Well, we did it. We made it this far :)
Let me tell you a few of the things that have happened in this final week as a full time missionary. This last Sunday there was a special UK and Scandinavian broadcast that Elder Holland presided over and spoke at. It was incredible, and he bore powerful testimony of the Savior and the Book of Mormon. He taught us that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon was literally a promise of a covenant that signified the beginning of the Latter-days. It is also the gateway to receiving further light and knowledge, for whomsoever will not accept the Book of Mormon also cannot receive the fullness of the Gospel.
That was pretty amazing. It was a week filled with heartfelt goodbyes and way too many pictures. We had a dinner appointment every evening, which made for quite a busy week when you throw getting transfers planned on top. And speaking of transfers, there was a bit of a mishap and one of our missionaries broke his foot. Unfortunately, we had completely planned the logistics of transfers at that point, so we began anew! Nothing like doing it one last time, and then doing it one last time...again.
I was able to sit down and teach Ronnie one last time before I leave. I love that man and really look up to him. He's changed so much, and he really is a brother. If I've learned anything from the converts of England, it's that anyone can change, no matter who they are or what they've done, and that change can unlock such unbelievable potential.
Brother Sutton and one of my recent converts from Oxford, Ian Watkins, came down to the Temple just yesterday and we took a grounds tour together, reminiscing and laughing the whole time. Ian talked about his conversion and how many small and simple things came together to make it happen. Brother Sutton really reminded me how much I had learned from and loved his family, and he kindly let me know how much he had gained from me as well. I love them so much, it was a tender mercy to be able to spend a few hours with both of them.
I'm sitting in the mission office now, all my bags have been checked and weighed, and we're off to make a final trip down to Brighton, on the coast, to grab a few departing missionaries to bring back to the Temple. Honestly, now that I'm at this point, I kind of just wish these next few days would just be over, ha.
I'll make sure to record some of what President Millar leaves with me as I depart. What a blessing it's been to serve with him. He's changed my life with the way he leads and loves. He's also built my testimony of the true power of the Spirit, because I know how much he does, and it is simply not possible for him to be sustained by any physical means. It's only with God's help that he is able to do what he does.
This week has really been quite surreal. I'm only just beginning to feel like I'm leaving. I know it in my mind, but I'm worried about when my heart catches up, ha. I'm so excited to see you and the family, though. I'm excited to start a different adventure, and I'm sad to let this one go. But, with every call in the church, there is a release, and I will gratefully accept mine.
"My brothers and my brethren, behold I say unto you, how great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started from the land of England that God would have granted unto us such great blessings? ... And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work...And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some. Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us" (The words of Elder Foster mingled with Alma 26).
I love you and will see you soon.