August 3rd, 2011
It's Wednesday morning - Elder Bills and Elder Baird [our zone leaders] will be here in a little while to pick us up to go to transfer meeting - me to return home, and Elder Barlow to meet his new companion ( he's training).
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I'm excited to see my family - I can't wait for the emotion to hit me like a brick wall when I get off the plane and see them. But, despite the anticipation of good things to come, it is bittersweet. I've often reflected on my mission as the happiest and most fulfilling time of my life - although it often feels like just a day or two has passed. Many times during these two years I've told others or thought to myself how everything that happened before my mission seems like just a dream - like it was all just imagined and none of it actually happened. If it were so, then I guess I'd now be embarking on a trip to dreamland.
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I don't think I've ever really been trunky on my mission, but I have looked forward with anticipation to a couple things that will be happening today. First, my departure interview with President Sorensen. There is a special bond between missionaries and mission presidents.
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One of the choicest blessings of my mission has been the opportunity to learn and serve under his tutelage. It will be difficult indeed to say goodbye to him and Sis. Sorensen.
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I also look forward to returning and reporting in the School of the Prophets. I am excited to give an accounting of my stewardship.
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Finally, I look forward to this last night in the mission home with some of the good friends from my mission. These relationships with the other elders are among the richest of treasures. I've grown a great deal in love and respect for other missionaries with whom I've served here, but there is a special bond among us who came out together and will return together. [Also, I had served as companions with a couple of the elders with whom I was returning home]
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[continued that evening]
After departure dinner, we had a testimony meeting. All the testimonies powerfully affected me, but it was the closing hymn, the Ohio Cleveland Mission Song [a rendition of the primary song "Armies of Helaman" with a couple modified verses], really got to me. I was so choked up that I could barely sing every other phrase between the sobs.
It was great to kneel in the School of the Prophets and end my mission with a return and report to the Lord about my ministry and give an accounting of my stewardship. I was initially disappointed to not have an overwhelming witness that my mission had been acceptable to the Lord. Thankfully, I did not have to wait long. . . .
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Thank you everyone for your support all throughout my mission. I have a strong testimony of the power of prayer, and I'm sure I couldn't have done it without yours. I have come away from my mission experience with an invigorated knowledge of the reality of our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ, as well as a heightened testimony of the power of His Atonement. I know that Joseph Smith saw Him and was directed by Him to begin this final dispensation of the gospel, and that President Thomas S. Monson is called of God as a prophet today just as were the prophets of old.
ps my new email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
pps I'll probably write some updates about how school is going now and then, if anyone is interested.
Standing left to right: Elder Palladino, Elder Anderson, Elder Berry, Sis. Sorensen, Pres. Sorensen, Elder Martinez
Seated left to right: Elder Leake, Elder Haines, Elder Farmer, Elder Smith, Elder Hunt