Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a great Christmas. I wish I could say mine was great... but honestly the flu and Christmas don't mix... and I will just leave it at that. The flu is a killer so I spent 4 days stuck in our house... so not too much to report from this week haha. But I decided that since it is the end of 2014... I would just share some of the things I have learned throughout this past year as a missionary!
1. The Book of Mormon is the most powerful book in the world. I talk about it all the time. But I just think of experiences.. like Ed yelling at me in McDonalds in the middle of a prayer and saying "I KNOW THE BOOK OF MORMON IS TRUE".. or Michael telling us how reading it brought him more peace than anything else. And how he said that reading it made him a better person and that he was able to love people more. And just watching Michael change as he read it... so unbelievable and powerful. And just the experiences I have had this past year reading it and finding answers and comfort in it, will make me love it for the rest of my life. I mean it when I say I love it.
2. Don't ever ask people in nursing homes if they like the food. They will go off on a 45 minute rant about how the chili is too spicy.
3. After over 35 different ice cream outings.. Mitchells Ice Cream is the best in Cleveland.
4. God has a PERFECT plan for each and every one of us. I witnessed that so much with my mission, being right where I needed to be when I needed to be there. And I think about people like the Graves.. who just moved to Ohio.. and then I got to meet them.. and now they have changed my life forever, and we were able to help Sam get baptized and really build a solid foundation in the Gospel. I also think about back to the Bible Studies at Hiram College.. where I was able to meet some of the most incredible people that I will be friends with forever! I will never forget when Natalie said her dream school is Chapman.. and I knew that God had me exactly where He wanted me.
5. God answers every single prayer in His time and His way. I mean I always knew that.. but now I really know that. There are way too many examples because it happens every day. But one of the biggest was getting to go full- proselyting. I had been praying for that for my whole mission... and my mission president had no clue, but out of all the missionaries he was inspired to send me full proselyting, and it was one of the best experiences of my mission! And yesterday when I was sick I prayed that someone would make me good food... and the nicest lady in my branch made me homemade rolls and drove an hour to get them to me. SO NICE.
6. That I will never, EVER, live somewhere that can be classified as being in a "Snowbelt".
7. I learned that it is possible to sleep and sing the Messiah at the same time and not get caught by the Nuns
8. That there is so much good and truth found in all different places. God uses lots of people to spread His work, not just one church. I have felt and seen God's love radiated from people of every religion. It has really inspired me so much. It strengthens my testimony of the power of God's love and makes me want to live in a way that everyone can feel that.
9. If it looks like cat hair in your food, it is.
10. That I never want to explain where American Falls is again. #noitisnotidahofalls #ortwinfalls #bye
11. If I am ever feeling down.. I just remember Fiona's statement "Peanut butter is the only thing that makes me feel good about myself". She's right. It never lets ya down
12. I know in a way I didn't know before that families really can be forever. Grandma Jensen passing away was one of the hardest, but most strengthening experiences of my life. I still wish I could put into words the peace and love I felt from God helping me to know that I will be with Grandma again, that I can be with my family forever, and that is what this is all about. I still feel Grandma helping me here on my mission. I really have come to know without a doubt that the plan of happiness is real and that eternal families are real and they are right now. And the peace of knowing I can be with my family forever motivates me every day because I want everyone to have that same comfort.
13. Never trust anywhere that is called the "Fun Buffet". It will never be fun.
14. The Gospel brings greater happiness than anything in the world. I see it every day when I get to compare people who are, and who aren't. Regardless of what people have, or are able to do, the happiest people I have met this past year.. are the ones who have God and Jesus Christ in the center of their lives.
15. And the greatest thing I have learned this past year.. is that Jesus Christ is real. That He knows me. That He loves me. And because of His sacrifice for me... I can be not only forgiven of my mistakes, but I can be strengthened to become better than I ever could on my own. I have experienced more joy in repenting and overcoming my personal inadequacies than I ever imagined. It gives me so much hope to know that even though I am not perfect, I am loved, and that if I am willing to let Christ help me, I can overcome anything and experience happiness forever with my family.
And I am excited to use what I have learned throughout the new year and throughout my life! My mission has been the greatest blessing I could ever ask for. I have no clue how I got so lucky to meet so many amazing people and experience God working through me so much. I will cherish it and be grateful for it forever.
And I will always be grateful for my family and friends and for all the prayers, letters, and just love that you've given me this past year. I really have the best life with the best people ever.
I hope you all have a great New Years! Happy 2015!