Mummy and Daddy,
This is sort of a strange moment. It's hard to know what to say. How can I possibly squeeze, flop, repack, flog, organize, and zip my eighteen months of experience into one spectacular finale? It's not quite as simple as it is with my suitcases. Yet this concluding week was such a sweet one.
We saw Mark and Emma this week and had the best lesson we've ever had with them. The Spirit was there. We all expressed our love, and we invited them to read the Book of Mormon again. With glittering eyes, they accepted. We invited them to be baptized. With smiles on their faces, they accepted. The time will come for them I'm sure of it. Miracle!
We had a call on the phone and it was a self referral. She met a Sister Missionary on the bus and wanted to meet with us! MIRACLE! We taught her, Paige, and her friend, Taylor. We had a lovely appointment with them. They were open and honest, and as we taught about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration, they got so excited and as we invited them to be baptized the said, "This is something we WANT to do. We WANT this to be true so badly!" MIRACLE!
I had so many answers to prayers: spontaneous lifts when we were late, finding things that were lost, and most of all beautiful comments were made to me about the influence I had in the area and in the mission which was an answer to a most fervent prayer....Father.. Did I make a difference?. At this moment i am so happy. I'm at peace about what has happened and what will come.
I look back on my mission I think of that talk where a young man runs to California to pan for gold. He expects to find large nuggets and is quickly disillusioned with his work. He meets and old prospector with his bag bulging. The young man spits, "I want nuggets of gold like you!" The old man, with a grin in his beard opens his pouch to reveal thousands of f tiny flecks of gold. I look into my mission experience and I see all this beautiful golden moments glinting back at me. I have quite the collection and I am so very rich indeed. I look back and my heart swells with stunning appreciation and I get really tender about it all....so then I have to push things over and laugh.
The biggest blessing of my mission is my strengthened testimony and of the depth of my conviction to live the gospel. I know what I believe in. I defended it for the past 550+ days of my life. I truly witnessed miracles and tried to describe them to others. I know God lives because I've witnessed his answers and felt His comfort. I know my Savior in scriptures. When he speaks I say, "OH! That's the same guy!" I love his Atonement. I am so grateful for it. I know now how to use that Atonement in my life to improve and become better. I have such profound respect and love for the fact that we have a living prophet! I know that Church of Jesus Christ was lost and restored through a young boy who was humble enough just to ask a question. I LOVE that God loves us enough to give us the Book of Mormon as evidence of this glorious Restoration! I love commandments! They in no way hinder us! I'm so grateful for the knowledge of why I'm here or what my purpose is.
In our lesson with Paige and Taylor they both said beautiful prayers about the Book of Mormon saying...oh how we want to believe in what they're telling us," but Paige said something that really struck me:
"Heavenly Father, butterflies cannot see their own wings. They do not know of their own beauty. People are sometimes like that. Please....help them see their beauty and their influence...."
That really touched me and I hope that in my mission service I was able to lift others and help them see their potential as unique children of our Heavenly Father, and recognize their own vibrance.
This adventure has changed my life forever. I have learned so much and I'm so grateful there are so many things I have yet to learn about the gospel, my Heavenly Father, and my Savior. I truly love this mission. I can't believe it's at an end. It's weird...but it's time. I'm sad to leave these people...I just think the world of them, but I'm SO excited to see my people! I'm ready for my steak! :D AND I'm prepared for my next adventure. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this opportunity. Thank you for letting me be here. I am changed for good.
Love Always and Forever.....for the last time.
Sister Stephanie White
PS The Stake President will have to chase me down to get my badge from me. :D