Is this really it? I honestly can't wrap my mind around the idea thatI won't be in a computer shop writing you another email while wiping sweat off my forehead. I always wondered how the last email would feel and what I would say. I think what I imagined was correct....the way I feel and things I'm thinking really aren't expressible and a simple email definitely isn't adequate but I'll do my best :)
This week was fabulous. Truly one filled with miracles.
I went on my last exchanges as a sister training leader, a calling I will also be grateful for. We had the opportunity to go back to my first area. Of course it was an incredible experience working in my first area my last week in the field. While there I received the best ending to an already cherished mission. Maricel Pedral, the less-active women we found my first week in the Philippines, went through the temple! Visiting her and listening to her describe how she felt as she finally made it to the temple was a glimpse of heaven will be like. When we surprised her at her home she came barreling out the door and straight into my arms. After we hugged, I pulled her back and said, "I hear you have news for me!" She got the biggest grin, yelled, "YES!" and proudly rolled up her sleeve to show me her garments :) I love this sister so much. She lives in the poorest circumstances, but never ceased to keep a smile on. She explained that before going to the temple they went to the small distribution center (PBO) to buy garments. While in line a couple offered to buy her garments for her. This truly is a miracle as she likely didn't know how she was going to pay for it. She said, "The blessings started before we ever even got inside the temple!" Saying goodbye to her was so hard. We hugged and cried, laughed and promised to be best friends in the next life if we don't meet again in this one. I was also told that the Pramoso family, another less-active family we worked with, will be sealed this September!
This week and the ending of my mission has only filled me with increased gratitude for God's goodness, His perfect plan and timing. There were many times on my mission that I knew I was doing all I could and the Lord was proud of me, but I still didn't feel successful as a missionary, however in the last few months He has shown me in so many ways the fruits of my labors and it has been humbling. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have that this is His work and we are merely His instruments. The thought of removing my nametag brings me to tears and the thought of saying goodbye to all those I love here only makes the tears continue to flow. Last conference President Uchtdorf gave a talk that perfectly describes my feelings...
"In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.
Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.
The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions-- temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.
How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings."
I am so grateful to know that the ending of my mission isn't really an ending at all, rather a time to move on to what the Lord has in store both for me and the people here. I know that because of the plan of salvation we will all live again and if we are worthy return to the God we love. I know that, be it now or in the next life, I will see these people again, but until then we all have a great a glorious work to continue. I know that this church is true from the very depths of my heart. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God called to bring this restored truth to the earth in our day. I know that we have a living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, who has all power and revelation from God and we will be protected and kept safe as we follow him. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and we can find peace as we search its pages. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father and He knows us each individually And I know that Christ is our Savior, He lives and I love Him with all my heart. I will eternally be grateful for the time He has given me to represent Him in the Quezon City North Philippines mission.
Paalam sa aking minamahal na bansa, ang Philipinas. Salamat sa lahat na ibinigay nyo sa akin.
Filipino Fun Fact:
I love this crazy country and words are most definitely not adequate to explain it to you. Someday we'll just have to all come here together and you can witness it for yourself :)
Sister Maricel with her temple recommend. We couldn't be happier.
See you soon in the U.S.A :)