I can't believe I'm saying this, but it's the truth: I am finishing my full-time missionary service in the Dominican Republic. It's totally surreal. I've been here long enough that it feels like the mission is going to keep going on and on, like I'm simply headed to my next area...not actually being transferred home. These 3 transfers in Ivan Guzman have been the fastest and best months of my life; I'm glad to end so happily:) I have loved "raising" Hermanas Vazquez, Christenson, and Neff so much and have learned a ton from them. They are amazing, and I know they're going to take care of the area well.
We had such wonderful things happen this week and worked hard until the end. Amazing progress was made with 16-year-old, inactive Ariel, who came back to church yesterday! He will be officially reactivated soon, along with less-active Rhina, an incredible single mom who's been coming to church consistently the past month and a half:) Us 4 Hermanas had a blast practicing English with teenagers at Brigham Young School! We also got to perform at a Christmas concert that some other missionaries put on to jump start the work there, and it was so fun! More members helped us teach lessons this week than any other time this transfer; I'm so grateful to have served in such a loving ward that supports missionary work so much! I will miss these members muchísimo. We did a special musical number in Sacrament Meeting yesterday, and it was the most joyful thing to see Anthony bless the sacrament for the very first time:):) I am SO proud of him, Starlin, Victor, and all the youth who have made such big changes in their lives. Almost all of them got up and bore their testimonies, and the light of Christ that they emanated was incredible. Nothing in my life has brought me more happiness than to see them and others I've taught take action and turn their lives around by depending on Christ.
Matthew 10:39 tells us that "he that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." As I have lost myself in the work of the Lord the past year and a half, I have truly, finally found my life. I have learned and internalized what is most important: God, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and family. To have been able to share that knowledge with my brothers and sisters every day has been the greatest thing ever. I'm going to do everything I can to keep sharing it--in the airport, on the plane ride home, and for the rest of my life:) As the prophet Joseph Smith testified, "After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel."
I'm thankful for everyone I've met as a missionary: everyone I've contacted in the street, the faithful Church members, investigators, each of my companions (Hermanas Flake, Dibble, Alas, Gonzalez, Black, de Leon, Perez, Ventocilla, Vazquez, and Neff), President Nuckols, and all the other missionaries in the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo West Mission. What a crazy, amazing ride it's been. It's been the most nutsy roller coaster ever, and I wouldn't trade it for anything:) I'm very thankful that Heavenly Father sent me here to this country. I'm grateful for a knowledge of Christ's restored gospel. I know, without a doubt, that He lives and will come again. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church and is God's kingdom here on earth. I have a testimony that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Joseph Smith translated it by God's divine power. I'm grateful for a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, who guides us in these latter days. I know that through priesthood authority, we can follow the Savior's example and be baptized. We can be saved. Families can live together forever. We can live with God again. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all things are possible. As His representative, I testify of these things in His name, Jesus Christ. Amen.
"Of all the service you give, none is greater than to help people choose to qualify for eternal life."
-President Henry B. Eyring
Con mucho amor,