It feels a lot different typing this blog post myself instead of writing it in an email. I returned from my mission! I still feel quite out of place, but I am happy to be home and take on life's new adventures.
And now I will happily report the final few days of my mission. :)
Monday I spent the day packing and then we had dinner with David, Bethany, and some members. We had a lesson on the Plan of Salvation and then went for ice cream with David and Bethany. Saying goodbye to them was rough. I love them so much, and I hope to see them again.
Tuesday was my final day of proselyting. It's hard to describe how it felt. A myriad of emotional extremes flooded my brain all day. I had never felt such opposing emotions pull at me so hard. I felt excited and terrified and devastated and elated all at the same time. Goodbyes are difficult, and I said them all day. Tuesday was my last time volunteering at the Storehouse, and then we went to lunch with some members. We spent the rest of the day dropping in on members, investigators, and less-actives and saying our goodbyes. Sister Gotchy stayed in the area but Sister Leifson got transferred. So we both were having a bit of a rough time on Monday and Tuesday. However, Tuesday was a good finale to my life of proselyting. I received news that an investigator from my first area was baptized and she and her husband, who was once less-active, are both active in church! Hooray! The Church is true and people can change! Never give up or lose hope!
Wednesday was the transfer meeting. As is tradition, all the departing missionaries sat up on the stand and bore their departing testimonies. We had 27 or so departing missionaries; this was one of the largest transfer meetings in the mission. Every testimony was incredibly powerful and the spirit was undeniable. I was the only one who broke down during my testimony, but at this point I've gotten used to it. Even though one of the departing elders poked fun at me for it in his departing testimony. No shame. :) I was deeply touched as I listened to the departing testimonies of all these missionaries that I have come to know and love so well. They have all grown so much, and I am so proud of them.
After the departing testimonies President Griffin announced the transfer information for the upcoming transfer. I was so impressed with the new companionships. President Griffin didn't have the chance to get to know many of these missionaries very well, yet he paired them together so perfectly. It strengthened my testimony that he does work by revelation, and that the Tennessee Knoxville Mission is in the best of hands. No man leads this Church. Jesus Christ leads and guides this Church through His chosen servants.
After the meeting the assistants dropped 19 of us off at the mission home, where we all slowly went crazy. Sister Griffin fed us a delicious lunch and dinner, which was much appreciated. After having had an hourly schedule every day for the last 18 months, all of us felt weird sitting around for several hours without working. We all started begging for assignments; it was hilarious. We helped with dinner, weighed our suitcases, sang hymns around the piano, and had our exit interviews. We were all stir-crazy, but we all had fun together.
Thursday we got up at 5:30 and headed to the airport. Then I spent 5 hours on a plane. We all landed in the Salt Lake airport Thursday afternoon, said our goodbyes to each other, and met up with our families. The feeling was incredibly surreal. I felt like I was in a bit of a daze the entire time. I was extremely happy though. :) Shortly after that I was released from my calling as a full-time missionary.
Since then I have had my share of adventures being home. I've been reunited with friends and loved ones, I've been enjoying my hobbies again, and I've been attending the temple. I've had a bit of a hard time adjusting, but I'm happy to be home. There are so many opportunities to lift and serve here. I just need to find them. :)
What was most surprising about signing on to this blog again was discovering that one of my blog posts became a topic of controversy on an anti-Mormon website. Curiosity got the best of me and I read several demeaning comments that left me feeling a bit flustered. But, if any of those authors are still following this blog, I want to simply say that I am not angry, and I do apologize for expressing frustrations about certain individuals who challenged my beliefs because they were "illogical." The root of that frustration was their desire to tear down beliefs that I dearly loved without giving me the opportunity to share my conviction. I respect all people of all beliefs, regardless if I believe the same way. I do firmly stand behind my testimony that the honest and humble seeker of truth should primarily lean on faith. Faith is so much more than mere emotion. The source of all truth is our Father in Heaven. To obtain truth, we as individuals must discover how the Spirit communicates with us and listen to His guidance as we seek our Father in Heaven for answers. I believe that logic and science have their place. But when it comes to spirituality, knowledge is primarily obtained through humility and faith -- qualities that our Father in Heaven wants us to cultivate. As stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:10-14,
"But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
I spent 18 months out in the field because I knew this Gospel was true. I knew it would bless the lives of those who would choose to accept it. It was always disheartening when people would toss it aside because I knew how much happier it would make them. I know it's true. I only plead with everyone to read the Book of Mormon with an open and honest heart and seek God for answers. You won't regret it.
Those 18 months were the best in my life. I miss the mission field so much already. I know this Church is true, that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and that the fulness of His Gospel has been restored to the earth today. It has blessed my life tremendously. I know it's true, and I'm excited to share that with as many people as I can!
Thank you all for following my blog! I have another blog in the works entitled, "Anchors of the Soul." Feel free to follow! Anchorsofthesoul.blogspot.com