Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Italy, Week 70 (3/9/16) - The End of Another Chapter: The Mission

Well, this is it. I have officially served my 18 months as a full-time  missionary for the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. How do I feel about that?


That's really the only way I can describe it.
, I'll give a quick summary of the week and then get on to the sappy, emotional stuff.  Wednesday we went to Trento, expecting to go on a hike. Instead we got there and realized that there was no chance of getting to the hike. So we just hung out and walked around Trento. The worst part was that we were in pants. I felt so scandalous. We ran and put skirts on as soon as we got home.
That night the Sorelle from Mestre came over for scambio! We saw Giulia and talked more about recognizing the Spirit and really letting it enter and touch our hearts. It was gooood! After lunch we did some role plays in Italian for lingua study (the Mestre Sorelle is a training coppia). After, Sorella Burgess and I went to go do finding and while we were at the door praying, we felt inspired to ask that we could find someone to whom we could teach the restoration and set a bap date with. We went to a little park near our house to discover that there was pretty much no one there, and the five people that we tried to talk to wouldn't listen. So we started heading out when we saw a woman sitting on a bench down yonder, so we went to talk to her.  And guess what. Yup. We taught her the whole restoration. And she loved it! She said she was going to come to church! So for weekly planning Sorella Bradshaw and I picked a date for her :)  And then the rest of the week was spent visiting people and eating gelato and everything I could get my hands on. Nothing new :) 
Well, it's strange. That's really the only way to explain it. I can't really believe it's over. Like, this is my life. I don't know anything other than this. Normal life has become a thing of the past, something I can hardly remember.
This past year and a half has been nothing less than amazing. It's funny looking back at all those times where I would cry about how hard it was. You forget the pain, really. It's like when you stub your toe.  A day later you remember that you stubbed your toe, and you've done it multiple times, and it hurt like no other. But you don't remember the
pain. That's how it is now. I remember crying and why I was crying, but it wouldn't make me cry now thinking about it. It was just for a small moment in reality, although it may have seemed like an eternity.  But the most beautiful moments I remember so clearly and they still have an effect on me. It's because those moments were able to touch my heart. Even if all those moments weren't so beautiful. It was in those moments that I turned to the Lord, that my heart was opened, and the Spirit entered. Those moments still bring me to tears because they were so powerful. It was THOSE moments that changed me. That made me into who I am today. Sorrows only make you grow when you open your heart and just follow the Lord.
I have met and come to love so many people here. I can officially say that my heart is scattered all around Busto Arsizio, Trieste, Milano Cimiano, and Verona. And there will forever remain a very large part of my heart here. A part that I can never get back, mostly because I don't want it back. That spot had been filled with those people, with
those cities.
It's hard to go because you truly are leaving your heart behind with these people. You put so much of all that you are into this work, into trying to help these people. You're number one worry is their salvation and happiness. What greater work is there?  But I know that this chapter must come to a close. They're not kidding when they say these are the "best two years" of your life. What other set of 18-24 months of your life teach you so much? Humble you so
much?  The more you give, the more you get out. That applies to everything in life! The more time and effort you put into your studies, the more information and education you have. The more effort you put into your callings, the more joy you get out of it and the more you benefit others. I'm not saying it's easy. The Lord doesn't ask us to do a lot of easy things. Because He knows that we will only grow if we overcome difficulties. But it's all so very simple and beautiful. And with the Lord's help, we can do it.  I don't even know what to say more, what really is there to say? I
love my mission. I can say without a doubt and with 100% conviction that this was the absolute best choice I have ever made. I love my mission. Yes, it did do so much for me. But I love it even more for the COUNTLESS number of opportunities I had to do so much for others.  And above all for my Heavenly Father, who gives me so much, and for my Savior, to thank Him.
For you missionaries still out in the field: DON'T STOP. Give all of your heart might mind and strength. Do all you can to overcome your natural man that tells you to go home because your feet hurt or literally no one will listen. THIS WORK IS NOT AN EASY WORK.  It requires diligence, patience, obedience, humility, etc. but especially love. Find what you love about the mission, be it the people, the city, the companions, whatever it may be! Work off of that and  make the best of every moment you have and learn to love the rest.  For everyone back home: always remember what you've learned in the past. Like the prophets in the Book of Mormon always say, remember the tender mercies of the Lord, towards you and also your fathers. Let every experience push you forward toward God in the path of life,
don't go backward and have to relearn things.  Remember that God loves you and He is there for you to help in all
things. He sent His Son to Atone for our sins, and in the process Christ chose to also suffer our afflictions, so He can know how to succor us. To help us. To comfort us. To guide us. Use that gift.

I just want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart. You have all given me so much love and support. I can say that each one of you has personally helped me in some way during my mission, whether it be from your mass emails, or even just a little note of encouragement. You are all so wonderful and I love and care for each of you so very much.
Thank you.
Vi voglio davvero un mondo di bene.
La Sorella Hawks :)

 Last Pizzas in Italy!


 One last rainy day 

District meeting with the Italians!

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