I don't really feel like words could ever come close to expressing what I've felt this week, and the love I have for my best friend and dear Father. So I won't attempt that. Instead, I think I'll just share my testimony.
I now realize, that in my entire life, and on my mission, I've never really understood the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Until now. I'm not saying I have a perfect knowledge of it, or even that I´d be able to begin to imagine exactly what it was like. However, with the events of this past week, what I've come to appreciate and understand of our Savior's redeeming sacrifice has truly shaken me.
I've felt the spirit before, and it was great. But never before like this. I feel as though I have been lifted upon angels' wings. We all experience pain and sorrow. We've tasted the bitterness of death, and the sting of such can be closer to some than others. In our Heavenly Father's plan, I don't believe there are such separate things as "Life" and "Death", rather there is only Life, and death is simply a part of it. What I teach out here has become infinitely more real.
Our Lord, Jesus Christ, took upon him the sins of this world. Point one- Without such an act of immeasurable and unconditional love for every man, woman, and child that has ever lived and will ever live, none could return, resurrect, and live in happiness. None would be able to repent, thus nobody would be cleansed and perfected in order to live in the presence of our God, our Father, forever. This much is clear; thanks to the Atonement, families can be eternal.
For the purpose of better understanding us in our times of need, want, and our own sufferings, Christ experienced all our infirmities, pains, and sorrows. Point two- Our Savior knows us. He has already felt exactly what we feel, and is the only person existing that has gone through every trial so personal to us. In Gethsemane, He bled for us, and in Gethsemane He wept with us. Being the only perfect human being ever, he took upon himself every weakness, and shed every tear that has streamed down our cheeks. His sacrifice strengthens us, supports us, and even sustains us. He is our light. And I love Him. "I know that my Redeemer lives" And that sentence truly does give such comfort. I've felt God's loving arms around me, and the sweet solace offered by Christ. The Spirit of God is with me now more than He ever has been.
I've always thought that something like this would destroy me, and that I'd be ruined by it... that I'd never be able to go on. But having now experienced it, I saw that there were essentially two choices at hand. I could let it destroy me; let the sorrow take over and sink into despair. Or, I could let Christ take over. I could give him the burden, say "please take this from me", and accept His perfect love. I've taken His hand, which is always extended, and He has lifted me off the ground. Happiness is a choice, one that I know my Dad wants us to make. With the love of God, and with faith, we can all move forward. These trials will build us.
"In the sweet by and by, we shall all meet on that beautiful shore."
I've made the decision to stay in the mission field. I feel that there is still much work to be done, and that this is where I'm needed. Saturday, we were privileged to take part in the baptism of one of our investigators, Luis Nery. It was a beautiful service. After the baptism, Luis and I exited the font into the restroom to change. There he asked me if he I thought he would be able to baptize someone, like I had him some day. He expressed his desire to serve a mission as soon as he turns 18, and is excited to share the Gospel that we've shared with him. I began to think of the people that he would bring the Gospel to, and the happiness he would share. I knew in that moment that I was doing exactly what I should be, and that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be. In finishing, while singing a hymn, I had the distinct feeling that my Dad was a third witness to the baptism that day.
I know this is the restored church of Jesus Christ; that He lives and loves us. I know that we'll all be together again some day. Thanks to the temples we have on this earth, we are sealed as an eternal family. I love my Heavenly Father, and am so grateful for His Son's great sacrifice on our part. I'm grateful for the Holy Spirit and the comfort He gives. This is the true gospel. This is God's plan, and it is beautiful. In the name of our beloved saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen
*There's a word of gratitude that must be said. While I can't be there physically for my family, I know that the Stake, the Ward, and all my dear friends and family are taking care of them very well. Thank you. You're angels. The Lord works through His people to answer His children's prayers, and you are all answers to mine. Thank you for your love and strength, and may God be with you.
A little drawing I did that I thought I'd share with you-
"I am the light of the world..."
Luis Nery and I.