This last week has been great. I still have two full days as a missionary and I'm looking forward to it! I love Latvia and I have loved my mission. This will be short because I have to write a final letter to my mission president, but I'll paste that at the end so you'll have a lot to read. I want to say right now and upfront thanks to everyone for the prayers and support! I am so glad that I know you all. Thanks for the prayers. I could feel them working in my behalf and I am so grateful to you all for that! I love you and will see many of you soon!
This last week, one fun thing to tell is about service we did on a farm. We went to a member's farm and served there all day. We left at 7 in the morning and got back at 8:30 at night. We had to have our mission president's permission for this service project, but he said we could go one time as a district to see how it went, and if it went well, he would allow us to go more. In his own words as a warning he said, "If there is any blood, you all go home." That was a good warning for the elders to hear so that they didn't do anything stupid. There ended being a little blood, but it wasn't because of stupidity or disobedience, just bad luck. President Harding wasn't mad about that and none of us are going home...... well early anyways. ;) My favorite part about the farm was milking a cow! Me and another sister milked the cow, completely and buy ourselves! I probably milked a half bucket full and she milked a full bucket! It was so cool! We loved it!!! We just kept thinking though, we are such city folks that think that milking a cow is fun!!! To all the country folks, that is work. At least it was fun and we got a good laugh.
To answer questions:What is your schedule the last week? I have preparationg day monday, normal missionary days Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday is where it differs. We'll take a 3 1/2 hour bus to Rīga and go to the mission home where we'll have interviews. Then we are given time to go into Rīga and look around for a little bit. Then we have a final dinner together and testimony meeting. Then, the next morning (Friday) we head to the airport at 4 in the morning. If I understand everything correctly, we will be traveling for 25 hours.... Yay!!!
Are you traveling with other missionaries? There are 8 missionaries going home this transfer 4 elders and 4 sisters. I'm not sure how long I'll end up traveling with them, but at least we'll start our journey together.
Who in your MTC group already went home and who is coming with you? Just Sister Ormsby (Latvian sister), Sister Bates (Lithuanian sister), and Sister Thorn (Estonian sister) travel home with me. The rest have all gone home already, and of course the elders still have 6 more months. It will be so much fun!!!
Well, that is it for this letter. I love you all so much! It has been great being a missionary for the last 18 plus months! I love the Lord and I love being a missionary, and just because I am coming home does not mean that I will not still be a missionary. I love you all and see you in a few days.
Ar mīlestību un pateicību, (with love and gratitude)
my letter to my mission president
Just to write a letter about my feelings of my mission is not easy. I feel like I could write a book about my mission and what it means to me. The fact that I am on a mission right now is a tender mercy of the Lord. I was so blessed to be ready and able to serve the Lord when President Monson announced the age change for missionary service. I had not long before that announcement turned 19 and I was ready and excited to serve. My mission has come to be something more incredible and life changing than I could ever imagine.
My feelings for my mission are hard to express in words, but I’ll do my best. The overall word that sums up the majority of my feelings is love or even better charity. I have found love for the people, the country, and the language. I love who they are and all they have done for me. I also love the members and investigators that I have been privileged to work and grow with. Most importantly, however, is the love I’ve developed for God, His Son Jesus Christ, and for the gospel. I have truly come to fee and understand how important these things are to me. I have learned to show my love for God as I have obediently served him in Latvia.
Another feeling that comes to mind when I think of this time here in Latvia is satisfaction. I feel the Lord’s approval for the service I’ve done. I feel so much love from him and from the Latvians whom I’ve served. I have strived to give myself to the Lord and while I haven’t been 100 percent effective all the time, I’ve done my best, and I feel God’s love and approval for that.
I love that a mission is a learning experience. The best way to learn is while teaching and helping others. I have truly seen that unfolded on my mission. I have learned so many things and most of it through experiences. While in the MTC, they had us do an activity from Preach My Gospel where we imagined the last day of our mission then were supposed to write about it. Now, as I look at what I wrote, I have seen how the Lord shaped my mission so that I accomplished those things. One question I answered perfectly sums up some of the things I have learned on a mission, “I want to say that I turned to him for all knowing that I’m doing His work and only He can direct His work.” I have learned that this truly is the Lord’s work and He is the author and leader of it. He leads this work through the guidance of the Holy Ghost. I know that. Without the Holy Ghost this work is impossible, simply living life is impossible. We try, but in the end we won’t be successful without that gift. Also I wrote, “I want to be able to say that I truly learned who my Savior is and His role in my life. I want to be able to say that my testimony is solid that while I’ll go through hard things that I know who God is and what Jesus Christ has done for me.” I have learned and can say these things now. I know that God lives and loves me. Christ is my Savior and I have stood firm in my testimony of Him in many situations. I know that He loves me. I have also learned how to keep my testimony of Him firm.
I have become a disciple of Christ on my mission. A disciple is someone who follows Christ and testifies of Him. I have become that and will always be a disciple of Christ. I have also become a stalwart defender of the gospel in firm and gentle ways. This is something that was promised to me that I can become and I have been. I have stood firm that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church on the earth. It has the authority from God. I know that and have stood firm in that testimony. I have also stood firm and testified of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. It is another testament of Jesus Christ to go with the Bible and is essential for all of God’s children. I am so glad that I got to share this book with so many people while on the Lord’s errand.
I have seen many a miracles, more than I could ever write, but I want to share one, the conversion of Skaidrīte. It truly was a miracle. As it says in the Bible Dictionary, “Miracles were and are a response to faith and its best encouragement. They were never wrought without prayer, felt need, and faith.” That is so true in the story of her conversion. She was found on the street. My companion and I started to talk to her and invited her to church. She was never a church attender. As she said, “I worship God at home that is all I need.” But the spirit touched her and she came to church. She ended up coming to church, and loved it. She had a great desire after that to become a part of it. It wasn’t easy. We worked hard. She worked hard. She overcame opposition and strengthened her faith. There was lots of prayer as we almost lost her three times when she told us to stop talking to her. There was felt need as we understood that this ordinance was vital for her. Also, of course there was faith, our faith, her faith, and the faith of the members that participated in her conversion process. I know that this was a huge miracle. She has turned to God. He loves her. She pulled through all the trials of her faith and was baptized. She is still active and is working so hard to go to the temple. That is a miracle to me.
I want to end with my simple testimony. I know that God lives. He is our Heavenly Father. We are his literal children. I am so glad I got to help my fellow brothers and sisters come unto Christ. I know that Christ is our savior. He is our Good Shepherd. If we follow him we can return to live with God again. I am glad that I served as His representative and invited others to come unto Christ and follow him. I know that this Church is the only true church on earth. It is literally Christ’s church, the same one that existed during his times. I know that through Joseph Smith, this church was restored. The Book of Mormon is convincing evidence of this truth. I know it, and I will never deny it. I love God and I thank him daily for all that he has done for me. I say this all in the name of Jesus Christ, as his representative, amen.