on the planet . . . their 10-year old son finally decided to get baptized, this Saturday . . . in UTAH by his grandpa. So I get to be there to see it. MY JAW DROPPED WHEN I HEARD THAT.
I realize that God's plan is more detailed and better than I could have ever imagined on my own. It is like a mini-lesson of life. I know that I need to remember this. When things are rough, and tough, to have patience and trust that God has his purposes and knows perfectly what I need. I am so grateful, oh so grateful. The work of salvation goes on with or without us, and I learned that He is so MERCIFUL and KIND. And will give us little assurances along the way.
I had my departing interview, and when missionaries go home, they call it "dying." Like technically as a missionary, I am dying. And so for district meeting this week, they threw me a funeral. It was hilarious. And a tad sad.
Sister Hess and Sister Herbert
And then Sunday most of the people we invited to church actually CAME!! That never happens! And I had a seat open next to me, and Tim (a recent convert) came through the door with his caretaker, and I motioned them over, and as I started talking to her she started telling me how she has been taught by Elders before, and was lost for a while, but had recently started praying to know what church is Christ's church, and how to get there because she works on Sunday, and then BOOM. She landed here. She kept saying, "I know this is where the Lord needs me to be." JAW DROPPED AGAIN. That really, really, really never happens.
We got to teach some wonderful people this week, and say wonderfully sad goodbyes.
The Mize Family
Lauren Alexander and her husband
I am so grateful for my time in Franklin. I am grateful for all the people that I have taught and said hi to, and even for the rude people that taught me to just love them anyhow. I am grateful that God loves me enough to push me out of my comfort zone and help me grow. Franklin is the most out of my comfort zone I think I have felt my whole mission, but I have just loved it with all my heart. It has become my town. Ah, the Lord has helped me learn to love tracting. That's a miracle in itself. He has helped learn to trust him, and have way more faith than I thought I could have. He has taught me hard work, love, PATIENCE, and to be myself.
I thought I came on a mission to change and to be better like everyone else. I had no idea that God loved me for me, and all I was supposed to do out here was magnify who I already am inside. And I thought I came on a mission to help others come closer to Jesus Christ, but I had no idea how much closer I would come to Jesus Christ in the process.
Golly, I wouldn't trade this experience for the world. I can say with confidence that I know the Book of Mormon is true. That the gospel truly has been restored in its fullness of the earth today. We have a modern-day prophet and apostles, and oh my, I love that truth. I know that God loves us more than we can comprehend, and He never wants us to tear ourselves down. That is Satan's voice. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and he did perform the atonement for all of us, so that we could receive help and strength in this life and so that we could make it back home to our Father in Heaven one day. I know that trials are real, and the only way to make it through them is by relying wholly upon Jesus Christ and His mercy. We can be strengthened and helped! What a blessing! And it's only by the Holy Ghost that I know any of this.
I am grateful for the people of Mt. Juliet, Thompson Station, Clarksville, Smyrna, Jamestown and Franklin that have put up with my weaknesses, and helped me to find so much JOY in this life. I really have never felt so full. Y'all need to move to Tennessee...(best place on earth).
To end my stay in Tennessee, I was walking around downtown Franklin earlier today. There are always people on the sides of the streets just playing music and as we were by the corner, two guys stopped us and said, "can we play you a song?" You know me, I said--YES!!!! It was the perfect way to end my journey in Tennessee. I counted it as a goodbye song.
I guess if I have to end this email, I will end with the scripture that was my theme from start to finish:
" I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell." 2 Nephi 33:6