Well, this is it. The last email of the mish. It sure doesn't feel like it. It does not feel like I will be on a plane home a week from now. It doesn't feel like I will ever really leave Australia, that I will ever stop being a missionary. Everyone asks how I feel about finishing my mission. I never know how to answer. I feel excited, I feel sad, but most of all I just feel like it's not real, I am just dreaming, and soon I'll wake up and I'll still have a year to go on my mission.
What have I learned on my mission? I have learned a lot. (Aussies say 'learnt', not learned, so you could say I've learnt heaps). I have learned that when you think only about yourself, you struggle, but if you lose yourself in the service of others, you succeed. I learned that anything worthwhile in this life takes effort, or pain, or some sort of cost. My mission was hard. I had so many hard times. But I wouldn't trade it for anything. I think it is the most valuable decision I have ever made. I have learned that God visits his children in their afflictions. In my times of need and in my investigators' times of need, He has answered our prayers. I have learned that the Book of Mormon is absolutely God's word. I have had my testimony challenged again and again. I have had it shaken. But I cannot deny the feelings I have had as I have read the Book of Mormon. I know it is true.
I feel like Ammon felt after his mission. I have been so blessed by God.
"Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." Alma 26:16
I am amazed at the great power and mercy and long-suffering God has towards all of us. Here is something that happened yesterday that puts me in awe. We went to go and visit a woman named Nikki. We met her on our first day in Frankston, almost 3 months ago. We didn't know who to see, so what did we do? We knocked a few doors. We just walked around for a little while then felt strongly that we needed to knock on a particular street. She was the last door on the first street we ever knocked in this area. She told us that it was a really bad time but we could try again later. So we tried again the next week, and it was another bad time. We thought she probably just wasn't interested, so we didn't try her again until 4 days ago. AGAIN, she told us it was a bad time, and we could come back on Tuesday. So we went back, and... MIRACLE TIME!!!!!!!!!!!
She shared with us everything. She is a single Mum with one 4 year old daughter, taking on the world with her. She was always a Christian. She always had faith in God and relied on Him for everything. Then a few years ago something awful happened, and she felt God had abandoned her. She told Him that she wanted nothing to do with Him anymore. And since then, she avoided anything having to do with God. Then after some years, her heart started to change. She actually began to pray again, but as she did, she felt so guilty about what she had said to her Father in Heaven, that she wasn't sure if she should keep praying. Then, we knocked on her door. She said that when we did, her first thought was to slam the door shut, but something constrained her. She told us to come back. Then after 2-3 months, when we spoke to her again yesterday, and she told us all of this. "I wanted to talk to you guys because... well... I don't know why. But I feel like I need to." We testified to her with all of our hearts that God does love her. He never abandoned her. He led us to her street, and He told her to let us come back.
I know God loves every one of His children. I know He is always reaching out to us. I know He was watching over Nikki all of that time, and He is watching over every one of us.
"But behold, my beloved brethren, I came into the Land Down Under with the intent that perhaps I might save some few of the Aussies. Now when my heart was depressed, and I was about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted me, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Aussies, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success. And now behold, I have come, and been forth amongst them; and I have been patient in my sufferings, and I have suffered every privation; yea, I have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God. And I have entered into their houses and taught them, and I have taught them in their streets; yea, and I have taught them upon their hills; and I have also entered into the Outback and taught them; and I have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon my cheek; and through the power and wisdom of God I have been delivered again. And I have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps I might be the means of saving some soul; and I supposed that my joy would be full if perhaps I could be the means of saving some. Now behold, I can look forth and see the fruits of my labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many." Alma 26:26-31 ...sort of (Calvin 26:26-31)
And I make an end of my writing upon these emails, which writing has been small, with few photographs; and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu.