I don´t have words. It doesn´t seem like a year and a half ago, I walked out the front door and didn´t look back. That a year and a half ago, I had no idea what I would face and experience here in Brazil. And now, just four days until I see you all again. I don´t think I´ll ever be prepared enough to come home. I had a lot of emails today with various messages. Some (actually most) brought tears to my eyes. Especially mom´s email. The end of the mission is something like what the end of life must be - everything flashes across your mind as you remember, the good and the bad. What went well and what didn´t. I remembered so powerfully the moment that I received my answer to serve a mission, to the moment that I surprised mom and dad with my call, to the overwhelming confirmation that THIS was the will of the Lord for me. I, like others, am so eternally and profoundly grateful that the Lord called me to this work. It took a little while for me to accept it, and I´m grateful that the Lord had patience with me, and continues to have.
In our district meeting this week, Elder Moffat passed a video with a segment from Elder Holland´s talk on The First and Greatest Commandment - to love the Lord our God. We truly must love Him above all else. That is what I have learned here. Elder Moffat asked us to retrospect as he asked us, "Why did you come here on the mission?" and, "Why are you STILL here?". That last question hit me. Last week was so hard, it was as if the time just didn´t pass by. I was literally just trying to endure (in all senses) to the end. I knew that at other times of my mission up until then, the reason I had been here was to serve God and help others be baptized. But was that still true for this last week? I realized that I had shifted my focus to enduring, rather than for the right reasons. But I´m grateful that I could correct my focus again and really enjoy this last week of my mission. As a result, this week flew by.
Just for a few details from this week -
Our new mission president arrived, President Colleoni. I am anxious to meet him on wednesday when we have our final interviews! He sounds like an incredible man.
This week our stake (Potengi) had a service project through the church´s Helping Hands project. We cleaned up a city center park, and Elizângela met us there to help! I love when recent converts have the desire to help and serve and share their new found happiness.
On saturday we had the baptism of Elainy, the young woman we have been teaching! Her mom watched her baptism and loved it, hopefully the next sisters can work with her and their family.
Yesterday I bore my last testimony as a missionary. I couldn´t help but think of Adam sharing his first testimony as a missionary in the field, and mom and dad at home. It was a great Sabbath day.
I have loved this work. I have loved being a missionary. There is no greater feeling in the world than serving others and sharing the love and light of Christ. Serving a mission has saved my life, and has given me a second chance at living the gospel. I am not perfect, still far from it, but I am coming home with a testimony. Testifying of Christ for 18 months has taught me that He really is our Savior and Redeemer. And I am anxious to apply what I have learned here in my life.
Eu amo meu Salvador, e vocês! Até logo :)