President Uchtdorf has stated that "We are not made for endings" and that we feel the way we do when we find ourselves having to face the end of a cherished relationship, a rewarding task, or the end of what we've become accustomed to because "We are made of the stuff of eternity". As eternal beings and sons and daughters of the Eternal God, we naturally find it difficult to accept such endings.
I find myself at this point of my mission with a bitter-sweet understanding of this truth. I´ll be leaving behind a very large family; people that I knew personally in the pre-mortal realm, to whom I was miraculously guided while serving my mission. I was allowed to share in this last sacrament meeting my testimony and farewell to the ward. It was saddening, yet at the same time thought provoking. I know that the Lord has never before taught me how to love so deeply, my investigators, my ward members, my leaders, and my family at home, until I was prepared to do so through my mission. There's still a long way to go, but if there's one Christ-like attribute I can say has been my focus as a missionary, it's been love. And by the grace of God, through His children that He has placed in my path, I have learned just a little more what it is to truly love and be loved. The Dominican Republic will forever hold a special place in my heart, and the experiences that have shaped my life, I will hold close as cherished memories.
This week our group, those of us who were part of the leadership council, was invited to the council to share our last testimonies. This is something I've been seeing every transfer for a year now, watching friends and colleagues share their testimonies, and suddenly it was my turn. It was a sobering experience and one I'll never forget. After the testimonies, President Corbitt stood and shared some words. He spoke about "the wall", the name for our group. He spoke about the painful experience of having to send home over 21 missionaries in those beginning months, his "own sons" as he calls them, being deceived by the adversary. The emotions ran high in that room as he spoke of the Lord planting a Wall to change the culture and turn the mission around. He had us all stand up, and said that virtually everything the Santo Doming East mission has accomplished, all the miracles we are now seeing, being what the Area Presidency of the Caribbean now calls "the Model Mission" stands on the shoulders of these men. The change in this mission that I've personally seen is enormous. It was a humbling experience to witness my President express himself like that, and an incredible honor to be a part of it. I hope my comments won't be misconstrued. I don't mean to brag, and neither does President Corbitt. We all fully acknowledge that the Lord has done it all, and will do much more. He could have done the same with a bag of rocks. In this case He did it with a bag of bricks, and formed them, shaped them to His use, and created a wall. It stands as testimony to me that the Lord places us, if we're willing, precisely where we need to be when we need to be there.
This week, Aridson, Marileidy's husband, will be baptized. It's a tender mercy form my Father in Heaven to allow me to see this family take this eternal step toward exaltation. When I informed President Corbitt about it, he said "What a way to go out!"! And I feel the same way; infinitely blessed.
I am so very far from perfection. And I'm certainly the first to admit that there are many things I could have done much better. But I wouldn't trade these last two years for anything. All the trials and hardships, tears and laughter... It's all been part of a beautiful plan. I love this gospel, I love this church, and I love my Savior. He is the Christ. God loves us. This is His work and His glory, and nothing else is more important in our existence.
"So long boys. See you in the funny papers"
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|The Redeemer of mankind|