The Final Hurrah

Well, this is it.  I never thought it would actually happen, but the last week of my mission is finally here.  It’s the weirdest thing, to think that everything that I’ve known, lived, and breathed for the last 18 months is about to completely change.  And at the same time, I’m coming home completely changed.  These past 18 months have changed my life in ways that I could never describe.  And I’m certain that they’ll have a lasting impact on the rest of my life.  It’s like spiritual boot camp.  In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t actually that much time, but you experience things that you don’t experience anywhere else.  It’s definitely been the absolute HARDEST thing I have ever done in my entire life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world! I have learned and grown more in the past year and half than I ever could have doing anything else.  But out of the hundreds of things I’ve learned on the mission, the thing that I will treasure the most is my testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ.  You might think that’s kind of strange, that after living totally immersed in a foreign country for a year and half, out of all of the things I’ve learned and seen with the culture, the food, the language, the sites, the people….that the greatest thing I’m taking away from this beautiful country is an unshakeable testimony that Jesus Christ is my Savior.  And even if that’s the only thing I take from my mission, I would be completely content because nothing is worth more to me than my relationship with Him. Because in the end, anything, EVERYTHING that we have faced, are facing, and will face in life can be overcome with His help.  As long as we are consistently true every day, every moment, to that testimony we have, we can have full confidence that He is right there by our side, every step of the way in our journey through life.  We’re not perfect, and He doesn’t expect us to be, at least not in this life.  What He does expect is progress, progress in the right direction.  And that’s what’s important; direction, not velocity.  You can be running or crawling, but as long as you’re doing your best and going in the right direction, that’s enough for Him.  That’s what grace, the Atonement, is all about.  I have seen the Atonement of Jesus Christ change the lives of countless people here in Italy, including, and perhaps especially, my own.  Even though our best efforts are far from perfect, with Christ, we can be.  We can keep moving forward, we can keep progressing, we can keep standing up every time we fall.  Hope is never lost and the adversary can never win if we will it otherwise.  With God, we truly can do anything.

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