Well, I have no words. The last year and a half has been full of hardship and trial but even more full of complete satisfaction and joy. I have been stretched and molded. I have been an instrument in the Lord's hands. "Nevertheless, after much tribulation, the Lord did hear my cries, and did answer my prayers, and has made me an instrument in his hands in bringing so many of you to a knowledge of his truth." Our mission scripture says it better than I ever could: "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."
There is no doubt in my mind that I was called to the Washington Everett Mission for a reason (and not just because Nordstrom was founded here). I have met eternal friends here. I love the crazyyyyy Washingtonians especially those in Burlington/ Sedro-Woolley, South Whidbey Island, and Mukilteo/Everett. My heart is full.
I know God is our literal Heavenly Father. He has a tangible body of flesh and bone just like- only perfected. I know he has a personality. One of compassion, devotion, and love. I know he has a plan of happiness for each of his children, and that he has given us agency to choose for ourselves the path we want to walk down. I know we chose His plan in the pre-mortal life when we lived with Him. We did that so we could come to earth, created by Him, to gain a body and be put in situations where we could learn His Gospel. He has given us family units so we can have support, encouragement, and feel a glimpse of His, our Eternal Father's, love. If I could bear my testimony in four words it would be, "The Gospel blesses families." Because we are on Earth and we are imperfect we have trials, weaknesses, and struggles but Heavenly Father pours blessings and blessings upon those who do their best to follow the teaching of His Son, Jesus Christ. We learn His teachings from prophets. I know we have a prophet on the Earth today, Thomas S. Monson and that he is the only person who can receive revelation for the entire church, exercise all Priesthood keys, and be the mouthpiece of God. He teaches us the things we need to do here on Earth to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father, which is: exercising Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, being baptized, partaking of the sacrament, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We can also learn these fundamental principles and ordinances through ancient prophets who recorded their accounts, otherwise known as scripture. I know that the scriptures are truly the words of God and are intended to help us as we apply them to our own lives individually. They testify of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father knew we were going to make lots and lots of mistakes while we are here and because he loves us he sent His Son, Jesus Christ to Earth to suffer, bleed, and die for us. This was necessary so we could have our sins forgiven, our burdens lifted, our broken hearts healed, and our weaknesses strengthened. I know he truly carries us through trials and that our paths can be guided as we turn to the Atonement for direction. I know Jesus Christ died for us and broke the bands of death that would have bound us for eternity. I know he rose from the tomb on the third day and because of that we can be resurrected too. I know Christ was a perfect example, a perfect leader, and perfect in His obedience to the Father. While He was here on Earth he also taught the people (and us) about the commandments and saving ordinances of salvation. He established His church, instituted the sacrament, and performed miracles. I know he had the Priesthood authority- the authority to act in God's name. I know Jesus Christ is my Savior, my Redeemer, and my friend. I know as we follow in his footsteps we will be examples to others. Sometimes we sin or make mistakes that separate us from God. If we don't repent and apply the Atonement of our Savior we could eventually fall into individual apostasy. There have also been times in history when entire nations forsake or abandon the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But again, because Heavenly Father loves us, part of his plan was to allow those who did not have a chance to learn or accept the gospel here on Earth to learn after they pass on. I know that there is a spirit world. I know those who have passed on before us, who have lived righteously and accepted the Gospel are missionaries to those who did not have such an opportunity on Earth. We are so blessed today to live in a world where missionary work can happen here on Earth. It is only possible because of the Restoration of the Gospel. I know Joseph Smith had a sincere heart and real intent as he knelt in the grove on that sacred day to ask one question. I know he was able to receive an answer about what church to "join" but more importantly, I know that he saw God- a personage of flesh and bone and His Son, Jesus, the resurrected Christ. I know that they are distinct and separate beings who know us by name and love us. I know Joseph Smith was righteous prophet of God and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been restored to the Earth today because of this key experience. I also know that the Priesthood authority has been restored to the Earth today. I know that with this authority we can perform sacred and everlasting ordinances in the temple that eventually bind our families for eternity. Along with these ordinances we are able to make promises with our Heavenly Father. I know God always keeps his side of the promise when we live faithfully and do our part. I know these ordinances and covenants are central to inheriting the Celestial Kingdom of God, after we are judged for our works here on Earth. I know that with the Priesthood authority, Joseph Smith, was able to translate the Book of Mormon. I love the Book of Mormon because I receive personal revelation as I study the word of God diligently. I know the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. I know as we read, ponder, and pray about it we can receive answers to our questions. God does hear our prayers and he hears our anguished cries. I am so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know the church has been restored. I know God has a perfect Plan of Happiness for each of His children. I know the Gospel blesses families. I can say I know all of these things because I have prayed about them with a sincere heart and with real intent. The Holy Spirit has touched my heart and I cannot deny the answers I have received and the miracles I have been able to experience.
I love you all and am forever in your debt for the love, support, and prayers you have given me. I know that those acts of kindness do not go unnoticed by our Heavenly Father. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
See you all wayyyy too soon. :)